The 2018-19 NBA regular season is upon us. While most believe the excitement has largely been taken out of the game thanks to the Golden State Warriors, I would argue to the contrary. Yes, it is lame that the Warriors winning the championship for the third year running is pretty lame, there is a lot else to be excited for this basketball season.
We have already seen a number of All-Stars change teams in recent months. We have an interesting crop of rookies set to enter the league, as well. LeBron James is now a Laker, which likely means we’re going to see a non-Cavs team make it to the Finals out of the Eastern Conference for the first time since 2014. And, who knows, maybe someone will actually take down the Warriors?
A slew of new regular season-related prop bets were just posted. Let’s roll through a few of them and try to identify some betting value.
Ben Simmons Assists Per Game
- Over 8 -125
- Under 8 -105
Ben Simmons returned last season after missing the entirety of his first pro campaign due to a foot injury. He played in 81 regular season games for the 76ers last season and helped lead the franchise to its first appearance in the playoffs since 2011-12. The Sixers have even higher expectations this season, as some expect them to challenge the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors for the aforementioned Eastern Conference spot in the NBA Finals.
Simmons was stellar in his first campaign, averaging 15.8 points, 8.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game. The comparisons to LeBron have been there for years, and we saw repeatedly during his rookie season why that was such a common comp. Simmons is a 6’10” point guard with an incredible combination of athleticism and court vision. The fact that he managed to average nearly 16 points per game despite not making a single 3-pointer all season is no small feat.
The Sixers drafted Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft ahead of last season, but head coach Brett Brown was adamant that Simmons would be his starting point guard. Fultz is expected to replace J.J. Redick in the team’s starting lineup to begin this season, which will be interesting. Fultz isn’t nearly the shooter that Redick is. Given Simmons’ own lack of range, one has to wonder how exactly that’s going to work out. Personally, I think Redick starting makes more sense, with Fultz serving as an option to provide some scoring punch as a reserve.
Redick is a career 41.5 percent shooter from long range, and he connected on 42 percent of his triples last season. Fultz didn’t make a single 3 last season, though he only played in 14 regular season games. He infamously missed plenty of time with a shoulder injury that affected the way he was shooting. We shall see if Fultz can actually hit jumpers this year.
The demotion of Redick to the second unit may well harm Simmons’ assist totals. If the preseason numbers to this point are any indication, though, it looks like Simmons will be just fine in that regard. Through 4 preseason games, Simmons is averaging 9.25 assists. Not bad! It’s worth noting that Fultz started in Redick’s place in all 4 games.
I think there’s a real chance we see Redick replace Fultz in the starting 5 if we see the Sixers struggle offensively early in the season, but I expect Simmons to continue his improvement this season. As a result, I think he goes over 8 assists per game, as he did last season. Take the over on 8 dimes at -125.
Will Terry Rozier Get Traded During the 2018-19 Season?
- Yes +150
- No -200
Plenty of eyebrows were raised when the Boston Celtics drafted former Louisville guard Terry Rozier 16th overall in the 2014 draft. However, Rozier has since made Celtics GM Danny Ainge look like a smart man. Rozier has been serving as a reserve guard over the course of his first 3 pro seasons, but last year he really blossomed. Kyrie Irving was forced to undergo a couple of season-ending knee procedures late in the year that would ultimately keep him out for the duration of Boston’s playoff run. Rozier stepped in, though, and the team didn’t really miss a beat.
In 80 games last year, Rozier averaged 11.3 points and 4.7 assists. However, he averaged 15.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 16 regular season games as a starter. Despite being without Irving and another injured star in Gordon Hayward, the Celtics managed to come to within a game of reaching the NBA Finals. Rozier certainly played a huge role.
Irving is now back and healthy, though, and he has already said that he plans to sign a long-term deal to stay in Boston once he becomes a free agent next summer. Many had wondered whether the Celtics would let Kyrie leave in order to let Rozier take the reins, but all indications now are that Irving will be the team’s franchise point guard. So, should the Celtics trade his backup and recoup some assets for a guy that doesn’t have a clear path to a starting job in Boston?
It’s worth noting that Ainge has been incredibly cautious with the team’s assets over the years. He isn’t a GM that will just make a trade to make a trade. The only way he would trade Rozier would be if it were the right deal for the Celtics. Irving does have an injury history, so why part ways with Rozier? He’s about as good a backup as you’ll find in the league these days.
There will presumably be some suitors out there. The Phoenix Suns need a point guard, for one. The San Antonio Spurs instantly jump to the top of the list, though. The Spurs lost Tony Parker to the Hornets during the offseason, while Manu Ginobili retired. Dejounte Murray, who was supposed to be the team’s starting lead guard, went down with a torn ACL during the preseason. His backup, Derrick White, just suffered a heel injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for about 2 months. At this point, Patty Mills is the only viable point guard on the roster.
It doesn’t look like the Spurs are ready to rebuild, so could they come calling with a Rozier offer? It’s possible, but do the Spurs have anything that could entice the Celtics to deal their backup point guard? At first glance, there isn’t a ton on the San Antonio roster that looks all that appealing.
