The NBA season is only three weeks old and little more than 10 percent of the schedule has been completed. However, there’s no time like the present to go around the league and cherry pick the best of the bunch so far. Without further ado, let’s go!
Eastern Conference Winners
Toronto Raptors – Despite winning 59 games and copping the No. 1 playoff seed in the East last year, Toronto took six games to dispatch the pedestrian-at-best Washington Wizards and were summarily swept out of the playoffs in the next round by the Cavaliers. Notwithstanding their talented roster, the team lacked grit and many believed their acquisition of the supremely gifted Kawhi Leonard was just a one-year rental for a player who wished to be elsewhere.
However, the Raps are making a case that this year is different and it’s hard to argue as they have the best record in the Eastern Conference in the early part of November. Maybe Toronto had a heart transplant in the offseason but Leonard has proven to be worthy of their pursuits, averaging over 26 points per game which is above his career best of 25.7 during the 2016-2017 season.
Milwaukee Bucks – The Greek Freak is back and he’s better than ever kids. If voting closed for the league’s MVP today, Giannis Antetokounmpo would have our vote and more than a few others. The Bucks’ young forward is averaging 26.1 PPG and nearly 14 boards per game. Milwaukee experienced their first loss of the season after winning their first seven when they fell to Boston 117-113. However, the news is nothing but good in Milwaukee as the Bucks are second in the league in points, third in assists, fifth in points allowed and tops in rebounds. Sounds like the makings of a juggernaut.
Boston Celtics – After finding their early season footing, the Celtics ripped off four straight wins until they had a WTF moment in Indiana and bowed 102-101 to the Pacers. But all systems are go for Boston and bench jockey Marcus Morris is proving to be reliable in his supporting role. The C’s are the top defensive team in the league but their point production has been lacking. Nevertheless, they are the team to beat in the East with all due respect to the Bucks, Raptors, and 76ers.
Indiana Pacers – Although the Pacers had a big victory over Boston it’s not their modus operandi to beat the big boys. Indiana has a flair for kicking the hell out of the weak sisters and thus looking more formidable than they actually are. However, we must include them because their record dictates we do but don’t get used to seeing the Pacers in such elite company.
Golden State Warriors – It’s no surprise the Warriors are here and it would only be shocking if we didn’t see Steph and the boys in the Finals come June. The Warriors are a machine and the only thing we didn’t see coming was the emergence of 26-year-old Alfonzo McKinnie who has come out of nowhere to contribute to the success of the franchise.
It also comes as no surprise that the oddsmakers are routinely favoring the Warriors by double digits and those who make money on such events understand that one of the most trusted online sportsbooks in the industry can be seen at SBR where you can read the Bovada review before placing some action. Yes, Bovada is commonly hailed as the most venerable online sportsbook in the world and if you’ve got an inclination to get in on the action or simply need another out, give Bovada a chance to earn your business.
Denver Nuggets – Say what?! Wow, who would have thought that the Nuggets would jump out of the gates and into contention in such a big way? Not only are they winning but this is a team showing more temerity than we ever thought possible as evidenced by their 35 point fourth-quarter explosion which led them well past the Jazz in a 103-88 victory. But defense, not offense, has been the hallmark of their success on the young season and a penchant for beating up teams on the glass. How long this lasts, who knows? But right now, the Nuggets are pure gold.
Portland Trail Blazers – It’s certainly not startling to see the Blazers here, however, there is a team of note that is missing. Hmm, wonder which team that could be? Oh well, apparently, we have a failure to launch but we’ll eventually figure it out.
Portland is playing a high-tempo offense complemented by a stout defense and is doing it all while punishing the glass. CJ McCollum is not quite up to his usual lofty standards but he’s getting close and Damian Lillard is nearly unconscious with a 28 plus point per game average and hitting everything that moves.
Well, that’s it until next time people, and if you want to put your money where your mouth is when betting the NBA, make sure to check out the best online sportsbooks over at SBR.
Eastern Conference Down to Big Three – Rest Playing for Next Year
Eastern Conference Down to Big Three – Rest Playing for Next Year
The 2018-2019 NBA season hasn’t even tipped, yet we already know that there are realistically only three teams vying to be Eastern Conference champs. All we have to do is take a peek at what the professional oddsmakers at the world’s top betting sites are dealing on each individual team in the East to win the conference crown.
