This article is part of our NBA Roundtable series.
Welcome to the Week 8 edition of the RotoWire NBA Roundtable. This week, six of our writers tackle five questions ranging from top rookies to best value bets to league-wide power rankings.
The updated MVP odds have Giannis (+180), Doncic (+350), Harden (+470) and LeBron (+550) as the top-four favorites. Of the other candidates listed at the FanDuel Sportsbook, which player(s) do you like most as a longshot bet?
James Anderson: Anthony Davis (+1200), Kawhi Leonard (+3100), Pascal Siakam (+6000), but I should add that I think there's a 99% chance the MVP is going to one of the four favorites, so I would not advise betting on anyone else.
Shannon McKeown: Of the longer shots, I like Jimmy Butler (+10000) the most. He's likely to finish with career-best numbers across the board while carrying the Heat to a top 3 or 4 seed.
Adam King: I might lean towards Nikola Jokic. He has struggled to begin the season and, honestly, the Nuggets performances have reflected just that. But Jokic is beginning to round into form but he is going to need to do a lot more if they are to challenge for the title. If he can elevate his overall production and make a push for the number one seed once again, he should at least be in that conversation.
Ken Crites: Kawhi and Paul George tend to eliminate each other, especially with the load management. I think Vegas has it right with Anthony Davis as fifth. LeBron is 34 years old. I can see him suffering another injury and Davis carrying the Lakers for a 15-game run. I'll go chalk with Davis.
Mike Barner: Zach LaVine at +10000. Just kidding. Outside of those four, it's difficult to get overly excited about any of the other options. If I'm forced to pick one, I'll take Nikola Jokic at +8000. He's off to a bad start, but the Nuggets aren't in terms of wins and losses. If he picks it up and the team finishes with a top-3 seed in the West, he'll at least be considered.
Alex Barutha: Anthony Davis (+750). I was hoping to find someone else I liked, and I couldn't. Too many other candidates won't win because of missed games, don't have good enough team performances, or don't have dominant stats compared to the top-4 favorites. Davis is on one of the best teams in the league and is the only player averaging at least 20 points, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks.
Looking at FanDuel's NBA Championship odds, which team(s) could you make a case for as the top value bets at this point in the season?
Anderson: Bucks (+480), Sixers (+700), Celtics (+2700) are my three favorite bets to win it all. If I were setting the odds, I would say Bucks-Clippers-Lakers-Sixers is the order of the four-most likely teams to win it all, and I don't think you're getting good enough value on the L.A. teams at their current odds.
McKeown: From pure value standpoint, I like the Celtics (+2700) and Heat (+5000.
King: My value bet would be the Boston Celtics at this stage. They are the number two seed in the East despite playing without Gordon Hayward over the past month. Jaylen Brown has taken his game to another level and the addition of Kemba Walker has been a masterstroke. Losing a player like Kyrie Irving is tough to battle back from, but only on the surface. Irving was not a good fit for the Celtics, both on and off the court. The team appears to be functioning much better as a unit, highlighted by the improved production of a number of players.
Crites: Boston at +2700. The Celtics are 17-5 despite missing Gordon Hayward for 13 games. They have playoff experience. And Boston will only get better at playing with Kemba Walker as the season progresses. I suspect Danny Ainge trades for a defensive center before the deadline -- they have the war chest to make a deal (four first round picks over the next two years).
Barner: The Bucks at +480. I think they are the prohibitive favorite in the Eastern Conference while the West is going to be a tough battle between the two LA teams, the Rockets and the Nuggets.
Barutha: You can still get the 76ers at 7-to-1 odds, which seems like nice value considering it will probably come down to Philly and Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Finals. The 76ers remain a flawed team with an awkward Joel Embiid/Ben Simmons fit, but they're easily one of the most talented teams in the league and are on a pace to finish with a better record than last season. It shouldn't shock people if they best the Clippers or Lakers in a seven-game series.
Power rank your top five teams in the NBA right now.
Anderson: Bucks, Lakers, Clippers, Celtics, Mavs
McKeown: Bucks, Lakers, Clippers, Rockets, Boston
King: Bucks, Lakers, 76ers, Clippers, Celtics
Crites: Lakers, Bucks, Clippers, Celtics, Mavericks
Barner: Bucks, Lakers, Clippers, Celtics, Nuggets.
Barutha: Bucks, Lakers, Clippers, 76ers, Raptors
Which player are you more confident can continue his improved play over the course of the full season: Jonathan Isaac or Brandon Ingram?
Anderson: Jonathan Isaac. I could see Isaac's usage staying the same or even increasing slightly as the year goes on and it becomes even clearer that he's the Magic's best long-term building block, whereas I think Ingram's usage will clearly decline once Zion Williamson is healthy.
