Posted Friday, March 07, 2014 11:01 PM
Posted Wednesday, March 05, 2014 05:55 PM
by Michael Stewart
Run down the full slate of Saturday's college hoops betting matchups? Why the hell not.
#1 FLORIDA GAOTRS +8.5 over #25 Kentucky Wildcats (12pm EST)
The Wildcats have been a veritable disaster this entire season, performing with a yo-yo's reliability in the sportsbook. They're riding a horrifying 0-4 ATS losing streak right now, and are just 4-6 ATS in their last 10 overall. Matchup wise, they get killed by teams that have solid frontcourt depth and that's the backbone of these Florida Gators. Julius Randle has fantastic potential, but Patric Young is an established veteran at this level. Florida ends its season with a bang by decimating their only in-conference rival.
#18 SMU Mustangs +3.5 over #20 MEMPHIS TIGERS (12pm EST)
The Tigers are a rough and tumble 6-7-1 ATS at home this season, and are coming off a brutal spanking against the Bearcats. Both of these guys have been put in their place by the Big East contenders, but SMU has been so solid in the sportsbook that it's hard to go against them here. It also helps that SMU clobbered Memphis the last time they met.
#8 Kansas Jayhawks -5.0 over WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (12pm EST)
Expectations can sometimes work against a team that doesn't have much time to discover its true identity, and I think that's the situation with Kansas. The Jayhawks are a brutal 1-4 ATS on the road, but this is WVU. I mean...get real. This is going to be a squash. If Kansas can't blow the Mountaineers off of their own court, they don't deserve to be in the championship discussion. You can overthink this matchup all you want but the pollsters have ranked Kansas in the top-eight all year for a damn good reason. This peanut line is a gift.
RUTGERS KNIGHTS +7.5 over #15 Cincinnati Bearcats (12pm EST)
Cincinnati is a lousy road bet. At just 3-7 ATS when on the road, the Bearcats travel about as well as I do when I have to fly on a hangover. Don't get swept up by the maelstrom of Cincinnati backers flooding the wrong side of this line. Rutgers isn't a great home bet - or a strong play overall - but they can definitely keep this game close. They just barely lost to UConn. The cover is there for the taking.
#6 VILLANOVA WILDCATS -9.5 over Georgetown Hoyas (2pm EST)
This line is scaring a lot of people towards the limp Hoyas, but I'm not getting caught. Villanova has been a wild play in the book this year and will end their season on a high note as they surge in to the Big East tournament with as much momentum as possible. The public action on the Hoyas is based on name value. My pick is based on actual value.
Oklahoma State Cowboys +3.0 over IOWA STATE CYCLONES (2pm EST)
People hate Marcus Smart. I get it. He's not going to be a great pro, but at this level? He's a monster. The Cowboys have picked up a solid four game winning and cover streak heading in to a matchup with the completely overrated Iowa State Cyclones. Take your chances with a team that has just lost two games in a row. I'm going with the one that has won their last four games by an average of +16.8 points.
#19 UConn Huskies over #9LOUISVILLE CARDINAL (2pm EST)
Give me two scoops of Shabazz Napier with a side of more Shabazz! My obsession with Shabazz Napier is not healthy.
#23 Oklahoma Sooners -11.0 over TCU Horned Frogs (4pm EST)
If there's any team in the Big 12 that's a proverbial punching bag, it's the Horned Frogs. Man, what happened to the athletics program at this school?!
#3 Arizona Wildcats -3.0 over OREGON DUCKS (4pm EST)
Arizona is one of my favourite long term investments overall. This is a soft line and the hot shooting of the Ducks makes me nervous, but I think the third best defence in the country can handle the perimeter duties necessary to quiet the quacking home team.
#12 MICHIGAN WOLVERINES -10.5 over Indiana Hoosiers (6pm EST)
The Wolverines don't just love beating up bad teams, they love killing them. You can trust Michigan despite a huge line. They'll be excited to play their last home game before championship week. And Indiana sucks. How's that for in-depth analysis?