Boston Celtics -110
Toronto Raptors +375
Philadelphia 76ers +400
Milwaukee Bucks +2350
Washington Wizards +2600
Indiana Pacers +2800
New York Knicks +7000
Miami Heat +7000
Detroit Pistons +7000
Charlotte Hornets +9000
Chicago Bulls +9000
Cleveland Cavaliers +9000
Orlando Magic +12000
Brooklyn Nets +18500
Atlanta Hawks +20000
There are no shockers here as the Celtics, 76ers, and Raptors lead the list with last season’s Eastern Conference kings, the Cleveland Cavaliers, nowhere to be found now that LeBron has taken his talents to the West Coast. Perhaps the only tinge of surprise were the rather lofty odds on the Milwaukee Bucks. After all, they enjoy the services of one who many believe to be the preeminent player in the conference in Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka The Greek Freak. But one man does not a team make and that was evident last year when the Bucks were bounced in the opening round by the Celtics. Had it not been for Antetokounmpo, who led the team in scoring in four of the seven playoff games with Boston, Milwaukee would not only have been swept but would never have even sniffed the postseason. Nevertheless, the Bucks have him as well as Khris Middleton, and to a lesser extent Eric Bledsoe, to form a talented triumvirate that would be good enough to compete with the big boys if they had a more adept group surrounding them. Who knows, maybe the kid from Villanova, Donte DiVincenzo, the No. 18 pick in the draft this year will add the oomph they need. But the fact remains that Milwaukee is just another also-ran behind the Big Three.
The Toronto Raptors won the regular season title in the East last season, notching 59 wins and the No. 1 seed. But it wasn’t exactly a stunner when, after ousting the Bucks in six games, they were swept in four by LeBron James – not the Cavaliers – just LeBron. But this year they pried a disenchanted Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs which makes them a better team right from jump street. However, the loss of DeMar DeRozan in that deal should not be overlooked. Essentially, they dealt a four-time All-Star for a younger two-time All-Star. We’re not sure Kawhi is a game changer here with DeRozen out of the picture.
What we’re really down to is the Celtics versus the Sixers – conjuring images of Larry, Kevin and the Chief against Dr. J, Sir Charles, and Moses. But this is 2018 and now it’s Kyrie, Jason, and Jalen battling Joel, Ben, and Dario. The personalities may not be nearly as big as those towering figures of the 80’s but the talent is most definitely there. The key question could be the status of Philadelphia’s Markelle Fultz, the top overall pick in the 2017 draft. Fultz was on the shelf shortly after he began his rookie campaign but returned near the end of the season with mixed results. But is he the real deal or a first-round bust? It’s too early to tell but if he provides the goods then the Green could be in for a reversal of fortune when they bounced the 76ers in last year’s postseason.
The Celtics have their own question that needs answering as Gordon Hayward is ready to roll after a gruesome leg injury in last year’s season opener that had fans wincing between closed eyes and gritted teeth. Will Hayward return to the form that made him the second prized free agent two seasons ago, along with Kyrie Irving? We will soon find out.
If you want action on the teams in the East or even teams in the West, make sure to check out the industry’s top betting sites and make an informed decision about where to trust your bankroll. Not all online sportsbooks are created equal so get educated and may all your wagers be winners.
Basketball Insiders’ Intern Program 2018-2019
Basketball Insiders is looking for a few interns for the 2018-2019 season. Interested? Click for details.
We are looking for a few good people…
Basketball Insiders Intern Program is a hands-on opportunity for enrolled college students to build their work experience and learn the behind-the-scenes operations of a professional news publication.
All positions are virtual in nature, but will require applicants to attend select meetings, attend games as assigned and work closely with a senior member of our team.
Interns will assist in transcribing interviews, preparing written reports, conducting interviews and assisting in the general preparation of news and editorial materials.
Scheduling is flexible, but most projects will require fast turnaround in a post-game environment, meaning late nights and weekends.
To qualify for the Insiders Sports’ Intern Program, applicants must be enrolled in a college or university and be in their sophomore or junior year.
All applicants must be in good academic standing and have excellent written and verbal communication skills.
To qualify, applicants must live within 20 minutes of an NBA team, have reliable internet connectivity and possess a personal laptop or desktop computer. An advanced knowledge of the NBA and its teams is a plus.
If you are interested in being considered, please submit an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
The NBA Market Closest To You:
A Brief Paragraph On Why We Should Choose You:
Please format the e-mail exactly as stated. This position requires an ability to follow very detailed instructions, so please illustrate that in your submission.
The submission window for this opportunity will close on November 4, 2018
Don’t Blame Boogie – NBA Created The Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors were already heavy favorites to win their third consecutive NBA championship. When DeMarcus Cousins agreed to join the Warriors for the 2018-19 season, many players and fans groaned at the prospect of a non-competitive scenario.
