Three NBA trends in spotlight

December 21, 2021 07:14 PM

After a week off to care for my newborn son, I’m back with the weekly NBA Betting Report. We have two weeks’ worth of data to dive into and three things to dissect, including a meaty value play in an award market. Let’s get to it!

Betting Report

Favorites: 49-44-1 ATS (Season: 232-216-3)

Total O/U: 47-47 (Season: 211-241-6)

Home-court advantage: + 2

These numbers represent the last two weeks of action, but not much can be gleaned from them. Home court will likely hold steady at two points for the rest of the season, and totals have completely evened out. Favorites won the week, but a 52.7 percent cover rate made you a loser if you bet each of the last two weeks.


Markets Adjusting To Hornets’ Style

In a season dominated by Unders early, the Charlotte Hornets have been the shining beacon for Over bettors. Despite their loss to Utah going Under the total, the Hornets lead the league in Overs at 21-12 (63.6 percent), better than the second-best Over team in Denver (17-12, 58.6 percent). The Hornets are the perfect mix of incredible offense and terrible defense that allows their games to sail Over the total. However, despite a flawed roster littered with poor defenders, signs have emerged that this glut of Overs could come to a halt soon.

According to Cleaning The Glass, the Hornets are 30th in non-garbage time defensive efficiency, allowing 114.6 points per 100 possessions. Their rim defense is one of the worst in the NBA. Opponents take 34.1 percent of their attempts within 4 feet and shoot 65.2 percent on those shots. It’s also a defense that cannot defend without fouling, ranking 23rd in defensive free throw rate at 19.3 made free throws by opponents in 100 possessions. Of the 10 players who have played at least 20 games for Charlotte, only Mason Plumlee has an individual defensive rating better than 111.6, which is abysmal.

This was the flaw with this team coming into this season, and it has shown in a massive way so far. The betting market is starting to adjust, though, which is something on which bettors should be keen. In December, the average total for a Hornets game was 225.5, and their last three games have closed higher than 230, with the game against the Jazz peaking at 237.5 at close. Hot streaks do not last forever, and for Hornets Over bettors, the end could be coming soon as the oddsmakers adjust.

LeBron Leading The Lakers

Those who believed LeBron James was done at the beginning of the season might want to tune in and watch some late-night hoops, because The King is balling right now. Heading into Tuesday’s game with Phoenix, James had averaged 28.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game on 50.9 percent shooting in the previous 11 games. That stretch has led to a 7-5 SU and ATS run for Los Angeles that has placed it just outside the sixth seed in the Western Conference. The Lakers might be a flawed team, but if James is on the floor, this team will be a threat every night.

Some might be turned off by the latest injury to Anthony Davis. The power forward is set to miss four weeks with an MCL sprain suffered in Friday’s loss to Minnesota. Los Angeles also has four players in COVID-19 protocol and two more, Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn, dealing with injuries. However, not all is lost, and this could be the start of a surge in the standings. With Davis on the floor this season, the Lakers have been outscored by 2.8 points per 100 possessions. When he is on the floor without LeBron, that net rating is -5.2, and the offense is scoring just 103.5 points per 100 possessions. When James is without Davis, the Lakers are + 5.2 per 100 possessions. Davis is a necessary piece to Los Angeles’ long-term success, but it is clear they are better when LeBron is surrounded by pieces that space the floor and allow him to operate. The betting market seemed to overreact to the loss of Davis in the betting line against Phoenix, and that could be the case in the future, which gives us an opportunity to bet Los Angeles at a market low.

Sixth Man Of The Year

The Dallas Mavericks have been playing without Luka Doncic recently due to an ankle injury, so Jalen Brunson has been thrust into a starting role. The results have been tremendous. As a starter Brunson is averaging 20.1 points, 7.2 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game on 49.0 percent shooting. Last week he was unstoppable in a loss to the Lakers, scoring 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting while dishing nine assists. His recent play prompted me to peruse the Sixth Man of the Year odds at DraftKings, and I was shocked to find he carried 35-1 odds to win the award. That is massive value for a player of his statistical output, but that is not the only surprise on the board.

Miami’s Tyler Herro remains the odds-on favorite at -170, a price that carries an implied probability of 63 percent and is astronomically high at this point of the season. Don’t get me wrong, Herro should be the favorite, but at a modest plus price. With an inflated price like this, it opens plenty of opportunities for bettors outside of Brunson. How about Kelly Oubre, who is averaging 16.3 points and shooting 37.2 percent from 3-point range for Charlotte? He is 11-1 at DraftKings. The further you go down this list, the more value there is to find, but Brunson and Oubre lead the way as value plays to add to the portfolio.

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