NBA Perfect Ten (Week of January 10th)

Business is picking up in the NBA as the halfway point of the season is in sight. Has anyone entered the conversation as a potential threat to the likes of the Nuggets, Celtics, and Bucks?

NBA Perfect Ten (Week of January 10th)

#10. Miami Heat (21-15) (+1100/+2800) - The Heat re-signed their biggest asset, head coach Spoelstra, this week. He continues to keep them a viable title contender. Strengths: The Heat still have a playoff-tested roster and some assets to move at the deadline. Weaknesses: Will the addition of someone like Siakam or LaVine be enough for this flawed roster? Last Week’s Rank: 10th

#9. New York Knicks (22-15) (+1400/+2500) - The Knicks are in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference and solidified their commitment to build around Brunson after parting with Barrett and Quickley to get Anunoby. Strengths: The Knicks may have finally gotten a stopper in Anunoby to deal with the likes of Tatum, Butler, and Middleton in the Eastern Conference. Weaknesses: Can the Knicks pick up a big to help the front line at the deadline? Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#8. LA Clippers (23-13) (+475/+900) - The Clippers are 10 games over .500 now and just resigned Leonard to an extension. Strengths: The Clippers are trying to get all their ducks in a row with the signing of Leonard and the potential signing of George in the coming weeks. Weaknesses: Another interior player and possibly a reliable guard would certainly help their cause. Do they have the assets? Last Week’s Rank: 8th

#7. Sacramento Kings (22-14) (+1700/+4000) - The Kings keep winning and don’t appear to be standing pat. They are kicking the tires on Siakam of Toronto. Strengths: The Kings look like a good destination for offensively-oriented players. Weaknesses: If Siakam balks, what next for the Kings? Last Week’s Rank: 9th

#6. OKC Thunder (24-11) (+900/+2000) - OKC continues to hang around near the top of the Western Conference thanks to a diverse and talented young roster. Strengths: So far, the Thunder have shown very capable of beating the elite teams in the NBA. Weaknesses: Size, size, and more size. This team needs more of a physical presence. Last Week’s Rank: 6th

#5. Philadelphia 76ers (23-12) (+450/+1000) - The Sixers have lost two straight and Embiid’s knees are sore, sound familiar? Strengths: The Sixers’ offense is far more diverse and athletic than they were last year with the likes of Harden and Niang in the rotation. Weaknesses: The Embiid storyline is far too similar for most Sixers’ fans. Last Week’s Rank: 5th

#4. Milwaukee Bucks (25-12) (+230/+500) - The Bucks are now 3.5 games behind the Celtics as the first half nears an end. Strengths: Giannis is in MVP form and ornery at this point. Weaknesses: Is anyone else concerned with how poorly the Bucks defend opposing guards? If only they had a defensive stopper at guard like Jrue Holiday…oh wait. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Denver Nuggets (26-12) (+200/+400) - The Nuggets are climbing back up the standings and are still the odds-on favorites in the Western Conference. Strengths: Murray looks to be healthy again following his nagging leg injuries. A bad sign for the rest of the Western Conference. Weaknesses: The Nuggets need to delicately tweak a roster that knows how to win at the trade deadline in order to repeat. Last Week’s Rank: 4th

#2. Minnesota Timberwolves (26-10) (+850/+1900) - The Wolves’ odds have lowered slightly each week as they remain atop the Western Conference standings. Strengths: The Wolves’ defense looks like the one Western Conference team that could bother Jokic and the Nuggets. Weaknesses: I still think the Wolves need a viable scoring option off the bench. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#1. Boston Celtics (28-8) (+140/+330) - The Celtics continue to roll on with the league’s best record despite having one of the league’s toughest schedules to this point. Boston could widen their Eastern Conference lead with a lighter load in the second half. Strengths: The Celtics’ defense keeps getting stronger which should bother the rest of the league. Weaknesses: Can the Celtics avoid the complacency they showed far too frequently last season? Last Week’s Rank: 1st

Top-Five MVP Candidates:

Here are my Top Five MVP candidates in the NBA at this point along with their current odds to take the award.

#1. Nikola Jokic (+180) - I’m putting the Joker up to the #1 spot because he is almost always reliable and available along with his superlative set of skills. His team is also much more of a viable Championship threat. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#2. Luka Doncic (+425) - Doncic remains the supreme talent in the league and he’d been the primary reason why his team is in the thick of the playoff race. He’s going to win an MVP at some point but it may take a year in which the Mavs have a more talented cast around him. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#3. Joel Embiid Phi (+400) - My suggestion is to be weary laying money down on Embiid. This isn’t due to his talent, which is supreme. I fear that the Sixers may rest him frequently and manage him much more closely for the remainder of the season. Nick Nurse has the blueprint for this as he did with Kawhi Leonard on his way to a title in Toronto. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#4. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+300) - Like Doncic last season, Gilgeous-Alexander is likely going to lose steam as the season moves along and fall behind the perennial candidates. Last Week’s Rank: 4th

#5. Giannis Antetokounmpo (+1300) - The Freak could end up battling the Joker for the MVP this season but his team will likely have to show some life in order for that to happen. Still, this current price is definitely worth considering for this former MVP.

Game of the Week, Season Record 4-7: The Lakers could be in big trouble. They are having issues at the top with the coach and the supporting cast doesn’t look like a good fit for LeBron and Davis. They definitely weren’t a good fit for this pick.

Orlando at Miami: I expect the Heat to be a small favorite in this game. The Magic appear to be a team that is being figured out with teams getting a lot of film on them. I expect the Heat to push past them here.

  • In parenthesis, conference odds and finals odds. Player MVP props are also in parenthesis. All odds Courtesy of

By Mark Ruelle

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Mark Ruelle

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.