Victor Wembanyama is rightful Rookie of the Year favorite, but his DPOY odds are another story

Here’s all you need to know about Victor Wembanyama’s relatively “disappointing” NBA debut: by scoring 15 points in 23 minutes, he still outscored both LeBron James (25 in 42) and Michael Jordan (16 in 40) on a points-per-minute basis in his first NBA game. He wasn’t perfect, and he wasn’t as dominant as he was at points in the preseason, but if even a “bad” Wembanyama game puts him ahead of the two greatest players of all time in any metric, that’s a reasonable indication that his rookie season is going to be special.

Vegas has reflected that in the obvious way. Wembanyama has been a minus-money favorite for Rookie of the Year at most books since he was drafted. The best price you’ll find for him now is -120 at DraftKings, with most books offering him at even shorter odds. The implication here is that Wembanyama has a greater than 50% chance of winning Rookie of the Year, and that probably sells him a bit short. If he stays healthy, based on what we’ve seen out of the other top rookies in both the preseason and their season openers, he’s almost certainly going to win.

But there’s been another interesting bit of odds creep on the Wembanyama front that warrants a bit more investigation. If Vegas is to be believed, Wembanyama is already a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Different books are offering different numbers.

At DraftKings, for instance, you can grab him at +2500. At BetMGM, however, he’s all the way down to +1000. Only four players have shorter odds than him there: Jaren Jackson Jr., Evan Mobley, Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Just behind him? That would be Bam Adebayo, a four-time All-Defense choice that anchored a unit that led the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals. He’s available at +1200. Double Wembanyama’s +1000 odds and you get Brook Lopez, last year’s runner-up, and Rudy Gobert, a three-time winner of the award, available at +2000. This is a gentle reminder that Wembanyama has played one NBA game.

Betting markets aren’t meant to be an accurate representation of likelihood. They reflect the public’s interest in betting on a particular outcome. Wembanya’s odds imply that he has a 9% chance to win the award. The truth is that he’s a very public name right now. Fans want to bet on him because he is the most exciting defensive player to enter the NBA in years. His actual odds, based on league history, are significantly lower.

The biggest reason why is the lack of precedent. No rookie has won Defensive Player of the Year. No teenager has either. Jackson Jr. won it at 23 a year ago, and that was his fourth NBA season. Another 23-year-old, Alvin Robertson, won it in his second season, and that fits a different trend. When perimeter players win the award, they tend to do so at younger ages. Of the eight Defensive Player of the Year awards to go to players in their age-24 or age-23 season, five went to perimeter players (Robertson, Kawhi Leonard, Ron Artest and Michael Jordan). Wembanyama is obviously a big man.

Big men face different challenges. A big one for younger rim-protectors is avoiding fouls. Wembanyama experienced this on opening night. He would have played more than 23 minutes if he hadn’t picked up five quick fouls. Jackson still struggles with over-fouling to this day. It’s a solvable problem, but it rarely happens overnight. At one point in Jackson’s career, he averaged 5.9 fouls per 36 minutes. Getting down to 4.6 last season was a victory. Notably, Jackson won the award despite playing only 28.4 minutes per game last season. Foul trouble contributed to that. Jackson overcame it by lapping the field in most rim-protection metrics. Wembanyama might find a way to do so as well, but he’d still have two major obstacles to overcome.

The first is durability. While minutes are not baked into Defensive Player of the Year, this season introduced the league’s first minimum threshold for qualification. While Wembanyama won’t need to play 65 games to qualify for Rookie of the Year, he does have to hit that minimum in order to qualify for Defensive Player of the Year. The Spurs are known for being cautious, and Wembanyama’s body will need to adjust to NBA-level physicality. Wembanyama has never played more than 34 games in a professional season. He’d have to nearly double that total to reach 65, which is no certainty.

