With training camp about two weeks away, the news cycle is intensifying. Several teams continue to make minor moves to round out their roster, some of which could have an impact on our NBA odds. Some intriguing special NBA bet options have popped up recently and now seems like a good time to take a stab at a few.
Booker/Durant/Beal Combined Games – Over 154½ (-190)
Just one awkward landing on a rebound or a snapped finger in a fight for a loose ball can torpedo a bet online such as this. Focusing more on what we do know, we think there’s something to be done at the sportsbook regarding this Big Three.
As the league makes efforts to curb the plague of players resting, there’s a better chance that stars such as Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal suit up more often. The trio played a total of 150 games last season, just shy of this NBA betting target, but we think there’s a good chance at a big bump.
It’s hard to measure, but this should be a very motivated crew in Phoenix. They are playing for a new coach and each of the superstars is coming off disappointing seasons, at least in terms of wins and losses.
Booker averages over 66 games per season and is still just 26. The 53 games he played in 2022-23 were a career low, so unless he sets a new personal standard for missed games, he figures to go up in that category. With Chris Paul out of the mix, this is his team now and Booker will have a chip on his shoulder. Expect a run at 70 games from him, which leaves a little more wiggle room for the other two.
Durant is the biggest question mark here. He turns 35 later this month and has averaged just 46 games in the three seasons since his Achilles tear, which knocked him out of the 2019-20 campaign.
We certainly don’t expect KD to approach his early-career durability. He played an average of 71 games over his first 12 seasons before the Achilles tear. But playing on some underachieving and dysfunctional Nets teams probably led to a few self-motivated DNPs over the past few seasons. If the Suns are clicking early, he’ll be more of a regular.
Beal played in all 82 games in both 2017-18 and 2018-19. In four seasons since, with the Wizards trotting out a pretty poor team each time, he’s averaged only 52. If Booker and Durant hit some reasonable targets, then 52 would be enough for paydirt. But we expect Beal to be more involved in his first season in Phoenix. He supposedly had a sore knee late last season that caused him to miss the last 10 games, but the Washington Wizards were playing out the string, and it stands to reason that he’d have been in there if they stayed in contention for anything.
New coach Frank Vogel had eight different players play at least 60 games with the 2019-20 Los Angeles Lakers, including LeBron James and Anthony Davis. That led to an NBA title in Vogel’s first season at the helm. Perhaps a similar scenario plays out here, at least in terms of all the stars buying in.
This is an inexact science. But motivation and a clean slate can do a lot for guys like this. If you are making some season-long NBA picks, banking on some consistency in Phoenix is a good place to go.
Victor Wembanyama Under 65½ Games (-150)
When David Robinson broke into the league for San Antonio, he played all 82 games. When Tim Duncan was a rookie with the Spurs, he played all 82 games.
When Victor Wembanyama hangs up his sneakers at the end of the season, he will not have played 82 games. It’s just a different time than when The Admiral and The Big Fundamental came into the league, and while they were much-heralded players, they didn’t have the target on their backs like Wembanyama does.
At 7-4 and just a shade heavier than 200 pounds, Wembanyama doesn’t have the typical frame meant for the physicality of the NBA. He’ll spend plenty of time in open space, especially on offense, and he’ll be a star, but the regular grind is something he hasn’t seen yet.
Wemby played every game for his team in France last season, but it was just 43 games. The schedule there often has several days – even more than a week – between contests. A back-to-back in Sacramento and then Los Angeles is an altogether different beast than what he experienced back home.
San Antonio has 11 of those back-to-backs. It also has the annual Rodeo Road Trip, a nine-game excursion in February that lasts three weeks. Almost nobody can survive all of that without a rest or two, especially a thin rookie that the team will want to protect when it can.
One of the better NBA predictions you can make is for Wembanyama to miss about 20 games.
Kristaps Porzingis Under 20½ PPG (-130)
Porzingis was trending in a positive direction in the scoring column as a Wizard, culminating in a career-high 23.2 PPG last season. And that did come while playing alongside other big scorers like Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma.
However, Porzingis and Beal started just 42 games together and he and Kuzma started only 53. The trio was in the same starting lineup 35 times. So when you’re looking at their scoring averages, one has to consider the fact that they were often acting alone.
In Boston, Porzingis will be the definitive third scorer, and the guys he’s behind – Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown – will put up many more points than Beal and Kuzma did. Tatum averaged 30.1 PPG last season while Brown was at 26.6, with both playing in more games than Porzingis, Beal, or Kuzma.
A 19.6 PPG scorer for his career, Porzingis averaged below 20.5 in each of his three seasons with Dallas alongside Luka Doncic, who was putting up scoring numbers similar to Tatum. And in Boston, he’ll be surrounded by a boatload of long-range threats from Derrick White to Al Horford to Malcolm Brogdon to Sam Hauser to Payton Pritchard to Oshae Brissett. Expect Porzingis’s assists total to soar and his scoring average to settle into a very efficient high teens.