McKeown: I'm confident both players will continue their improved play for the remainder of the season, but I'll give the slight edge to Ingram if forced to pick one. Isaac is an absolute monster on defense, but his offense game still needs to be refined. Meanwhile, Ingram's breakout is a natural progression from what we've seen in past years for a player of his pedigree. He's three-point percentage (41.6%) will likely regress, but Ingram's overall production will remain strong.
King: I think I would go with Isaac on this one. A couple of reasons factor into my decision, not the least of which is the eventual return of Zion Williamson. Ingram has been fantastic but a lot of his value it reliant on usage, something that is likely to take a hit with Zion on the floor. Isaac's value comes from his contributions in both steals and blocks, categories that are not reliant on usage. Isaac is the 13th ranked player in nine-category leagues despite scoring just 12.3 points per game. There is certainly scope for him to improve in that area, even after the return of Nikola Vucevic.
Crites: Jonathan Isaac. Zion Williamson will return sooner or later, and the Pelicans would be crazy to not get him lots of touches. The Pelicans are 6-18. Ingram as the lead option isn't getting them anywhere. Isaac doesn't need designed plays to produce. Vucevic and Gordon can shoot all they want, and Isaac will still get his blocks, boards and steals.
Barner: Talk about two vastly different players. Isaac is not a great offensive threat at this point in his career, but his averages of 1.3 steals and 2.9 blocks are stellar. Meanwhile, Ingram is averaging 24.9 points, seven rebounds and four assists a night while shooting 49.4 percent from the field and posting a 28.7 percent usage rate. Since defensive contributions can be a bit tricky, I'll say Ingram is the answer to this question, but I like both players to continue to do what they do best.
Barutha: Will Jonathan Isaac lead the NBA in blocks or steals at some point in his career? could have been a legitimate prop bet, so the fact that he's blocking a league-high 2.9 shots isn't too surprising. He hasn't really improved much on offense, so he won't be regressing there. Still, I think what Ingram is doing is real for the most part, especially the passing, rebounding and defense -- those numbers line up well with what he's been doing already for his career on a per 100 possessions basis. What might come back down to earth is his 41.8 3P% (34.9% for his career) and his 83.9 FT% (68.5% for his career).
Setting aside Ja Morant and the injured Zion Williamson, which rookies have impressed you most thus far in what's been somewhat of a disappointing 2019 class?
Anderson: Tyler Herro would be my third overall pick if we were redrafting the draft today. I don't think you can hope for an All-Star outside of Zion and Morant — there may be an All-Star from the remaining players, but if I'm redrafting I'm taking the guy I think is most likely to be a quality starter on a title team, and that would be Herro, as he's on track to become one of the best shooters and more efficient wing scorers in the league. Jaxson Hayes, Goga Bitadze and Brandon Clarke have also really impressed me.
McKeown: Coby White runs hot-and-cold, but he looks like one of the best offensive players on the floor whenever I tune into the Bulls. Long term, I'm as high on White as any other player in this class outside of Morant and Zion. I've also been pleasantly surprised by how quickly Rui Hachimura and Tyler Herro have proven their legit NBA talents with huge upside.
King: Brandon Clarke of the Grizzlies. He was a standout during the Las Vegas Summer League and that form has continued into the regular season. At this point, he is the primary backup to Jonas Valanciunas which does cap his value to a degree. When digging deeper into the numbers, Clarke has by far the best per-36 numbers of any rookie who has played at least 10 games. The Grizzlies are likely going to be pushing towards developing their youth at some point this season. There is a chance Clarke moves into the starting lineup for a period or at least increases his playing time. Considering per-game value, Clarke is the 79th ranked player in just 21 minutes per game. If that pushes closer to 25, the top-50 is certainly not out of the question.
Crites: I was really enjoying Brandon Clarke's play before his hip injury occurred. His 1.4 steals-plus-blocks per game were clutch and probably ready to improve. Rui Hachimura is certainly holding his own in a bad situation. Washington is playing him 30 minutes per night, and he's taking 12-plus shots, yet the percentages are really solid -- especially for a rookie. His threes will come.
Barner: I've really enjoyed the performance of Tyler Herro. The Heat badly need his three-point shooting and have dealt with a lot of injuries, which has enabled him to average 29 minutes a game. While he doesn't have superstar upside, he can be a very good player in this league for years to come.
Barutha: P.J. Washington and Brandon Clarke both deserve more recognition. Washington is racking up real minutes (28.3 per game) for a terrible, nine-win Hornets team, and yet, he still has a plus-1 net rating. He's also averaging 2.3 threes, 1.9 steals and 1.4 blocks per 36 minutes, projecting as a fantastic three-and-D player. Clarke's net rating is an astonishing plus-15 for a seven-win Grizzlies team, though he's seeing only 21.2 minutes per game. Still, he's essentially a 20-point, 10-rebound, 2-block player right now per 36 minutes, and he's ranked sixth in the league in true shooting percentage and 17th in offensive rating.