Even if he does, he’s somewhat beholden to his teammates. Every winner since 2008 has played on a defense ranked in the top five. Last season’s Spurs, with largely the same roster sans-Wembanyama, posted the worst defensive rating in NBA history by allowing 119.6 points per 100 possessions. They’ll be better this season. Not only are the young players more experienced, but the team is actually going to try to win games. But that sort of jump seems pretty unrealistic. The Mavericks are among the NBA’s best offenses, but for what it’s worth, the Spurs allowed 117.8 points per 100 possessions in their opener.

With all of this in mind, you probably shouldn’t bet Wembanyama for Defensive Player of the Year. As exciting as his candidacy would be, there’s just little precedent for a player in his situation actually winning. His odds might offer a bit of value on candidates you prefer, but with so little basketball in the books, your offseason picks should still be your favorites.

Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has right idea about embracing off-ball duties

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is arguably the best driver and one of the best overall creators in the league, but his excellence in this regard isn’t entirely unique in a league largely dominated by ball-dominant stars.

That’s why he knows he needs to embrace his duties off the ball if he and the budding Thunder, who are committed to playing an inclusive style of offense with their array of multi-skilled players, want to realize their collective potential.

“The best teams that have played the game, the teams that have won the most games, won the most championships, they play together,” Gilgeous-Alexander told reporters a day before OKC opened its season with a 20-point victory over the Bulls.

“I don’t know if you saw the ‘Last Dance’ documentary,” SGA continued, “but there was a point in Michael Jordan’s career where he had to learn the Triangle offense and learn to play [without] the ball in his hands 24/7. So if Michael Jordan has to do it, I definitely have to do it.”

This is one of those elements of basketball that makes perfect sense through an objective lens, but when you’re in the heat of a game, as the best player, there is always going to be an instinct to take matters into your own hands.

There’s a time and a place for that, and certainly, SGA is going to rank among the leaders in scoring, assists and usage. As he should. But over the years we’ve seen the apparent ceilings of these single-star systems that rely, perhaps too often and heavily, on the stagnant, individual creation of a Houston James Harden, a Portland Damian Lillard, a Luka Doncic or Trae Young.

Not only is this type of give-the-ball-to-the-best-player-and-get-out-of-the-way offense predictable, but it runs the risk of alienating the players with whom the star is sharing the court. This is one of Steve Kerr’s core beliefs with the Warriors; when everybody feels involved on offense, everybody commits to the other parts of the game and buys into the system as a whole.

A more equitable, democratic offense in which everyone, to a degree, is empowered with a say in the outcome of a given possession is less viable, of course, if you don’t have multiple players capable of creating the necessary offensive advantages to justify taking the ball out of your best player’s hands.

But the Thunder do.

Sure, SGA is the best of the bunch, but Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams, rookie Cason Wallace and even Lu Dort can operate at the point of attack, particularly in a flowing system, instigating defensive breakdowns and creating for shots and/or openings for teammates. When this happens, SGA can find himself on the receiving end of the creation rather than having to do the heavy lifting all the time.

In the clip below, SGA begins off-ball as Jalen Williams starts the possessions with an entry to Giddey. The intent of the design is to get SGA the ball on the move, which happens on the dribble handoff, but nothing materializes. The possession keeps flowing. SGA hits a roll pass to Giddey, who kicks out to Williams, who swings it back to SGA for a wide-open 3-point attempt.

Pay no attention to the missed shot. This is an inclusive offense in which SGA works both on and off-ball as multiple people become involved, and it results in a great shot on the backend.

A player of SGA’s caliber can create that same shot for himself most of the time, but getting it this way, at least some of the time, keeps the whole offense engaged and the defense guessing.

Here again, SGA starts off-ball and simply makes a cut to the top as Williams and Giddey go into their own two-man game. Giddey especially, but Wiliams too, is too good with the ball to not be provided with some consistent opportunities to do his thing.

This time, it’s Giddey getting into the lane and finding Williams on the baseline cut.

