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Sheridan: Who other than James Harden might lead the NBA in scoring?

One of these days, hours or minutes, Jimmy Butler is going to get traded — and what the Timberwolves get back will impact how dependent they will be on Karl-Anthony Towns for point production.

And right now, Towns is 50-1 to win the NBA scoring title — which some in the wagering industry would consider a very interesting prop bet.

James Harden and Anthony Davis are the heavy favorites for obvious reasons. For as anyone who has followed the NBA for a long time knows, there is always someone who can jump from the pack and bust out in the box scores — sometimes by virtue of having to carry more of the load than anticipated over the summer.

And that’s how we need to look at the futures market on who will lead the NBA in scoring.

Just ask yourself, if not Harden, then who?

Might it be the four-time scoring champ whose odds are 20-1, or the two-time champ whose odds are 17-1?

Let’s have a look at the field:

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Anthony Davis, Pelicans: +135. Averaged 28.1 and 28.0 ppg the last two seasons, and DeMarcus Cousins is not around expecting to get touches on three of every four trips downcourt. The Pelicans are not especially deep, and Davis is a heavy minutes guy who has been relatively durable. He averaged 20 shots per game the past two seasons. That number could easily rise to 28 or 30.

James Harden, Rockets: +150. The defending champ gets his due respect at these odds, but there are a host of unknowns resulting from the additions of Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss (and possibly Butler). How and whether that impacts Harden’s scoring total remains to be seen. Houston will definitely be a high-scoring team. They were 2nd (112.4 ppg) to Golden State last season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks: +850. Finished a click short of 27 points per game last season, and is now a Super- Greek Freak following rigorous offseason workouts. He will get more shot attempts in Mike Budenholder’s uptempo offense, especially with Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton spacing the floor. Decent price.

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LeBron James, Lakers: 11-1. Has only led the NBA in scoring once, back in 2007-08. So some might say he is due — especially with a patchwork Lakers lineup loaded with guys on one-year deals. Not the worst betting idea in the history of betting ideas.

Devin Booker, Suns: 17-1. Was a click below 25 ppg last year, 10th in the NBA. So his placement as the co-No. 4 choice is somewhat puzzling. Has DeAndre Ayton sharing the scoring load this season.

Russell Westbrook, Thunder: 17-1. Actually a very nice price for a guy who led the NBA in scoring in 2016-17 and 2014-15. Took an average of 24 shots per game two seasons ago, 21 last season. Some would say he has never met a shot he didn’t like. They would likely be right.

Damian Lillard, Blazers: and Kevin Durant, Warriors: 20-1. Lillard is clearly a top five scorer, and it is not a question of whether he can leapfrog into a league leader. It’s a question of will he? He has been at 27 ppg for two seasons in a row. Getting to 30 ppg or higher is not a bad proposition at 20-1. Same with Durant. He sort of has a history of leading the NBA in scoring.

Stephen Curry, Warriors: 26-1: Before Durant arrived, he was the true alpha. Nowadays, it’s whoever is hot on any given night. Does not acclimate itself to a 30 ppg season – hence the long odds.

Kawhi Leonard, Raptors: 30-1. If he likes it in Toronto, who knows? If he is grumpy and moody, nobody will want to pass him the ball.

Donovan Mitchell, Jazz: and Kyrie Irving, Celtics: 38-1. Mitchell took 24 shots per game and averaged 28.5 in the first round ouster of the Thunder, going for 38 in the closeout game. Will he be that kind of a volume shooter regularly this season? As for Irving, the guy is in a contract year and will be unrestricted next summer, but that Boston roster is too loaded to harbor a 30 ppg scorer.

Joel Embiid, 76ers: and Victor Oladipo, Pacers: 50-1. Can’t make a justifiable case for this happening in either city. That being said, the MVP futures odds are also up, and Oladipo at 70-1 is worth a flyer.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Karl Anthony-Towns, Timberwolves: 50-1. A guy I know got him at 100-1, wagering 10 bucks. He is currently typing a column at a Starbucks.

DeMar DeRozan, Spurs, and Kevin Love, Cavs: 65-1. File this under “things that made you go … Hmmmmm….”

Paul George, Thunder: 80-1. Westbrook would never let him lead the NBA in scoring, would he?

Players at 100-1 are Bradley Beal and John Wall, Wizards. Blake Griffin, Clippers, Jimmy Butler, TBD, Kemba Walker, Hornets and LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs. Let’s wait and see where Butler ends up. He may not be at 100-1 if it is a team where he becomes the alpha dog on offense, like Brooklyn.

Players at 250-1 are Ben Simmons, 76ers, and Gordon Hayward, Celtics. 

There is no “Field” bet, which is upsetting to Tobias Harris, Clippers.


Sheridan: Who other than James Harden might lead the NBA in scoring? Maybe Karl-Anthony Towns at 50-1 Or LeBron James at 11-1
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Sheridan: Who other than James Harden might lead the NBA in scoring? Maybe Karl-Anthony Towns at 50-1 Or LeBron James at 11-1
Just ask yourself, if not James Harden, then who? Let's have a look at the field:

About Chris Sheridan

Chris Sheridan is a veteran sports journalist who previously covered the NBA for ESPN. He worked for the Associated Press for 18 years, and also served as the 76ers beat writer for NJ.com. Sheridan is the host of Sports Betting Tips, a podcast covering all things gambling.

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