NBA Title Odds 2013: Preseason Wrap-Up Edition

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistOctober 23, 2013

NBA Title Odds 2013: Preseason Wrap-Up Edition

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    Can you taste the regular season yet? 

    We're so close to the start of the NBA's 2013-14 campaign that teams have begun to get their first whiffs of real action, and they're responding accordingly during the preseason. Coaches are tinkering with rotations and evaluating lower-tier rotation players, and it's giving us more insight concerning the general picture and upside of the 30 squads populating the Association. 

    That's why it's time for another version of the NBA title odds. If you're curious, you can view the last version here and compare how things have changed. 

    If you're a fan of a good team, here's hoping that the odds are in your favor. And if you're not, well, just view this countdown as an inverted version of the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes. 


    Note: All preseason statistics are current through Oct. 22. 

30. Philadelphia 76ers

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    Preseason Record: 2-4

    The Philadelphia 76ers may have won two preseason games, but there have been plenty of signs affirming what we already knew: This squad is right at the bottom of the NBA and should be considered the heavy favorite to gain top odds in the 2014 draft lottery. 

    Particularly problematic is the point guard play.

    Between Tony Wroten, Michael Carter-Williams and Darius Morris, the top field-goal percentage is 32.7 percent (a tie between Wroten and MCW). They haven't been able to score and the turnovers have piled up with alarming frequency. 

    There are future pieces in place here, but nothing good should be expected in 2013-14. 


    Title Odds: 2,000-1

29. Charlotte Bobcats

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    Preseason Record: 3-3

    "Efficiency" has been a foreign word for the Charlotte Bobcats, and that doesn't bode well for their season. You know...when teams actually A) start trying and B) playing their best players in larger doses. 

    Among the expected starters, Al Jefferson has the top field-goal percentage, checking in at 46.7 percent while scoring nine points per game. Cody Zeller has been fairly impressive as well, producing 8.2 points per contest on 45.5 percent shooting. 

    But as for the guards? Yikes. 

    They've shown that they're quite good at hitting just the rim. 


    Title Odds: 450-1

28. Utah Jazz

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    Preseason Record: 1-5

    I still think that the Utah Jazz are going to be fun to watch, but they aren't going to be very good. Especially not if their top players continue struggling as they've done in the preseason. 

    Gordon Hayward is right to have that look on his face; he's going into the 2013-14 campaign as the de facto No. 1 option, but his hold on the role is tenuous at best. And after six games in which he averaged 15 points on 36.3 percent shooting while turning the ball over 2.7 times per contest, it may already be slipping away. 

    Between Hayward's struggles, Alec Burks' inability to hit any sort of jumper, and Trey Burke's fractured finger, the preseason has been an utter disaster for the Salt Lake City residents. 


    Title Odds: 425-1

27. Phoenix Suns

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    Preseason Record: 4-2

    Even if the Phoenix Suns aren't going to be very competitive this year, their fans have to feel good about the future now that the Eric Bledsoe-Goran Dragic backcourt pairing has started to look like it will work out. 

    Dragic has averaged 12.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in under 20 minutes of action per game, and he's shot a sparkling 67.6 percent from the field. Bledsoe's 44.8 percent shooting pales in comparison, but he's produced 11.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 5.7 dimes per contest while looking like a defensive sensation. 

    As long as those two call the desert home, this team will have some potential. Just the long-term variety. 


    Title Odds: 400-1



26. Milwaukee Bucks

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    Preseason Record: 0-5

    Will the Milwaukee Bucks just give John Henson a starting job already? 

    Although Larry Sanders is still the man to watch in the frontcourt, the UNC product has played superb basketball throughout the preseason. He's averaged 10.2 points (trailing only O.J. Mayo on the team), 7.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game, shooting 53.7 percent in the process. 

    Although the Bucks haven't won any games, Henson has been a positive, as have been the flashes of brilliance from Giannis Antetokounmpo (who will soon be known as the Greek Freak thanks to the difficult nature of his last name). 

    There are signs of a solid club forming here, but it isn't all coming together just yet. 


    Title Odds: 380-1

25. Sacramento Kings

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    Preseason Record: 3-2 

    The Sacramento Kings are among the highest risers in this edition of title odds—yes, even though they still come in the bottom 10. 

    DeMarcus Cousins has looked motivated and effective, even after inking a max four-year extension that ensures his financial future. But it's about more than just Boogie. 

    Perhaps motivated by thought of a potential trade, Jimmer Fredette has been lighting up scoreboards. Averaging 13 points per game, Jimmer has drilled 61.5 percent of his three-point attempts this preseason.