#13 CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS -11.5 over Providence Friars (8pm EST)
"But Providence beat Creighton the last time and the Bluejays have gone 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games!"
Screw you, Imaginary Person Who Says Stuff So I Can Make A Counterpoint! Have you ever heard of a revenge game?
Illinois Illini +11.0 over #25 IOWA HAWKEYES
I don't want to sound like I hate the state of Iowa, but there's no way I'm taking either school as massive home favourites. Not when they haven't covered in their last five games, are 3-7 ATS overall and going up against an Illinois team that was just eviscerated by Michigan. The motivated Illini will get the cover...and have a strong chance of stealing the win.
#14 UNC Tar Heels +7.0 over #4 DUKE BLUE DEVILS (9pm EST)
The Tar Heels have been tearing through the country for the past two months, going 10-0 SU and 7-3 ATS over their last ten games, and the oddsmakers just caught up with them last week which caused UNC to start sinking a bit as a pick. But against Duke, their most hated rival, in their own house in an ACC regular season finale? GIVE IT TO ME NOW! I'm not sold on Duke completely, especially in the big time matchups. They don't close out teams that well, and were destroyed by the Tar Heels in their last meeting. The lacking defence in Duke will catch up with them, while Marcus Paige continues to push his team over the edge.
#10 SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS -4.5 over #21 New Mexico Lobos
The Lobos have been one of the hidden gems of college basketball betting this season, but I will never ever have full faith in them against good competition. Not here. Not in championship week. And definitely not in the first round of the March Madness tournament.
(Yup! They burned me a few times and I'm still a very, very, VERY petty man!)
Oh, and Wichita State over Missouri State Bears no matter what the line ends up being.
Posted Wednesday, February 26, 2014 03:09 AM
by Michael Stewart
Last week I featured the Raptors, Warriors, Bucks and Bobcats as my favourite teams to bet on while the Nuggets slipped in as the best team to bet against. While almost all those teams still have value, I thought I'd mention a couple commodities that are booming recently. I've kept the Bucks here, but included four new teams to track. And here they are...
As I wrote last week, the Bucks were never meant to be the worst team in the league. It just happened. They're now 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games and are coming off a huge 114-88 win over the Utah Jazz. The problem with their covers is that they came against playoff teams as backdoor sneaks. I wouldn't call the Bucks a "bet it and forget it" commodity. Not even close.
Their slate over the next week or so will reveal their value in the sportsbook. The play Sacramento tonight then visit New Orleans before hosting Washington and Orlando. Either they're a solid bet against good teams as hefty dogs, or they simply went through a phase where the oddsmakers lost track of them for a minute. I'm hoping its the former, but I have a sneaking suspicion it's the latter.
Dwyane Wade is always hurt and they have a huge target on their backs. So what's happening? LeBron is carrying this team on his back. The main difference between the 2013-14 Heat and any version of the Cavaliers is two-fold. The first is "something something Chris Bosh" and the second is that LeBron James is undoubtedly the greatest basketball player alive right now. All this Kevin Durant MVP talk is driving him insane because there's no way LeBron isn't the most valuable player in the NBA. None. I don't care if Durant is having a great season - LeBron simply has that gravity as an athlete. The only way he shouldn't win the MVP is if he's hurt.
In any case, Miami is 6-2-2 ATS in their last 10 games and are in the midst of a rough road trip that got off to a bad start with a loss against Houston last night. But everything about the Heat in the second half is different than it was with them in the first half. I love Miami right now, especially with a great schedule against strong teams. Get on this bandwagon now because it won't last much longer. This is a streak play for the next week or two. After that, the defending champions probably won't have much value as we barrel in to the playoffs.
Since All-Star Weekend, the Nets are 5-2 SU and ATS which isn't exactly amazing because there are a ton of teams that share that same post-break record. A lot of it has to do with the matchups. They've beaten up the Bucks, Nuggets and Bulls by an average of +16.0 points in their last three games. So why bother investing in them? Because their upcoming schedule is just as tasty. They play Memphis, Boston and Sacramento over the next three games before a divisional grudge match against the Raptors on Monday. The matchup against Toronto is the only one I'm a bit nervous about.
