Reid and I have been doing over-unders for the NHL (check out the Razzball Hockey Podcast) so I thought it was a great time to start covering the NBA’s!  Tehol joins me to look at the NBA’s Eastern Conference.  We cover every team looking at their betting line and deciding what side we would take and with what level of confidence.  Additionally, we look at the prices for teams to win the division and the Eastern Conference, along with MVP and Rookie of the Year odds.  All of that and more in the latest edition of the Razzball Basketball Podcast brought to you by LeagueSafe!

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There was a time when fans actually brought cowbells into a NBA stadium. Back in 2003, Phil Jackson called Sacramento “an old cow town.” As a result, fans proceeded to bring cowbells to home games and provide a truly unique home court advantage,

We haven’t heard much about it lately because, well frankly, the team has sucked. And who has the energy to lug a cowbell into a stadium and ring it when there are very few things to cheer about? They have not won 40 games in a season since Metta World Peace played for the Kings and was named Ron Artest. Man, I totally forgot he played two years in Sacramento. Crazy. Anyways, things are slowly transforming. The team opened Golden 1 Center last year, installed a three-foot-tall cowbell on the wall, and have changed their logo. I love the logo. The lions and the color scheme make me think of the Decepticons from the Transformers and the Voltron lions. The most shocking development has been the positive feedback from the basketball community about their personnel moves. When’s the last time that’s happened?

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In Thibs We Trust? Tom Thibodeau was hired in April of 2016 to become the head coach and president of basketball operations for the Timberwolves. Prior to his arrival, the team had not had a winning record since the days of Kevin Garnett. All newude. My favorite commercial of all time. Anyways, defense has been an issue for this team and Thibs is known as a defensive coach. During his five-year coaching stint with the Chicago Bulls, the team was ranked 1st, 1st, 5th, 2nd, and 11th in defensive efficiency. So, of course in Thibs’ first year, the defense got worse. This dynamic reminds me of Brian Billick, a head coach in the National Football League. Billick was known as an offensive guru and got his head coaching job on this premise. “Our team can’t score, so let’s hire a coach that can fix that,” said the owner of the team….probably. Anyways, Billick tried to sprinkle his offensive magic on the team, but you know what? He realized that he is indeed not a magician and that there are things called players. Coaches can put players in the best positions to succeed but, at the end of the day, players make the coach. Billick was smart enough to realize that the strength of the team was on defense, so he placated to that strength and eventually won a Super Bowl as a result. Will Thibs be as flexible? He was out of coaching for a year and travelled the basketball landscape taking notes so….Read on to find out what I think.

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26, 17, 21, and 27. Those are the number of wins the Lakers have accumulated in each of the last four seasons. For perspective, if you include the Minneapolis days, the franchise has played 69 seasons and only had two seasons with less than 30 wins. If you up the bar to 40 wins, there were only 12 seasons, and that includes the two aforementioned seasons and the lockout-shortened season of 1998. But fear not Lakers fans. Things look to be headed in the right direction with Luke Walton as head coach, Rob Pelinka as general manager, and Lonzo Ball the new face of the franchise. Just wait until Lebron James and Paul George join the squad next season!

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You always hear about teams wanting to get younger and “going with a youth movement,” but the Phoenix Suns took it to a whole new level last season. They literally played the youngest starting lineup ever! Like in forever ever, forever ever. Tyler Ulis (21), Devin Booker (20), Derrick Jones Jr. (20), Marquese Chriss (19), and Alex Len (23). I can guarantee one thing this upcoming season for the Suns. They will not have the youngest starting lineup in NBA history.

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It’s the end of an era for the Boston Celtics. It’s crazy to think that Isaiah Thomas had only been with the team for 2 1/2 years, but he became the heart of soul of those squads. I guess it all makes sense when you realize that IT is only 5′ 9″ 185 pounds and was Mr. Irrelevant in the 2011 NBA Draft. Always bringing the business, irrespective of the social construct of time and making us question the E=MC Squared equation because the energy does not seem to be interchangeable with his mass.

Got nothing but love for you IT. With that said, the NBA is a business. Here’s something for you to ponder. As I sit in this chair writing, it always pisses me off that there are salary caps in professional sports. Do we not live in a free, capitalistic meritocracy? Why is there a limit on the amount of money a player can make? Now, if I actually owned a NBA team….SALARY CAP!!! Why? Because it makes the most business sense. It’s a doggy dog world out there and cute, cuddly emotions are reserved for when you get home. The Celtics made a bunch of business decisions this offseason. As much as I love IT, it’s a move that was in the best interest of the team going forward.

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I can not wait for the Cleveland Lebrons to start the season. There is going to be so much pettiness, so much drama, so much F U-ness, and….so many wins. The Lebrons went 35-47 his rookie year. The next year they improved to 42-40. Those were the only years the Lebrons did not make the playoffs. Including those two years, the Lebrons went 349-225 (61% win percentage) with two 60+ win seasons and two 50 win seasons. Then, the Decision happened. The Cavaliers proceeded to go 97-215 (31% win percentage) with only one season above 30 wins. When Lebron returned, 161-85 (65% win percentage) with three seasons above 50 wins and the team’s first NBA Championship. I truly believe that this is Lebron’s last season in Cleveland. Remember this? I remember Lebron saying, “Even my wife was like, my momma and my wife was like, ‘I’m not with that.’ My mom was definitely like, ‘[expletive] that, we ain’t going back.“As I said on the pod, the only way Lebron returns to Cleveland is if Dan Gilbert sells him the team. As a result, he’s going balls to the wall this season. That Brooklyn pick? Lebron is going to use that to get someone. He’s pushing all the chips into the middle of the table to make one final last run. Even if management doesn’t sign off trading the pick, Lebron will morph into Kayser Soze….

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The Toronto Raptors are #good. They won 51 games last season and 56 games the prior year. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are bonafide stars. Yet….they seem to always get overlooked. Or is it just me? Maybe it’s because they are based in Canada. Maybe it’s because they have a #WeTheNorth slogan. Probably both. Regardless, one of their stars missed over a month of action and their identity changed mid-season, but they still were able to finish tied for second in the Eastern Conference and make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

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Oh, how I miss the Washington Bullets name. It would be so perfect for this iteration of the Washington basketball team. With that said, I get why it was changed. Two things, though. The football team is still named the Redskins. Nothing wrong with that, my good people of Washington DC? Well, at least my Native American brethren were given free reign over some casinos. Why Wizards? C’mon man! Anyways, as a Lakers fan, I probably should just STFU when it comes to nicknames. Back to this squad. There’s John Wall, who is faster than a speeding…wait for it….bullet. There’s Death Row DC, a nickname placed upon the team by Markieff Morris. Why Death Row DC?

“Death Row; that’s the type of team we are, that’s the type of team we want to be…A physical team that will kind of trash talk you a little bit, and that just don’t take no BS” – Bradley Beal

Sounds gangster to me. Definitely not Wizard-esque. This squad is tough and athletic. They lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but it was a great season. They won the division for the first time since 1979 and accumulated 49 wins after opening the season 6-11.

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