The lead up to the NBA Draft was almost more exciting than the playoffs and the Draft itself did not disappoint. There were some solid picks and one monster trade that has officially shaken the league. However, what can we expect from these teams heading into free agency and how can we use this to our advantage planning out who to target ATS next season.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Let’s give credit where credit is due here. Fresh off a promising, yet still slightly disappointing season, the Wolves needed to make a splash this summer to take that next step. Not only did they do that, they fleeced the Chicago Bulls into giving them Jimmy Butler.
It’s obvious the Bulls need to rebuild, (more on this below) but the centerpiece of this deal, Zach LaVine, is coming off of an ACL tear. Chicago should know very well what happens to guys who rely on their athleticism after they come back from ACL reconstructive surgery.
Either way, the Wolves gave up very little in retrospect to pick up one of the top 12-15 players in the NBA. Now paired on the wing with Andrew Wiggins, the Wolves have a dangerous one, two three offensive attack with Karl-Anthony Towns, Butler and Wiggins. Combine that with a solid bench and (assuming they buy out Nikola Pekovic’s contract later this summer) with money to spend this offseason, things are looking up in Minneapolis.
I love the Wolves as a playoff team next season. They are going to be nasty on defense and that could really help them cover some spreads as road and home dogs on the NBA Odds.
Philadelphia 76ers – Sam Hinkie was smiling ear-to-ear last night after the Markelle Fultz pick came in. While Fultz may not turn into a superstar, he has 20 points per game written all over him.
Combine that with the fact he’ll be playing next to the assumed rookie of the year Ben Simmons and along with Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and some money to spend, this core is a playoff-caliber team in the East.
Assuming Simmons and Embiid stay healthy and Fultz isn’t a complete bust, the Sixers are going to be a stronger play ATS next season. They were already the best team ATS last year at 49-33 ATS, and while most of those came in a stretch during the middle of the season, I wouldn’t be surprised if they lead the league in regular season ATS wins again.
Sacramento Kings – As much crap as we gave and probably will continue to give the Sacramento Kings, they deserve some credit. Regardless if it turns into real ATS value next season remains to be seen, but this team turned $100 into $300 last night.
Coming in they had two of the top 10 picks and when De’Aaron Fox fell at 5, it was a no-brainer. Fox is one of my favorite players from this year’s draft and he will immediately have an impact for the Kings.
Not only that, the Kings were trying to move back from 10th and they were successful, grabbing the 15th and 20th picks from the Blazers in exchange for 10. With those picks they got North Carolina wing Justin Jackson and Duke big man Harry Giles.
Jackson is going to be NBA ready as a junior coming into the draft and if Giles’ knee problems go away, they made a steal of a pick at 20th for him.
Combine all this with the fact they also got Frank Mason at 34th and it was an all around good draft for the Kings. They got jumpstarted on their rebuild and while they might not be a great ATS play next year, they have set themselves up with a running start in the first post-DeMarcus Cousins rebuild season.Losers
Chicago Bulls – When the Bulls drafted Jimmy Butler in 2011 with the 30th pick, nobody, including the Bulls, knew how good he was going to be. The Bulls’ front office will tell you they knew he had this kind of upside, but they’d be lying.
So, with that in mind, if you look at the track record of Gar Forman and John Paxson’s drafting since picking Butler, you’ll quickly realize they just got lucky with Butler, they are actually downright awful, and it was once again on display last night.
Simply put, the Bulls chose Fred Hoiberg over Butler on Thursday night and shipped Butler off for a guy recovering from ACL surgery, a kid who might be the biggest bust of the 2016 draft and the rights to move up to draft Lauri Markkanen. I like Markkanen and I think he’ll have a nice NBA career, but the Bulls should have gotten so much more for Butler. They turned down more from the same team on draft night last year!
Plus, there is no reason to think the Bulls’ front office is going to be successful with this rebuild. For those not versed in the Gar/Pax draft blunders recently, here is a rundown of their greatest hits.
2012 – Drafted Marquis Teague six spots ahead of Draymond Green even though Tom Thibodeau was begging the team to pick Green.
2013 – Drafted Tony Snell seven spots ahead of Rudy Gobert
2014 – Gave up two first round picks to trade up to select Doug McDermott (who they traded this past season). The Nuggets used those picks on Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic, who are both easily better than McDermott.
If you add in the LaMarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas disaster back in 2006 and now this trade of Butler for 60 cents on the dollar, that’s enough to get some GMs fired twice.
So, just to keep track, the Bulls could have a core of Green, Butler, Gobert, Harris, Nurkic and probably still Derrick Rose right now. However, they have screwed up countless drafts in this past decade and it’s just business as usual for the Bulls, who I will be actively fading next season.
Boston Celtics –The façade of Danny Ainge is getting exposed more every day. If Bulls fans feel bad about losing Butler for what appears as selling low, the Celtics’ fans should be furious.
I know for a fact the Celtics could have made a better offer. Look, I think Jayson Tatum is going to be a good player. He may even be very good. However, the Celtics could have found a way to make a deal including the number three pick and I guarantee Chicago would have taken it.
For that, Ainge and the Celtics are losers in this draft, even though it has nothing to do with the player they selected. For a team that overachieved last season, unless they convince Blake Griffin or Gordon Hayward to sign in the offseason, Boston could take a big step back next year.
Portland Trailblazers – I am a fan of the draft strategy of taking the best player available, but at some point the Blazers are going to have to reckon with the fact that while they have a nice crop of young players, that’s not even close to being enough to compete in the West.
They have no cap room right now and with Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe committing theft on their new contracts, the Blazers are going to enter 2017-18 no better than they were a year ago.
I really like Caleb Swanigan as a player and they also got one of the best offensive bigs in the draft in Zach Collins. However, they are already loaded with big men and unless they make some trades later this offseason or before the deadline, they have a logjam at that position.
The Blazers are also in somewhat of a rebuild and in a division with the Jazz, Wolves, Nuggets and Thunder, the Blazer are fourth or fifth best right now, which is not a team I’ll be targeting in the fall.