The amount of star power is at an all-time high in the NBA. As the years have gone by, players have become more skilled and more physically imposing. Making one of the five All-NBA First Team spots has always been a huge honor, and the prestige of that distinction has only increased in the last few seasons.
As usual, the All-NBA First Team features two guards, two forwards and one center. 5Dimes offshore sportsbook has released odds for dozens of the league’s top players concerning their chances at either making or missing the cut for the five-man list.
Based on these odds, this preview has decided on its betting predictions, giving three advised picks. Each player has his position, team and the suggested bet listed.
Isaiah Thomas, Guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers (-1800 to not make All-NBA First Team at 5Dimes)
Thomas had an amazing season last season and will probably fit in pretty well on offense with LeBron James and the Cavaliers if he comes back strong from his hip injury. That said, in the estimation of this preview, you’re basically printing yourself money if you’re willing to put some dough into this bet.
IT just had the season of his life as a 5’9”, 28-year-old point guard in an offense totally built around his game and tailored to his strengths with the Boston Celtics. He averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists per game, and he still wasn’t even that close to making the first team. James Harden and Russell Westbrook were flat-out better players who creamed him in the voting, and Stephen Curry even got more voting points in a relative down year for Steph.
This year, a lot of factors will be working against Thomas. Most importantly, there’s no timetable for his return to court — who knows how much of 2017-18 he’ll actually play? It’s pretty tough to make an All-NBA First Team while missing a huge chunk of the season.
Second, the Cavaliers are not going to build their offense around Thomas. LeBron is still the man in Cleveland, and he handles a massive chunk of the scoring and playmaking burden. Kevin Love also scores a bunch. IT could be as low as the third option on offense.
Lastly, there’s always going to be a stigma around Thomas’ defense, and for good reason. Opponents score over his small body with ease, and this hip injury probably isn’t going to help matters.
The chances that Thomas beats out the likes of Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard for a first team spot this year are next to nothing.
Kevin Durant, Forward for the Golden State Warriors (+145 to not make All-NBA First Team at 5Dimes)
There are only two forward spots on the All-NBA First Team. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard are both superstars and clearly the best players on their teams. In fact, most top USA sportsbooks have them as the top two favorites for the MVP award. Even rising superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has a decent shot at making the squad, giving his alpha dog status with the Milwaukee Bucks and rapidly improving game.
Durant is an amazing player, and is probably a better player than Leonard in a vacuum. But given the the relatively manageable role he has to play for the stacked Warriors, his chances at making the squad are not as high as the odds suggest. There’s still a question as to whether he’s a better player than teammate Stephen Curry, which is not an issue for James’ or Leonard’s cases.
Somehow, Leonard’s odds (+155 to not make the All-NBA First Team) are barely better than Durant’s, despite Kawhi’s massive role and MVP favorite status for the Spurs. KD has an implied probability to make the team of around 60 percent, which is a bit too high. Bet on him not cracking the first team purely because of the how stiff his competition is at the forward spot.
DeMarcus Cousins, Center for the New Orleans Pelicans (+700 to make All-NBA First Team at 5Dimes)
Despite the rise of several promising young big men, there’s still a very good argument for Cousins as the most talented center in the NBA. He averaged a career-high 27 points per game last season to go with 11 rebounds and 4.6 assists per contest. Sure, he’s now playing a full season next to Anthony Davis, a major stat sheet-stuffer himself, but the Pelicans are not a team deep with scoring options. Cousins will get plenty of chances to show his skills.
Young centers like Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid are still improving quite a bit, but there’s a good chance none of them will have the raw stats to match Cousins’ production.
Cousins’ teammate, Davis, made the team last season as a center, but AD played a lot more power forward once Cousins arrived at the trade deadline. If you’re worried about the fact that the Pelicans may not be a playoff team, remember that Davis made the squad a year ago despite New Orleans’ 34-48 record.
There’s definitely no clear choice for the All-NBA First Team’s center spot heading into the season, so why not go with a guy with a solid shot at averaging 25-10-5 next year?
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.