    That is not a typo. 

    Ben McLemore and Patrick Patterson have also looked great, giving the Kings quite a few stellar individual pieces. But putting them all together into a proper puzzle is quite the challenge. 


    Title Odds: 375-1

24. Boston Celtics

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    Preseason Record: 1-6

    If we're looking for positives, we have to overlook the play of Avery Bradley and Jeff Green, even though they'll be the two main contributors while Rajon Rondo continues to rehab that torn ACL. 

    It's to the frontcourt that we turn.

    Summer league standout Kelly Olynyk has continued to look like a quality player. In 21.7 minutes of action per game, he's put up 9.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists while shooting 52.9 percent from the field. His fundamental excellence should carry over to the regular season, just as it has to the preseason. 

    Vitor Faverani won't be as much of an impact player, but the 25-year-old big man from Brazil has shown that he can be a solid backup and bring a nice physical presence to complement Olynyk. 


    Title Odds: 350-1

23. Orlando Magic

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    Preseason Record: 2-5

    Can we go ahead and hand Rookie of the Year to Victor Oladipo? 

    I'm kidding, but only kind of. The Orlando Magic's young combo guard has been sensational, locking down on defense and still finding the time and energy to average 14.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.

    If he can get his three-point stroke honed, the sky is the limit. 

    Across the board, Orlando's youthful core continues to get better and better. These title odds may be slightly high, but only because there's a chance for one or more breakouts during the 2013-14 season. 


    Title Odds: 200-1

22. Washington Wizards

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    Preseason Record: 1-5

    It should be quite clear that the Washington Wizards will go as John Wall goes, especially with Emeka Okafor out indefinitely with a neck injury.

    Wall has struggled with his shooting stroke during the team's six preseason games, and the results haven't been pretty. If the young point guard isn't connecting with the bottom of the net, the Wizards won't be connecting with the win column. 

    But on the bright side, Bradley Beal looks like a future superstar. I have him ranked as the No. 10 shooting guard in the league heading into the new campaign, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he skyrocketed to No. 4 by the end of the year. 

    And yes, I mean the end of the calendar year. His offensive game looks that good.


    Title Odds: 175-1

21. Atlanta Hawks

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    Preseason Record: 1-5

    It's been an offseason of positives and negatives for the Atlanta Hawks, and that's continued on into the preseason.

    Let's first focus on two of the biggest additions.

    Paul Millsap has looked spec-tacular (read in a Marv Albert voice) over his first five games in new threads, shooting 54.3 percent from the field, averaging 12.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and showing flashes of three-point range. 

    But Dennis Schroeder has struggled. 

    The German sensation has displayed tremendous court vision and carries himself with undeniable confidence, but he hasn't been able to connect on virtually any of his jumpers. Although he'll be a pest on defense, it's time to dial back the expectations a little bit for his rookie season. 

    It's also become quite clear that the Hawks desperately need Lou Williams to return from his ACL surgery sooner rather than later. 


    Title Odds: 130-1

20. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Preseason Record: 3-4

    The best sign for the Lakers hasn't been Xavier Henry's breakout performances, Jordan Farmar's sustained solid play, or Wesley Johnson's ability to shoot the ball from beyond the arc. 

    It's been the team's ability to remain competent while Kobe Bryant rehabs that pesky Achilles. 

    The defense has looked better than it did in 2012-13, and the offense will assuredly receive a nice boost as soon as the Mamba is back in the lineup. So far, the Lakers have struggled with consistency and have produced only 94.3 points per game. 

    This is going to be a down year for the Lake Show, but at least it won't be completely hopeless. 


    Title Odds: 120-1

19. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Preseason Record: 3-2

    Is this finally the year that the Minnesota Timberwolves make good on their annual potential and avoid the injury bug?

    So far, Chase Budinger has been the only player struck down by that little imp, and it needs to stay that way if Kevin Love hopes to shed his unfortunate reputation and actually advance to the postseason. 

    A lot will rest on Ricky Rubio's shoulders as well, and he's performed admirably thus far. 

    In just under 25 minutes per game, the Spanish sensation has averaged 8.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.6 steals per contest, shooting 38.7 percent from the field. That's a number that must keep rising, but at least Rubio has displayed a better jumper. He's even hit 60 percent of his three-point attempts. 

    Now it's time for Derrick Williams to step up his game. The former No. 2 draft pick still hasn't shown much, and he could find himself on the trading block if he doesn't turn things around. 