You’ll notice that SGA doesn’t do anything on this possession but stand behind the 3-point line as a floor spacer. That’s fine. When we talk about stars committing off-ball, not everyone can be, or even should be, running around like Stephen Curry. SGA isn’t that kind of on-the-move shooter. His off-ball movement will be more about subtle relocations and timely cuts that drag defenders with him. Sometimes, in fact, his just stepping aside to allow others to create, while being ready as a secondary playmaker if necessary, is good enough.

Watch the clip above again. SGA could’ve demanded the ball on the initial defensive rebound, but Dort grabs and goes. Once Giddey successfully sucks in the defense, watch Zach LaVine as he loses track of Williams. Look at his eyes. He is watching SGA, who is one pass away. LaVine is expecting the ball to go back out to him. It’s a natural instinct. He’s the best player.

This is the attention stars command just by existing as an off-ball threat, and the openings it creates for others. LaVine, preoccupied with SGA’s whereabouts, is paying no attention to Williams as he cuts right behind him.

I have one more play to highlight, and I love it. The rookie Wallace gets to start this possession, with SGA stationed at the elbow. Again the design is for SGA to come off the cross screen and receive the ball, but the action is cut off. So Wallace goes the other way to Chet Holmgren.

At this point, SGA can do one of two things: Run to the ball for a hand-off, as a lot of ball-dominant stars would, or cut through the lane, taking his defender with him, thus allowing for Wallace to circle back and become the primary playmaker on this possession. He chooses option B. And Wallace gets a clean look that he knocks down.

Again, this is nothing fancy. It’s just a superstar taking the occasional opportunity to empower teammates, even rookies, with creative duties he would be justified in taking for himself. For one game, it added up to 30 assists for the Thunder, 20 of which came from someone other than SGA. Giddey had six. Williams had five.

But over the course of a season, this adds up even more. Everyone is involved, so when the time comes that they need to make a big play in a big game, they’re ready. And equally important, SGA isn’t wearing himself out as the Thunder have honest hopes of making a deep playoff run.

It’s great stuff, from a great player, who is taking the right approach to make sure the Thunder put their best foot forward, collectively, in becoming a great team.

Christian Wood passed his first defensive test as a Laker with flying colors

The Los Angeles Lakers made perhaps the biggest addition of their offseason when they signed Christian Wood in September, but when any player is available that late in the offseason, there’s usually a pretty good reason. In Wood’s case, there were several. Splitting his first seven NBA seasons across seven different teams was a reasonable red flag. Some effort and locker room concerns loomed particularly from his time with the Houston Rockets as well, but his biggest weakness by far has been his defense.

Most advanced metrics have painted Wood as a significant defensive negative throughout his NBA career. He’s never posted a positive Defensive Box Plus-Minus. His -1.8 Defensive EPM ranked him in the 12th percentile league-wide last season. Despite strong performances out of most lineups featuring Wood and Luka Doncic last season, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd yanked his minutes around in part because of defense. After he signed with the Lakers, Wood issued a statement saying that he was “motivated after what Dallas did.”

Wood still hasn’t earned the minutes he wanted out of the Mavericks, but he’s making the most of the minutes he’s getting by doing the things the Mavericks could never get him to do. Facing a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit and the prospect of an 0-2 start, Wood turned what could have been a brief bench stint into arguably the best defensive quarter of his career. For significant stretches of the 12-minute period, Wood defended arguably the NBA’s best scorer and more than held his own.

Wood wasn’t Kevin Durant’s primary matchup. Several Lakers got shots at him, and when it counted, the Lakers leaned on Anthony Davis against the former MVP. But on some of the biggest plays of the night, it was Wood generating the stops the Lakers needed to win. He sticks to Durant like glue on this play, with the Lakers trailing by three, and forces a miss off of the backboard.

One minute later, Durant tries to get the switch onto the shorter Gabe Vincent, but Wood sticks with the play and contests Durant’s miss.

Jusuf Nurkic thinks Durant is headed for a back-cut on this play, but when Wood takes it away and Durant tries to pivot back to the ball, Nurkic throws it away.

