The 76ers are 5-8 SU and 9-4-1 ATS over the past month. But are they a better basketball pick after trading away Michael Carter-Williams? The Indiana Pacers know the value of a point guard.
Jason’s record as of Feb. 27: 36-36-4 ATS, 3-6 Totals
The plan is working. The Philadelphia 76ers are in Year Two of their epic rebuilding program under team president and GM Sam Hinkie. It’s a shame the NBA is built to hamstring winners and reward losers, but Hinkie has taken full advantage of the league’s entry draft and salary cap rules – not to mention the freshest wave of basketball analytics. The Sixers are learning how to play smart basketball, they’re loaded with young talent, and they have more draft picks on the way. No wonder fans in Philly are happy to see their team still near the bottom of the standings at 13-45.
Savvy bettors are happy, too. The Sixers have been a highly profitable NBA pick over the past month, going 9-4-1 ATS to run their season record to 29-27-2 ATS. But will the money train keep rolling after Hinkie’s latest round of wheeling and dealing at the trade deadline? And will the red-hot Indiana Pacers be too much to handle when these teams meet on Sunday (6:00 p.m. ET)? The NBA basketball odds have Indiana laying up to 12 points at home as we go to press.
So you’re probably well familiar with the concept of tanking. Teams who finish at the bottom of the standings have the biggest chance of landing the No. 1 pick in the draft; the Sixers were just another mediocre Eastern Conference club when Hinkie took over, so instead of getting stuck on that treadmill, he went for Option B. Philadelphia played poorly enough last year to go 19-63 SU and 36-46 ATS, earning the No. 3 pick at the 2014 NBA Draft.
But there’s more to tanking than just losing basketball games. Hinkie traded the proven talented players he did have, like Jrue Holiday, to accumulate more draft picks. Then he gave premium minutes to his younger players on rookie-scale contracts, plus an assortment of cheaper veterans. Not only has this allowed the Sixers to develop their blue-chip prospects, they’ve also had enough room under the league salary cap to take on other team’s discards at the trade deadline – with more draft picks attached, of course.
That’s where we found ourselves 10 days ago when Hinkie engineered two deadline-day deals. In this case, he cut bait on two of his younger players. The reigning Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams (12.9 PER) went to the Milwaukee Bucks in a 3-team trade that landed yet another first-round draft pick. And current rookie K.J. McDaniels (10.8 PER) was sent to the Houston Rockets for Isaiah Canaan (10.7 PER) and a second-rounder.
Now that we’ve taken that trip down Hinkie Lane, we can get to the point: Are the Sixers a better or worse bet after those deals? It’s hard to say at the moment. They’re 1-4 SU and 2-2-1 ATS since dumping ballast. Carter-Williams had regressed in his sophomore season, but his minus-1.3 BPM in Philly was miles ahead of Canaan at minus-3.2 BPM. Then again, swapping out McDaniels (minus-2.5 BPM) for veteran Jason Richardson (15.1 PER, minus-0.8 BPM in limited action) could cancel that out.
We’re going to have to see more of this version of the Sixers before we can pass judgment. In the meantime, the Pacers (24-34 SU, 31-24-3 ATS) have been an excellent NBA pick ever since George Hill (20.4 PER) returned from the injured list. They improved to 9-5 SU and 10-4 ATS will Hill running the offense after he dropped a triple-double on the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night. Granted, that was without LeBron James or Kyrie Irving in Cleveland’s lineup, but the Pacers still cashed in as 2.5-point home faves. We’ll take another one of those.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Pacers