When it comes to mining for NBA gold, some of the worst SU teams have provided the strongest value.
As oddsmakers continue to punish the East for being miles behind its West counterpart, the weaker conference actually houses some of the strongest ATS bets through the opening quarter of the season. And one rather well-known Western Conference team has fared well ATS despite opening without its biggest star.
Here are four teams that have been decidedly kinder to bettors than they have to their own fans:
Charlotte Bobcats (10-14 SU, 14-9-1 ATS)
Charlotte has actually been decent - by Bobcats standards, at least - as it looks to turn things around following last season's 21-61 debacle. The Bobcats have shown a keen ability to stay in games this year, which explains why they have one of the conference's best ATS records despite being well below .500. The main reason for Charlotte's success: a stifling defense allowing the third-fewest points in the league (92.5) entering Tuesday's action. Not surprisingly, that has also made the Bobcats one of the best "under" plays of the year (7-16-1 O/U).
Boston Celtics (12-14 SU, 15-11 ATS)
The Atlantic Division-leading Celtics may not be the powerhouse unit of years gone by, but they're using many of the same tactics to thrive. Boston has defended all areas of the court well, but has been particularly stingy beyond the arc, limiting opponents to a league-worst 32.2-percent success rate. The Celtics have struggled on the offensive end, but some of those problems should disappear with the return of injured point guard Rajon Rondo. Unfortunately, the odds will likely be adjusted to reflect that - making Boston a less solid ATS play.
Washington Wizards (10-13 SU, 13-10 ATS)
While Charlotte and Boston have provided ATS value with strong defensive play, the Wizards are in the mix thanks to a surprisingly potent offense. Led by electrifying point guard John Wall, the Wizards are averaging 98.3 points per night - more than five points ahead of last year's mark - and have been one of the deadliest teams from long range, hitting 38.4 percent of their 3-point attempts. That hot shooting has enabled the Wizards to keep pace with favored teams - particularly of late, as they're 3-1 ATS in their last four games as an underdog.
Los Angeles Lakers (11-13 SU, 13-10-1 ATS)
Mike D'Antoni may not earn any Coach of the Year votes at season's end, but his ability to keep the Lakers semi-competitive despite being without injured star Kobe Bryant and fellow aging guard Steve Nash has been impressive. Los Angeles found a way to remain offensively efficient in Bryant's absence - averaging better than 100 points per game - and that has made the Lakers a tough out. Yet, with Bryant back in the fold, the Lakers have actually begun to lose value - going 1-4 ATS - as oddsmakers account for Los Angeles' perceived improvement with him in the lineup.