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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, January 9, 2012 at 11:45 PM

I’ve mentioned already that “Advanced Handicapping” in the NBA this year is going to largely involve reading and reacting as teams try to handle the unique challenges in play. This is a season unlike any other. Many tried and true NBA strategies from the past won’t apply in the next few months…but will go back to winning next year when there’s a normal schedule and a more standardized distribution of talent.

Since we must read and react this year to beat the NBA, let’s quickly get caught up with surprises from these first few weeks of action…


*DENVER covered eight of its first nine games, and is really well built for a season of physical challenges because they acquired so much depth in the Carmelo Anthony trade. Many believe that the trade helped them a lot last year. But…that added depth is REALLY a big deal in 2012 when everyone’s playing so many games in such a short amount of time.

*PHILADELPHIA has been very quietly covering spreads all over the board. Doug Collins is a great turnaround coach who eventually hits a wall with his teams. He’s nowhere near that wall now. This athletic and balanced squad is well-positioned to offer value for several more weeks in my view.

*PORTLAND is a nice, young team that hasn’t played as many games as everyone else right off the bat. That’s kept them fresh, and may give them a sustained edge until the schedule evens back out again. I really like what I’m seeing with the Blazers, and agree with respected pundits who say they have a legitimate shot at a top four seed in the West.

*MINNESOTA covered six of its first eight games, and is playing a very exciting brand of basketball. They don’t have the maturity or experience yet to crack the playoffs. But, they should offer pointspread value as long as key contributors like Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio stay healthy. Everyone who owns the NBA’s “League Pass” program is raving about the Timberwolves.


*NEW YORK has to go first on this list because they’re the exact opposite of Denver BECAUSE of that trade last year! A lack of depth is just killing this group…as is a lack of defense…and a lack of fluidity on offense because they don’t have a bunch of reliable three-point shooters any more.

*THE LEASTS OF THE EAST: Many of the projected stragglers in the Eastern Conference have played even worse than expected. That includes Washington, New Jersey, Detroit, and Charlotte. Milwaukee goes on this list too. I don’t want to list those teams individually with bullets because it would be too depressing to write about them all!

*DALLAS should probably go on this list even though they’ve rallied lately to get back to respectability. Defending league champions shouldn’t play as badly as the Mavericks were performing in the opening days of the season.

As new strategies present themselves this season, I’ll be happy to discuss some of them with you on these pages. I’ll be working to find the proper balance between “education” in this series of lessons…and “protection” of successful approaches that are winning money for my clients. We do have a few football reports left. But, we’ll mostly be talking about pro and college basketball now for the next few months. The NBA is going to be a big part of the handicapping story.

Here’s a quick tip for handicapping those three-games-in-three-day challenge that all NBA teams have to face at least once this season.

*Assume the coach is going to allow one virtual “tank job” where the team just accepts a big loss so they have a chance to win two of the three.

*Assume it’s the MIDDLE game of that series that’s going to see the off-performance. It’s much harder to win two in a row in this kind of sequence than it is to go W-L-W.

*Don’t ask a team to cover three days in a row. It’s bound to happen with a few deep or super-talented squads. It won’t be common though.

If you’re afraid handicapping is going to be impossible this year, and you prefer taking the easy way out…let KELSO STURGEON doing the picking while YOU do the winning! You can purchase my personal basketball plays right here at the website each and every day with your credit card.

I’ll be back again for another installment from my College of Advanced Handicapping late in the week. I plan on talking about how “bye weeks” influence the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs in the modern era. Did Green Bay, San Francisco, New England, and Baltimore benefit from a rest break? Or, will they be rusty in their matchups against the NY Giants, New Orleans, Denver, and Houston this weekend? We’ll talk about that in a few days.

Thanks again to all of you regular students in my “College of Advanced Handicapping.”

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