Dan Favale | Mon 05/02/2018 - 16:18 EST

NBA Trade Deadline 2018: Northwest Division Preview

NBA Trade Deadline 2018: Northwest Division Preview
Goodbye, NFL season. Hello, NBA's silly season. The Association's trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. ET, and despite whispers around the league of a relatively anemic spate of activity, we've already seen two big-time trades in the days leading up to now. Could we be in for more action? To figure that out, we're going division by division, looking at the trade-deadline vitals and championship odds for every team, along with what to expect from each as a result. Up now: The NBA's Northwest Division.

Championship odds come from TopBet and are accurate as of Monday, Feb. 5. Since these lines can be prone to sudden swings as the NBA’s competitive landscape endures whatever alterations are part and parcel of the trade deadline, be sure to pore over these numbers right before placing a futures wager—or even before making a single-game bet, as impromptu spreads can shift as the direct result of a recent roster addition or subtraction.

Also note: All statistics and record projections are courtesy of Basketball-Reference or NBA.com and are accurate leading into games being played on Feb. 5. And finally: Teams will be presented in order of increasing winning percentage.

Utah Jazz (+100000)

jazz

  • Offensive Rating Rank: 14
  • Defensive Rating Rank: 9
  • Net Rating Rank: 13
  • Win-Loss Pace: 38-44
  • Buyers or Sellers: Both
  • Biggest Need: Shot creation at the 3 and/or 4

The trade deadline could go either way for the Utah Jazz, depending on how serious they’re chasing a playoff berth.

They’re in 10th place in the Western Conference, 3.5 games off of the eighth-place Denver Nuggets, with the Los Angeles Clippers sitting between them. By not giving up a first-round pick to get Nikola Mirotic from the Chicago Bulls, we can basically surmise the Jazz aren’t interested in mortgaging the future for an outside shot at sneaking into the postseason as the No. 7 or No. 8 seed.

That could change, ever so slightly, if the Clippers follow through with the fire sale they’ve teased by trading Blake Griffin. And it could change even more if it looks like the Nuggets are standing pat rather than trying to up their own profile.

Should the Jazz opt to buy, they have a number of interesting expiring contracts in Derrick Favors, Joe Johnson and restricted free-agent-to-be Rodney Hood. They also have a number of reasonable salary-filler options in Ricky Rubio and Alec Burks, both of whom are under contract through just next season.

Failing a complete about-face, though, look for the Jazz to strictly steer into the lottery. They’ll try to flip Favors and Hood for picks and prospects, and then let their standing in the West fall wherever it may.

Denver Nuggets (+50000)

nuggets

  • Offensive Rating Rank: 10
  • Defensive Rating Rank: 23
  • Net Rating Rank: 16
  • Win-Loss Pace: 43-39
  • Buyers or Sellers: Buyers
  • Biggest Need: Defensive specialist who can guard bigger wings

Most would have tabbed the Nuggets as aggressive buyers at the beginning of the season. But Paul Millsap’s injury, along with the prospect of possibly paying the luxury tax, has changed things. 

So, too, has the recent emergence of Jamal Murray. Not only should he be considered untouchable in trade talks, thereby removing the Nuggets’ best asset from the table, but they no longer have the impetus to go out and chase an upgrade at point guard. Apologies to the Kemba Walker conspiracists.

Don’t be too surprised if the Nuggets stand pat. They might view Millsap’s impending return, plus Trey Lyles’ breakout, as their primary midseason additions. They do, however, need someone who can stand defensive tests against bigger wings—a Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics) or Justise Winslow (Miami Heat). Someone like Courtney Lee of the New York Knicks might even help them.

In the event the Nuggets do make a move, expect their championship odds to be less lucrative. If you’re a believer in them already, now would be the time to play their futures.

