NBA Best Underdogs This Season
These Four NBA Teams Will Surprise
Even if the ending to the NBA season is sometimes a foregone conclusion, there are surprises at every corner especially during the regular season where certain teams defy expectations.
Looking for the NBA's best underdogs isn't easy but turning to betting odds is a good place to gauge how the public views each team. With the NBA's blockbuster-filled season that gave rise to a few more superteams, some teams have been left out of the hype.
One of these teams is the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers turned the page by sending nine-time All-Star Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets and letting shooting guards J.J. Reddick and Jamal Crawford walk. In return for Paul, the Clippers got Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams among many others. Beverley steps right in as starting point guard and can provide defensive and intensity while allowing the Clippers to shift away from a Paul-dominated offense.
Lou Williams was the 2015 Sixth Man of the Year and is a big scoring punch off the bench. He'll partially account for the departures of Reddick and Crawford but it will still be all up to franchise player Blake Griffin to elevate his game further. The five-time All-Star has struggled to stay healthy and has yet to replicate his 2014 form where he scored 24 points per game.
The Clippers aren't going anywhere and while winning the division is a longshot, expect them to win more than their predicted 43.5 games - upsetting a few favourites along the way - when healthy. There are other underdogs to keep under your radar:
Over/Under Wins: 45.5
The Nuggets were this close to making the playoffs last season missing out by a game.
The rise of Serbian big man Nikola Jokic gave this team an unexpected franchise piece. Jokic averaged 16.7 points and 9.8 rebounds a game with 4.9 assists while only playing 28 minutes. He also shot over 57%. Four-time All-Star Paul Millsap is also joining team forming one of the NBA's premier big-man duos.
The Nuggets just missed out on the playoffs last season and only got better this season. A key position to keep an eye out for is their point guard spot. If either Jamal Murray or Emmanuel Mudiay can lock it down, the Nuggets will be complete. They're expected to make the bottom part of the seedings and they'll play a higher-seeded team close but come regular season, the Nuggets could be a trendy underdog pick.
Over/Under Wins: 42.5
The Hornets are usually inconsistent and thus unpredictable. Mostly seen as an underwhelming franchise, they've slowly made improvements but can't seem to stay healthy.
They lost Nicolas Batum earlier this pre-season and who knows how many games Dwight Howard or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are going to play. Amidst all these questions, you can expect Kemba Walker to make this team a live dog on any given night.
Walker is coming off his best season and made his first All-Star appearance. He's the heart and soul of the team and is the engine that keeps them afloat offensively especially in the fourth where he does his best work. It'll be up to new acquisition Michael Carter-Williams and this year's pick, Malik Monk to account for some of the playmaking and offense Batum gives. If Howard and Kidd_Gilchrist play at least 50-60 games, the Hornets will be a tough out each night.
Over/Under Wins: 37.5
The Grizzlies will be tough to predict this year. The "grit and grind" era is coming to a close with the departures of most of the core team save for Marc Gasol and Mike Conley.
The two are quietly considered one of the NBA's best tandem and they have led the Grizzlies to perennial playoff berths. While winning the division is out of the question, they are a well-coached unit with plenty of talent to upset even the top teams.
It's a boon if the medical team keeps Gasol and Conley healthy but if they somehow get Chandler Parsons close to his prime form and restore Mario Chalmers, Tyreke Evans, and Ben McLemore, the Grizzlies will suddenly be a team who can make noise and even give an upper seed a tough time in the playoffs. From a seasonal perspective, keep an eye on the Grizzlies especially when they are healthy.
NBA Betting Lines
The best part about making predictions is being right especially if those picks are bold: like picking underdogs. Bragging rights leave you with a fleeting feeling of triumph but winning actual money goes a further way. Online sportsbooks offer Canadians a bevy of options for playing the NBA including a generous signup bonus for new players. Only your gut can tell you when there is an upset brewing. Listen to it and don't miss out on lucrative opportunities.
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