Brooklyn, like Miami, could be a strong second half play. They have an old roster that we love making fun of as fans, but they're still very competitive and every move that they've made suggests that they're not willing to give up on the season. You don't always bet on talent in the NBA, but considering how awful the league is in general, the Nets can be a very promising wager down the stretch. Avoid them if you don't trust the roster, but they're one of the only teams that is deep enough to offer five double-digit scorers every night. Show me another roster that can do that.
The Clippers feel like a juggernaut in the making. Coming out of the break with a brutal 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS record left all their backers wanting more...and Doc Rivers has delivered. Not only has the team acquired a great third banana in Danny Granger, they've also gone 5-0 SU and ATS in their last 5 games.
The Clippers do one thing I love in a good cover team - they gain in-game momentum and use it to burn down the scoreboard. They have great matchups against the Lakers, Atlanta and Phoenix on tap. Get on board and enjoy the ride.
ATLANTA HAWKS (Bet Against)
I ended last week's post by talking about the Denver Nuggets as an automatic bet against team. Well now I'm shifting my sights to the Atlanta Hawks, a team that is a downright terrible 1-8-1 ATS in their last 10 games with literally no hope in sight. Even when they play past their potential, like in their 120-129 defeat against Phoenix, they're still losing and failing to cover. The Hawks may be the worst road bet in the entire NBA right now. With four road games against the Blazers, Clippers, Warriors and Jazz feel free to make as much money off this bunch of losers as you can. The oddsmakers won't be able to build the line high enough to insulate themselves against the apathetic Hawks.
Posted Monday, February 24, 2014 10:47 PM
by Michael Stewart
Hey look at that! Instead of me airing out my thoughts like some old geezer with too much whisky in his dried up veins, it's an actual column about sports wagering! That's right - I've figured out how to write about basketball on a weekly basis without flooding the blogosphere with the same hyperbole and chatter that's already out there.
I'll update this column every week until we slam in to the playoffs, mentioning and highlighting some of my favourite teams to wager on in the moment. Some teams will drop off the list, while others will stay on no matter what because they're making me money. Maybe this will morph in to a top-5 power rankings style thing-a-ma-bob. Who knows! I'm trying to narrow my focus to give you some gambling advice because, as I like to say, this is a gambling article on a gambling advice website that's supposed to help you with gambling on sports. So here you go - my five favourite teams to track in the NBA betting scene right now. Enjoy.
The Raptors have truly been a hidden gem in NBA betting circles, and you'd be a fool not to keep them on your radar. Fortunately, most of the public has ignored Canada's sole team and that's totally fine with me. Toronto has gone an incredible 20-9 ATS on the road this season, which is only slightly offset by their even 13-13-1 ATS record at the Air Canada Centre. To be fair, most playoff teams are pretty bad bets at home these days.
So who is all this happening? Well for one, DeMar DeRozan seems completely validated by his first All-Star selection and is playing like a man possessed. He's averaging 23.4 points per game in his last five outings, which includes game highs of 32 and 33 against Chicago and Cleveland. With DeRozan playing at a mercurial level, and Lowry hell bent on proving he's worth a sizeable contract this summer, it's a truly great time to ride the Raptors like the gravy train they've been all season.
This is a great profit churning team, even though they're a little more attractive on the road. With the playoffs in sight, and this young team ready to prove themselves as a legitimate up-and-comer there's plenty of motivation to bank on here. Stop ignoring them just because they're the Raptors. You like money don't you?
