The oddsmakers in Las Vegas usually know what they’re talking about.
But even they get things wrong from time to time, and this season in the NBA there have been a few notable misses from all those preseason prognostications — specifically, ones made in relation to the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Grizzlies have already topped most preseason projections for their win total. The sports books had them around 27 wins, and the Ja Morant-led club already has 28 wins and is holding down the Western Conference’s No. 8 playoff spot with 28 games left.
“We are just young, very athletic and just get out and run,” said Morant, a clear Rookie of the Year front-runner and probably the favorite at this point. “I feel like we all have something to prove. We just go out with this chip on our shoulder. We keep proving people wrong. But we go out every night and play together.”
And the Thunder, who were expected to freefall after losing Paul George, were slotted by most books as a 32-win team or so. They’re at 33-22, firmly in the West playoff race, led by a resurgent All-Star in Chris Paul.
It’s clear that many thought the Thunder — the supposedly rebuilding Thunder — wouldn’t be a postseason team. Then again, many of those same people probably thought Paul wasn’t still capable of leading the way he has this season.
“For me, it's always about the journey,” Paul said. “It's about working hard, and it's the analytics and the statistics that say at this age you can do this or you can do that. ... I think it's more about competing with yourself and not worry about what everybody else saying.”
There have been a couple other very notable surprises in Miami and Toronto.