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Can Zion Williamson really steal the MVP? 5 NBA Sleeper Bets You Can’t Ignore | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats & Rumors

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0 out of 5

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    The NBA is quickly becoming the sports league that never sleeps.

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    The off-season is apparently still very active. Between the draft, free agency and the perpetually bustling trade market, teams have only a few months to replenish their rosters before the next training camp opens and returns to the 82-game grind.

    For fans, this ability to stay permanently connected to the happenings of the hoop world is intoxicating. For those who play their cards right, it can even turn out to be a fruitful pastime.

    While the dawn of a new NBA season brings with it all kinds of excitement, it brings just as many money-making opportunities for the basketball betting world. That’s where our attention is today as we dissect some of the best dormant bets on the board for the 2022-23 season using the latest odds from FanDuel.

1 out of 5

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    The seeds of a Most Improved Player race are often sewn before the award-winning season itself. Just look at 2021-22 winner Ja Morant, who first rose to superstar status in the 2021 playoffs and was later rewarded for essentially supporting that production.

    Well, Jalen Green could follow a similar path to the podium.

    Those who dropped out of the Rockets’ rebuild mid-season (or before) might not have noticed, but the 2021 No. 2 pick has taken a massive leap from volume contributor to budding star at the end of last season. He cruised into the All-Star break averaging 14.6 points on 38.7/31.1/81.8 shooting and came out on top to post 22.1 points on 47.6/38 .7 / 75.6 shooting over the last 24 contests, at one point over 30 points in five straight outings.

    His rebounds and assists have increased, while his turnovers have been reduced. Its impact exploded. Before the break, Houston was 15.0 fewer points per 100 possessions when on the floor; after that it was 13.3 points better per 100 possessions with him in the game.

    Maybe time will prove otherwise, but it had all the marks of a full-fledged transformation. Those who have been paying attention will be expecting big things from Green this go-around, which should give him a decent spotlight to begin with. Those who hadn’t noticed will be blown away and surely captivated by his easy-on-the-eyes style of play.

    Either way, it could mean very good things for him at the polls, especially if this young Rockets club matures quickly enough to trample preseason expectations.

2 out of 5

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    When the odds-takers presented the most likely Rookie of the Year winners, Bennedict Mathurin trailed the same five players who preceded him on draft night.

    It’s arguable, though the gap between them is arguably wider than it should be. Paolo Banchero is the +300 favorite (bet $100 to win $300). Jaden Ivey holds fifth place at +800. Chet Holmgren, Keegan Murray and Jabari Smith Jr. all land somewhere in between.

    Are any of these players much better placed to make major statistical noise than Mathurin? Look what he gets in the Circle City: a pass-first centerpiece to Tyrese Haliburton; a roster that should support Mathurin without blocking his path for significant minutes; a ground shot-blocking and spacing center at Myles Turner; and a tactical genius for head coach Rick Carlisle, who seems ready to give Mathurin plenty of latitude on the offensive end.

    “He’s an NBA scorer right now,” Carlisle said this summer on NBA TV, via Rookie Wire’s Cody Taylor.

    This prize often goes to the freshman with the best numbers, and Mathurin will have a chance to be just that.

    His jumper works from anywhere and he can get things moving on the ball or with his off the ball movement. He can ditch the dribble defenders and finish around the basket. His defensive effort comes and goes (true of many rookies), but the physical tools are all there if he is willing to make ends meet.

3 out of 5

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    The NBA waited from 1996 to 2022 for a guard (Marcus Smart) to follow in Gary Payton’s footsteps and win the Defensive Player of the Year award. The wait won’t be as long for the next one if Payton’s son Gary Payton II has something to say about it.

    The stuffy stopper is fresh off a championship run with the Golden State Warriors and bounced back for the big bucks with the Portland Trail Blazers.

    This activity alone is enough to help story-driven voters. Payton should have extra eyes on him after playing a pivotal role for a major market champion, and now he’ll get a big bump if he can significantly improve a Portland defense that ranked in the bottom five in defensive efficiency. . three seasons (29th in 2021-22).

