THE NBA title favourite Golden State Warriors might have become the first team to clinch a playoff spot, but the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers were the big movers and shakers over the weekend.
Superstar LeBron James has been pining for a second playmaker to be added to the second favourites, at +325 with Bovada.lv and the quasi GM has got his way, with point guard Deron Williams set to sign on the dotted line to Protect the Land once he clears waivers from the Dallas Mavericks later this week.
Williams was once in the conversation as the best point guard in the NBA along with Chris Paul, but injuries and a slightly questionable attitude have brought him back to Earth in recent years.
Having said that, he is no slouch and would be a starter on probably 20 other teams. He is still producing around 13 points and seven assists a night and will be a welcome relief for the uber talented Kyrie Irving, who has played a mountain of minutes and will benefit in the lead up to the playoffs.
Williams provides a steady hand to a club that simply has not had that from a ball handler off the bench since a bloke named Delly was in town.
But that might not even be the biggest news in Cleveland, with towering Aussie Andrew Bogut also set to ink a deal that would presumably have him come off the bench and back up Tristan Thompson.
Like Williams, Bogut is entering the twilight of his career and injuries have plagued him throughout the season, leading the Mavs to trade him to the Philadelphia 76ers.
With both Jahlil Okafor and The Process, Joel Embiid, in town, Bogut is surplus to the Sixers’ needs and, given that they were unable to find a trade partner, Philadelphia has now entered discussions with the big Australian Boomer in bid to reach an agreement on a buy out of his contract.
Once that is done, the former number one draft pick will be free to sign where ever he wants and all roads reportedly lead to Cleveland.
The favourite Warriors’ – at -175 with Bovada.lv – kingdom for a defensive presence could have been sated by Bogut, so it comes as a further blow to a club that now has to rely on Shaqtin’ a Fool star Javale McGee and “Game Seven Baby” Zaza Pachulia for its interior D. Not exactly intimidating.
They instead reached out to Jose Calderon to provide a veteran ball-handling presence off the bench, the point guard not exactly the towering centre every fan would have been hoping for.
Williams and Bogut may just hold the keys to the title now.
Although the Houston Rockets may just have something to say about that with addition of microwave hot bench scorer Lou Williams.
The Rockets are way out at +1600 with Bovada.lv, but have added Williams – who drained two contested three pointers with his first two shots in Houston colours – as yet another three-point-shooting presence to join James Harden, Pat Beverley and Eric Gordon in what is now arguably the deepest back court in the NBA.
Harden needs no introduction. A nightly triple double threat, the bullish wing man has become one of the best point guards in the game, leading the league in assists and in the top five in scoring.
Of course, if Harden and the Rockets are to be any hope of winning the title, not only do the Warriors stand in the way, but also the ridiculously consistent San Antonion Spurs, who have put together yet another remarkable season to add to their long run of playoff appearances.
Kawhi Leonard has been an absolute monster and is a low key pick for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award – provided Harden doesn’t win it, as he probably should.
Leonard is low key dominating, leading the +800 Spurs to the second best record in the west with nearly 26 points, six rebounds and a tick over three assists, along with being among the best defenders in the entire NBA.
If the east is more your cup of tea, but you don’t want to hang with the Cavs, then the Boston Celtics are the team for you.
And even if you are a diehard Laker fan and absolutely hate every thing about Boston, it is hard not to respect what tiny point guard Isaiah Thomas is doing at the Garden.
Thomas is the smallest player in the league, but he talks a massive game, second in the entire competition in scoring at nearly 30 a game.
And he is the complete opposite of Oklahoma City Thunder’s (+15000) Russell Westbrook who is averaging a triple double, but has no idea how to close out when the game is on the line.
Thomas leads the league in fourth quarter points and continues to stand up when it counts for Boston.
If you’re not about the big clubs in the east, then maybe the Toronto Raptors are the go. The addition of Serge Ibaka is a biggie for them, giving them a legitimate stretch four who once led the league in blocked shots to pair with Jonas Valanciunas up front, serviced by the superstar back court of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
The translation from all this is “Good luck picking a winner”. Here’s the market:
2017 NBA title odds
Golden State Warriors -175
San Antonio Spurs +800
Boston Celtics +1600
Houston Rockets +1600
Toronto Raptors +2800
Los Angeles Clippers +4000
Washington Wizards +4000
Utah Jazz +6600
New Orleans Pelicans +10000
Memphis Grizzlies +10000
Atlanta Hawks +15000
Oklahoma City Thunder +15000
Chicago Bulls +20000
Indiana Pacers +20000
Denver Nuggets +50000
Miami Heat +50000
Charlotte Hornets +50000
Detroit Pistons +50000
Milwaukee Bucks +50000
Portland Trail Blazers +50000
New York Knicks +75000
Dallas Mavericks +100000
Sacramento Kings +100000
All odds provided by Bovada.lv