Hello, this week's "terrible team that's great to bet on"! The Bucks are an insane 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games which almost makes no sense whatsoever when you realize that they only won two of those games outright. And they just dropped 130 points on the poor Philadelphia 76ers. Listen, Milwaukee doesn't actually do anything that well but the league's worst team wasn't meant to be the league's worst team. They had a lot of chemistry issues that seem to be resolving themselves, and some lineup inefficiencies that have been solved. It's not a perfect team, and the Bucks definitely won't keep this up, but when there's a hot hand on any betting board you seize it and don't let go until the time is right. Milwaukee's next game is on the road against what's expected to be a monster line in Indiana and after that they face Brooklyn, Utah, Sacramento and New Orleans. Those are some mighty fine matchups for these blazing Bucks.
How on earth is betting on the Charlotte Bobcats and winning money still a thing? Bismack Biyambo leads the team with 5.3 rebounds per game. That ranks him 67th in the league! SIXTY FREAKING SEVENTH!!! He has less rebounds per game than guys like Kris Humphries and Evan Turner! In almost every scenario, a team that rebounds this poorly can't survive defensively because part of getting stops is denying second chance points. So it's even more mind boggling that Charlotte is 5th in the league in points allowed, surrendering just 96.8 points against.
I wrote this earlier this season, but part of what's made Charlotte successful is the presence of veteran Al Jefferson. Frankly, he's the guy that they've been missing for pretty much the franchise's entire existence. Despite his own shortcomings, Jefferson has been a key part of semi-successful NBA teams throughout his lengthy career. He's able to offer the type of stabilizing leadership that this locker room has sorely needed. "Hey kid, you've got some talent. This is how it's done in the pros." You need a guy like that when so many young players on your team have no idea how to handle their lives as professional basketball players.
Still, Charlotte stands as a walking (or dribbling) contradiction. One of Jefferson's biggest shortcomings is his appalling defence. Combine that with Mr. Five Point Three Rebounds Per Game and I can't even begin to understand how or why Charlotte is so good defensively. And that's the beauty about gambling - I don't have to. If that stat was a fraud, it would show in Charlotte's numbers or their ATS record by this point in the season. So far it hasn't, and Charlotte has ripped off a 7-3 SU and 7-2-1 ATS record over their last 10 games.
Trust me, this baffles nobody more than yours truly. I honestly thought that Michael Jordan had sold the team to Christian Laettner in some reverse-jinx attempt to jumpstart this team. I'm not going to ask too many questions. Neither should you.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
This spot rightfully belonged to the Phoenix Suns, but they've began to struggle against the line recently so I've slid them off my active roster and they're simply on my watch list. I think that Phoenix is good, and a whole lot of fun to watch, but they're overachieving and I don't think teams like that can last in an 82-game season.
The Warriors have been underachieving all season, at least when it comes to gambling. Lately, however, they've really tightened the proverbial boot straps with a promising 4-0 SU and ATS run fresh out of the All-Star Break. This weird front court rotation starring David Lee, Andrew Bogut and a rejuvenated Jermaine O'Neal is working for whatever reason even though it shouldn't. Harrison Barnes is evolving sideways, but will still get plenty of run because Andre Igoudala's production has fallen off a cliff. If Barnes ever gets his act together and figures out how to compliment the big men and the Splash Brothers, the Warriors will be a legitimate playoff threat in the west.
As it stands right now, the Warriors look like they're ready to make up a turbulent first half to their backers after busting out of the gates with a nice, early run. I love betting on Golden State because I genuinely appreciate this team, and sometimes i grind the axe a little too long with these guys. But right now they're in the midst of something good, so I'm sticking with them until a) they fall apart as a bet-on team again or b) Phoenix gets its act together.
Say whaaaaaat? Listen, this article is about teams worth tracking, not worth "betting on". And the Denver Nuggets have been ravaged by so many unfortunate injuries that they're easily my favourite bet-against team in the league. They're 2-9 ATS through February already, and I also absolutely hate this franchise. I just never see what the point of their roster is. If I was born a Nuggets fan, I would've strapped my childhood Antonio McDyess jersey to my back and eaten McNuggets until I died just to spite this team. Even if guys like JaVale and Nate Robinson were alive right now, what would that mean for this team? A couple highlight alley-oops and fun chest bumping? The Nuggets are a disaster and things are only going to get worse. Just keep hammering the line against Denver. It's more fun than you think it is. Just trust me on this.