Other teams may come calling. It remains to be seen what happens with Rozier, but for now I think the Celtics will likely keep him in green this season. I like the value on “yes” at +150, but Boston is hoping to win a title this season. Trading Rozier at this point wouldn’t make much sense.
Andre Drummond Rebounds Per Game
- Over 15 -115
- Under 15 -115
Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons has cemented his status as the league’s preeminent rebounder. The UConn product enjoyed arguably his finest overall campaign as a pro last season when he averaged 15 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. It marked the fifth straight season in which he averaged at least 13 rebounds per game, and the average of 16 boards was a career-best.
Many assumed Drummond’s rebounding prowess would take a hit when the Pistons traded for Blake Griffin halfway through last season, but Griffin nary put a dent in Drummond’s numbers. Incredibly, Drummond’s numbers even went up a bit once Griffin arrived. The big man averaged 17.7 rebounds per game in February, 16.9 rebounds in March and 15.8 rebounds in a half-month’s worth of games in April.
Last season was the first season in which Drummond averaged at least 15 rebounds per game, so the over/under of 15 is a fair one. Through 4 preseason games, Andre has gobbled up an average of 14 rebounds per game, including 20 in his most recent outing. I like the over on this one. I think we may even see an improved rebounding performance from Drummond as he enters his age-25 season.
Anthony Davis Points, Rebounds and Blocks Per Game
- Over 29 points per game -115
- Under 29 points per game -115
- Over 11.5 rebounds per game -115
- Under 11.5 rebounds per game -115
- Over 2.5 blocks per game -115
- Under 2.5 blocks per game -115
Anthony Davis is an absolute monster. If he can stay healthy, there is no ceiling for him. He’s a legit 7-footer with guard-like athleticism and shooting range out beyond the 3-point line. He has the longest arms in the league, which means he can shoot over everybody, grab all the rebounds he wants and block every shot that enters his airspace. He can do everything.
In 75 games last season, the Brow averaged 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. He shot better than 53 percent from the field and 34 percent from long distance. He spent most of last season playing alongside another high-usage big man in DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins led the team in usage rate last season, but he suffered a season-ending Achilles tear a little over halfway through the campaign. While sharing the floor with Cousins, Davis had a usage rate of 26.5 percent.
With Cousins off the floor last season, Davis’ usage rate skyrocketed up to 33.8 percent, which is Russell Westbrook territory. Davis took all of the shots without Boogie on the floor with him. Cousins is now playing for the Warriors, which means Davis will essentially have the Pelicans’ offense to himself this season.
Davis saw 31 minutes of action in New Orleans’ most recent preseason game against the Raptors. All he did in those 31 minutes was score 36 points, grab 15 rebounds, block 4 shots and dish out 3 assists. Ho-hum.
I think those kinds of stat lines will be something we see regularly out of A.D. this season. That’s why I’m taking all of the overs here. Give me the over on 29 points. Give me the over on 11.5 boards. Give me the over on 2.5 blocks. This could be the year Davis finally captures his first MVP award. If he leads this Pelicans team to the postseason while putting up his standard monstrous numbers, it will be hard to argue against it.
Over, over, over on Anthony Davis.
Trae Young Points per Game
- Over 14.5 -115
- Under 14.5 -115
Trae Young was arguably the biggest story in college basketball last season. Despite not being one of the more highly-thought of recruits in the country, Young burst onto the scene at Oklahoma. The 6’2” Norman native averaged 27.4 points per game on 42 percent shooting from the floor and 36 percent shooting from 3-point range. He also handed out nearly 9 assists per game.
Young made the leap to the pros after one year of college ball. He was ultimately drafted by the Dallas Mavericks before being subsequently traded to the Atlanta Hawks on draft night in exchange for Euro phenom Luka Doncic.
Young is a pretty divisive prospect. He drew understandable comparisons to Stephen Curry last season at OU. Young has shooting range out to half court, and he’s not afraid to chuck away. Just take a gander at this game-winner he hit in a preseason game against the Spurs.
He was honestly closer to the half-court line than he was to the 3-point line, and there was no hesitation. He looks like a fool if he misses this, but since he made it, we have to give him props, right?
Some believe Young will struggle against more physical competition in the NBA. His slight frame and penchant for taking tough shots likely means he will be fairly boom-or-bust. If Young is to become a star at this level, I’m not convinced we are going to see that from day one. There should be some growing pains here, especially considering he’s going to be playing for arguably the worst team in basketball as a rookie.
Through 4 preseason games, Young has averaged exactly 15 points per game. He has shot just 38.5 percent from the field thus far, while making 33.3 percent of his triples. One thing we know about Young is that he’s going to shoot. A lot. Young has already taken 57 shots through those 4 games. I know it’s preseason, but I imagine he’s going to be given the keys to the Hawks’ offense from the jump.
It looks like he’s just going to be a volume scorer, at least early in his career. Given the fact that he isn’t afraid to keep on shooting, I think Young can pretty easily go over 14.5 points per game here. There will be some bumps along the way, but, once again, give me the over here.