Around The Horn In The NBA

by AAA Sports

Monday, Jan 29, 2024
No one is really sure who said it first, but it’s often traced back to former Eagles/Broncos safety Brian Dawkins, who didn’t miss a lot of games in his career: “The best ability is availability.”

NBA players and their enabler bosses spat on that statement in recent years, forcing the league to make it painful for teams to rest stars. The league’s new policies regarding post-season awards have gone a long way toward eliminating load management, and it just might give one of its brightest lights a chance at winning a second consecutive MVP trophy.

Joel Embiid has played in 33 of Philadelphia’s 44 games heading into Monday night’s action at Portland, and one of those games was a 70-point (plus 18 rebounds) monster that helped change the betting odds. Beating even Wilt Chamberlain’s team scoring record (the Stilt’s best was 68) moved Embiid into the MVP favorite spot at +200.

But  . . . there is the small matter of qualifying. Injuries and rest have caused Embiid to miss 11 games – or 25 percent of Philadelphia’s games this season. At that same rate, he would miss another nine or 10 of the remaining 38 games, which would make him ineligible for the MVP Iron.

And don’t forget this. Embiid is a very large man and lugs a lot of weight up and down the court more than a hundred times every game. If the Sixers are going to make a deep playoff run, Embiid will have to play big-time minutes in April and May, times when he has run out of gas in the past. So do the Sixers put him on the court enough to keep him in the MVP hunt, or do they take a page out of Kawhi Leonard’s book and keep him locked and loaded for games in April, May, and maybe June?

And now that the word is out, will the MVP voters factor in games played when they cast their votes? It’s interesting to note that Embiid’s major competition for the award (Denver stud Nikola Jokic +210), has played in all 46 of his team’s games this season.

The Rookie of the Year will be either San Antonio big man Victor Wembanyama or Oklahoma City forward Chet Holmgren, with Wembanyama having the edge in most books despite the Spurs’ journey into the lottery and the Thunder’s rise to the top of the Western Conference. One outlier book, though (MGM), actually gives a slight edge to Holmgren.

The Celtics remain the consensus favorite to win the NBA title, with most books having them at around +300. But lots of eyes have been opened by the Celtics’ losses to Denver and the Clippers. Boston was 20-0 at home before the Nuggets edged them by a bucket, and then last Saturday the Clippers came into Boston and dropped the hammer on the Celts (the final margin was 19 but the lead was 36 before Boston’s key players were pulled).

File this one under the category of what always happens to a fool and his money. Just before Christmas, Draft Kings offered +100,000 odds that the Detroit Pistons, then buried in a 25-game losing streak, would not win a game for the rest of the season. Someone actually took a $40 flyer on that offer. Detroit lost three more games before the bettor had to tear up the ticket when the Pistons eked out a two-point victory – their third of the year – over Toronto. The Pistons are now 6-40 (.150 winning percentage, and would have to go 2-34 (.058 winning percentage) the rest of the way to break the mark for the worst record in NBA history – 9-73, set by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

© 2024 Al McMordie's All Rights Reserved.