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NBA action: Chris Paul trade to Houston moves market

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

The Clippers trade of Chris Paul to the Rockets may signal a rebuild in LA.
© USA Today Sports Images

Chris Paul hopes to rocket into the NBA championship chase, plus Pac 12 Power Ratings, CFL chatter, and the amazing K-rates of Kluber and Kershaw!

NBA: Global markets react quickly to Chris Paul trade

You likely know by now that Chris Paul was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Houston Rockets Wednesday for a slew of role players and contracts. Futures prices globally reacted very quickly to indicators that…

  • Houston was getting very serious about improving for the 2017-18 season
  • The Clippers might be in the early stages of blowing up the roster and starting over

Blake Griffin is likely headed elsewhere now as well. Though there’s plenty of time for surprise developments…the market has dropped the Clippers out of the championship mix.

Composite Odds to Win the NBA Title (select Western Conference teams)

  • Golden State 4/7 (64% to win)
  • San Antonio 10/1 (9% to win)
  • Houston 12/1 (8% to win)
  • Minnesota 40/1 (2% to win)
  • LA Clippers 66/1 (1% apiece to win for trio at 66/1)
  • Oklahoma City 66/1
  • New Orleans 66/1

For that composite, we took the most representative offshore numbers from oddschecker. You can click here for a more intense look at how different stores have priced the league. 

If you were watching VSiN programming throughout Wednesday, you know that the South Point moved Houston from 30/1 to 20/1, while dropping the Clippers from 40/1 to 50/1. The South Point has Minnesota at 60/1 after their acquisition of Jimmy Butler. 

The markets barely noted the firing of Phil Jackson for the New York Knicks. They still range anywhere from 200/1 to 300/1 to win the title.

Looks like there are a few more shoes to drop in the coming days. We’ll keep an eye on the markets for you!

College Football: Can Washington or USC make run at the national title from the Pac 12?

We continue our effort to build “market” Power Ratings in college football today with a look at the Pac 12. If you weren’t with us earlier in the week, we started with the SEC Tuesday, then followed up Wednesday with the Big 10. Our trek through the Power 5 conferences will resume next Tuesday with the ACC, followed by the Big 12 on Wednesday.

We begin again with the current “Game of the Year” lines from the South Point in Pac 12 action. The numbers below represent input from both odddsmakers and respected money. Sharps have had time to shape the openers. 

September 9

  • Stanford plus 6.5 at USC

Great game very early in the season. Interesting to note here that USC isn’t even laying a touchdown at home against a Stanford team that lost workhorse Christian McCaffrey. That tells us immediately that “the market” doesn’t currently have the Trojans up at the top of the heap with Ohio State and Alabama. 

September 30

  • Colorado plus 4.5 at UCLA

Both of these teams are question marks in 2017. Colorado is coming off a breakthrough season, but lost starting quarterback Sefo Liufau to graduation, and defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt to Oregon. UCLA stumbled through a 4-8 malaise last year thanks to Josh Rosen’s shoulder injury. 

October 14

  • Oregon plus 11.5 at Stanford 

Wow…Oregon has fallen far from the heights of Chip Kelly’s coaching regime. Another sign that Stanford is respected entering the season by the betting marketplace. 

October 21

  • Colorado plus 5 at Washington State 

Washington State had some huge covers last season, but ended with three losses, including a soft 17-12 failure against Minnesota in the Holiday Bowl. The North could be very interesting if Washington State’s experienced contributors stay healthy. 

October 28

  • UCLA plus 15 at Washington 

Our first mention of Washington, who reached the national Final Four last season before getting squashed by Alabama. You can see the market has them well clear of UCLA in this first ’17 test. 

November 10

  • Washington -2 at Stanford 

This will be the de facto Pac 12 North championship game. We already know that Stanford is respected by the marketplace. Washington grades out here to about five better on a neutral field. 

November 11

  • USC -6 at Colorado
  • Washington State pick-em at Utah

Utah’s home field must not be striking the market as very scary any more. Washington State pick-em? Utah only returns 3 starters on offense, 4 on defense according to the respected Athlon summer newsstand publication. 

November 18

  • California plus 22 at Stanford
  • UCLA plus 13 at USC

If the Pac 12 championship game is destined to be Washington vs. USC, we can use the lines when both play UCLA and Stanford to get a sense of that price. More on that in a moment. 

November 25

  • Arizona plus 8 at Arizona State
  • Colorado pick-em at Utah
  • Oregon State plus 6 at Oregon
  • Washington State plus 16 at Washington

This league always ends the season with a rivalry bang. That helps us fill out the full scale.