    Title Odds: 115-1

18. Dallas Mavericks

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    Preseason Record: 3-3

    While Dirk Nowitzki is unquestionably the No. 1 player for the Dallas Mavericks, the success of the season hinges on how well Monta Ellis can adapt to his new role. 

    He's earned mixed reviews thus far as he attempts to transition from a shot-happy gunner into a team-first player who thrives as a true combo guard. 

    Ellis has averaged a career-high number of assists per minute, checking in at 6.3 per game despite playing just over 25 minutes a contest. But he's continued to jack up three-pointers even though he's hitting just 30 percent of his looks from downtown. 

    Can he continue cutting back on the shots? Can he become the shooting guard that Dallas needs? 

    There's not enough pointing in either the positive or negative direction to have a definitive answer yet. And quite frankly, that may be a good thing for the Mavs. 


    Title Odds: 110-1

17. Detroit Pistons

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    Preseason Record: 3-4

    Although Brandon Jennings looked absolutely fantastic before getting sidelined with a tooth problem, I still have my questions about whether or not Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Josh Smith can all work together at the same time. 

    So far, the answer is a big, fat "no." 

    Drummond has been great, and Smoove has been hitting three-pointers, but the lack of consistent floor spacing is posing big problems for the other big man. Monroe has shot only 39.7 percent from the field, and it's not deterring him from taking more shots. 

    Based on the way things have worked thus far, it appears Jennings will need to assert himself even more and control the rock with increasing frequency upon his return to the lineup.

    How's that for a sentence you never thought you'd read? 


    Title Odds: 90-1

16. Denver Nuggets

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    Preseason Record: 2-3

    Two stand out in the Mile High City as particularly important: Ty Lawson and JaVale McGee.

    The former has to become an even steadier ball-handler following the departure of Andre Iguodala and the uncertain status of Danilo Gallinari. The latter is expected to start at center and provide consistent minutes after Kosta Koufos was traded away to Memphis. 

    That hasn't worked out during the preseason. 

    McGee is shooting just 37.8 percent from the field, and that's negating all the positives that we've seen from Lawson. The point guard has been fantastic, but it won't matter if the Denver Nuggets don't get McGee to assert himself as a quality center. 

    Western Conference teams must have a solid frontcourt to compete, and Denver hasn't shown that it does yet. 


    Title Odds: 90-1

15. Toronto Raptors

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    Preseason Record: 5-1

    It's time to start considering the Toronto Raptors a serious threat to make the postseason. Their odds have gotten a lot better here as a result, since anything can happen once a team makes it past Game 82.

    I've been bullish about Rudy Gay ever since he fixed his vision, and that stance isn't changing now that he's averaging 13.8 points on 50 percent shooting. An efficient Gay is terrifying for the rest of the Eastern Conference. 

    DeMar DeRozan also looks vastly improved, Terrence Ross is living up to the hype, Jonas Valanciunas is proving why everyone and their mothers has tabbed him as a Most Improved Player candidate, and there actually appears to be some depth north of the border. 

    It's only the preseason, but everything has gone swimmingly for this squad. Now we get to see if the success carries over into the regular season.


    Title Odds: 85-1

14. Portland Trail Blazers

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    Preseason Record: 4-2

    This is going to be a huge season for LaMarcus Aldridge

    Playing alongside Robin Lopez, he'll have defensive pressure alleviated, and the depth of the team will help ensure that he stays healthy and fresh throughout the year.

    So far, so good on that prediction; the power forward has averaged 15.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game on a cool 61.3 percent from the field.

    That's been one key takeaway for the Portland Trail Blazers, but the impressive play of the backups has been key as well. Between Will Barton, Dorell Wright, Thomas Robinson and Meyers Leonard, it's become clear that Rip City won't struggle every time a starter needs to take a breather. 

    Only some of the time. 


    Title Odds: 80-1

13. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Preseason Record: 4-2

    We haven't gotten a glimpse of Andrew Bynum yet, and it appears as though it'll take Anthony Bennett a while to make a successful transition from UNLV to the NBA. However, there are positives for the Cleveland Cavaliers thanks to the play of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. 

    Irving has been a stud, dazzling with his remarkable handles and showing off passing skills he didn't possess as a second-year player. Waiters has displayed an even better jumper than he had as a rookie, and his overall scoring talent has improved. 

    As for Thompson, it appears as though the offseason switch to a right-handed shot has done wonders for his game. 

    The 6'9" big man is still a fantastic rebounder, and he's averaging 12.0 points per game on 54.9 percent shooting. His 61.5 percent mark at the charity stripe is also a far cry from last season's putrid 49 percent. Thompson is going to factor heavily into the Most Improved Player race. 