When Cousins heals, the Warriors will appear next to unbeatable. NBA futures now rate the Golden State Warriors as -175 favorites to win another ring, according to odds from BeABetterBettor.com, which translates to a 63.64% chance to win the 2019 NBA Finals.
Some will blame Boogie and Durant for chasing a ring with an established champion, but that opinion ignores the unique free agent market scenario which created the current dearth of parity – and a strange lack of demand for the services of DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins Career Straddles The Three-Point Era
Before DeMarcus Cousins broke out under the tutelage of coach Mike Malone, Boogie was already one of the most exciting young talents in the association. Over his first three seasons, Cousins averaged 16.3 PPG, 9.8 RPG and 2.3 APG, along with 1.3 steals and 0.9 blocks.
When coach Malone served as bench boss for the Kings, DeMarcus responded by turning into an all-star. Cousins lifted his game into elite territory, averaging 22.7 PPG, 11.7 RPG and 2.9 APG. Perhaps more impressive, he leveraged his impressive frame and athleticism as a rim protector and defensive menace, with 1.3 blocks and 1.5 steals per game.
After a 9-5 start to the 2015 season, DeMarcus went down with an injury, which triggered a Kings losing streak and the departure of coach Malone, who established an excellent rapport with Cousins. Boogie balled out anyway, with 24.5 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 3.2 APG and 1.5 steals and
1.5 blocks per game during his next three seasons. DeMarcus even added a three-point shot to his arsenal, hitting treys at a .356 rate during his last campaign with the Kings.
Sacramento attempted to build winner around DeMarcus, but things didn’t work out for either party in the constantly shifting competitive landscape of the NBA. When Cousins entered the association during the 2010-11 season, the rise of the three pointer was just beginning and the value of a traditional big man had yet to fall.
Cousins career happened to begin at the end of an era while his prime years took place in the beginning of another basketball milieu – a strange situation for any talented athlete.
Is Boogie The Least Wanted NBA All-Star?
A trade from Sacramento to New Orleans was best for everyone, giving Cousins a chance to make the playoffs while stocking the Kings with vital draft picks and prospects. Despite concerns that Boogie and the Brow wouldn’t mesh well as towering, ball-centric big men, DeMarcus Cousins altered his game to compensate for the interior dominance of Anthony Davis.
In 2017-18, Cousins posted personal highs of 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game, along with 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. Statistically, DeMarcus distributed more than ever alongside Davis while absorbing more physical punishment in the paint than any other point in his career.
A blown Achilles during a hustle play would prevent Cousins from completing his first full season with a playoff contender. This forced him to watch from the sidelines as Playoff Rondo and Davis swept Portland, before the Warriors eliminated the Pelicans in five games. After playoff
success without DeMarcus, New Orleans decided to focus more on the perimeter shooting of Nikola Mirotić.
Incredibly, zero teams offered Cousins a contract offer for the 2018-19 season, despite the fact that he would immediately boost the championship hopes of any contender when his Achilles heals. DeMarcus and his agent obviously planned for this contingency, because they didn’t wait long before joining the Warriors for a ludicrously low $5.3 million single-year contract.
NBA Parity And The Salary Cap Can’t Stop Warriors
On paper, the Golden State Warriors have the greatest starting lineup in NBA history for the 2018-19 season. Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green and Cousins should be able to completely decimate any opposition. A few years ago, no one would dare believe that this group could play together outside of an all-star or summer Olympics squad.
When the news spread over basketball Twitter, players and fans lined up to express their displeasure with Cousins and the Warriors organization. Some even hinted at forgoing the next season, implying that Golden State cannot be beat unless injury strikes. Even then, the Warriors would probably win a championship minus two all-stars.
The current labor agreement, Boogie’s injury and the three-point era created the conditions necessary to undervalue the services of DeMarcus Cousins. Signing Kevin Durant became possible with the rapid rise of the salary cap due to a rich television and media deal.
Some blame players or teams for the lack of parity, but the revenue increase of the new contract with TNT and ESPN injected the NBA with a dose of healthy chaos.
Parity’s never been the end goal of the NBA – and that’s fine. Superpowers have almost always ruled over the association, including the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, Pistons, Spurs and whatever team employs LeBron.
Overall, the sport continues to thrive worldwide. The current narrative of “the Warriors versus the world” doesn’t damage pro basketball. If anything, witnessing unprecedented greatness drives interest in the sport, and Boogie’s presence will add to the legend of the Golden State Warriors.