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Wolf's Wagers

NBA Week 11: Odds Update, Betting Trends and Picks for Monday, Jan. 3

by Jake Wolf
Updated On: January 3, 2022, 3:15 pm ET

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We are only three days into 2022 but the NBA season is already entering Week 12. I'm looking to build on a 5-0 night last night for my picks, moving my record to 139-93-2 (60%) for +58.5 units. Let's look at some of the interesting teams near the top of the standings, plus some awards and trends to watch and two picks on tonight's games.

Standings:

The three-headed monster at the top of the West is still far and away better than the rest of the conference but Golden State is beginning to separate from the pack within that tier.

The Warriors earned a statement win in Utah without Draymond Green this week and moved to sole possession of the best record in the league. Even scarier for the rest of the league, this could be the week where Klay Thompson makes his long-awaited return from injury. Thompson ranked in the top five percentile of all NBA players in stable three-point percentage from catch-and-shoot attempts, while also putting up elite numbers in three-point gravity during each of his last six healthy seasons, according to Basketball Index.

Klay Thompson Shooting and Gravity

Even if Thompson's time off prevents him from recapturing his status as a top wing defender, adding one of the best shooters in NBA history will help space the floor for Golden State as Steph Curry looks to extend his lead for the all-time three-point record.

In the Eastern Conference, the Chicago Bulls took over first place after two game-winning shots to beat the buzzer by DeMar DeRozan on consecutive days. The Bulls won the last seven games, the longest active streak in the NBA.

The Bulls are better than many expected heading into the season even with a number of absences due to COVID protocols and injury. Chicago put up the third-best ATS record in the league so far and still could make a deadline addition with the first round pick received from Portland in the Lauri Markkanen trade this offseason. Three other Eastern Conference contenders are chasing Chicago in the standings, with one of those teams above Chicago with the best ATS record in the league.

Cleveland has been the biggest surprise of the season with a NBA-best 26-11 ATS record. Betting on the Cavs in every game would yield +12.64 units, and Cleveland has been the most profitable team for my NBA picks so far this year.

Cavs ATS

The loss of Ricky Rubio is a big hit to the team's bench, but Cleveland made a trade for Rajon Rondo this week to add a backup point guard. Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen both should receive All-Star consideration, and Evan Mobley is the odds-on favorite for Rookie of the Year. The Cavs are only fifth in the Eastern Conference standings, but Cleveland owns the best net rating in the conference at +5.4 and will play the NBA's third-easiest remaining schedule.

The Milwaukee Bucks put up the third-best record in the Eastern Conference so far this season and enter the week on a six-game winning streak. Milwaukee ranks just behind Cleveland in net rating at +4.6 but went just 18-20 ATS so far this season. The Bucks play much better when all three stars are available, with a +9.3 net rating and 14-2 record in 16 games with all of Giannis Antentokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday active. The reigning champions should still be strong contenders to emerge from the Eastern Conference.

The Brooklyn Nets are favored to win the NBA championship with odds of +260 at PointsBet Sportsbook. The Nets played without Kyrie Irving all season but sit at second in the standings with just one game to play before Irving's expected season debut on Wednesday. Irving will only be available to play in road games outside of New York and Toronto, so it will be interesting to see how the lines will be adjusted for Brooklyn at home compared to on the road. The Nets went just 5-13 ATS at home so far this year, compared to 10-6 ATS in away games.

Nets at Home

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Rookie of the Year:

Franz Wagner currently leads all rookies in scoring with 15.7 points per game, but part of his case is the heavy burden he's carried for Orlando with so many players unavailable this month. Wagner averaged over 20 points over the last 10 games with the Magic roster seeing more movement than Steph Curry trying to get open for a three. According to research from Ed Kupfer, no team made more transactions than the Magic since the start of the season.

Josh Giddey should move up the Rookie of the Year ranks after becoming the youngest player with a triple double in league history. Giddey only earned a 44.7% true shooting mark, lowest among the top-eight rookies in minutes played, but his 33.8% assist rate blows the rest of the competition out of the water and even stacks up to some of the NBA's best passers, as Giddey ranks in the league's top-10 for assist rate. I think his lack of team success and inconsistent shot will hinder his case for the award, but if Giddey continues to improve he will definitely be in the race.

Scottie Barnes was favored for much of the early season but with Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet all healthy, I expect his volume stats to regress as his rookie-high 35.8 minutes per game come back down. 

Top overall pick Cade Cunningham is also still a factor in this market, with the third-best Rookie of the Year odds on the board, but I'm waiting to see if his time off from the health and safety protocols will stall the progress he was making or if it helps him develop further for the remainder of the season.

Rookie of the Year

The favorite for Rookie of the Year is Evan Mobley, and he moved to -120, his best odds of the season, this morning. Cleveland continues to excel despite missing key pieces for extended time, and the Cavs would likely be nowhere near their current mark of best net rating in the Eastern Conference without Mobley's two-way dominance. I expect Mobley to run away with this award by the end of the season as long as he stays healthy and Cleveland's team success doesn't completely dissipate. Mobley is the only player in the top-five of Rookie of the Year odds that plays for a likely playoff team, which should give him an edge if the end-of-year numbers are close.

Trends:

Double-digit favorites continue to struggle this season, with dogs of 10+ points going 39-29-1 ATS this season (57.35%). Orlando has played by far the most games in that situation and went 7-8 as double-digit dogs, while New Orleans went just 1-3 as double-digit underdogs. On the other hand, Houston and OKC are the two most profitable teams in that situation, with the Rockets at 6-3-1 and the Thunder at 7-4.

Double-Digit Underdogs

Specific teams do better than others as huge favorites. The Mavericks, Knicks, 76ers and both LA teams failed to cover a single game as double-digit favorites this year despite each playing multiple games as double-digit favorites, while the Jazz went a league-worst 5-11 ATS as double-digit favorites after going 12-9-1 in that situation last year.

Picks:

Golden State is unsurprisingly the most successful as a big favorite, since the Warriors own the only double-digit positive net rating in the league at +10.0. The spread opened at -8 last night when I grabbed the Warriors against Miami and has since moved to -10 but I still think there's value in that line with the Heat game coming down to the wire last night. The Warriors are fully healthy with Draymond Green back in the lineup and Andrew Wiggins is putting up the most efficient season of his career.

EDGE: Warriors -8 (1 Unit)

My other play is on the Detroit Pistons, who have a tough test against a hot Milwaukee Bucks team as double-digit underdogs. Detroit's injury report is huge, with 11 players listed as out, but that number is somewhat misleading since five of those players are on two-way deals or in the G League. Hamidou Diallo stepped up with the roster in flux last week, averaging 31 points over the last three games. Cade Cunningham will return from the health and safety protocols for this game and the Pistons should be able to stay within 15 points with other players returning too. I took Pistons +15 overnight and while the line already moved to +16, I'd feel even more confident in the Pistons if Khris Middleton is ruled out. Milwaukee went just 4-7 with a -2.8 net rating in 11 games without Middleton so far this season.

EDGE: Pistons +15 (1 Unit) 

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Jake Wolf

Jake Wolf is covering basketball for NBC Sports Edge and has worked for FNTSY Sports Network and YES Network. Follow him on Twitter @jakewolf13 for betting content and basketball analysis.