NBA Trends and Rumors: Injuries to Kevin Love, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall Shift Competitive Balance
Championship odds come courtesy of TopBet. As always, please remember to recheck these lines before placing any wagers, since they’re capable of changing fairly frequently this deep into the regular season. And be sure to check out last week’s edition of NBA trends and rumors here.
New Orleans Pelicans (+15000): DeMarcus Cousins Out For Year With Left Achilles Injury
As first reported by ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon, DeMarcus Cousins suffered a ruptured left Achilles tendon during the New Orleans Pelicans’ win over the Houston Rockets (+700) on Friday night. He will not play again this season.
Losing Cousins comes as a monster blow to the Pelicans for reasons that extend well beyond this year. His absence definitely torpedoes their playoff stock. They’re a mere 1.5 games back of lottery territory, which is hardly a comfortable lead with more than one-quarter of the year left to play.
Anthony Davis is good enough to carry this team for a protracted stretch. The Pelicans are a net plus on the season when he plays without Cousins. But he’s never liked exclusively manning center, as he’ll have to do now. At the very least, they’ll need to acquire a wing on the trade market to improve spacing and make his life easier at the 5.
The real problem, though? Cousins’ free agency. He was a shoo-in to receive a max contract from the Pelicans beforehand. Everything is different now. His market should crater, which would, in theory, make him cheaper. But he can use the Pelicans’ lack of cap space against them. They don’t have the money to replace him, so they could be compelled to overpay in years and dollar amount, as they did with Jrue Holiday last summer.
Verdict: All Pelicans bets should be off-limits until further notice—including single-game wagers.
Oklahoma City Thunder (+2000): Andre Roberson Done For The Season After Suffering Ruptured Patellar Tendon
Andre Roberson’s injury looked bad during the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Sunday evening victory over the Pistons. Soon after, the team confirmed the worst, per The Oklahoman‘s Brett Dawson: Roberson will be out for the rest of the year due to a ruptured left patellar tendon.
Some people won’t see the harm in his absence. The Thunder are rolling—within striking distance of the Western Conference’s No. 3 seed. And Roberson, for his part, remains a non-factor on the offensive end. He still cannot shoot, and Oklahoma City doesn’t have him making a lot of off-ball cuts.
But don’t let Roberson’s offensive warts cloud your interpretation of this injury: The Thunder are going to miss him on the defensive side. He’s a big reason why they’ve cobbled together a top-seven preventive unit despite giving heavy minutes to Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.
In the time Oklahoma City’s other four starters have spent with Roberson on the floor, they’re allowing 95.9 points per 100 possessions. That would very comfortably be the best mark in the league. Once he steps off, though, their defensive rating zooms up to, on average, around 115—which would be the Association’s worst tally.
Verdict: Continue to bet on Thunder point spreads. Holster all championship wagers until after the trade deadline on Feb. 8, just so you can see whether they’ve bolstered their wing depth.
Washington Wizards (+5000): John Wall Out 6 To 8 Weeks Due To Knee Procedure
Candace Buckner of The Washington Post dropped a bombshell on Tuesday: John Wall will miss the next six to eight weeks once he undergoes a knee procedure.
Although the Washington Wizards have publicly downplayed the significance of this news, it’s a huge red flag. Wall already missed a chunk of this season dealing with a left knee injury. Another setback is hardly encouraging.
Luckily for the Wizards, they have Bradley Beal. They’ve been running a league-average offense whenever he plays without Wall, which is a marked improvement over what’s happened during these same situations in years past.
Still, the Wizards are clinging to fifth place in the Western Conference. They still feel like playoff locks, but they’re also a mere 4.5 games in front of the ninth-place Pistons. That isn’t that large of a cushion when Wall will be on ice for the next two months—particularly when 16 of the Wizards’ next 20 games come versus postseason teams.
Verdict: Steer clear of Wizards single-game bets until Wall returns. Do the same for their futures, unless they make a splash at the trade deadline.
Memphis Grizzlies (+150000): Mike Conley Shut Down For Season With Heel Injury
In what only came as a small surprise, the Memphis Grizzlies announced Mike Conley, who hasn’t played since Nov. 13, won’t suit up again this season as he gets to the “root” of his Achilles issues via heel surgery.
This is a smart move by everyone involved. Conley said he wanted to do everything possible to avoid this outcome, but he’s on the wrong side of 30. There can be no chancing his future when he has three years left on his max contract after this season.
Plus, the Grizzlies aren’t going anywhere special with or without him. They’re tied for the fourth-worst record in the Western Conference and already beginning the process of resting other key contributors like Marc Gasol.
With the tank in full swing, look for them to sell off Tyreke Evans and James Ennis in advance of the trade deadline. Both stand to drive up the Grizzlies’ win totals and aren’t under contract next season—a bad combination for a team solely interested in boosting its lottery odds.
Verdict: Lay off Grizzlies bets altogether—except for the occasional under play when they face top-10 defenses that don’t also deploy a top-10 offense.
Cleveland Cavaliers (+650): Kevin Love Out 6 To 8 Weeks After Breaking Hand In Loss to Detroit Pistons (+15000)
Life continues to be rough for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Kevin Love broke his hand during their Tuesday night loss to the Pistons, and the prognosis was both instant and bad: He’ll miss the next six to eight weeks, according to ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst.
So what’s next for the Cavaliers? We honestly don’t know.
They have been scrambling to find themselves since Christmas, both on and off the court. Trying to incorporate Isaiah Thomas into the fold has only complicated matters, and Love’s absence isn’t going to help things. Despite his defensive problems, he’s a floor-spacing boon. That said, on the brighter side, the Cavaliers have a higher net rating when LeBron James plays with him than when LeBron James plays without him.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean the Cavaliers won’t make a trade. They probably will. They’ve long been linked to George Hill, and many still expect him to end up in Cleveland. But the scope of the Cavaliers’ aims may have to change. One of their best trade chips, Channing Frye, now verges on indispensable because of the shooting he can provide at the 4 and 5 spots.
This doesn’t change much for the Cavaliers in the grand scheme of things. They need to add defensive-minded floor-spacers before the trade deadline. Love’s injury makes it more likely they’ll do something drastic, while at the same time guaranteeing it’ll cost the Cavaliers more to get a meaningful deal done.
Verdict: Don’t abandon Cavaliers championship bets. Just be sure you’re treating them as a long shot.
San Antonio Spurs (+1800): Kawhi Leonard Remains Without Timetable For Return From Quad Injury
Eight games into his third stint on the sidelines this season, Kawhi Leonard still doesn’t have a timetable for his return from a right quad injury. This won’t mean much to many people. The San Antonio Spurs are still on course to win more than 50 games. They’re going to be fine.
But what if fine isn’t good enough?
The Spurs will finish inside the top five of defensive efficiency. We can count on it. But their offense is visibly suffering without Leonard drawing in defenses. They’re 16th in points scored per 100 possessions, and the path upward isn’t especially accessible when they’ve turned the keys over to sophomore point guard Dejounte Murray.
While the Spurs haven’t made a midseason trade since February of 2014, look for them to be modestly aggressive leading into the upcoming deadline. They could use another wing playmaker—Tyreke Evans would be perfect—to hedge against Leonard potentially missing the entire season.
Verdict: Keep the Spurs on your championship- and spread-betting radar. Just don’t make any big-money wagers until Leonard’s outlook has been hashed out.More articles...