Rockets' Roster Requires Revamping

Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle

It took about six weeks, but the Rockets finally hired someone to fill their coaching vacancy.

Former Dallas Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas signed a four-year deal to become head coach of Houston, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Silas, who's been in the NBA for 20 seasons now as an assistant, takes over for Mike D'Antoni, who resigned from his role after four seasons. And while there is talent at Silas' disposal, elevating this Rockets team to the next level to make them a contender and no longer a pretender, will be difficult.

The Rockets got bounced in the second round of the playoffs for the second-straight season, losing in five games to the eventual champion, Los Angeles Lakers.

This year's early playoff exit was the final straw for D'Antoni. The 68-year-old told the franchise he wouldn't be returning as head coach a couple days after being eliminated by the Lakers. A month later, Daryl Morey stepped down as general manager, and he's now GM of the 76ers.


His successor is Rafael Stone. The former executive vice president of basketball operations for the Rockets was promoted upon Morey's resignation and has been with the franchise since 2005. Stone's first major move as GM is the signing of Silas.

But now that the Rockets have found their guy, how will they improve their roster for next season? Surely they can't bring back the same squad as last season, right? The Lakers, Warriors, Nuggets and Clippers will be among the best in the west during the 2020-21 campaign, and Houston isn't beating any of those teams as currently constructed.

And with reports that the 2020-21 NBA season will begin as soon as Dec. 22, they'll need to move quickly if they haven't been already. But now that the Rockets have a new general manager and coach, let's focus on how they can maximize James Harden's prime before it's too late.

Trade Russ

Hear me out: Russell Westbrook is a really good player. His athleticism, finishing ability, post-up game and one-man fast-breaks are impressive as hell. But he can't make threes at a consistent rate, he makes terrible decisions late in games and he's an average defender.

Oh, and he can't be on the floor when Harden is. It just doesn't work. LeBron James and company brought that to light in the bubble. The Beard needs spacing around him, and spacing only happens when there's shooters on the floor. Russ doesn't have that in his bag.

Last season, the former MVP Westbrook shot just 26% from three. In the playoffs, that number fell to 24%. In 57 regular season games (bubble seeding games not included), he averaged 27.2 points, eight rebounds and seven assists per contest. In eight playoff games, his scoring output dropped dramatically to just 18 points a game to go along with seven rebounds and 4.6 assists. The Lakers were daring him to shoot from the perimeter, and it paid off, as the Rockets point guard went 7-of-27 on such attempts.

If I'm the Rockets general manager, I'm looking to acquire a stud defensive big man who can rebound and protect the paint-or, a big man who can stretch the floor and be a perimeter threat. I've created some sample trade packages::

In this deal, the Rockets get versatile center Nikola Vucevic, who averaged nearly 20 points and 11 rebounds a game last season. He shot 34% from deep and is a quality passer, having recorded nearly four assists in 32 minutes a night.

Vucevic would give Houston a much-needed big man to battle against centers in the West like Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert and more. Point guard Markelle Fultz could be used as a sixth man for Houston, giving them a scorer and playmaker off the bench. The Magic would get two star players, who also happen to be former UCLA teammates, and likely a pick or two, and they can finally start Mo Bamba and give him a chance to develop. For Cleveland, they dump Love's contract and get two quality starters.

Trade scenario No. 2:

Houston would likely have to include picks in this trade also, in whatever year they still have some. But Kevin Love brings rebounding, shooting, finishing and passing to the Rockets' front court. He's averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds on 37% 3-point shooting so far in his career and won a title with the 2016 Cavs. Collin Sexton would give the bench a scoring punch when Harden is off the floor, and he loves to push the ball in transition which is optimal for Houston's shooters.

Now, if Stone and Silas want to hang on to Westbrook and run it back, there are some notable free agent targets they should consider this offseason.

Free Agents

Power Serge

The first player Houston should be looking at is Serge Ibaka. An 11-year NBA veteran, Ibaka is an unrestricted free agent coming off a superb season. In 55 games, the 31-year-old averaged 15.4 points and 8.2 rebounds on 51% shooting and 39% 3-point shooting. That's pretty good for a near seven-footer who records 2.1 blocks per game in his career.

Ibaka would give the Rockets floor spacing, rebounding, defensive ability and a PNR threat at the center position — something they need if they want to compete with the big dogs in the west. He also might be willing to come on a bargain deal if he gets a big role and a chance to add a second championship ring to his collection.

Hold the Kardashian

Cleveland is likely going to re-sign Andre Drummond after acquiring the former Detroit Piston via trade last season. This means Tristan Thompson will presumably test free agent, and the Rockets should give him a look. The nine-year veteran is just 29-years-old and recorded 12 points, 10 rebounds and a block a game in 2019-20.

