UFC 217 w/ Allen

It's now November and we're finally having a card that's worthy of being called "card of the year." We went a whole year without a card featuring Conor McGregor or even Ronda Rousey so it'd be fair to say Zuffa has been hustling a bit to throw together a blockbuster card, but we're finally here. You say UFC 217, and I hear cha-ching. Here are my picks for the main card (odds as of 11/3 6pm PST).

Paulo Borrachinha -270 (3u) / Over 1.5 +100 (2u)

Pretty simple pick here - Johny Hendricks has really lost his marbles. He did make weight today though so he has that going for him but the guy really just hasn't looked the same since he's won and lost the belt. Sure he holds decisions over Matt Brown and Hector Lombard in the last two years which are no easy feats... but come on. We're talking about a dude that moved up a weight class because he couldn't say no to tiramisu and cheesecakes fight after fight. He's also fighting a young and undefeated Borrachinha who has yet to get a big name win in his resume and he's ready for it. Third round TKO.

Jorge Masividal +160 (2u)

This one is a little tough for me. I like Stephen Thompson in this fight overall, but I think I like Jorge a little better as an underdog. The reason why I have this as an upset is I think it's Jorge's time. He's a dynamic striker with better grappling than Thompson. Wonderboy does one thing great. Really great. Probably a top five striker in the UFC easy. But I think Jorge has a lot going for him and he's going to edge this out in a decision.

Joanna Jędrzejczyk -600 (4u)

The money line on this fight is an easy call. I really don't see Joanna losing for a while. She's going to challenge the record for consecutive title defenses. Rose is maturing well and she's super talented (also a very nice person... I've got a picture with her in Vegas) but it's just too early for her. I'm not taking an over under on this fight since it's a little trickier to tell. She's had a five round fight once with Paige VanZant choking her out in the last round, so we know the cardio is there. It really comes down to how many fists, shins, elbows, and feet can she take flying at her face coupled with Venus/Serena Williams shrieks with every strike.

TJ Dillashaw +165 (2u) / Over 3.5 -180 (4u)

Second championship fight and we still have one left to go over! Another underdog situation I like. Cody is a beast and the power is unbelievable at 135, but TJ is Killashaw for a reason. What Cody did to Dom was insane. And yes Dom beat TJ. But the transitive property isn't a thing here, and neither is MMA math. Matchups and styles make fights, and I think TJ's style will be tougher to deal with for Cody than Dom. Decision TJ.

Georges St-Pierre -105 (2u) / Over 4.5 -160 (3u)

The return of Rush. Tomorrow night Canada will be rejoicing with extra maple syrup on their Montreal smoked meats... as politely as possible. This is because I believe Bisping will get frustrated with the elite jab of Rush, get frustrated and think he's got it figured out by throwing a counter right reaching a little too far... and there goes St-Pierre's double leg takedown. Might even happen a few times. Before you know it time runs out and GSP wins in GSP fashion - a title fight decision. The same outcome of his last seven fights in a row. Ring rust? The dude never said he was going to stop training. He's been keeping at it, even occasionally rolling with Danaher's elite Jiu Jitsu squad in New York. Anyway, I'm not saying it'll be a breeze for GSP but let's call it a decision and a good night for the Canadian.

If for some reason I'm zero for five on my picks tomorrow night please refrain from throwing angry and violent tweets my way. This is the UFC. Anything can happen. Except maybe Rikishi flying from the sky into the Octagon to TKO Joanna Jędrzejczyk via stinkface. I am willing to bet my life savings that won't happen. You can take my word on that one 100%. The rest of my picks? Your risk, your choice, and your money!

- Allen

NBA Season Win Totals w/ YBK

GSW under 67.5

Just like last season, I'm not a believer that the Warriors can reach these extreme win totals because they'll have the #1 seed locked up with a week or two to go and rest their starters in meaningless games to close out the season. With the West as strong as ever, expecting any team to win 68 games is a tall task and I'll gladly take the under. 

