Kurt Helin

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Here are the Las Vegas over/under lines for every NBA team this season


Consider this the conventional wisdom of where your team will be at this season.

Unless you like to place a wager now and again, then look at this as a chance to make a few bucks because the Las Vegas books and the public underestimate/overestimate your team.

The Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas put out its under/over win totals for the NBA this season. Below, we’ll get into where I think you might be able to make a few bucks, but first, here are the numbers:

Atlanta Hawks 43.5
Boston Celtics 51.5
Brooklyn Nets 20.5
Charlotte Hornets 39.5
Chicago Bulls 38.5
Cleveland Cavaliers 56.5
Dallas Mavericks 39.5
Denver Nuggets 34.5
Detroit Pistons 45.5
Golden State Warriors 66.5
Houston Rockets 41.5
Indiana Pacers 43.5
Los Angeles Clippers 53.5
Los Angeles Lakers 24.5
Memphis Grizzlies 43.5
Miami Heat 36.5
Milwaukee Bucks 39.5
Minnesota Timberwolves 41.5
New Orleans Pelicans 36.5
New York Knicks 38.5
Oklahoma City Thunder 45.5
Orlando Magic 36.5
Philadelphia 76ers 27.5
Phoenix Suns 26.5
Portland Trail Blazers 46.5
Sacramento Kings 32.5
San Antonio Spurs 56.5
Toronto Raptors 49.5
Utah Jazz 47.5
Washington Wizards 42.5

• Two teams where I think the number is low and you could win money betting the over: Brooklyn and Indiana. The Nets won 21 games last season and they made a big upgrade at the point with Jeremy Lin, plus Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is both a year older and healthy. The Nets aren’t going to be good, but I think they can win 25-27 games or so in a not-so-stacked East. As for Indiana, I’m high I them and think they can will win in the high 40s at least, easily getting past the 43.5 out there. Denver at 34.5 may be a little low as well, if you think they can come together and will not trade their veterans. If you think Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan can repeat their career years, a few bucks on the Raptors would be smart (but I wouldn’t do it).

• It’s tempting to say the Warriors are too low at 66.5, but stay away from that bet. This is a team that is going to start relatively slowly as they integrate Kevin Durant into an altered roster, plus they are not going to make the same push for the record they did a year ago. I think they will be close to that 66 win number.

• The one I might bet under is Portland. They will still be a playoff team, but they won 44 games last season and are predicted at 46.5 this season — it would require Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to stay fairly healthy and for Evan Turner to be good. I’m not sold on the latter.

Rockets’ Sam Decker drops “the people’s elbow” while Michael Beasley narrates

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Sam Decker can smell what The Rock is cookin’.

Dwayne Johnson now stars in a lot of overrated Disney movies, but there was a time when he was far and away the biggest WWE wrestling star on the planet. One of the biggest names ever in the sport. And his signature move was The People’s Elbow.

Houston’s Sam Decker is in the gym getting ready for the start of training camp, and while he’s not exactly built like The Rock he can try to pull off The People’s Elbow. While teammate Michael Beasley narrates.

See, the Rockets’ chemistry is great now.

51 Q: Will Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov justify their long-term costs to Lakers?


We continue PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. For the past few weeks, and through the start of the NBA season, we tackle 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. We will delve into one almost every day between now and the start of the season. Today:

Will Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov justify their long-term costs to Lakers?

When we talk about the Lakers heading into this season, we talk about the future. We speak of potential, development, and patience. We talk about their young and promising core of D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., and rookie Brandon Ingram.

But that’s not where the Lakers spent their money this summer.

Free agency was just hours hold when the Lakers agreed to give Timofey Mozgov a four-year, $64 million contract — a move that was almost universally panned.

Within 48 hours of that, the Lakers gave Luol Deng four-years, $72 million.

That’s a lot of money for two guys on the wrong side of 30 who do not match the career arcs of that young core. That’s a lot of money for a team that had talked about hoarding cap space to make a run at an impressive (although shrinking, see Russell Westbrook) crop of free agents next summer.

Will the Lakers get their money’s worth from those two deals?

Or, three years from now, will those contracts be seen as anchors on an up-and-coming team’s path back to contention?

Lakers fans are understandably skittish after the kind of Carlos Boozer/Roy Hibbert moves the front office made in recent years, signings that felt like a team trying to tank without looking like they were trying to tank.

The Mozgov and Deng contracts are better than that. These aren’t the signings of a team seeking to tank.

Whether the Lakers come to regret those contracts will come down to how much production they get from the pair the next two seasons, then if they can move the deals in the final years. These signings were about more than mentors for the young core now, it was about having viable trade pieces to interest teams should a star player — hypothetically, an elite center playing about a six-hour drive to the north — come available.

No doubt, the Lakers overpaid for this crop of veterans — particularly Mozgov. But that’s also where the Lakers are right now. It’s not like they had somewhere else to spend that money — they couldn’t even get a meeting with Kevin Durant or Al Horford. A legendary history and a big brand aren’t enough on their own anymore. If you think the answer is to sit on that money until next summer, the Lakers aren’t going to be in a position to land an elite free agent then, either. The Lakers need to win some games, develop a new culture, and develop that young core to the point that a top free agent wants to come to L.A. because he knows he can win. Think Horford going to Boston. The Celtics won 48 games last season, then they got the big free agent. The Lakers need a couple of seasons to get to that point.

In the short term, the Lakers went looking for veterans who can both help that young core develop and help the team win a few more games. Clearly, Lakers’ management wants to be done with the 17-win seasons like the last one — Kobe Bryant isn’t around to fill Staples Center every night while the youngsters learn on the job. Luke Walton has talked about playing veterans to get wins and bringing guys like Ingram off the bench until they earn their spots.