    Even without Bynum, it's starting to look like a healthy Cavs squad could emerge as a playoff lock in the East. 


    Title Odds: 75-1

12. New Orleans Pelicans

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    Preseason Record: 6-0

    Even without Tyreke Evans, who was lost 10 minutes into his debut with the New Orleans Pelicans, this team has been one of two undefeated squads during preseason action.

    And it's all about Anthony Davis. Remember why he was drafted No. 1 overall in 2012?

    If you'd forgotten during his slightly disappointing first season, he's providing you with a nice explanation now. Averaging 22 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.0 blocks per game on 53.8 percent shooting, The Unibrow has arguably been one of the preseason MVPs (if such a thing existed). 

    Monty Williams' team is just overflowing with talent, and it's come together nicely already.

    Don't sleep on NOLA as a playoff contender this year. It might be tough for them to actually get there, but there's so much upper-level talent in the bayou that big things could happen with the right bounces. 

    This would be your upside play if you were actually able to bet on these odds. 


    Title Odds: 50-1

11. Memphis Grizzlies

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    Preseason Record: 4-2

    The Memphis Grizzlies are going to war with a roster that's almost identical to last year's playoff squad, so there isn't too much to be gained from analyzing the preseason performance of this team. 

    However, we can still take a look at the shooting of the team, as perimeter jumpers were the biggest weakness once Rudy Gay departed for the Toronto Raptors. Through six games, Memphis has shot 34.7 percent from three, a slight improvement from last year's 34.5 percent. That still needs to get better.

    One player who could greatly aid the cause is Jamaal Franklin, the do-everything gem the Grizz landed in the second round of the draft. 

    Franklin has averaged 5.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.2 blocks per game while shooting 36 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from downtown. Those last two numbers need to get better in order for him to land a rotation spot as a rookie. 


    Title Odds: 40-1

10. New York Knicks

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    Preseason Record: 2-3

    There aren't too many positives for this New York Knicks squad that has failed to stop anyone during the preseason (allowing 105 points per game), but Iman Shumpert has been one of them. 

    The formerly flat-topped shooting guard has managed to produce 9.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists on 22 minutes per game. He's showing off a diverse set of skills that allows him to facilitate, attack the basket and hit shots from the outside. 

    Shumpert has been hailed as one of the next great shooting guards—most of the time by Knicks supporters—and he's proving that those doing the hailing may very well possess crystal balls. If he can keep up the two-way excellence, New York won't miss J.R. Smith as much while he's out the first five games of the season with suspension

    Outside of Shumpert, though, the picture has been bleak. The Knicks just aren't competitive when Carmelo Anthony isn't hitting, and that's not a good formula for a deep playoff run in an increasingly difficult conference. 


    Title Odds: 35-1

9. Golden State Warriors

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    Preseason Record: 3-2

    When Stephen Curry isn't on, the Golden State Warriors suffer immeasurably. Throughout the preseason, Curry hasn't had the same divine touch he possessed last year. He's hit only 33.3 percent of his looks, and the Dubs have struggled when he's been on the court. 

    Do I expect this to continue? No, absolutely not. 

    But when Curry is failing to excel, not even Andre Iguodala and the rest of the talented roster can pick up the slack quickly enough. Just as is the case with Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks, that makes it tough for this team to get through the playoff gauntlet, negatively affecting their odds. 


    Title Odds: 33-1

8. Houston Rockets

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    Preseason Record: 4-1

    Scary and hard to believe as this may be, James Harden isn't done improving. 

    He's been absolutely on fire, scoring 20.6 points per game on 53.6 percent shooting from the field, 55.2 percent from downtown, and 81.8 percent at the charity stripe. He obviously won't sustain those numbers when the real games start, but it's been impressive. 

    The story is a little different for Dwight Howard

    He's looked good in spurts, and—even more importantly—he's been healthy. But he hasn't always been effective, and his 43.4 percent shooting isn't a positive. D12 will get on track, but it may take until the All-Star break or so before he's fully comfortable in his Houston threads. 

    Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley have also been playing great basketball, which is a good thing for the roster and a bad thing for Kevin McHale's sleep. After all, he has to name a starting point guard at some point, right? 


    Title Odds: 30-1

7. Los Angeles Clippers

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    Preseason Record: 4-2

    Chris Paul was and is the best point guard in basketball. 

    What does that mean he'll be after a full season under the guidance of Doc Rivers? I have no idea, but it may be possible that he challenges Kevin Durant for the No. 2 spot in many people's player rankings by year's end. 

    Yes, he'll be that good. 