Thompson isn't an outside threat, but he did make 9 of his 23 attempts in 57 games. Thompson, like Ibaka, is also an NBA champion, having won a title with the 2016 Cavs. He can match PJ Tucker's front-court toughness and at 6-foot-9 and 254 pounds, he can battle with both power forwards and centers in the league.

Marc It down

Despite previous rumors that Marc Gasol was heading home to play in Spain, he isn't. Not yet, anyways. But how much he has left in the tank is another question. Gasol is 35-years-old and on the back end of his career. Last season, he played just 44 games, averaging 7.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists on 43% shooting. He did shoot 39% from the perimeter, however. If the 7-foot Spaniard wants to play in the NBA for a little longer, Houston could get him on a low-cost deal that could result in high production. The numbers aren't in his favor, but Gasol can still play and provides floor spacing and great passing ability at the center spot.


Houston has plenty of options this offseason, but it won't have much time to make the necessary changes before the season begins. Hiring a new coach a step forward, now the Rockets need to decide if Westbrook is in their future plans, and even Harden. Shams Charania reported the Sixers are interested in acquiring the 2017-18 MVP. Whether he's actually dealt remains to be seen.

Until now, there was a void in the industry. An all-in-one prop bet research tool for Over/Under rankings did not exist. Fantasy SP has changed that.

Of course, you could find betting trends on the internet but there wasn’t a place where you could have all the information for every single player on the same page at your fingertips. Well, we wanted to change that. We’ve created the definitive NFL prop bet research tool for pros and newbies alike.

In a typical NFL week, there can be over 1,000 player prop lines available. Traditional player game logs are not optimal for researching player props. Our unique tool allows you to quickly analyze thousands of lines on your phone, tablet, or computer, and find the props with the greatest value. Don’t just bet on the players you like. Become more data-driven with your props research by using Fantasy SP’s Player Prop Over/Under Rankings!

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All | Pass Yds | Pass TDs| Pass Comp | Pass Att | Rush Att | Rush Yds | Rec | Rec Yds

Unique Features

With our brand-new Player Prop Over/Under Rankings Research Tool, users will be able to filter by tons of critical data points including home vs. away, favorite vs. underdog, player popularity, last few games, indoor vs. outdoor, specific props, specific teams, position rank, opponent rank, and so much more!

Research Prop Bet Betting Example

Okay, enough talk, and let’s get to a simple real-world example of how to use the tool to help you place a bet.

For example, Jared Goff has had some of the most ridiculous home/away splits in 2022.

Goff has a passer rating of 106.9 with 2,217 yards (277.1 yards per game), 20 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions in eight games at home this season. Pretty good, right? On the road, he has a passer rating of 82.5 with 1,387 yards (231.2 yards per game), 3 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions in six games.

As you can see, Goff is averaging 46 more yards per game at home in 2022 entering Week 16. Vegas may try to trick you when Goff is on the road after coming off a massive home game but by using our tool, you won’t be fooled.

Goff has a 5-3 O-U record on his passing yard props at Ford Field this season. While his average line at home on DraftKings is 247 yards, his average result is 277.1 passing yards. Prior to throwing for 250+ yards against the Jets at the Meadowlands in Week 15, he was 2-3 on his passing yards props on the road. His average line on DraftKings on the road was only 10 yards fewer heading into Week 15 yet he averaged a full 50 fewer yards per game (227). This shows a clear pattern that he is much more successful at hitting the over and much more efficient when playing in front of his home crowd. There are countless examples of patterns you can spot using this brand-new prop tool that are even more eye-popping than Goff’s numbers.

How to Find Favorable Prop Bets

The key to placing informed bets is to place bets on clear patterns. Ideally, you want to see a player consistently going over or under. Grab a concise list of potential bets to place and compare to the lines at your favorite operator.

Let’s say you want to place a passing yards prop bet on Tom Brady. You check all the lines at your favorite operator (we suggest Caesars or FanDuel) and need to put his line into context. How often does he go over? What outcomes occur against an easy matchup? What is his average result? How does he do at home versus on the road?

Using our exclusive Over-Under Rankings, you can utilize our premium filters to find out Brady’s historical prop record at home versus the road is even more volatile than Goff’s splits. (This is good and what we want to see.)

At home, Brady is averaging a whopping 307.3 passing yards and has hit the over in six of seven games heading into Week 15.

On the road, while his average line is only two yards fewer (271.2 to 269.2), he has a 1-5 O-U record and is only averaging 239 passing yards per game.

