The 2023-24 NBA season has arrived and so too has the Victor Wembanya Era as he impressed to start his career. Meanwhile, it’s much of the same for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
They’re Still LeBron’s Lakers
Yet another NBA season has started with the hope of LeBron James passing the torch.
Based on what we saw in the Los Angeles Lakers win over the Phoenix Suns, the torch remains firmly in his hands.
The idea is that James plays fewer minutes. Ideally, around 29-30 minutes. That will require the rest of his team to pick up the slack and make the decision to bench James easy for Darvin Ham. Anthony Davis, in particular, must take the lead in times James is resting and more often in those when the pair share the floor.
Having disappointed in failing to score a point in the second half of their season-opening loss to the Denver Nuggets, Davis responded with 30 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks against Phoenix. He scored 13 in the 4th quarter, but it was James – playing 35 minutes – who took command in the game-defining moments late.
And that is probably how it’s going to work throughout the season. James will preserve his body whenever he can. However, with the game on the line and a chance to win, he will exceed the minutes “restriction” and play what he needs to for the Lakers to inch closer to the #1 seed in the Western Conference.
"The Lakers are going to rely on their best player — LeBron. He is the oldest guy in the league, he's 500 minutes short of Kareem's record, and who had the most juice in the tank in the final 4 minutes? LeBron James."
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) October 27, 2023
It’s going to be a juggling act for James and the Lakers all season. As much as he might know he should play fewer minutes and take the opportunity to rest, this is LeBron James. In the age of load management, he’s not been a hearty subscriber. He wants to play whenever he can. Provided he stays healthy and the Lakers finish in the top seeds, their $8 to win the Western Conference appeals early on.
The Wemby Era Begins
The Victor Wembanya Era has begun in the NBA, and boy, it’s going to be good.
We should enjoy the universal excitement and wonder while it lasts. It won’t be long before a section of NBA fandom makes it their mission to pick holes in the rest of his career. In the meantime, though, it’s must-watch TV.
Foul trouble kept him to only 23 minutes in his NBA debut. Foul trouble is the least surprising issue he could have faced, and it won’t be the last time he spends lengthy periods on the bench. Still, in the minutes he did play, the 19-year-old impressed with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 block.
VICTOR WEMBANYAMA ARE YOU SERIOUS pic.twitter.com/DWZNbC6V9U
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) October 28, 2023
He opened as a short-priced $1.72 favourite but has drifted slightly out to $1.80 on the back of some encouraging play from the rest of the rookie class. Still, assuming he continues to get more comfortable and plays a leading role on both sides of the ball for the San Antonio Spurs, this might be the best we get of the price all season.
First 50-Burger Of The NBA Season
Zach LaVine has monster games in him. If nothing else, he’s a microwave on the offensive end and can heat up beyond control at any moment.
ZACH LAVINE IS LOSING HIS MIND
— Nekias (Nuh-KY-us) Duncan (@NekiasNBA) October 29, 2023
He cooked the Detroit Pistons for 51 points while shooting 19-for-32 during the week, but the Chicago Bulls still failed to pick up the W. As impressive as LaVine’s outburst was, it’s for nothing if the Bulls can’t turn a performance like that into a win.
Given what we’ve seen from the Bulls in recent seasons and in the start of this one, the Under on their 36.5 win total should be explored further.
Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo spoke about how easy things felt throughout the preseason. It’s not surprising to see the Milwaukee Bucks playing well and for Lillard to dominate. However, for it all to come together in Game 1? The rest of the NBA has been put on notice already.
With his Bucks trailing by two points with four minutes to play, the clock ticked over into Lillard Time.
He scored 14 points in the final four minutes to the Philadelphia 76ers’ 15 points as the Bucks eeked out a 118-117 win.
WHAT A DEBUT FOR DAME 🦌⌚ pic.twitter.com/BdAYmEZvBl
— ESPN (@espn) October 27, 2023
Already one of the best teams in the league and a proven regular season powerhouse in recent years, the Bucks have added arguably the best closer in the game.
It’s too early to be making sweeping statements. There is a lot of water to go under the bridge and 81 games still to play. Still, Milwaukee is already $2.70 to win the Eastern Conference (behind the Boston Celtics at $2.63) They will look to start the 2023-24 NBA season with back-to-back wins when they take on the Atlanta Hawks as $1.39 and -6.5 favourites.
NBA Futures Bet Of The Week
We’ve got five futures down on the NBA season already: Warriors to win the championship @ $15, Anthony Davis for DPOY @ $9, New Orleans Pelicans Over 44.5 wins @ $2, Scoot Henderson for ROY @ $5.50 and Trae Young to lead the league in scoring @ $61.
We’re adding Indiana Pacers Over 39.5 wins @ $1.90 to the mix after Week 1.
Tyrese Haliburton’s superstar potential continues to shine. Relatively slow to start the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he came up with the goods when required in the 4th quarter to lead the Pacers to victory.
Aaron Nesmith scored a career-high 26 points against the Cavaliers and is leading what has been a lethal bench to start the season.
In the Pacers win:
64 PTS | 17 AST | 6 3PM
61 PTS | 19 AST | 9 3PM
Starters were a combined -23, bench were +83. pic.twitter.com/0GYQN4mcBA
— StatMuse (@statmuse) October 29, 2023
This team is deep and stacked with scoring ability. If one player has a bad night, somebody picks up the slack. The roster construction isn’t finished yet either. Buddy Hield remains a nice trade chip and adds further weight to future improvement and winning over 39.5 games.
Concerns around defence are valid but they have enough points in them to win shootouts often enough to feature as a playoff team ($2.16). They will receive a relatively stern defensive test against Zach LaVine and the Chicago Bulls next time out in the chase for a 3-0 start to the NBA season.
Other NBA Notes & Odds
– The Memphis Grizzlies are 0-3. Things were made hard enough with Ja Morant’s suspension. Most don’t put enough weight into how Steven Adams’ season-ending surgery will impact things. This team is good enough to claw their way into the playoffs regardless of the start, but they’re putting pressure on themselves early.
– The Phoenix Suns offense is for real. We’ve not even seen it at full strength, but it’s difficult to see it not being elite.
– Anfernee is out for 4-6 weeks with a UCL tear. Already a contender for the worst record in the NBA, this goes a long way to locking it in early doors.
TOP 6 NBA CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS
|TEAM||CURRENT PRICE||LAST WEEK’S PRICE|
|Los Angeles Lakers||$14||–|
|Golden State Warriors||$15||–|