CLE under 54.5

It's no secret that Cleveland has a tendency to coast in the regular season and this year will be no different with the additions of 3 injury prone players in IT/Wade/Rose. There should be plenty of rest days among them along with LeBron as they concede the 1 seed to the Celtics like last season.

PHI under 40.5

Philly might be everyone's League Pass team this year with so much exciting young talent but the hype won't necessarily translate to wins on the court. Their core players have all struggled to stay on the court and no one knows how many games the trio will suit up for this season. They won't be in the playoffs this season but should get there as early as next year.

LAL under 33.5

Lakers will undoubtedly be all over the media spotlight with Lonzo and his family getting a reality show, but this is still a roster with not nearly enough NBA talent. Playing in a loaded West only hurts their chances and they should get slaughtered a fair amount on their way to a 50+ loss season. 

MIN under 48.5

Another fun League Pass team with a lot of individual talent but they'll need some time to figure out rotations and seamlessly include Butler into their scheme. They also have a problem with spacing with KAT arguably being the most reliable 3 point scorer among the starters and I can't see how this team gets to 49+ wins in the West.

LAC over 43.5

Buying low for these next two teams. Clips might have lost a future HoF'er in CP3 but this starting unit focused around the backcourt duo of Griffin and DJ, while finally adding a capable SF in Gallo and all-NBA caliber defense in Beverly should be able to go over .500. 

UTA over 41.0

Same concept here with buying low, even with Hayward gone they still have perennial DPOY candidate in Gobert and now have Rubio to run the point with some solid and underrated young pieces. Snyder is a great coach who will yet again focus on defense first and this team should be able to finish over .500 as well. 

Placing 5u on each line.


BS Podcast Western Conference Review w/ Jason


            Bill Simmons, alongside Joe House, Kevin O’Connor, and Jason Concepcion recently released their podcast discussing over/under predictions for the Western Conference. Is Bill Simmons the most reliable guide to placing O/U bets? The answer is probably not, however Simmons and The Ringer staff bring up interesting takes that I want to discuss in further detail.

            The podcast starts off with the lowest projected o/u total which is Sacramento at 27.5. All four of them take the over and argue that all the players they brought in (Hill, Randolph, and Vince Carter) are better than the players that left last year’s 32-50 team (Collison, Afflalo, Tolliver). Surprisingly, they forgot to mention the trade of DeMarcus Cousins who played 55 games for the Kings last year with a 37.5% usage rate. Although losing Cousins may be better for the Kings long-term, the loss of a premier go-to option will definitely affect the Kings win total. The Ringer staff also seemed sure that the Kings are not going to tank this year. I find that hard to believe as they have their own draft pick and their focus seems to be on the youth movement. O’Connor mentions that the Kings have, “a good mix of rookies and vets”. Unfortunately, to win in the NBA, I’d rather take players in their primes over rookies and “vets” aka old players who are more professional development coaches than players at this point.

            When it comes to the Dallas Mavericks (33.5), all four members took the under. O’Connor says, “If you’re taking the over, you’re relying on Dennis Smith Jr. to be spectacular right away”.  Clearly DSJ is going to play a huge role in how this team performs, but he is already a better player than Yogi Ferrell who led PG duties for last year’s 33-win team and they forget to mention a full year with Nerlens Noel. Mark Cuban has been publicly against tanking for a long time and admitted last year was the first year they talked about it as an organization due to their terrible first half record (started season 3-15). I can’t see them tanking again, especially in light of Dirk’s 20th and final year with the franchise.   

            The Memphis Grizzlies caused some debate as Jason Concepcion said he would “smash the under” of 37.5 while O’Connor likes the over. KOC argues the Randolph and Allen departures are “additions by subtraction” and allow the Grizzlies to finally space the floor like most modern NBA offenses. I have to agree and I believe head coach David Fizdale does too as he comes from a space-orientated Heat tenure and will cherish not having to play Zbo. Simmons brings up the possibility that the Grizzlies are a possible trade candidate as Conley and Gasol are both coveted players. However, the Memphis organization has shown that they prefer making playoff revenue over starting a youth movement.