Fantasy SP has just highlighted a very promising prop bet whenever Brady is at home. Take the over. And when he is on the road, it’s a prime spot to smash the under.

Some players also tend to do much better when their team is the favorite such as running backs late in the fourth quarter when their team needs to kill time. Heading into Week 15, Dalvin Cook had a 7-2 O-U rushing yard record when his team was the favorite (79.9 yards per game). Conversely, when the Vikings were underdogs, he was 1-3 (57.8 yards per game). This is why filtering by favorite or underdog can be a critical data point to help you gain an edge at sportsbooks.

You can also filter by the last few games in case a player has begun to heat up or cool off. These filters will help you nail your bets in very specific scenarios. It’s the perfect tool for situational prop betting.

What the Experts Are Saying

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The dropdowns and filters on this tool are what really make this a game-changing feature. If you only want to see the most popular players on the page, simply slide the popularity to 75% or 100%. If you want to see players’ over-under records and their average results for only home games, simply click Home on the dropdown. If you want to see over-under records for players against teams in the bottom 5 at defending that position, simply click Bottom 5 under Position Rank. Not only can you get all of this insight, but the sliders and dropdowns all work interactively with a user-friendly interface so you can find out how a player is doing in a very specific situation. For example, let’s say Dak Prescott and the Cowboys are hosting the top-five San Francisco 49ers defense and are four-point underdogs. To get a much clearer picture of how Prescott has performed in similar situations, you can check off Home, Underdog, Indoor, and Top 5 under Opponent Rank to get his exact over-under prop historical record in this particular situation. If he is 0-3 on his passing yard prop in this scenario, you may want to smash the under.

Wrap-Up

NFL prop betting can be overwhelming but this tool makes it easy to research the best bets for novices and seasoned vets alike. Bettors should not be placing their prop bets before doing the necessary research. Now you can do all that research on one page with Fantasy SP’s Player Prop Over/Under Rankings Research Tool! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Stay tuned for our future article on even more in-depth tips and tricks.

2022 World Cup Best Bets, Team Props, and Futures
2022 World Cup Best Bets, Team Props, and Futures

Picking up where they left off in 2018, the French National Team led by 23-year-old Kylian Mbappe have found their way back into the finals as they look to be the first back-to-back World Cup Champions since Brazil’s dominant runs in 1958 and 1962. Standing between that incredible feat for the defending champions is Argentina, who currently have their superstar, Lionel Messi, in top form. Messi is finding ways to create passes no one can see and he’s done it multiple times, assisting three goals (tied for the most) throughout the tournament. The legend is also scoring goals of his own and is tied with Kylian Mbappe (5 goals) for Golden Boot honors in this year’s World Cup. Regardless, soccer fans around the world are in for a treat on Sunday at 10:00 AM EST as two of the best players in the world face each other for their country’s World Cup glory.

After winning Group D, France defeated Poland in the Round of 16, England in the quarterfinals, and a strong Morocco team in the semis to advance to the Final. On the other side of the bracket, Argentina won Group C and dispatched Australia in the Round of 16. Messi and the Argentinians were then tested in the quarterfinals, needing a penalty shootout to defeat the Netherlands after blowing a late two-goal lead. Finally, Argentina played perhaps their best match of the tournament against Croatia in the semi-finals, winning 3-0. Now the stage is set for a blockbuster finale between two powerhouses featuring some of the top players in the world.

Note (from FanDuel Sportsbook): No team will play at home during Qatar's World Cup. For betting purposes, FanDuel explains that: “Home Team refers to the team listed first, Away Team refers to the second team listed.”

Argentina (-104) vs. France (-112)

Argentina Keys To Victory

Lionel Messi has played incredibly for Argentina throughout this World Cup. He is leaving opposing defenders in the dust, taking on multiple players at once, dragging them away from his teammates, which is opening up the field for his fellow goal scorers. Every time Messi has the ball at his feet, there seems to be more than one threat. Messi is playing just as well as he always has in 2022. He’s served his team as a playmaker and as a goal-scorer in Qatar. He’s also had some help from Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez who’s scored a handful of goals in this World Cup (including two in Argentina’s decisive victory over Croatia). If Alvarez and Messi are able to link up while on the attack, the depleted French defense and midfield could be in for some trouble.