OK, we talked about comparing Washington to USC… 

  • Both host UCLA…Washington is -15, USC is -13
  • Both play Stanford…USC would be about -3 on a neutral field, while Washington would be about -5

So in both of those instances…Washington grades out as superior “in the market’s eyes” to USC. Jimmy Vaccaro mentioned the other day that locals in Las Vegas are going to bet USC like the Trojans are the New England Patriots. For now, the sharpest influences in the market still have Washington rated higher than USC.

Early non-conference meetings between UCLA and Texas A&M (SEC), as well as Oregon and Nebraska (Big 10) allow us to link the Pac 12 to the prior scale we’ve been using this week. First, here are estimates for only Pac 12 teams on that scale. 

  • 87 Washington
  • 85: USC
  • 83: Stanford
  • 76: Oregon
  • 75: UCLA, Colorado, Washington State
  • 74: Utah
  • 73: Oregon State, Arizona State
  • 68: Arizona
  • 64: California

We always have to emphasize that these are soft estimates. Maybe Washington’s an 88 and USC’s an 86. We’ll have to read and react in real time as the market adjusts. 

Now, the Big 12, SEC, and Pac 12 combined…

  • 90-92: Ohio State
  • 88 or 89: Alabama
  • 87: Washington
  • 85 or 86: USC, Penn State, Wisconsin
  • 83: Stanford
  • 81 or 82: LSU, Michigan 
  • 80: Auburn
  • 79: Georgia
  • 77: Florida
  • 75-76: Texas A&M, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Northwestern, Minnesota, Oregon, UCLA, Colorado, Washington State
  • 73-74: Kentucky, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Iowa, Utah, Oregon State, Arizona State
  • 69-70: Vanderbilt, Michigan State
  • 67-68: South Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, Arizona
  • 64: California, Rutgers (Knights 30 at home vs. Wash in W1)

(No listing yet for Missouri, Maryland, Purdue, or Illinois)

We hope you’ve enjoyed this research project so far. We’ll pick it up again on Tuesday. Between now and then, our football focus will be north of the border!

Canadian Football: Week 2 kicks off Thursday night with Calgary/Ottawa rematch

We promised to let the Week 2 lines settle before trying to build our first estimate of CFL Power Ratings. Honestly, there just isn’t enough connectivity yet to pull that off. It doesn’t help that league favorite Calgary is playing Ottawa again. Plus, the line only moved two points from Calgary -6 on the road to Calgary -8 at home. Home field advantage has to be worth more than one point in each place. The market must be reacting to the OT result in their opener.

We can tell you that Toronto has steamed up to -3 vs. British Columbia, after the first numbers up this week were near pick-em. We showed you back on Monday how impressively Toronto played in its first outing under Marc Trestman.  

Let’s go through what we can obviously deduce.

Thursday: Ottawa at Calgary (-8, total of 57)

Calgary tops the futures prices as the favorite to win the Grey Cup. They’re being priced with a lot of respect over last year’s champ. Treat Calgary as the league favorite, and Ottawa as about 5 points worse. When we start our scale, we’ll stick Calgary at 85 to represent “championship caliber.”

Friday: British Columbia at Toronto (-3, total of 51)

British Columbia was getting respect last week vs. Edmonton. Some saw them as a challenger to Calgary. For now, a disappointing loss to the Eskimos and this pointspread suggest the market is souring quickly on the Lions. Keep an eye on Trestman’s new team.

Friday: Montreal at Edmonton (-8, total of 50)

Big stretch from Montreal laying 7 points last week at home vs. Saskatchewan, but then getting EIGHT points from the same Edmonton team that was plus five at BC last week. 

Saturday: Winnipeg (-1, total of 50) at Saskatchewan

We can deduce that Saskatchewan is a projected doormat because it was plus 7 at Montreal last week, and is now a small home dog against a rusty visitor that’s coming in off a bye. We’ll need more interconnectivity overall, and more samples for Winnipeg before we know where the Blue Bombers fit in the big picture. 

Enjoy the new weekend of football. Our broadcast programming will discuss the CFL on every game day. The newsletter will crunch the boxscore numbers for the full four-game slate Monday. 

MLB: Everything not what it “seams,” as more evidence emerges for cause of home run surge

We’ve already pointed you in the direction of a few articles talking about strong evidence that a change in “baseball construction” was a big influence in the recent home run surge in Major League Baseball. Wednesday, analytics website 538 added what might be Perry Mason’s courtroom clincher.