Neither Wood nor Davis has the bulk of the traditional center, but both make up for it with exceptional positional athleticism. Having two big men that can move the way they can creates some of the most dangerous blitzes you’ll ever see. Together, they managed to eclipse even the 6-11 Durant’s vision, and that forced an easy interception by James. Even if Durant had successfully completed the pass, one of the big men could have scampered back into position.

This is Kevin Durant we’re talking about here. Naturally, Wood didn’t blank him completely. But after scoring 30 points in the first three quarters, Wood and the Lakers held him to a respectable seven in the competitive portion of the fourth quarter. Even when Durant made shots, Wood at least made him work for them. There were no effort concerns on Thursday.

After a tumultuous year with Kidd, Wood seemed to make a fan out of Darvin Ham on Thursday. “I thought he did about as good as anyone can do,” Ham told reporters after the game. “He made a commitment to me when we signed him that that was a part of his game that he wants to get better at. With his length, his agility, he’s able to contest at a high rate.”

Those tools always gave Wood at least reasonable defensive potential. Whether he ultimately lives up to them consistently remains to be seen, but the Lakers offer an environment far more conducive to growth on that end of the floor than his previous teams. Despite playing for seven different franchises, Wood has never seen the court in a playoff game. He did play for a playoff team during the 2018-19 season when he suited up 13 times for the Milwaukee Bucks, but he finished that season with the New Orleans Pelicans. The lead assistant on that Bucks team, though, was Darvin Ham.

Now Ham is leading a contender in Los Angeles that is fresh off of a trip to the Western Conference finals. LeBron James is by far the most accomplished veteran Wood has ever played with, and Davis can cover up just about anyone’s weaknesses on the defensive end of the floor. Wood may never be a great defender, but as he proved on Thursday, he’s capable of being a good one outside of the chaotic environments he endured in Dallas and Houston. He told Ham he was committed to defense, and against Durant, he more than delivered.

‘It’s really just a feast for us’

MILWAUKEE — The most surprising aspect of Damian Lillard’s historic debut with the Milwaukee Bucks, at least to his teammates, may have come after the game. As soon as the locker room doors opened to the media, there was Lillard, dressed in a raspberry-colored sweatsuit, ready to go. A bewildered Giannis Antetokounmpo, his body draped in ice, couldn’t believe it. Neither could Bobby Portis.

That’s “Dame Time,” Antetokounmpo said, pointing to his wrist.

Thursday night was indeed “Dame Time,” as Lillard poured in 39 points to lead the Bucks to a 118-117 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. He scored 14 of the team’s final 16 points down the stretch, chipped in eight rebounds and four assists, and set the franchise record for most points in a debut.

As far as first impressions go, it would have been difficult for Lillard to deliver a better one. This was Milwaukee’s first chance to see the real Lillard experience, and Fiserv Forum was electric as he closed the show with a series of clutch buckets and free throws.

Watching him work on TV is one thing, but seeing it in person is special. Even his teammates, fellow NBA vets who have been around the league and seen it all, were impressed. Here’s a look at Lillard’s Bucks debut through their eyes.

“It was tough man, he was hooping,” Cameron Payne said. “It was crazy, we really ain’t got to see that Dame yet. That was our first time seeing him go crazy on our team, because in preseason he was getting trapped. We really didn’t get to see that. But he put on a show tonight. I know he’s gonna keep that going. The boy looked good.”

Lillard got off to a slow start from the field, missing four of his first five shots. Even so, his impact was obvious. The extra attention the Sixers had to show him opened up lanes and opportunities for his teammates. “They have to pick him up right as he crosses halfcourt,” Chris Livingston said. “That’s gonna do a lot of good things for our offense.”

Before I could even finish asking Jae Crowder if he could feel the defense start to panic when Lillard had the ball, he was already nodding in agreement. “That’s what I took away the most,” Crowder said. “Just seeing how much attention he draws.”

