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Ming not only dynasty forming in NBA

Dec 31, 2002 4:02 AM

This just in, Yao Ming is good.

But let the others hype the heck out of the Dynasty. We’ll take the road less traveled and focus on five making a difference in betting the NBA spreads.

Check this starting five:

Amare Stoudemire (Suns): The Suns are the one team in this roundup, who have not realized their potential against the spread. The 7-7 ATS mark at home is in direct contrast to an impressive 12-3 SU record at America West Arena.

At 6-foot-10, 245 pounds, Stoudemire entered the NBA right out of high school in Lake Wales, FL. Stoudemire is averaging 10.9 pts for the year, but has raised that mark to 13.1 in his games as a starter. The Lake Wales (FL) native is averaging 8.5 rebounds per game, but also raised that figure to 9.6 as a starter.

Stoudemire gives the Suns a physical presence in the middle never enjoyed in franchise history. The Suns have always been noted for transition basketball and over-achieving. Put Stoudemire up front with the matrix man Shawn Marion and Phoenix becomes a great play as an underdog. ”” at least until the oddsmakers adjusts the lines.

Ricky Davis (Cavaliers): Davis began to make real strides late last season, but has really taken his high-wire game to the next level. The 6-7, 195-lb. forward out Iowa has become the Tracy McGrady of the Cavaliers. Davis is averaging 23.5 points per game, nearly 14 points above his career mark.

Davis played two seasons for Charlotte and one for Miami, never averaging more than 12.1 minutes per contest. At Cleveland, Davis saw his playing time rise to 23.8 minutes and hit double figures (11.7 ppg) for the first time in his career. Last Monday against the Heat, Davis played 43 minutes and scored 33 points.

The Cavaliers have struggled to a 6-24 SU record, including 1-14 away from Gund Arena. However, the spread mark is 12-17. Not great, but considerably better than straight-up. While the Cavs are far from being labeled competitive in the Eastern Conference on a regular basis, the presence of Davis and a healthy Zydrunas Ilgauskas give Cleveland some value as a substantial underdog. The Cavs are 7-7 ATS at home.

Andrei Kirilenko (Jazz): The 6-foot-9 small forward is one of the NBA’s unsung defensive stars. Kirilenko has the total package of speed, agility, jumping ability and court awareness. The Russian star is a lighter version of Larry Bird, whose game has improved dramatically in just his second year with the Jazz.

Kirilenko has raised his season point average to 13.2 from last season’s 10.7 mark. His marks are also up in rebounds and assists. Kirilenko is averaging nearly two blocks per game and has taken a lot of the focus off the ageless Karl Malone and John Stockton.

Utah is 14-10-1 ATS and 15-12 SU, not bad for a team that everyone has tried to bury for a number of years. The Jazz are a solid 7-3-1 ATS at home.

Richard Jefferson (Nets): You could see how pleased the Nets were in Jefferson last year that they had no problem dealing former No. 1 pick Keith Van Horn to Philadelphia. The 6-7 small forward out of Arizona, is up to 14.5 points per game this season. That’s a nice upgrade from last year’s 9.4 when he was the designated sixth man.

Jefferson is another frequent flyer, often making the highlight packages with his skyscraper dunks. But don’t be deceived by the air show cause this guy has all the tools. Jefferson is pulling down nearly seven boards and commits an average of just two personal fouls per contest.

The Nets have increased Jefferson’s playing time from 24.3 to 33.8 minutes per contest and that figure should rise to 40 once the playoffs begin. New Jersey is still Jason Kidd’s team, but the Nets own the best ATS record in the league at 19-10. Bettors should note that New Jersey is 14-3 ATS at the Meadowlands.

Mike James (Heat): Don’t run out and make futures bets on Miami, but Pat Riley may finally be catching a break. Mike James, a rookie from Duquesne (that’s pronounced Do-Cane for those not hailing from Pittsburgh) has blossomed of late.

While his scoring average is just 8.9 per game, James is now getting nearly 22 minutes of floor time. Last year, the 6-2 guard averaged just 2.8 points per game over eight minutes.

Eddie Jones has been making the highlights for his improved play, but the former Laker is a reluctant leader. James has been scoring in double-figures of late and Miami is a glorious 10-5 ATS at home, compared to a 5-10 SU mark. Overall, the Heat are 16-12 ATS, which is something considering the 9-19 SU record.

ALSO: The best team to wager against is Atlanta, just 9-17 overall and 3-10 on the road. Portland is the top ATS club in the West at 15-9-1.