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Houston’s NBA Championship Odds Get Worse with Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony at TechCrunch event
Will Melo still be smiling after the Rockets are grounded in the playoffs?Photo by TechCrunch (flickr) CC License)
  • Houston’s championship odds have taken a beating after agreeing to sign Carmelo Anthony
  • Can Melo prove his doubters wrong by leading the Rockets to an NBA championship?
  • Will the losses of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute prove to be too much for Houston to overcome?

Remember the good old days when Carmelo Anthony used to actually make teams better? Neither do Vegas bookmakers.

The Houston Rockets’ average odds to win the 2019 NBA Championship have gotten significantly worse just hours after the ten-time All-Star verbally agreed to join the team for the upcoming season.

Adding insult to injury, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s odds have actually improved since Anthony left the team and agreed to a lucrative buyout.

Team Avg Odds July 18 Avg Odds August 8
Houston Rockets +740 +900
Oklahoma City Thunder +5000 +4500

The Rockets are currently available as short as +650 at MyBookie and as long as +900 at BetOnline, while the Thunder are available as short as +2500 at BetOnline and as long as +4500 at Bovada.

In all fairness, the new odds aren’t purely an indictment of Melo and his diminishing skills. They’re also a reflection of the other players the Rockets lost, and the players the Thunder retained.

Houston will enter the 2018-19 season without Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, a pair of elite perimeter defenders who helped power the Rockets to a franchise-best 65 wins last year.

Trevor Ariza 33.9 11.7 4.4 1.6
Luc Mbah a Moute 25.6 7.5 3.0 0.9

The Rockets hoped to retain both players but were forced to let them walk after signing Chris Paul to a pricey four-year, $160 contract. Ariza subsequently signed a one-year, $15 million deal with the Suns, and Mbah a Moute rejoined the Clippers on a one-year, $4.3 million deal.

Neither player is Melo’s equal in regards to individual honors, but they both fit perfectly within Houston’s schemes. Ariza and Mbah a Moute didn’t need the ball to be effective, and when they did touch the rock they were remarkably efficient.

Ariza and Mbah a Moute didn’t need the ball to be effective, and when they did touch the rock they were remarkably efficient.

Ariza had an effective field goal percentage of .542 and a three-point percentage of .368, while Mbah a Moute posted a career-high effective field goal percentage of .572 and hit 36% of his three-point attempts. Compare that to Melo, who posted a dismal .476 effective field goal percentage and shot just 35% from beyond the arc.

The Thunder, meanwhile, saw their odds improve after re-signing Paul George to a four-year, $137 million contract. The five-time All-Star averaged 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and two steals per game in his first season in OKC, and meshed well with Russell Westbrook late in the season.

George will be rejoined in the line-up this year by Andre Robertson, who underwent season-ending surgery in late January after rupturing his left patellar tendon. The feisty guard had the league’s fourth-best defensive Real Plus-Minus ranking at the time of his injury, and the Thunder’s defensive rating tumbled precariously during his absence.

The Rockets and Thunder aren’t the only teams whose fortunes changed. The Lakers’ odds have also come crashing back to Earth following the head-scratching acquisitions of Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Michael Beasley.

It’s still unclear whether they’re trying to create a championship roster or casting a disastrous reality TV show. Either way, basketball fans are guaranteed to tune in.

Team Avg Odds July 18 Avg Odds August 8
Los Angeles Lakers +740 +1000
Toronto Raptors +2700 +1800

The Raptors’ odds have also changed significantly following their blockbuster trade for Kawhi Leonard on July 18th. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year has passed his physical and reportedly had a positive first meeting with new head coach Nick Nurse.

Toronto remains cautiously optimistic that they’ll be able to convince Leonard to resign next summer, but it will be worth checking in this winter as he copes with his first – 40-degree cold snap. There’s nothing like a mild case of frostbite to make you reconsider your free agency options.

All teams are still chasing the Warriors, whose average odds to win the 2018 NBA Championship dropped from -180 to -190 from July 18th to August 8th. That’s the lowest they’ve been since June 9th after winning their third title in four years.

Golden State’s biggest challenge this year could be complacency as they try to remain engaged during the NBA’s notoriously long regular season. The last team to win three straight championships was the Lakers, who did so from 2000-to-2002.

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Ryan Murphy began his love affair with sports journalism at the age of nine when he wrote his first article about his little league baseball team. He has since authored his own column for Fox Sports, and now serves as SBD’s resident NBA and MLB expert.