Less than six minutes in, Lillard ran the floor in transition and caught a hit-ahead pass from Malik Beasley. Immediately, four different Sixers moved his way. So Lillard swung it to Khris Middleton, who fired a skip pass across the court. Beasley and Brook Lopez were both so wide open that they collided going for the ball, and Lopez still had plenty of time to reset and bury the triple.

All Crowder could do was laugh.

“They both tried to go for it because they were both open,” Crowder said. “You can only trap so many guys on the court. That was a play that really showed how much attention he draws and how we can get shots off of him.”

As the night went along, Lillard started to find his offense. There was a three-minute stretch in the second quarter where he caught fire, scoring 14 points, which had the crowd “geeked,” according to Payne. And then in the fourth, Lillard took over again.

Once up by 19, the Bucks trailed by eight with 6:47 to play. Then Lopez and Crowder hit back-to-back threes to cut the deficit to two; Lillard handled things from there. He scored 14 of the team’s final 16 points, including a 3-pointer with 3:57 remaining that put them ahead for good.

The highlight of that scoring binge was a truly ridiculous 3 from about 30 feet to put the Bucks up by five at the 1:13 mark. Lillard drove left, went behind his back, crossed over and stepped back before catching nothing but net.

Payne just chuckled thinking about it. “He’s tough man, he’s tough. They’re like layups for him, for real. It’s just crazy.”

So did Portis. “That was smooth. Lined it up, the crowd goes ‘three!’ and cashes it. Great moment for him in his first game with us.”

“I thought that was pretty conventional,” Robin Lopez said.

As if he hadn’t done enough already, Lillard then sealed the win by hitting a pair of free throws in the closing seconds. Though he’s officially been a member of the team for less than a month, the Bucks already trust him to close the show.

“Even tonight on the bench, it was like towards the end of the game — it was four minutes, five minutes — Jae, Cam, you know, they were like, ‘Dame, finish them. Close it out’,” Lillard said. “And it wasn’t them telling me, ‘you gotta score, you gotta do this,’ it was just they trust my judgment and trust me making decisions. And all the way down to the very last play where I got fouled and I went to the free-throw line.

“They inbounded it to Giannis and I was reading him like, ‘what do you want to do?’ And he was like, ‘come get the ball.'”

Lillard was, in Antetokounmpo’s eyes, “unbelievable.” It’s hard to argue with that, and the best news for the Bucks and their fans is they’ll get to watch it for at least seven more months.

“It’s a lot of fun, especially when there are so many other great players out there with Dame,” Robin Lopez said. “It’s really just a feast for us. We get to watch a lot of good basketball.”

‘We don’t give a sh–‘

After failing to score in the second half of the Los Angeles Lakers’ season-opening 119-107 loss to the defending champion Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, eight-time All-Star Anthony Davis was the subject of significant criticism. Davis, who holds career averages of 24 points and 10 rebounds per game, went scoreless on six shot attempts in the second half after putting up 17 points prior to intermission.

Davis is no stranger to chastisement, most recently for his lack of consistency during the Lakers’ postseason run to the Western Conference finals this past spring. According to Lakers forward LeBron James, however, none of that talk matters in the slightest.

James gave his opinion on the issue following the Lakers’ 100-95 win over the Phoenix Suns in Thursday’s home opener, in which Davis put up 19 of his 30 points in the second half, to go along with 12 rebounds, three blocks and three steals. Davis also made four straight free throws in the closing seconds to seal the victory.

“We don’t give a sh– about criticism about AD,” James said. “We don’t care. Nothing bothers us. AD doesn’t care. I don’t know if guys have figured that out. AD does not care. He’s not on social media, so he doesn’t see none of the crap. He rarely talks, unless it’s to us. So, we don’t give a sh– about it, and he definitely doesn’t.”

“We don’t give a s*** about criticism about AD. AD doesn’t care, he’s not on social media.” – LeBron on the criticism of Anthony Davis pic.twitter.com/Ut3XFA3EUx

— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) October 27, 2023
James, who finished with 21 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in Thursday’s win, has continued to hype up Davis over the course of their five seasons as Lakers teammates. He even went as far as to call Davis the face of the franchise on media day at the beginning of October, a couple of months after Davis signed a three-year, $186 million max extension that will keep him with the Lakers through 2028.