            Following popular opinion, all four members took the over for the Utah Jazz (41). KOC cites that Rodney Hood’s numbers were awesome when Gordon Hayward was off the floor and after winning 51 games last year, 41 is too low. I agree that the Jazz should finish better than .500, however, Quin Snyder pulled off a miracle winning 51 games with last year’s oft-injured Jazz squad and I’m unsure if he can craft another masterpiece this year. Having a healthy Derrick Favors should help and the Jazz will probably double down on their defense-first mentality this year.

            When it comes to the Clippers (43.5) talent, both Simmons and House agree that they have “50+ win talent” yet House takes the under, citing Doc Rivers as the cause. Personally, I think Rivers is going to be why the Clippers go over 43.5 wins as he has better personnel fits for his equal-opportunity offense and now he doesn’t have to worry about any front office duties. Also Simmons is a LA Clipper season ticket holder, and he consistently bashes Chris Paul for his “body language” in previous podcasts. Losing an all-time great is tough, but without the presence of Paul, I think Blake, Doc and gang are refreshed to attack their individual and collective goals.

            Everyone unanimously went under for the Timberwolves (48.5) who finished last year going 31-51. As KOC mentions, they could be the most improved team with 15 more wins than last year and still not reach their O/U. One of the biggest obstacles the Wolves face is how they’re going to split ball handling duties when all their perimeter players are best with the ball in their hands (Teague, Butler, Wiggins). I don’t see Thibs going into a free motion, share-the-ball offense anytime soon and the addition of Butler doesn’t justify the over.

            Facing a similar challenge, Billy Donovan has the task of coaching 3 ball dependent stars in Oklahoma City. The Ringer staff seems optimistic as they took the over on 52 wins with Simmons mentioning “there is no way this team isn’t 8 wins better than last year”. Talent-wise, this year’s team is absolutely 8 wins better, but that doesn’t translate to 8 more wins in real life. Last year’s team was on a vengeance with the KD departure and I think Donovan and staff come into this year with a different attitude. Donovan and Co. will probably have a long-term mindset coming into the year and spend a good amount of the regular season tweaking lineups and rotations in preparation for the playoffs. KOC is the only member to take the under and mentions that the Thunder may start off hot, but have chemistry issues arise later with players wanting more shots (specially referring to Melo). Whichever part of the season it may be, it is hard to imagine the Thunder having a seamless year without some hiccups and over-performing like they did last year.

            Death, taxes, and thinking this is the year the Spurs (54.5) decline. We’ve all thought it before, and Simmons is no different, claiming that this is the year the Spurs’ age will show. Simmons takes the under citing the aging Gasol and Tony Parker, but I think having those two play less will actually lead to more regular season wins. At this point, Patty Mills is a better basketball player than Parker and less minutes for Gasol means more time for Aldridge at the 5. The Spurs can comfortably play small ball now as Rudy Gay is a prototype small ball 4 and Kawhi can stick to his natural position. Having this versatility allows Pop to match up better with different styles of teams during the regular season. After their disappointing finish to last season, the Spurs still have the Warriors on their minds and we've all seen what a motivated Pop can do. 

            When it comes to the Rockets (55.5), Jason Concepcion is the lone under while KOC even mentions 60 wins for the Rockets, claiming that they will have “48 minutes of Hall of Fame Point Guard Play”. His point is valid as Chris Paul and James Harden might be the two best PNR players in the NBA today alongside the the maestro of PNR himself, Mike d'Antoni. Simmons does raise some concerns about the two superstars' chemistry, but I think those concerns are over-blown. Yes, they are both ball dominant players, however they have the all-forgiving ability to shoot from perimeter and I think they will quickly find a nice equilibrium. The spacing they displayed in their pre-season games have been eye-opening and it seems like they’re going to take Daryl Morey’s crazy analytics project to the next level.

