The NBA is in the middle of its annual break for the All-Star Game, making it a great time to take a look back at the first half of the season when it comes to wagering on the games. While expert handicappers will break down individual matchups on a number of levels when it comes to formulating their picks, there are certain players in the NBA that always have to be accounted for when it comes to setting and moving the betting lines.
Doc’s Sports expert handicapper Raphael Esparza is one of the best in the nation when it comes to NBA betting. The following is a look at his Top 10 players when it comes to moving the spread. When these players are out of the lineup, the point spread will move drastically.
It stands to reason that arguably the best player in the NBA would have the biggest impact on betting lines. The fact that he returned to Cleveland this season has actually increased his impact to anywhere from a high of seven points to a low of four given a whole new cast a players that is still trying to completely gel as a team.
Melo would also fall into the three- to six-point range. Given his lack of playing time this season, that could actually add some value to the Knicks, who have also grown accustomed to running their offense without their top player in the lineup.
As Harden goes so do the Rockets, and he has actually increased his impact on the betting lines as his career has progressed. You could estimate his impact right now to be around four points. His consistency at the free throw line alone can have an impact on both the spread and the totals line.
One of the biggest and brightest new superstars in the league is really starting to make his impact felt both on the court and at the betting window. Given that his primary strengths are rebounds and blocking shots, his impact on the betting lines can also be as many as four points. His defensive presence will also have a big impact on the total line.
Cousins’ impact on a game’s spread is very similar to Davis in terms of what he means to his team. He has noticeably expanded his role with the Kings this season to increase his impact on a spread to three to four points. This has the upside potential to increase given Sacramento’s current situation.
You never really know a player’s worth to his team until he misses a substantial amount of playing time. This makes Durant impact on the pointspread in that three- to four-point range. His biggest contribution to the Thunder is really the balance he brings to the entire team when he is on the court.
As good as CP3 can be at times, his impact on the betting lines is probably right around three points. This adds some value to the Clippers in general through his ability to play defense and control the tempo on offense. At times, the Clippers can look completely lost when he is not in the lineup.
Gasol is another up-and-coming player that has really increased his value to his team. Esparza would put his impact on the betting lines all the way up to three points. He is a huge presence in the Grizzlies’ frontcourt, and he remains one of the biggest reasons for his team’s success so far.
Another player that is starting to have an impact on the betting lines up to a possible three points is Portland’s Damian Lillard. He has really come on strong this season as the Trail Blazers’ second-leading scorer, but in the same way as Chris Paul, his biggest attribute is the ability to run this team’s offense.
Two or more key players
This scenario could apply equally to both San Antonio and Atlanta this season. Team balance and depth continue to drive both of these teams, and while one particular player may not have a huge impact on the betting spreads, if two or more are out of the lineup the impact could be anywhere from three points all the way up to seven points depending on the game. This actually may add value to both the Spurs and the Hawks given that they continue to win with an overall system of play.
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