However, management also has to know this team is in a development process that will take years and can’t be shortcut.

Regarding veteran guidance — guys that can help change a locker room chemistry that was strained at times under the old-school style of former coach Byron Scott — the Lakers couldn’t have spent their money much better. Both Mozgov and Deng are respected and well-liked teammates. They are guys that can show the youngsters how to prepare and act like professionals (an influence they did not get from Nick Young last season).

On the court, it’s easy to see what role Luke Walton is picturing for Mozgov — a poor man’s Andrew Bogut. The question becomes: Will Walton have the healthy Mozgov of a couple of seasons ago who may be able to fill that role, or will he have the injured and slow one of last season that fell out of the Cavaliers’ rotation? Even when healthy Mozgov isn’t going to be described as fleet of foot, and basically playing on one leg last season — he admitted he rushed back from knee surgery too quickly — he was easy to expose if dragged into pick-and-rolls. He was a defensive mess.

Two seasons ago Mozgov shot 59 percent during the regular season, then was critical in the playoffs for Cleveland when Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were injured and Mozgov’s gritty style fit what the team needed (he had 28 points in Game 4 of those Finals). He anchored the paint defensively — Cleveland allowed just 96.4 points per 100 possessions when was on the floor those playoffs (it jumped 8.4 per 100 when he sat). Walton can use that Mozgov: Anchor the paint on defense, get rebounds, and set brick wall-like picks for Russell and Clarkson (and sometimes Ingram).

Deng is just a rock solid veteran who can do a little of everything. He defends well, he can score inside, he has a jumper, and he can play the three or a small ball four. Players such as Randle and Ingram aren’t yet ready for big time NBA defensive assignments, Deng can take those. He can be the Lakers’ glue.

This year’s Lakers should take a step forward from dismal outings of the past couple seasons — there should be hope, not just the distraction of Kobe’s final season — but they are not a playoff bound team. Getting into the low 30s in wins would be real progress. The Lakers give up their pick in next year’s draft (now belonging to the Sixers) if it is not in the top three. Barring a lottery miracle, it should not be.

This Laker team should be competitive — not good yet, but putting up a fight most nights. That’s the culture Luke Walton wants to build, it’s part of the reason Mozgov and Deng got paid. They can help create it.

The question is, in three seasons will the Lakers still have these guys on the books, and if so will those large contracts be anchors on the team’s growth? How will the new Collective Bargaining Agreement — to be pounded out before next season starts, one way or another — impact those long-term plans for the Lakers? And where do Deng and Mozgov fit into all of this?

In the short term the Lakers should get some value for those signings, but if those players are both Lakers in the last year of those contracts, Los Angeles will regret the deals.

Lakers’ Brandon Ingram texted with Andre Iguodala about how to improve defense

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There’s a lot to like about Brandon Ingram‘s game. He is a fluid athlete, can shoot the three, has a good hoops IQ, has good handles (allowing him to be on either end of a pick-and-roll) and at Summer League looked like someone with the potential to be a modern NBA four down the line. Once he gets stronger. Every time a Lakers fan sees Ingram around town they should buy him a protein shake.

Ultimately, Ingram might develop into a better defender than an offensive player. He wants to be good on the defensive end, and he has gotten advice from NBA veterans as part of the USA Select team. He also talked to the Warriors best wing defender, Andre Iguodala, Ingram told Collin Cowherd on Fox Sports Radio (hat tip and transcription by Eye on Basketball).

“Well, the NBA veterans that I’ve been around, they always try to help. Even guys from other teams. When I played with the USA Select Team, all those guys were giving me advice. Even guys playing pickup coming to the Lakers facility. (Including) Andre Iguodala….

“I watch a lot of his play defensively. He’s a great defensive guy. I even text with him sometimes, and he just tells me it’s going to be a process, but I have a chance to be special on the defensive end and offensive end.”

This is fairly common, by the way. NBA players view themselves as being in a fraternity of the world’s elite players, and most veterans are willing to pass along their knowledge to young players who bother to ask and listen. Not enough young players ask, but veterans are willing to help. Regardless of team.

Ingram is athletic and freakishly long, which could help him develop into an excellent defender. He’s got to get stronger, and he needs experience on that end, but the potential is there.

Iguodala is right, everything about Ingram is going to be a process. Watching him at Summer League you could see why the Lakers took him with the No. 2 pick, but you could also see he has a long way to go to reach his potential. That he is working out with and talking to veterans trying to learn is a good sign.

Report: Spurs to bring veteran Joel Anthony to camp

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The Spurs’ roster for next season is basically set. They have 14 guaranteed contracts, one below the maximum they could carry into the season, but they may choose to leave that last spot empty for flexibility.

But they are looking for good veteran depth to bring into training camp, and they may have found it in Joel Anthony. He’s getting a non-guaranteed camp invite according to Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News.

The 34-year-old spent the last two seasons with the Detroit Pistons, who then waived him in July before signing former Spur Boban Marjanovic. Anthony, who is 6-foot-9, adds more veteran front court depth for the Spurs, who will enter camp with LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Dewayne Dedmon, and David Lee as the only other experienced big men on the roster.

Anthony is basically a 6’9″ defensive specialist who doesn’t want or need the ball much on the offensive end. Anthony can get blocks still, but his post defense has slipped.

It’s hard to see how he fits into the Spurs plans, this was a guy who couldn’t get off the bench much in Detroit last season. But he will get some money and a look in Spurs camp.