France Keys To Victory

One of the biggest headlines heading into this World Cup Final is the return of French striker Karim Benzema. The Real Madrid star and winner of this year’s Ballon D’Or hurt his hamstring in one of France’s first practices soon after arriving in Qatar. He flew back to Madrid where he immediately completed his recovery work which was set at three weeks from the time of injury. Right now, Benzema is flying back to Doha and could be starting for France in the final. At the moment, France’s HC Didier Deschamps has declined to comment on whether or not he will be including KB9 in the starting lineup. France’s ball movement has been excellent throughout the tournament, but their key to victory against Argentina will be efficient defense. Over the last few games, France’s defense seems to have slowed down. Not only will they need to stop Messi, but they will need to turn defensive stops into counterattacks. Mbappe and Olivier Giroud (four goals thus far in the tournament) will need to be electric on offense and test the Argentinian keeper. Antoine Griezmann may be an x-factor for France as he has three assists in this World Cup and was inches away from scoring against Morocco.

Conclusion

It’s only fitting that Lionel Messi will finally hoist the World Cup trophy in his last World Cup match. Expect him to score a goal and lead his team to victory in a tightly contested battle.

The Pick: Argentina (-104)

World Cup Final Best Prop Bets

Kylian Mbappe: To Score Or Give Assist (+100)

Mbappé has been relatively quiet over France’s last few games. Still, he is the main wing on France’s team who is capable of breaking down defenses through his skillful technique and ridiculous speed. He currently is tied with Messi for the most goals in the 2022 World Cup. If he isn’t able to score in this game, then expect him to at least make an assist. For France to win this one, the 23-year-old will need to have a big game.

Lionel Messi: Anytime Goalscorer (+190)

Messi has stepped up his performance big time this World Cup. If you have watched Argentina play in this tournament, you know how crucial of a role Messi has played in the team’s success. He is tied for the most goals in the tournament with Mbappe and has a great chance of putting the ball in the net at some point during Sunday’s big match. This is a particularly great prop to target since Messi takes all of Argentina’s penalty shots and has converted four-of-five throughout the tournament.

Fantasy SP has worked diligently to bring you next-level sports betting analytics, prop betting tools, public betting splits, and so much more! Become an Edge+ member today!

Calling every sports fan across the globe! The best month for all things sports is here: December. NFL and CFB are getting into the thick of things — I mean, we are finally not seeing Alabama and Clemson in the CFP, not to mention both the NBA and NHL are underway and college basketball just tipped off!

Despite all of these different sporting events going on, the World’s biggest Sporting event is down to the Semifinals, the World Cup.

Although Soccer is the World's most popular sport, it still struggles to gain support in the US. However, every 4 years Soccer takes the country by storm and this year, and these last few games are going to be amazing.

Let us introduce you to your new go-to app, FanDuel Sportsbook. It’s the place to be for not only the usual sports, but for this year's World Cup!

FanDuel Sportsbook is providing a multitude of features with a few market differentiators.

  • Futures:
    • World Cup Winner
    • Who will win the Golden Boot (the award for the top goal scorer of the World Cup)
    • Highest scoring Group
    • And more
  • Popular Markets - outside of the normal Moneyline, Spread & Over/Under lines, FanDuel will also be offering:
    • Anytime Goal Scorer
    • First Goal Scorer
    • Shots on Goal
    • Correct Score
    • Number of Corner Kicks
    • Half-Time Result

Market Differentiators:

  • Tournament Goal Scorer Parlay Builder - build your own tournament-long Goal Scorer parlays with your favorite players from every team.
  • Daily Specials:
    • Highest scoring team of the day
    • Total daily goals
    • Player specials
    • And More!
  • Live Parlays

Out of all the betting apps we’ve used, signing up for FanDuel Sportsbook is also the easiest. Simply download the app and create an account by providing an email, credit card, and SS# — that’s to protect your winnings and ensure you're not a sporting professional.

FanDuel is undoubtedly the best site/app to parlay across multiple sports. It’s designed for bettors at any stage. The clear interface is ideal for beginners and you can make a bet in just a few clicks! It’s complete with a number of betting guides that explain the rules and resources to safely bet.

One of the best parts is that once the game ends, you can cash out your winnings right away. No minimum, no wait.

There’s also the incredible New User Offer: sign up with FanDuel Sportsbook and get up to $1000 in Free Bets if you lose your first bet!

Their app has everything you need — from tutorials to real-time game scores. Get amped for the World Cup with FanDuel Sportsbook. Enhance your Sportsember by downloading the FanDuel Sportsbook app today!

Terms & Conditions: 21+ and present in CO, IA, IL, IN, MI, NJ, PA, TN, VA or WV. New users only. Must wager in designated offer market. $10 first deposit required. $150 max bonus. See full terms at sportsbook.fanduel.com. Gambling Problem? Call: 1-800-522-4700 (CO), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI), 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ, PA, IL, VA), TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), or visit www.1800gambler.net (WV).