Posted Thursday, February 20, 2014 07:10 PM
by Michael Stewart
One of the things that struck me about the Winter Olympics is the uncertainty. I don't know why it hit me more this year than it has in the past. Maybe it was the unusual conditions at Sochi, with mother nature refusing to offer ideal conditions on the mountain. Maybe it was the screwball judges at figure skating denying one rightful champions the top spot on the podium. It just seemed like such an uphill battle for the athletes.
Nothing took the cake in terms of "unfairness" than figure skating. A report from a French publication predicted that Team Russia would win the team skate, while the American pair of Meryl Davis and Charlie White was going to win the gold in ice dancing. Well, as it turns out, both things happened which sent figure skating fans and a whole lot of Canadians in to a wide variety of hissy fits.
And it only got worse as Russian Adelina Sotnikova skated to the gold ahead of (very arguably) the best female figure skater of all time. Not only did Yuna Kim, who shattered records in 2010, place second in competition, she did so for no discernible reason. Kim is a breathtaking figure skater. You don't have to know anything about the sport (and I know very little) to see the difference. Consider it an "eye test" sort of deal. When you see Yuna Kim skate, you can just tell that she's superior to her competition. But did she end up winning despite a flawless program at the Sochi Olympics? Absolutely not.
We're talking about a two time world champion and a technician that has never finished lower than third in any competition. Yuna Kim is as close to perfection as it gets in figure skating and even she couldn't overcome the judging despite leaving everything she had on that ice. It's ridiculous.
It's hard to read between the lines in a sport that has been corrupted by judging and under-the-table deals for decades. What I do find unnerving is that a massive group of accomplished skaters are retiring following the Olympics. Yuna Kim will leave behind her throne at the tender age of 24, which isn't old by figure skating standards. Nancy Kerrigan was 25 when she competed at the 1994 games. Kim isn't alone either - three-time world champion Patrick Chan, a Canadian who finished with a silver on the men's side deservedly, has also decided to call it quits out of the blue. Same goes for the two pairs involved in the ice dancing scandel. White and Davis will sail off in to a golden sunset while Virtue and Moir return home knowing in their hearts that they were robbed.
Maybe they can all see the writing on the wall. Perhaps the strain of competition has won out over the desire to fight a constant, battle against a judging system that is complete and utter garbage. Trust me - if an American had been "screwed" out of the title, then ESPN would not rest until they uncovered the truth. The fact that America might have been in on the figure skating scandal doesn't help us fix this sport.
While figure skaters were getting screwed by judges, athletes in the outdoors were also getting murdered by a lacking conditions. This is the flip-side of contreversy. Sometimes there's a human influence, and other times it's just bad weather. The half-pipe, the alpine downhill mountain and even the sled tunnels weren't ideal and all the athletes suffered for it. I mean, that mountain was devouring skiers in the Super-G events and it continued throughout the entirety of alpine events at the games as well. There was no trickery here either. Maybe a butterfly in Japan forgot to flap its wings or something and that caused warmer-than-usual weather in Russia. Who knows?
All I knew is that great athletes in these events were getting munched by unfavourable conditions and not one of them took it personally, which is something I actually marvelled at because I'm a deadbeat gambler who gets mad at the dumbest things in the known universe.
This is something that's quite unique to the Winter Olympics. The athletes expect to get screwed by something, whether it's awful conditions on the mountain or demented judges behind a scoring table. That doesn't happen in the summer games for the simple reason that it's a stripped down display of human athletics that shows us who can jump higher, soar longer or run faster. You never hear athletes complaining that the track was too slippery. What you will hear, occasionally, is that gymnastics judging is way off the mark. Surprise, surprise.
Human error is part of this, but it seems as if the governing bodies don't understand how to circumvent these pre-existing problems or improve on what's already there. It wouldn't hurt to freaking try, would it?