Click here to read the full article. Writer Rob Arthur concluded that “smaller fastballs with flatter seams” were the main factor causing the 47% jump in home runs “from their low in 2014 to their high this year.” In tweets posted after the article, Arthur (@No_Little_Plans) said “Depending on how you calculate, something like 65-80% of the home run surge can now be explained by changes to the baseball. I’m absolutely willing to believe that the remainder comes from various other sources like swing angle modifications and random variation.”

Since “juiced balls” will turn average pitchers into lousy pitchers, and below average pitchers into minor leaguers, it will be hard to determine whether or not a decrease in pure pitching quality is also a factor. Some oddsmakers and bettors have put forward that theory. For now, analytics is comfortable with the position that the BULK of the surge was caused by a change in baseball construction. 

(Side note: did you ever notice the play on words involving “Perry Mason” author Erle Stanley Gardner’s constantly outsmarted district attorney Hamilton Burger? Nobody every called him “Ham.” That would have made it a little too obvious…what Mason turned his opponent into.) 

MLB: Pitching previews in four marquee series finales

Earlier this week we pointed you toward four marquee baseball matchups featuring teams at .500 or better. Those will come to a close Thursday. Let’s check the early odds and the “three true outcome” stats for the projected starting pitchers… 

Chicago Cubs at Washington (early line: Washington -115, total 9 Over -120)

  • Jon Lester: 24.4% K’s, 7.6% walks, 1.1 HR/9, 3.69 xFIP
  • Joe Ross: 20.8% K’s, 4.8% walks, 1.9 HR/9, 4.11 xFIP

The Cubs have been dominated the past two nights by Scherzer and Strasburg. But, they still have a chance to earn a four-game split given Lester’s advantages over Ross. Though, the loss last night drops Chicago to 11-19 this season against teams at .500 or better. The spark just isn’t there in 2017. Yet.

Texas at Cleveland (early line: Cleveland -260, total 9.5 Under -120)

  • Andrew Cashner: 11.2% K’s, 10.5 % walks, 0.7 HR/9, 5.42 xFIP
  • Corey Kluber: 32.4% K’s, 6.6% walks, 0.9 HR/9, 2.81 xFIP

Huge edges to Kluber, who can be almost impossible to hit when he’s at his best. Cashner’s overdue to get rocked based on the low K-rate, high walk-rate, and ridiculous xFIP. The market respects the three true outcomes, and has priced Kluber accordingly. The Indians have taken two of three, and are prohibitive favorites to win the series. 

Minnesota at Boston (early line: Boston -185, total 10)

  • Kyle Gibson: 14.5% K’s, 10.9% walks, 1.5 HR/9, 5.19 xFIP
  • David Price: 19.3% K’s, 10.0% walks, 1.9 HR/9, 5.12 xFIP

Price has been disappointing as he tries to find past form after an injury layoff. You can see that control is an issue while home runs are a big problem. Price is priced based on reputation and the likelihood that he’ll eventually be his old self. You could see why dog lovers might think about taking a shot on the Twins in those stat lines. Though, asking them to win two in a row after the 4-1 upset of Porcello might scare some away. Remember that sharps look for VALUE rather than worrying about roulette. 

LA Dodgers a LA Angels (early line: LA Dodgers -210, total 7.5 Over -115)

  • Clayton Kershaw: 29.2% K’s, 4.3% walks, 1.4 HR/9, 2.95 xFIP
  • JC Ramirez: 20.1% K’s, 6.1% walks, 1.5 HR/9, 4.09 xFIP

Seeing Kershaw’s numbers give you more context for what a great year Corey Kluber is having! Kershaw’s tendency to challenge hitters in the strike zone hasn’t mixed well with juiced baseballs. But, he’s still an ace because he gets so many strikeouts and walks so few. Ramirez has been serviceable thus far for the Halos. If the Angels are going to make a run at a Wildcard in the AL, they’ll need the rotation to keep holding its own. 

Back with you Friday to discuss the huge NY Yankees/Houston weekend series, as well as the Colorado/Arizona rematch (the Rockies have now lost EIGHT in a row!). 

If you’re reading today’s edition of VSiN City on the website homepage, remember that signing up for a free subscription gets you email delivery every morning along with the daily betting sheets from the South Point. Our twitter account continues to add new features, including audio clips and video look-ins via periscope. Click here to follow us. Thanks to all of you who have sent in comments or questions about the newsletter or our broadcast programming. If something’s on your mind, drop us a note.

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