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Don’t Forget About Us: Three NBA Teams That Deserve Bettor’s Attention

The betting landscape, just like others in and around sports, tends to focus on the big markets and teams with cache. Even in a down year, the Lakers, Yankees, or Cowboys will get the lion’s share of the attention.

That leaves others with a chance to toil relatively unnoticed, a scenario that plays out in the NBA each season before someone says, “Wait, how did (Team X) get into fourth place?!?” If you can still find some good NBA futures odds out there, then perhaps you should keep your eyes on these less-heralded squads that are moving up the ladder…quietly.

Don’t Forget About Us: Three NBA Teams That Deserve Bettor’s Attention
Nic Claxton #33 of the Brooklyn Nets - Mike Lawrie/Getty Images/AFP


1. New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans wake up Wednesday nestled between a Hall of Famer-laden Los Angeles Clippers team that still has made the biggest trade of the season and was white hot for the better part of two months, and a Phoenix Suns team with more Hall of Fame talent being guided by a reborn Kevin Durant.

New Orleans could say it is forfeiting the rest of the season and the national headlines would still focus on how many assists James Harden had and when Devin Booker is back from injury. But the Pelicans just might finish higher than both of them, could get homecourt advantage in the first round, and just might give a Minnesota or a Denver all it can handle in a second-round matchup.

Behind Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and plenty of complementary pieces that fit just right, the Pelicans are in the top 10 in the NBA in shooting, 3-point shooting, rebounds, and steals. If pure plus/minus is your thing, their plus-5.1 figure trails on Boston, Oklahoma City, and Minnesota.

New Orleans has seen its winning percentage increase five straight seasons, reaching the playoffs two years ago and a play-in game last year. So while we’re talking about how the Pelicans are sort of sneaking up on all the big dogs in the West, they’re really right where they should be, a young, talented collection making the leap. They’re 33-19 since mid-November and could be a force this spring


NBA Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Zion Hitting Stride in New Orleans
Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans – Carmen Mandato Getty Images via AFP


2. Orlando Magic

Again, all the attention in the East centers on dominant Boston, underperforming (until the break) Milwaukee, injury-plagued New York, and scrappy Miami. The Donovan Mitchell-led Cavaliers and Tyrese Haliburton-led Pacers also get their fair share of ink.

Yet here are the Magic, a defensively sound unit with a second-year star in Paolo Banchero that is surging up the East. They enter Wednesday in fourth place, riding a four-game winning streak and 12-3 in their last 15.

Orlando also leads the NBA in against-the-spread record at 41-21, so it has been a great option for those of you putting down a bet. We would’ve liked to see them add a shooter at the deadline (the Magic are last in the NBA with 10.9 3-pointers per game), but they are a pain in the butt to play and seem to really enjoy going out there for head coach Jamahl Mosley.

Those are qualities that can make a difference in a tight series in late April.


3. Brooklyn Nets

As an underperforming team in a big market that required a coaching change, the Nets did get plenty of attention for a spell there. But they’re always going to be second fiddle to the Knicks, especially when the Manhattanites are good, and once Brooklyn seemingly faded from the playoff picture they also faded from the consciousness of many who pay attention to such matters.

It still probably won’t move the needle much, but the Nets still have a chance to make some noise and draw a few fans back to Barclays Center in the coming weeks. They enter Wednesday 2½ games behind Atlanta for the final Play-In spot, and the Hawks – who’ve already lost the season series (tiebreaker) to Brooklyn – are without Trae Young for a good while longer.

The Nets had a winning record nearly two months into the season and were still a .500 team after Christmas before the bottom fell out under Jacque Vaughn. They were once a go-to NBA betting option at the sportsbook, winning their first five against the spread and opening 16-5 in that department.

Injuries, as with almost every team that struggles to meet expectations, had a lot to do with a January/February slump. Ben Simmons remains out after a brief return, Cam Johnson hurt his ankle the other day and Cam Thomas is banged up. But Kevin Ollie took over for Vaughn and the team has gone 4-4 under his leadership (4-2 in the last six), so perhaps a spark has been lit among those who are still on the floor.

It’s not like the Nets are going to win the East or anything, but while other teams have a swoon coming, this team already went through theirs. They have a clean slate, extremely lowered expectations, and can just ball out against what is ranked as the second-easiest remaining schedule. Much of it is on the road, but Brooklyn gets to play Detroit twice, Toronto twice, Washington, Charlotte, and San Antonio in the final 20 games.

Don’t be stunned if they’re taking on a team like Philadelphia in a Play-In game with nothing to lose. And don’t be surprised if we recommend taking them with a bet online in that one.



Questions Of The Day


Are any of these teams involved in Wednesday night’s NBA games?

Only the Magic, who are in Washington to play the lowly Wizards. Orlando is finishing up a back-to-back after winning at Charlotte on Tuesday and finishing up three games in four nights, so be careful when placing your NBA bets for tonight.

And what about Thursday night?

The Nets get another chance to inch closer to Atlanta when they visit Detroit.


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