NBA analysts have grown frustrated with Davis’ play over the years, as in certain stretches he looks like the best two-way player in the league, but in others — like the second half against Denver — he seemingly disappears from the court.

That being said, when Davis is healthy, there’s no denying that he’s one of the NBA’s few elite game-changers.

Jimmy Butler highlights trio of strong daily fantasy picks for Friday’s NBA slate

The first weekend of the 2023-24 NBA season is almost here and Friday’s main slate is jam-packed with action. Twelve games will tip-off, so fantasy managers will have a lot to take in. Looking to sort through the mess and build an optimal DFS lineup? We’ve got you covered with a trio of top stud, mid-tier, and value options on DraftKings here.

Jimmy Butler ($8,500)
Butler returned more than 5X value in his 2023-24 debut despite shooting an abysmal 6-for-18 from the floor against the Detroit Pistons. He scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the contest to go along with four assists and a pair of steals. He’ll face the Boston Celtics on Friday after averaging 24.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.1 assists against them last postseason. Boston has added Jrue Holiday to bolster their perimeter defense, but Butler torched his Bucks for 37.6 points per game in a five-game playoff series last season. Miami is short on reliable forward, so DFS managers should expect a healthy workload for Butler ahead of the weekend.

Jalen Duren ($5,600)
Duren was dominant against the Heat earlier this week despite getting matched up with an elite defender in Bam Adebayo. The second-year big man scored 17 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and swatted four shots. Charlotte is a little undersized in the frontcourt behind Mark Williams and the Detroit Pistons don’t seem intent on giving James Wiseman much time. The former Golden State Warriors center notched a DNP in the season opener. Duren averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks against the Hornets as a starter last season. Expect another big night from him in this matchup.

Caris LeVert ($4,900)
LeVert logged 31 minutes off the bench in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opening-night win against the Brooklyn Nets. He chucked up 17 shots on a poor shooting night and could see similar shot volume if Darius Garland (hamstring) sits out. LeVert averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game without Garland last season. Those figures could easily make him one of the best value plays on the slate.

Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard credits WNBA players for inspiring signature move

NBA players will constantly look for ways to improve their game. For Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, he’s drawn inspiration from some of the WNBA’s top players in an effort to have even more success.

Earlier this week, Leonard revealed that he watches a ton of film and noticed that WNBA players pick up their pivot foot since it’s a legal move.

“I think a lot of WNBA players do it,” Leonard said, via Law Murray of The Athletic. “I thought it was just an NBA rule at first, but like I said, I realized you could pick up that back foot.”

Apologies for not posting this yesterday

I asked Kawhi Leonard yesterday about a move that is quickly becoming a signature for him, where he finds a way to legally pick up his pivot foot.

Kawhi mentioned watching @WNBA players take advantage of the rule and watching his own 🎞️ pic.twitter.com/tWWNdzpyVx

— Law Murray 📱 (@LawMurrayTheNU) October 25, 2023
Over the years, Los Angeles Sparks star Nneka Ogwumike has patented the move, but it’s also become more prominent throughout the league. In fact, WNBA Finals MVP and Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson used it during the WNBA Finals earlier this month when she was able to get past New York Liberty power forward Breanna Stewart as a result.

Leonard has established himself as one of the top players in the NBA over the course of his career. However, it’s certainly never too late to add another move to your bag of tricks.

2023 NBA picks, October 27 predictions from proven model

The Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks will face off in an Eastern Conference clash on Friday night. Atlanta is 0-1 overall and finished last season 41-41, losing in the NBA Play-in Tournament. Meanwhile, New York is 0-1 overall and finished last season 47-35, advancing to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The teams split their four regular-season matchups last season, but the Knicks have won five of the last six meetings in Atlanta.

Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. ET at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The Hawks are favored by 1 point in the latest Knicks vs. Hawks odds. The over/under for total points is 229.5 points. Before entering any Hawks vs. Knicks picks, you’ll want to see the NBA predictions from the model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past four-plus seasons. The model entered the 2023 NBA Finals a stunning 72-38 on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning nearly $2,900. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

The model has set its sights on Hawks vs. Knicks. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several NBA odds and betting lines for Knicks vs. Hawks:

Hawks vs. Knicks spread: Hawks -1
Hawks vs. Knicks over/under: 229.5 points
Hawks vs. Knicks money line: Hawks: -112, Knicks: -108
Hawks vs. Knicks picks: See picks here
What you need to know about the Hawks
It’s hard to win when you don’t work as a unit and post 10 fewer assists than your opponent, a fact the Hawks found out the hard way on Wednesday. They took a 116-110 hit to the loss column at the hands of Charlotte. The Hawks didn’t live up to their potential and found themselves falling short of the advantage oddsmakers thought they had coming into the game as 4-point favorites. Jalen Johnson put forth a good effort for the losing side as he earned 21 points along with seven rebounds.

The Hawks revolve around Trae Young, who finished ninth in the NBA in total points last season while leading the league in total assists for the second straight season. He is complemented in the backcourt by Dejounte Murray, who averaged 20.5 points, 6.1 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals. The Hawks let longtime starting power forward John Collins leave to Utah via trade, and they’ve elevated Saddiq Bey to the starting lineup. He scored 15 points in the team’s opener and swiped a career-high of five steals. See which team to pick here.

What you need to know about the Knicks
Meanwhile, the Knicks couldn’t capitalize on their home-court advantage in their season opener as they fell to Boston 108-104. The Knicks’ defeat came about despite a quality game from Immanuel Quickley, who earned 24 points along with six rebounds. Even though they lost, the Knicks were smashing the offensive glass and finished the game with 17 offensive rebounds, easily outclassing Boston in that department as the Celtics only pulled down seven offensive boards.

New York had one of the most efficient offenses last season, ranking third in the NBA with a 117.8 offensive rating. Julius Randle led the team with 25.1 points per game and 10 rebounds per game, while Jalen Brunson added 24 PPG and a team-high of 6.2 assists per game. Josh Hart knocked down 52% of his three-point attempts after being acquired in a midseason trade, while new addition Donte DiVincenzo converted on 40% of his three-pointers last year with Golden State. See which team to pick here.

How to make Hawks vs. Knicks picks
The model has simulated Knicks vs. Hawks 10,000 times and the results are in. We can tell you that the model is leaning Under, and it’s also generated a point-spread pick where one side hits well over 50% of the time. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.

2023 NBA picks, October 27 predictions from proven model

The Golden State Warriors look to continue their recent dominance over the Sacramento Kings as the teams face off on Friday night. The Warriors opened the 2023-24 regular season with a 108-104 loss to Phoenix on Tuesday, while Sacramento defeated Utah in its season opener, 130-114 on Wednesday night. Last season, Golden State won three of four regular season meetings between these two teams before winning a dramatic first round playoff series in seven games.

The game from Golden 1 Center in Sacramento is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET. Sacramento is a 3-point favorite in the latest Kings vs. Warriors odds, while the over/under for total points scored is 238. Before making any Warriors vs. Kings picks, be sure to see the NBA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine’s proven computer model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five seasons. The model finished the 2022-23 NBA season on a 72-39 roll on all top-rated NBA picks, returning nearly $2,800. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Kings vs. Warriors, and just locked in its picks and NBA predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see the model’s picks. Here are several NBA odds and betting lines for Warriors vs. Kings:

Warriors vs. Kings spread: Kings -3
Warriors vs. Kings over/under: 238 points
Warriors vs. Kings money line: Kings -143, Warriors +121
Warriors vs. Kings picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Warriors can cover
Golden State looks to avoid its third 0-2 start to a season in the last four years but it won’t be easy against a motivated Kings team. The Warriors are 9-2 in their last 11 regular season games against Sacramento and won the last two playoff games played in the Golden 1 Center last April. The Kings were only 23-18 at home last season and lost their final three regular season games on their home floor.

