Dan Favale | Thu 08/02/2018 - 03:40 EST

NBA Trade Deadline 2018: Central Division Preview

NBA Trade Deadline 2018: Central Division Preview
No division in the NBA is more interesting leading into Thursday's trade deadline than the Central sector. We have the Cavaliers trying to stave off implosion. We have the Bucks looking for that finishing piece to their contender in the making. We have the Pacers trying to decider whether it's worth buying. We have the Pistons trying to be a slightly inferior Bucks-level hopeful. We've got the Bulls tanking. What's about to happen? And how should it impact your betting tendencies? Let's find out.

Championship odds come courtesy of TopBet and are accurate leading into Thursday, Feb. 8. Given that we’ve entered the heart of silly season, make sure you’re re-checking these lines before making any decisions. These odds can, and will, change in the coming days.

All stats and win projections are determined using information provided by Basketball-Reference or NBA.com and are accurate leading into games scheduled for Feb. 8. These five squads will be tackled in order of increasing winning percentage, so please don’t interpret their placement as anything more profound than that.

Chicago Bulls (+50000)


  • Offensive Rating Rank: 29
  • Defensive Rating Rank: 26
  • Net Rating Rank: 28
  • Win-Loss Pace: 28-54
  • Buyers or Sellers: Sellers
  • Biggest Need: Picks and cost-controlled prospects

Shipping Nikola Mirotic off the New Orleans Pelicans was a good move for the Chicago Bulls. They were playing above-.500 basketball ever since he made his season debut. They cannot have that. They’re supposed to be angling for top-three lottery odds.

They don’t have said chances right now. They would be eighth on the ladder if the lottery were held now. Fortunately for them, they have plenty of time to make up ground. They’re just two games back in the loss column for worst-record status. Phew.

Unfortunately for them, however, they don’t have a direct means of beefing up their tanking status. Many of their highest-volume contributors are kiddies they shouldn’t be trading—Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, etc.—while veterans like Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez aren’t moving their needle nearly enough to be considered tanking detriments.

The Bulls have to move the older heads anyway, if only to plan for their worst-case scenario. As the standings show, they clearly cannot assure themselves of top-three draft placement. They need to use their best salary-matching tools to take back crummier deals, like they did with Omer Asik, in exchange for draft-pick and rookie-scale compensation.

Nothing changes for you no matter what they do. You’ll want to avoid their single-game lines a little bit more if they sell, since they’ve been competitive of late. But, overall, they’ll remain the same non-play they’ve been all year.

Detroit Pistons (+15000)


  • Offensive Rating Rank: 17
  • Defensive Rating Rank: 9
  • Net Rating Rank: 17
  • Win-Loss Pace: 42-40
  • Buyers or Sellers: Buyers
  • Biggest Need: Shooting

Do the Detroit Pistons have another move in them after shocking the world with their trade for Blake Griffin? Probably not. They’re too close to the luxury tax, and more importantly, they’re not blessed with a ton of desirable assets.

Attaching Stanley Johnson might allow them to get rid of Jon Leuer’s salary. They could even try tethering him to Langston Galloway in hopes of making an actual splash. Both scenarios are unlikely.

Coach-president Stan Van Gundy took a huge risk by bringing in Griffin to play up front with Andre Drummond. He’s not about to rattle the cage again on a wholesale level without his return resembling something of a sure thing.

What does this mean for you? Wait-and-see mode. The Pistons aren’t going to be championship plays this season. They should be a +50000 as it is. But they might be interesting on the individual-game front. They’ve won five matchups in a row since the Griffin trade and are hammering opponents by almost 25 points per 100 possessions when both their bigs share the floor.

Should this trend continue, you’ll want to tackle their spreads a little harder, particularly when they’re billed as noticeable underdogs. 

Indiana Pacers (+15000)


  • Offensive Rating Rank: 6
  • Defensive Rating Rank: 19
  • Net Rating Rank: 10
  • Win-Loss Pace: 45-37
  • Buyers or Sellers: Buyers
  • Biggest Need: Defensive wings or another star

If you find a sportsbook offering a prop bet on whether the Indiana Pacers will make a move at the trade deadline, invest in a big fat no.

Sure, they have the mixture of first-round picks and palatable salaries to make a run at someone like Kemba Walker. But they’re a small-market team that, as of now, is content to enjoy Victor Oladipo’s ascent into stardom, along with their likely playoff berth and inevitable summertime cap flexibility.

Monitor their activity anyway. Rival teams would love to get their hands on Darren Collison, Bojan Bogdanovic, Al Jefferson and their non-guarantees for next year. If the right deal comes along in which a seller offers to trade a top-40 or top-50 player, you better believe the Pacers will jump—in which case they’ll go from normal everyday bets to a possible super-long-shot championship wheel spin.

Milwaukee Bucks (+4000)


  • Offensive Rating Rank: 9
  • Defensive Rating Rank: 16
  • Net Rating Rank: 11
  • Win-Loss Pace: 46-36
  • Buyers or Sellers: Buyers
  • Biggest Need: Versatile size and floor spacing

The Milwaukee Bucks have, in all likelihood, already made their biggest moves. They traded for Eric Bledsoe in November and struck a deal with the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday that brought back Tyler Zeller.

That latter agreement isn’t a needle-mover. It did, however, cost the Bucks what’s left of their best non-blockbuster assets: a second-round pick and Rashad Vaughn’s expiring salary. Unless they’re going to move off their conservative stance and express an openness to dealing a combination of Malcolm Brogdon, Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton and D.J. Wilson, they’re set up to stand pat from here on out.

Besides which, they may view Parker’s recent return as their big-time acquisition. He’s still on a minutes cap after recovering from his second ACL injury, but the self-sufficient offense and general spacing he injects into their rotation will be a much-needed late-season boon.

If he stays healthy and regains his jumper from last season, the Bucks will be that much deeper and better off for it—at which point you’ll want to move them into dark-horse Eastern Conference title territory. 

Cleveland Cavaliers (+800)


  • Offensive Rating Rank: 5
  • Defensive Rating Rank: 29
  • Net Rating Rank: 19
  • Win-Loss Pace: 48-34
  • Buyers or Sellers: Buyers
  • Biggest Need: Two-way players

Ah, yes. The Cleveland Cavaliers. Everyone’s favorite dumpster fire.

The Cavaliers are going to do something on Thursday. Will they push through an agreement with the Sacramento Kings to acquire George Hill? Will they use this year’s Brooklyn Nets pick to poach DeAndre Jordan from the Los Angeles Clippers? Or to try coaxing the Charlotte Hornets into trading Kemba Walker? 

Is there a deal and player out there that we’re missing?

Your own guess is as good as ours. The Cavaliers are a mess, even after their thrilling Wednesday night win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. They cannot just rely on the hope this core will turn things around, because it won’t. The current group doesn’t have the necessary defensive talent to complete an effective about-face. 

So, yes, what they do at the trade deadline should go a long way toward determining whether their championship odds are worth your time and money. Right now, even as they’ve shifted to +800, they’re not. The Cavaliers remain Eastern Conference favorites in real life, so checking out their Conference Finals odds isn’t a bad idea. But they’re playing like a +4000 team at best in the championship department.

Should they make upgrades that compel you to revisit their title chances, try placing bets as soon as possible following said transaction. Sportsbooks sometimes move the lines to “off” immediately after trades, but if you act quickly, before substantive rumors become official deals, you can capitalize on Cleveland’s underdogs odds prior to them moving in a different direction.

Category : Sports Betting News

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