Dan Favale | Sat 23/12/2017 - 04:56 EST

NBA Teams Who Already Need to Make a Trade

NBA Teams Who Already Need to Make a Trade
Not every NBA team is a ready-made contender, like the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets. Similarly, all the others don't fall into the surefire lottery-bound category. Some lie in the middle, straddling that line between postseason and championship relevance, but remaining a little bit outside the main picture. We're taking a look at which squads are toeing these lines, while maintaining the intrigue necessary to jump into the championship hunt if they make the right trade.

All championship odds come courtesy of TopBet and are accurate as of Friday, Dec. 22. Make sure to double-check these chances before deciding on a wager, as they are prone to shifting. Teams will be ranked and presented in order how much a trade would help. The top team on this list, for example, would be the most appealing bet if it pulls off a deal before February’s deadline.

5. New Orleans Pelicans (+15000)

pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans, like many of the other teams on this list, don’t have the assets to pull off a huge blockbuster. The best offer they can make centers around a first-round pick and salary filler that no rival teams will actually want.

After coughing up a first-rounder in the DeMarcus Cousins trade last February, and without knowing whether he’ll re-sign in free agency this summer, dangling another selection verges on reckless. Realistically speaking, there is no deal they can make that’ll allow them to catch the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors.

At the same time, they have no choice. Cousins hits the open market in a few months time, and they have to impress him enough to keep him in town. Retaining him figures to be integral in keeping Anthony Davis long term as well. He’s slated for free agency in 2020 (player option), and the vultures will start circling the trade waters if he’s left on a Pelicans team that just missed the playoffs altogether or got bounced in the first round, and then failed to re-sign Cousins.

Though it can be tough to like this team, they’re one three-and-D wing away from challenging mid-end contenders like the Oklahoma City Thunder or Minnesota Timberwolves. If they’re able to acquire him ahead of February’s trade deadline, pencil them in for some viable futures consideration.

4. Washington Wizards (+6000)

wizards

Since John Wall returned from his knee injury, the Washington Wizards are scoring under 100 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. For those who don’t know, that’s absolutely terrible. Horrible, even. 

While they’ve been linked to bigs—namely DeAndre Jordan and Cousins—they could use an extra playmaker. Head coach Scott Brooks likes to play bench-heavy units, with both Wall and Bradley Beal watching from the sidelines. That model isn’t sustainable without an additional playmaker—preferably a three-and-D pick-and-roll initiator. 

These assets can be tough to come by, but the Wizards are playing like juggernauts, overall, whenever Beal and Wall share the floor with Kelly Oubre Jr., Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat. If they really want to swing for the fences, they’ll contact the Thunder about Paul George’s availability to see whether they’ll accept a package built around Tomas Satoransky, Markieff Morris and a first-round pick.

George might not become available, and Oklahoma City wouldn’t necessarily accept this offer. But that’s the type of player Washington needs to be targeting if it’s looking to keep pace with the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors leading into the late spring.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves (+8000)

wolves

Watching the Minnesota Timberwolves isn’t fun. On the contrary, it can be dull and gruesome. The offense ranks sixth in points scored per 100 possessions, but their shot profile—lots of mid-rangers and very few three-pointers—is categorically awful.

Things don’t get more copacetic on the defensive end. At least the Timberwolves, buoyed by Jimmy Butler’s drives and some nice finishing around the rim, are generating positive offensive results despite a crummy shot profile. Their defense is flat-out hopeless. Both Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns appear to have regressed on the less glamorous end.

Sure, the Timberwolves are currently on pace to flirt with 50 victories. Look at their advanced metrics, though, and they bear more resemblance to a team that snags between 42 or 43 victories, according to Cleaning The Glass.

As for what they need, well, there isn’t one answer. A mobile forward, such as Nikola Mirotic of the Chicago Bulls, would play nicely. So, too, would a defensive-minded wing who can stroke threes, like Wesley Matthews of the Dallas Mavericks or Kent Bazemore of Atlanta Hawks.

Fast forward a few weeks, and Minnesota could be the real deal—if, and only if, it pulls the trigger on a trade similar to the aforementioned parameters.

2. Denver Nuggets (+15000)

nuggets

Now we’re getting somewhere.

The Denver Nuggets might not be so desperate to make a trade if Paul Millsap were healthy. But he isn’t healthy. He’s just a few weeks into recovery from wrist surgery that will keep him out of action for at least three months.

Finding another forward isn’t the issue. The Nuggets have plenty of options to stash beside Nikola Jokic. Trey Lyles has showed some flair, Kenneth Faried and Mason Plumlee both have their moments, and Wilson Chandler can play some small-ball 4.

Targeting a point guard like George Hill wouldn’t be the worst idea. But Jamal Murray is coming along nicely, they have some nice playmaking swingmen in Will Barton and Gary Harris, and the offense runs through Jokic anyway.

That leaves a three-and-D wing who can help stabilize their defense in Millsap’s absence. Anyone along the lines of Bazemore, Matthews or Courtney Lee will do. They could even try making a play to rent Paul George if his situation in Oklahoma City continues to flirt with disaster. 

Best of all for them, no other team on this list has their collection of assets. They can build blockbuster-level deals around salary filler, prospects and picks. Anyone of consequence who reaches the chopping block should catch their attention as a result.

1. Milwaukee Bucks (+6000)

bucks

Unlike the rest of the outfits on this list, the Milwaukee Bucks have already made a splash on the trade market, acquiring Eric Bledsoe from the Phoenix Suns back in November. And they’ve been a lot better, at times, since the deal.

Through their first 21 games with him on the roster, they’re 13-8, with a top-eight offense and eighth-ranked net rating. But they need help on the defensive end—specifically on the glass.

DeAndre Jordan would be an ideal acquisition for them, but he might cost Jabari Parker or Thon Maker, neither of whom they seem willing to give up. Going after Dewayne Dedmon once he returns to the Hawks’ rotation is a sneaky-good move. He would give them a feisty rim-runner who works his butt off on the glass, can switch a little bit on defense and, since arriving in Atlanta, has flashed some range with his jumper.

Should the Bucks get Dedmon, a player of his ilk or even DeAndre Jordan himself, look out. They’ll go from dice-roll bet to authentic contender.

How else would you view a team with a top-five star, in Giannis Antetokounmpo, and one of the most impressive supporting casts in basketball?

All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference or NBA.com and are accurate leading into games on Dec. 22.

Category : Sports Betting News

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