    CP3 dropped 40 points Saturday night against Denver, and he's looked better than ever when he buckles down on defense. 

    If he can get some help from Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan—who has looked fantastic in limited action—the Clippers are bona fide contenders for both the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and the right to advance all the way to the NBA Finals. 

    There's no hyperbole there. 


    Title Odds: 20-1

6. Brooklyn Nets

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    Preseason Record: 4-1

    Ready for one sentence that should leave every Brooklyn Nets fan beaming with joy?

    The team can win games without Deron Williams on the court. 

    Point guard depth figured to be a serious problem if D-Will went down with a sprained ankle, but Shaun Livingston has been fantastic and Tyshawn Taylor has been adequate enough that the team can survive when he's running the show. Even without Williams suiting up for a single game, the Nets have gone 4-1, outscoring their opponents by an average of 10 points.

    Brook Lopez has continued to make strides, and Kevin Garnett has made a seamless transition to his new home at the Barclays Center.

    Everything is looking good so far.  


    Title Odds: 18-1

5. Indiana Pacers

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    Preseason Record: 2-5

    Roy Hibbert is the X-factor for the Indiana Pacers. 

    We know the big man is going to be a dominant defender, but the team won't be able to push past the Miami Heat in the East if he doesn't become a quality scorer as well. Miami's defense is too good to have an offensive liability on the court for extended stretches, and Indiana needs his size on defense. 

    Hibbert was fantastic throughout the playoffs, building on a great second half to the regular season. His offseason workouts were impressive, but now it seems as though he's taken a step backward. 

    Through seven preseason games, the 26-year-old seven-footer is shooting only 35.2 percent from the field, and it's eerily similar to what we saw from him during the first few weeks of the 2012-13 campaign. 

    That has to change quickly. 


    Title Odds: 9-1

4. Chicago Bulls

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    Preseason Record: 6-0

    So...this Derrick Rose guy is pretty good. 

    While helping lead his team to a perfect 6-0 record, Rose has averaged 20.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game while shooting 53.7 percent from the field and 53.3 percent beyond the arc.

    Not much to complain about there, especially since the former MVP has looked completely healthy and gotten better as the preseason has progressed. He's exploding to the rim, cutting off the formerly injured left knee, and hitting almost every look. 

    Rose is back. 

    And that means the Chicago Bulls are back as well. Not that they ever truly left. 


    Title Odds: 8-1

3. San Antonio Spurs

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    Preseason Record: 3-3

    Still wondering if that Kawhi Leonard breakout was a legitimate one? 

    Wonder no longer. If the NBA Finals weren't enough to reinforce that viewpoint, the preseason has certainly provided further support. 

    Leonard has averaged 12.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game w while hitting at least half of his shots from all areas of the court. Seriously. He's made half of his three-point attempts in six preseason contests.

    As long as Leonard is contributing this much, it won't really matter what Manu Ginobili does. Between the yound Leonard, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich will have three stars to work with. 

    Of course, Pop could probably keep the Spurs competitive if only one star was on the roster, but that's beside the point. 


    Title Odds: 7-1

2. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Preseason Record: 4-2

    Any concerns about whether or not the Oklahoma City Thunder could internally replace Kevin Martin's production should be alleviated at this point. Reggie Jackson has been that good. 

    Through six games, the dynamic guard has averaged 15.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game while asserting himself as a solid defender and shooting 50 percent from the field. I could pick at nits and point at his unfortunately poor three-point shooting, but that would be unnecessary. 

    Jackson appears more than capable of handling the lost scoring, and Serge Ibaka has finally started to show signs of an offensive game that doesn't rely solely on putback dunks and pick-and-pop jumpers. 

    With Jeremy Lamb struggling tremendously, it's a nice set of developments for the team hoping to stay atop the Western Conference while Russell Westbrook rehabs from his offseason arthroscopic surgery. 


    Title Odds: 6-1

1. Miami Heat

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    Preseason Record: 4-2

    At this point, we know what we're going to get from the Miami Heat. They're going to remain the favorites unless they're completely off their game to start the season, so the preseason wasn't going to tell us much. But it has revealed one significant nugget of information. 

    Michael Beasley is going to make this squad and earn a spot in the rotation. 

    The troubled forward has shot 46.7 percent from the field in limited action, but even more impressively, he's made a concerted effort on the less glamorous end of the court. Instead of functioning as a sieve, Beasley has accepted that he needs to make a defensive impact if he wants to play for Erik Spoelstra. 

    Could this be an unexpected spark and bonus for Miami in its quest for a three-peat?


    Title Odds: 3-1