LAS VEGAS -- The NBA All-Star break is this weekend, and there's no better time to take an updated look at the futures in the sports books and prepare for the second half of the season.
But before looking ahead, let's look back to my preseason article on ESPN Insider from late October where I suggested five potential best bets to win the NBA title and recommendations on teams to play and fade early in the season.
My top value future play was on the Oklahoma City Thunder at 4-1 at the William Hill sports books in Nevada, and I feel good about that. They have since been lowered below 3-1 and are right on the heels of the San Antonio Spurs for the No. 1 seed in the West. However, I'm starting to have my doubts if the increase to 4-1 after the trade of James Harden might not have been enough.
The recommendation on the Chicago Bulls at 10-1 is looking a little shakier, as it was contingent on the hope that Derrick Rose would come back. There is more and more speculation this week that Rose might sit out the rest of the season, especially after his recent comments That's why this number has drifted higher, raised from 12-1 to 14-1 in the past few days.
A side note on the Bulls: If you believe Rose will return and make this team better by playoff time, then an argument can be made that this would be worth a wager. If you believe the Bulls are good enough to make a run even without Rose, you would want to wait until he is officially announced as out for the season and the odds makers are forced to raise their odds.
Then there are the Los Angeles Lakers. 3-1? Oops. That experiment hasn't gone as planned, but I certainly feel better about the Spurs at 11-1 as a huge overlay, as they're 11-2 (split in half, or equal to 5½ to 1) at William Hill and around 5-1 elsewhere.