This all came to a boiling point as I woke up at the crack of dawn to take in the Canada-Sweden gold medal hockey game only to hear that Niklas Backtrom had been suspended for a failed doping test. Nobody saw it coming, namely because hockey players almost never get dinged for abusing PED's and the like, but right after the game ended a more detailed report came out revealing that Backstrom had been penalized for a drug found in allergy medications that he'd been taking for years. In short, it was an oversight by the doctor that was completely and utterly unfair. Sweden ended up losing one of their best players two hours before the biggest game of the Olympics, and Backstrom will have to wait another four years to have a chance to play in another gold medal game. And there's a big chance that Sweden never gets back to that game in Backstrom's career.
So how do you fix all this crap?
Sadly, I'm not sure you can. When the chance for human error interjects itself in a sporting event in the form or a judge or referee, something weird is going to happen. It's because nobody's perfect. The difference in the four majors is that the commissioners and the people in charge valiantly try to make the right calls with instant replay, even if it completely ruins the rhythm and flow of a matchup (I'm looking in your direction, NFL). And even with all the high-definition camera angles, professionals analyzing each step a player makes and so on, they still screw up calls left, right and center.
Part of me loves the moral outrage when a ref gets a call wrong, or a judge blows a scorecard. Sometimes I can be forgiving, but there's also a section of my brain that remembers how often this happens. I've played sports to a pretty high level as well, and have been on the receiving end of some raw deals from the zebras. At some point along the way, I've inherently programmed one infallible truth in to myself - that life isn't fair.
I just wish that in the spirit of what the Olympics is supposed to represent, we could do a little bit better or at least try to.
Then again, if medal hopefuls are able to shrug off being cheated out of things by mother nature or a paid off judge, then I probably shouldn't get so mad at Syracuse getting owned by Duke over the weekend. If an athlete can take a bad beat at the most pivotal moment in their athletic career, I can do a better job of taking my lumps as a gambler.
by Michael Stewart
The dust has settled from the NBA trade deadline, and the biggest move of the day has come in the form of Indiana swapping out Danny Granger for Philadelphia's Evan Turner. It's not secret that the Pacers and Heat are destined for a meeting in the Eastern Conference Finals. The odds currently favour them at -110 (Pacers) and -125 (Heat) to win the east. The next two teams are Brooklyn at +2000 and Toronto at +4000.
We all know that Indiana will only go as far as Paul George, Lance Stephenson, George Hill and Roy Hibbert can take them. Same goes for the Heat and their trio of superstars. But both teams are now piling up former high-end draft picks that can be called draft busts. Typically, guys off the bench will play against one another in about one quarter's worth of action in the playoffs. And that means that we're looking at a chance to see a weird rendition of bustapolooza in the Eastern Conference Finals starring the likes of Evan Turner, Andrew Bynum, Greg Oden and Michael Beasley.
I love crap like this.
Let's start with the Pacers' newest acquisition. Evan Turner is considered by many to be one of the league's biggest draft busts. He was selected second overall in 2010, one spot behind John Wall and eight spots ahead of his new teammate, Paul George. I don't actually like how the general public discusses a "bust" in NBA terms because it relies on so many things. Guys like Bargnani and Kwame are outright busts. They stink and there's literally no way to defend them. Others like Oden (who I'll get to later) battled seriously debilitating injuries. Turner just never lived up to his potential but is still an effective player. In 34.9 minutes per game, he's averaging 17.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. I'm not sure what he can do with excessively limited minutes but he can certainly be a great sixth man. He seems like that kind of player.
Turner is never going to be an All-Star. He doesn't have the chops. But off the bench in a reserve role on a great team? That's a role he can thrive in. The former Buckeye has routinely faced the opposition's best defenders throughout the season and has posted highs of 34 against New York, 29 against Brooklyn and dropped 26 against Miami in the season opener for Philly. As the backbone of the bench in Indiana, he's not just going to be a savvy asset that's much cheaper than the player he's replacing - Turner could turn out to be the impact bench guy that Indiana so desperately needed last year.
