Tom Gable, Director of Race & Sports at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, provides our readers with insider tips and strategies for making the most of their sports betting ventures. This week, Tom is taking a deep dive into the 2020 NBA Draft and how crucial picks could change the outcome of the upcoming season.
The 2020 version of the NBA Draft played out virtually last week, much like we have become accustomed to throughout this strange year. Teams still made their picks, draft selections were announced, and the players got to celebrate with their families at home. While it was conducted virtually, it still amounts to a life-changing experience for all of the players selected. The teams that selected them are hoping that their picks change the course of their franchises. This week we will take a look at some of the top picks that were selected and how they may alter the teams that selected them. More importantly, it may not necessarily be the draft picks that make the biggest differences but the host of trades that accompanied the draft and free agent signings. Teams were in full dealing mode, swapping picks and veterans, all with an eye to improve their franchises. We will look at a few teams that have improved (on paper at least) and how that has affected their odds to win a championship.
The overall #1 pick in the draft this year was made by the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were allegedly looking to trade out of the pick just minutes before their selection was due. They chose Anthony Edwards, a talented wing who should definitely have an impact on the team. The T’Wolves also added Ricky Rubio in a trade later in the day, giving them a pretty good guard rotation overall. That being said, Minnesota is still a few years away from contending and the pick and trade had no effect whatsoever on their longshot title odds (200/1 currently at Borgata).
The #2 pick was made by the Golden State Warriors, who selected James Wiseman. While injuries decimated the Warriors last season and prevented them from contending for another championship, the 2020-2021 season was looking up for Warriors fans. Not only did they have the overall #2 pick in the draft but superstars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson would be back on the court. However, just about an hour before the draft started, news hit the wire that Thompson tore his Achilles during a pick-up game which means he will be out once again for another season. While Wiseman will still be a welcome addition, without Thompson the Warriors’ title odds went from as low as 6/1 to 10/1.
One team who has had their odds shorten dramatically over the last week, are the Phoenix Suns, who selected tenth overall. Their pick, Jalen Smith, is not the reason their odds moved so dramatically. The Suns acquired Chris Paul from Oklahoma City which moved their odds to win the NBA Championship from 80-1 to 50-1 and their Western Conference odds from 50-1 to 25-1. The Suns also picked up Jae Crowder from the Miami Heat creating depth to their front court. They were already a team to keep an eye on after how they played in the bubble at the end of last season (going undefeated against the spread) and with these additions, should definitely be a contender for a playoff spot and a very exciting team to watch for years to come.
Finally, that brings us to the reigning NBA Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are the clear-cut favorite to win the title again after all of their moves. Once the NBA lifted the trade moratorium, the Lakers moved quickly and traded Danny Green and the 28th pick in the draft to Oklahoma City for Dennis Schroder. They then signed Wesley Matthews to fill the void they created by trading Green. But their biggest coup was signing Sixth Man of the Year, Montrezl Harrell, on the first night of free agency. The Lakers got younger almost overnight even though they were lacking in draft picks this year. The Lakers odds moved from 4/1 to 3/1.