While it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, I was struck by a thought after seeing a tweet from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday. It wasn’t your typical Woj bomb, as the news was expected, but Wojnarowski reported that Kevin Durant would be declining his player option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent.
By doing so, Durant was turning down $31.5 million for next season, even though odds are he won’t play a minute after tearing his Achilles. And it was likely the smart decision, because, Achilles be damned, somebody is going to give Kevin Durant a max deal this summer.
Then I thought about what would happen if Durant’s situation were applied to an NFL player or an MLB player. Like, imagine if a top quarterback in the NFL who was in his early thirties suffered a significant injury in the Super Bowl that would cost him the next season right as he was about to hit the free agent market. What kind of contract would that QB get? What if an MLB pitcher, fresh off a Cy Young season, tore his UCL in the World Series and had to undergo Tommy John surgery as he was entering free agency? What kind of contract would he get?
Now, as I said, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. NBA rosters consist of up to 15 players, while MLB teams have 40-man rosters (25 active) and NFL teams have 53 active players during the season. So, naturally, a single NBA player is more valuable than a single NFL player or MLB player, and that factor only increases when it’s a superstar of Durant’s proportion.
Still, even knowing all that, it’s hard to look at the situation and not marvel at it.
Let’s get to today’s top picks. All odds are via William Hill.
1. Tampa Bay Rays at Minnesota Twins: Twins +100
So let me get this straight: the Twins have the best record in the American League, and they’re getting even money at home against the Rays? OK, sure, I’ll take that. Understanding that Charlie Morton is on the mound for Tampa, the difference between Morton and Minnesota’s Jake Odorizzi isn’t significant enough to justify this, and then when you factor in that Minnesota’s offense is much better than Tampa’s, this seems like a bit of a no-brainer. Particularly with the way the Rays offense has scuffled as of late.
DFS millionaire Mike McClure is building his lineups for Wednesday’s MLB slate, and with nearly $2 million in career winnings, you’ll want to see what he has to say. Head over to SportsLine to see who joins Bryce Harper in McClure’s tournament lineups.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates at Houston Astros: Pirates +210
We’re fading the public here. Houston is a huge favorite, and as I type this, the Astros have received 78 percent of the money line tickets. I always look for a chance to fade the public, but it’s not as simple as “bet the opposite.” I like to look for chalk that shouldn’t be as chalky as it is, and this is one of those cases. The Astros are better than the Pirates nearly across the board, but Houston is sending Framber Valdez to the mound tonight. Valdez has an ERA of 2.95 in 79.1 career MLB IP, but his FIP is 4.29, which suggests his results have been a little misleading. He’s good, and he’s talented, but he’s not the kind of talent that should be this large a favorite. At +210 I need the Pirates to win this game 32.26 percent of the time to break even. I like those odds.
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3. Connecticut Sun at Dallas Wings: Under 148
I think this total is a bit high. The Sun have been one of the most efficient offenses in the WNBA this season both offensively and defensively. The Wings, however, are strong defensively, but very inefficient on offense. Their 89.5 points per 100 possessions is worst in the league by 1.7 points. The Wings also do an excellent job of slowing the game down and mucking it up, as they have the slowest pace in the WNBA as well, while the Sun are more in the middle. Put all that together, and I expect this to be a lower-scoring affair.
SportsLine DFS analyst Jacob Gibbs has proven his chops in the WNBA, returning 81.4 percent profit on his tournament lineups last season and cashing 61 percent of the time in cash games. Check out which players make Gibbs’ cut on Wednesday.