There were a few reasons that Indiana lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Paul George wasn't as consistent as he's been this season, Frank Voggel was out of his depth at times and the team didn't really have any experience playing in a moment that immense. Nothing, however, was a more glaring problem than their awful bench.
In 2012-13, Indiana's reserves were highlighted by Tyler Hansbrough and D.J. Augustin, two guys who are no longer with the team (both of them ended up on Toronto for some weird reason though Augustin now plays for the Bulls, and to be fair, Hansbrough has endeared himself in Toronto as a hustle player). In the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals, Augustin and Hansbrough were consistently torched by Miami's bench players. Managing their stars' minutes became the hardest part about Indiana's game planning because those 13-to-15 minutes that George, Hibbert, Hill and Stephenson were resting created anxiety like nothing else. Indiana needed better backups. Period dot.
Over the course of the summer, Indiana made moves to immediately upgrade that bench by adding Luis Scola and C.J. Watson, a pair of inside-outside guys who have been totally fine and completely average in limited time. The Pacers are paying those two $6.5M combined for 13.8 points and 6.2 rebounds together in about 18 minutes of action. That's pretty good.
But things got waaaaaay more interesting when Indiana brought on former pariah Andrew Bynum who somehow coaxed the Pacers in to signing him after he stole money from Philadelphia and then acted like such a scumbag in Cleveland that they paid him to leave. Bynum's a former 10th pick by the way and he hasn't played a lick of action, but he's also just a handful of years away from being the second best center in the league behind Dwight Howard. If Bynum feels like adding a third NBA Championship to his trophy case, and bolster his value in the open market this coming summer, a huge performance in the playoffs would be apt. Make no mistake about Andrew Bynum - when money is at stake, the guy performs.
Miami has had Oden and Beasley for the balance of this entire season and neither are having huge impacts. Oden was the first overall pick in 2007 and is considered a bust even though his knees betrayed him. The skill is there; you can still see glimpses of it every now and then. But his athleticism has faded. I'm still rooting for him because he's been unfairly criticized. Catastrophic injuries are an unfair quality in a "bust". Guys like Oden and Adam Morrison deserve a free pass in my eyes.
Michael Beasley is a different story entirely. This guy had all the talent in the world and truly never lived up to it. He bounced around between Minnesota and Phoenix before returning to the team that drafted him second overall in 2008 for a relatively measily $1.08M salary this year. Oden makes about $800K by comparison.
The fun part? Bynum, Beasley, Oden and Turner aren't guaranteed jack squat after this season is over. And what better stage for them to prove their worth to any potential suitor than the glorious battlefield of the Eastern Conference Finals? Obviously that's a series that will be more about George and LeBron than anythign else. Stephenson against Wade and Roy Hibbert bullying Chris Bosh will be the undercard. But the battle of busts off the bench is a welcome sideshow to what's expected to be a dramatic conference finals.
Can we just skip the season and get there already?
OTHER DRAFT DAY NOTES
-Philadlephia made more noise by sending big man Spencer Hawes to Cleveland, while acquiring more second rounders to add to the bevy of draft picks they've already accumulated. It's a great day for Philly. I don't know what the hell is going on in Cleveland. It's a messy collection talent.
-Andre Miller moved from the Nuggets to Washington in exchange for another bust, Jan Vesely, who is now more famous for having a hot girlfriend than being a basketball player. Miller will be a great mentor for Wall, who is still a great score-first point guard who needs to learn how to get his teammates involved. That's where Miller has made his money.
-Gary Neal landing in Charlotte, along with Luke Ridnour, seems like one of the bigger coups of the day. Ramon Sessions goes back to Milwaukee to play for a fan base that hated them while he was there, and probably hates that he's back. I've always like Neal's game. He'll be a great role player for a fringe playoff team in Charlotte.
-The Atlanta Hawks picked up Antawn Jamison and I didn't honestly know he was still in the league. I wish that was a joke...