            Even with the Warriors having a ridiculous O/U of 67.5, all the members took the over easily. Simmons even remarks that he would take the over if it was at 70. Simmons may seem hyperbolic, but the Warriors biggest obstacle is health and I think even with an injury to their core four, they can reach 68 wins. The Warriors are so deep that missing one of their four all-stars shouldn’t be too big of an issue. The Warriors won 67 games last year with Kevin Durant missing 19 of them, and now they have Nick Young and Omri Casspi to replace him in case of such injury compared to Matt Barnes. The team should also improve from another year of continuity where they brought back 12 players from last year’s title run.

             The last team the Ringer crew covers is the Los Angeles Lakers (33.5). Simmons takes the over, banking on the young team to go around .500 at home and having no incentive to tank. He also cites the solid additions the team made, with a special focus on Brook Lopez who was in “basketball purgatory” with the Nets. I understand the excitement building in Los Angeles and I also agree that Lopez could have nice year with Lonzo (see Jiri Welsh); however, expecting the buzz to translate to wins is foolish. It is hard to imagine the Lakers splitting their home games and I think the hype is one year too early for the Lakers.

            The Ringer crew always brings an entertaining perspective on their sports betting podcasts while also covering some interesting factors for each team. I highly recommend giving the podcast a listen and hearing their conversation about the most competitive conference in a long time. 

- Jason

NBA Futures 2017-18 w/ YBK

NBA Champion:

Cleveland +500 (4u) [Nitro] / Boston +1000 (2u) [MyBookie]

The Warriors might be in their own tier above the rest of the NBA but there's just no value on taking any team to go all the way at odds around -200. The East is historically weak and a Finals matchup without either the Cavs or Celtics would be a massive upset, so I'd much rather take the top two teams in the East at these odds and have the option to hedge in the Finals. Assuming one of these two teams wins the East and the Warriors make the Finals again, you could get creative with the hedge by taking Warriors -1.5 games (must win in 6 games or less) and also take Warriors in exactly 7 games to cover all outcomes and guarantee a small profit.

Regular Season MVP:

Kawhi Leonard +400 (4u) [MyBookie] / Giannis Antetokounmpo +1000 (2u) [Bovada]

Last season was a prime example that winning the MVP isn't about being the best player in the league, it's about usage rate. After a wild offseason, some of the top MVP candidates have joined forces with other stars and should lose enough touches to take them out of the MVP race. Harden paired up with CP3, Westbrook formed a new big 3 with PG13/Melo, KD/Steph will continue to split MVP votes, and LeBron is the human embodiment of voter fatigue. This leaves perennial MVP/DPOY candidate Kawhi at the top who should be looking to increase his 31.3% usage rate and lead the Spurs to yet another 50+ win season.

The Greek Freak should be filling up the stat sheet this year like Westbrook did last season and makes for a sneaky play at 10:1 odds. He gets a lot of media attention and the narrative could definitely give him a boost at winning the MVP if the Bucks are able to pull off 50+ wins. At only 22 years old (!), he will definitely be in the MVP conversation for years to come and I don't mind putting 2 units on him to pull it off this season. 

Rookie of the Year:

Dennis Smith Jr. +500 (4u) [Bovada]

There's going to be a lot of hype with Lonzo getting the spotlight in LA and Fultz/Simmons splitting votes on an extremely young and entertaining Sixers team, but there's a ton of value taking DSJ at 5:1 odds. He'll be given the keys to run the offense with fewer mouths to feed in Dallas and should lead all rookie guards with 16+ PPG in 30+ MPG, utilizing his ability to get in the paint coupled with a decent outside shot. Throw in the fact that Seth Curry is out indefinitely with a leg injury and I'll gladly grab the value with DSJ. 

Coach of the Year:

Brad Stevens +400 (2u) [Bovada] / Billy Donovan +800 (2u) [Bovada]

This award is pretty hard to predict but both of these coaches have a tall task ahead of them in trying to seamlessly integrate all-NBA talent into their lineups. On paper, both teams have the ability to pull off 60+ wins but it'll be up to their respective coaches to lead the team in doing so. I don't see D'Antoni winning this award in back to back years and there's not much that Kerr or Pop could do that they haven't done already, so I feel comfortable taking these two to win a Coach of the Year award this season. 

All odds available at the listed books as of Oct 10 3pm PST.