Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:00 PM EST. Odds subject to change.
Houston +162 over Orlando
7:10 PM EST. These are two perennial underachievers who are on their way up the ladder; however, the Magic are perceived by the market to be a step or two ahead of the Rockets in that department. There are calls that Orlando should be competing for a playoff spot this season. We’ll stick with the hometown Magic, as they feature last year’s Rookie of the Year in Paolo Banchero in a frontcourt that also features up-and-comers in Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr., and that trio has the pundits praising the Magic for their patience and approach to building their roster. Whether or not that approach translates into success remains to be seen. All we know is that they do not hand out the NBA Executive of the Year Award in the third week of October.
The Rockets' approach to regaining some relevance in the market contrasts that of Orlando in that Houston was very active in free agency, as it looked to fill the roster spots around its young talent with quality veteran players such as Fred VanVleet, who spent seven seasons in Toronto, winning a championship with the Raptors in 2019. The Rockets also picked up Canadian Dillon Brooks in a sign-and-trade with Memphis. Those two vets will support a core that consists of Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., and Alperen Sengun, which on paper looks like an exciting group. They will have growing pains but will also be undervalued based on their poor reputation for past failures.
Finally, the Rockets made a coaching change, hiring Ime Udoka to replace Stephen Silas. Udoka has had his share of bad press in the last couple of years, and so he too comes into this season with a big chip on his shoulder. They say a team takes on the personality of its coach, and if that’s the case, the Rockets are not going to lack tenacity or that “us versus them” mentality this season.
That brings us to the line here which does not reflect the disparity in market standing between these two teams. The Magic are regarded as “up-and-comers,” but the Rockets are still regarded as dregs despite their many moves, and even if those moves were the right ones, there is a perception that it will take time for those new parts to gel. Maybe it will, but the oddsmakers have all the information that we do, and much more, and yet, they still priced this game in a range that an unsuspecting market will see the Magic as low-hanging fruit. We will not be tempted by such fruit, and in fact, we reject it. This line suggests the Rockets have a great shot to win this game, which is precisely how we are going to attack. Houston outright is our call.
Houston +162 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.24)