    To be clear, Payton may not need narrative upgrades, as his numbers are already excellent. FiveThirtyEight’s defensive RAPTOR ranked him among the top five scorers last season. Defensive Box Plus/Minus from Basketball-Reference did the same. Dunks & Threes’ estimated plus-minus defensive rating ranked him second overall. The eye test sometimes scores it even better.

    “He’s analytically off the charts and that’s part of the value he brings to our team,” Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers said in January. “Defensively, he’s one of the best defenders in the NBA. I really believe that. If he stays healthy and gets the minutes, there’s no reason he can’t be an All-Player. – NBA defense.”

    Myers hit him in the head. The only thing holding Payton back at this point has been the opportunity. Last season was his first as a full-time rotation player, and even then he logged under 1,300 minutes.

    That’s what made his move to Portland so smart. The Blazers are desperate for defense, and Payton could make himself invaluable to this team. If it does enough to see nearly 30 minutes of ground time per night…it was only 17.6 in 2021-22, so the jump would certainly be monstrous— he’ll fight his way through every ballot and possibly form half of the Association’s first father-son duo to win the Defensive Player of the Year award.

4 out of 5

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    The Sixers could have held their ground this summer and entered the 2022-23 season on the short list of contenders.

    James Harden had other ideas. The former MVP turned down a lucrative player option, took an eight-figure pay cut and gave the front office enough flexibility to acquire De’Anthony Melton and sign both PJ Tucker and Danuel House Jr.

    “I said [Sixers president of basketball operations] Daryl [Morey] to improve the roster, sign who we were supposed to sign and give me whatever’s left,” Harden told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. “That’s how much I want to win. I want to compete for a championship. That’s all I care about at this point.”

    It’s a powerful message, especially when paired with sacrificing money for the good of the team.

    Philadelphia could be an absolute buzz. The quartet of Harden, Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris already crushed opponents by 17.6 points per 100 possessions last season. And that’s without the benefit of a full offseason to fit Harden or more development time for Maxey, which Philly now has.

    This list looks scary. Bettors might want to rethink this one, as the Sixers currently hold the same championship odds as a Brooklyn Nets team on the verge of a top-to-bottom overhaul and a Miami Heat team that did nothing. to fix his seemingly fatal halftime flaws. – judicial offence.

5 out of 5

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    If that sounds weird from a distance, it’s probably worth firing up an old movie and refreshing on how absurdly dominant a healthy Zion Williamson can be.

    Admittedly, the in good health The qualification is huge, since we are talking about a player who has only played 85 times since arriving in New Orleans as the first choice in the 2019 draft. Yet, if his body ever held up, those 85 games offer a good insight into the kind of elite production he had set up.

    As a rookie, he averaged 22.5 points on 58.3 percent shooting, plus 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists. No other freshman has matched those grades. For a follow-up, he put up 27.0 points on 61.1 percent shooting to go along with 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists. These numbers were also the first of their kind.

    During his second season, the Pels began to give him more opportunities and allow him to create more offense over time. He responded with post-All-Star production of 28.8 points (60.9 percent shooting), 7.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

    When he hits hardwood, he’s awesome. And his greatness may have more league-wide relevance than ever, as the Pelicans have continued to improve. He has yet to play with Jonas Valanciunas, CJ McCollum or any of the newcomer intriguers. Stan Van Gundy was still calling the shots the last time Williamson played; now it’s Willie Green, who helped the club bounce back from a 3-16 start in time to qualify for the playoffs in his first season.

    Williamson, whose career player efficiency rating of 26.3 would rank sixth all-time if he played enough to qualify, could be the missing piece of the puzzle that launches this team into title contention. If he pushes the Pelicans into championship talks, voters should have no problem backing him as the campaign’s top performer.


    Statistics used courtesy of Basketball Reference and NBA.com.

    Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.

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