Star point guard Stephen Curry lit up the Kings last season, averaging 33.0 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 50% from 3-point range in four regular season games against their in-state rivals. In Game 7 last season, Curry hit 20 of 38 shots for 50 points in the Warriors’ 120-100 victory. For Golden State to have a better result than it did against Phoenix on Tuesday, Curry and Klay Thompson must shoot better than 7 of 25 from behind the 3-point arc. As a team, the Warriors were 10 of 43 (23.3%) from 3-point range on Tuesday. See which team to back at SportsLine.

Why the Kings can cover
Only one team had a better record against the Western Conference last season than Sacramento’s 32-20 and Denver used that momentum to propel itself to an NBA Championship. The Kings started the 2023-24 regular season on a high note, blowing out Utah on the road by 16 points. Forward Harrison Barnes had 33 points on 11 of 16 shooting, the most points he has scored in a game since October 2021.

Will Golden State have any answers for the Kings’ dynamic duo of point guard De’Aaron Fox and center Domantas Sabonis? Against the Warriors in the seven game playoff series, they averaged a combined nearly 44 points, 13 assists and 16 rebounds per game. Fox especially has been a thorn in the Warriors’ side, scoring at least 22 points in nine of the 10 games he played in against them last season. See which team to back at SportsLine.

How to make Warriors vs. Kings picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Over on the point total, projecting the teams to combine for 250 points. The model also says one side of the spread is the better value. You can see the model’s picks at SportsLine.

Giants QB with worst record under lights since 1970

Deion Sanders, also known as “Prime Time,” has swept the sports nation as head coach at Colorado. That nickname isn’t for everyone. Namely, Daniel Jones. The QB affectionately known as “Danny Dimes” probably won’t be touching the “Prime Time” nickname anytime soon.

Jones and the Giants hosted the Seahawks in the national spotlight on “Monday Night Football.” Jones entered with a 1-11 record in his career in prime time, the worst record of any QB with at least 10 starts since 1970. The second-worst? Andy Dalton. Worse yet: things didn’t get any better for Jones and the G-Men in Week 4. Here’s an updated look at his record, with Seattle securing a blowout win:

Jones’ only win in prime time was against the Commanders last December: A 20-12 victory that ended on a questionable non-call — potential pass interference on the Giants in the end zone on fourth down with the Commanders driving to tie the game.

That win snapped Jones’ nine-game losing streak in prime time to begin his career. It’s also been long forgotten, especially after the Giants opened the season with an embarrassing 40-point loss on “Sunday Night Football” against the Cowboys.

Any Daniel Jones apologist might point to the fact that the Giants were not expected to win many of these games. They have been a betting underdog in 11 of his 12 starts in prime time. You can’t expect him to have a winning record in those situations. He’s played on a losing team for most of his career, up until last year, and he’s often matched up with a much better opponent on national TV.

There’s some truth there. My counter, though: Jones’ numbers in these spots don’t help his case. He has 12 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions in 13 prime time starts, compared with 50 touchdowns to 22 interceptions in all other games.

Monday could’ve been Jones’ best chance to end his horrors in prime time, as the Seahawks had been lit up by opposing QBs this season. That is, until Monday’s matchup, when the Seattle defense sacked him time and time (and time) again.

A silver lining: Jones proved he could be a one-man band of sorts in Week 2. He became the first player in Giants history with 250 pass yards, 50 rush yards, two touchdown passes and a rush touchdown in a game, and he did that in the second half alone. Michael Vick (2010 at Washington) was the only other quarterback to have a half like that since 2000. That’s really impressive, even if it was against the Cardinals. But other than that, it’s been a nightmare of a start to the season for Jones and the 1-3 Giants.