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Bet or Bail: Analyzing surging Warriors, young players rising

Jesse D. Garrabrant / National Basketball Association / Getty

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The NBA All-Star break has finally arrived. So, for this week's Bet or Bail, we'll take the opportunity to focus on the Warriors, two rookies who warrant more attention than they receive, and a sophomore on the rise.

Bet on the Warriors

Many believed the Warriors' demise had arrived following Kevin Durant's departure and consecutive seasons of missing the playoffs. But Golden State proved the naysayers wrong en route to the 2022 championship.

The team looked doomed again early on in this campaign. But it's become impossible to ignore the Warriors, who have won - and covered - eight of their last 10 games.

Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins' struggles were the primary reasons people bailed on Golden State. But Draymond Green's temper problems also caused issues. Since Green returned from a roughly month-long suspension, the Warriors are 9-5.

The Warriors' net rating with Green on the floor is plus-3.9. It dips to minus-0.2 when he's not. In a more binary evaluation, Golden State is 16-12 in games he's played at least 10 minutes and 11-14 in games he's sat.

Green doesn't average double-digit points and shoots seven times per game. Boxscore watchers might scoff at Green's impact, but anyone who followed the Warriors' dynastic run knows his influence goes beyond counting numbers.

He's an anchor defensively. Green can still defend at a high level and has the versatility to switch onto guards and bigs. The future Hall of Famer is constantly in the right spots and directs traffic for his teammates. Most importantly, his chemistry with the Warriors' best player is second to none.

Steph Curry averaged 23.3 points per game in the 15 games Green missed during his suspension, well below his average of 28. In the 14 contests since Green's return, Curry's averaging 31.4 points on a higher 3-point percentage.

Green has an insanely creative ability to find Curry swiftly and frequently in any situation. Few players could grab this rebound in traffic and immediately recognize Curry stayed in the exact corner only to deliver an instant, on-target pass.


Curry and Green's decade-plus run as teammates has included various dribble handoffs that allow Curry space to get his shot off. The Warriors don't rank in the top 10 in handoff frequency, yet they score 1.08 points per handoff - the league's second most, according to NBA Stats.


The threat of their connection creates open looks for other Warriors:


Jonathan Kuminga's emergence has also helped lift Golden State out of a black hole. Kuminga, who appears to be a great building block for the Warriors' future, is second on the team in minutes played and scoring over the last 15 games. He's gone over his assists prop in seven of his last nine outings.

Wiggins, however, has gone under his points prop in six of the last nine contests. But Wiggins and Kuminga are playable together now, reversing a troubling trend from earlier this season.

On Jan. 12, the Warriors had a minus-23.7 net rating when that pair shared the floor. That number now hovers around zero. Wiggins, Kuminga, and Green have a plus-15.5 net rating as a frontcourt trio and are the team's best three-man lineup.

Rookie Brandin Podziemski appears to be a brilliant selection by the Warriors. The 19th pick in the 2023 draft is the team's fifth-leading scorer and a willing defender. He also has the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio among rookies. Podziemski often replaces Thompson in the Warriors' closing lineup and started in place of Thompson on Thursday.

The Warriors are +120 to make the playoffs (45% implied probability) at 27-26 and sit 10th in the West. They have the sixth-easiest schedule for the rest of the season, according to Tankathon, so they could make a run at the eighth seed. In that situation, would you bet against Curry and the Warriors when the play-in tourney rolls around?

Two rookies and one sophomore worth betting on

There aren't many reasons to watch the Hornets or Pistons, and the Rockets are slipping in the West standings. But all three teams have rising stars worth keeping an eye on.

The Hornets were chastised for drafting Brandon Miller over Scoot Henderson second overall. The jury's still out on Henderson, although the deliberations aren't positive. Miller, however, looks like a budding star on a team in desperate need of one.

There are shades of Durant and Paul George - the latter of whom he modeled his game after - in his offensive repertoire. Miller's fluid shot, handle, length, pull-up ability, and effective finishing make him challenging to guard.

His bag of tricks is endless: He can play the point, thrive in the pick-and-roll, and serve as an off-ball weapon.

The Alabama product is third among rookies in points at 16.6 per game while shooting 38% from three on six attempts per game. Miller's gone over his points prop in six of his last 10 appearances.

Miller's shot-making ability instantly translated from college to the NBA, and the retooling Hornets now have another building block alongside LaMelo Ball.

The Rockets, meanwhile, have difficult decisions to make in the coming years. With a barrage of young talent, they'll need to decide who to keep. Alperen Sengun is the only centerpiece that should unequivocally be a part of the Rockets' plans, but Cam Whitmore's play over the last few weeks proves he, too, deserves a spot.

Houston drafted Whitmore 20th overall in June. After an impressive Summer League MVP stint, Whitmore wasn't granted many opportunities on a deep squad with similarly positioned players. However, he took advantage of an increased role after dominant G League performances and Houston's injury problems.

The former Villanova standout averaged 13.1 points in January and 16.3 in February. He's shooting 40% from deep on more than five attempts per game, the third-best among rookies who attempt at least three per contest. Whitmore ranks in the top six among rookies in points, true shooting percentage, and effective field goal percentage.

In Detroit, sophomore Jaden Ivey is another young stud on an impressive stretch. The Pistons' coaching staff reduced his minutes and took him off the ball to start the season. Killian Hayes was eating into Ivey's minutes and opportunities, which coincided with a historic 28-game losing streak. Hayes was eventually released, and Ivey became one of Detroit's primary ball handlers. He's been on a tear since January.

Ivey averaged less than 14 points during the first two-and-half months of the season while playing roughly 25 minutes per game. Ivey averaged 17.1 points in January and 21.3 points on 47% shooting from three in February while playing 32 minutes a night.

His presence, along with the backcourt pairing of him and Cade Cunningham, offer a glimmer of hope to a franchise whose future looks bleak.

Detroit is 4-6 in the last 10 games in which Ivey's played at least 20 minutes. That's not a playoff-caliber stretch but an optimistic one for an 8-46 team. One of those victories included Ivey's 37-point outing to upset the Kings.

Ivey's lights-out shooting this month is encouraging, especially considering his strength is getting to the rim and finishing. It took the Pistons a while to realize Ivey's presence produces positive results, but better late than never.

Sam Oshtry is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X @soshtry for more betting coverage.

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