Portland Trail Blazers (+12500)

blazers

  • Offensive Rating Rank: 13
  • Defensive Rating Rank: 10
  • Net Rating Rank: 15
  • Win-Loss Pace: 45-37
  • Buyers or Sellers: Buyers…sort of
  • Biggest Need: Spacing at the 3 or 4

Damian Lillard no doubt wants the Portland Trail Blazers to be buyers at the deadline. And keeping with that theme, teams on pace for 45 wins and a No. 5 or No. 6 playoff seed typically try to build upon what they already have in their employ.

But the Blazers are a unique case study. They, like many other squads, know they’re not catching the Golden State Warriors. And with so many players ticketed for free agency this summer—Jusuf Nurkic (restricted), Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh—they could instead focus on avoiding the luxury-tax this season.

If that’s the path they travel, be ready for them to regress into quasi-sellers. They won’t be forking over Lillard or C.J. McCollum, but they’ll definitely be open to attaching first-round picks and prospects to guys like Meyers Leonard, Evan Turner and Maurice Harkless in exchange for expiring dead money.

Either way, the Blazers should still skate into the playoffs. Just don’t bank on their ceiling this season changing one way or the other by Feb. 8. They’re not in line to make a blockbuster deal, and their peak is that of a second-round postseason appearance.

Oklahoma City Thunder (+2500)

thunder

  • Offensive Rating Rank: 11
  • Defensive Rating Rank: 5
  • Net Rating Rank: 6
  • Win-Loss Pace: 46-36
  • Buyers or Sellers: Buyers
  • Biggest Need: Andre Roberson replacement

Given their recent offensive uptick, the Oklahoma City Thunder should be neither sellers nor buyers. They don’t have a ton of trade assets to add anyone of note, and things are too good with Paul George at the moment for them to become sellers. Remaining idle shouldn’t just be the most likely outcome; it should, arguably, be the goal.

Andre Roberson’s season ending patellar injury changes everything. The Thunder don’t have anyone who comes close to supplanting his defensive value. They can test out rookie Terrance Ferguson or Alex Abrines, but neither has the switchability to vacillate between both pick-and-roll ball-handlers and bigger wings. 

The Thunder, at the very least, need someone who can do one or the other, since George can take care of the rest. Chasing names like Jonathon Simmons (Orlando Magic) and Avery Bradley (Los Angeles Clippers) makes too much sense for them.

Granted, there’s plenty of risk baked into a buyer’s play. The Thunder are already slated to pay the luxury tax, and adding to their bill this season when they have no idea whether it’ll be enough to keep George this summer verges on uncharacteristically reckless.

Nevertheless, the Thunder, as it stands, remain a potential player in the West. They would be slightly foolish not to overplay their current hand. You’ll want to holster all championship bets for now, because Roberson’s absence is that important. But if it looks like they’re going to net an impact player, give yourself the green light to strike before this +2500 moves in the wrong direction.

Minnesota Timberwolves (+5000)

wolves

  • Offensive Rating Rank: 3
  • Defensive Rating Rank: 24
  • Net Rating Rank: 5
  • Win-Loss Pace: 50-32
  • Buyers or Sellers: Buyers
  • Biggest Need: Reserve wings

Should the Minnesota Timberwolves be proactive in the pursuit of reserve wings? Absolutely. Shabazz Muhammad isn’t playing much and has been horrible when he does. Jamal Crawford doesn’t add anything to their defense. Adding someone like DeMarre Carroll (Brooklyn Nets), Joe Harris (Nets), Stanley Johnson (Detroit Pistons) or Bradley would go a long way.

Though not flush with trade assets, the Timberwolves do have a lottery-protected first-rounder from the Thunder that will convey this summer. Attach that to Cole Aldrich, whose salary for next season is non-guaranteed, and they have an appealing package to prospective sellers like the Nets and Clippers.

But head coach and president Tom Thibodeau is notoriously adverse to leaning on his reserves—hence why Muhammad wants out of Minnesota in the first place. Knowing this, the Timberwolves seem unlikely to surrender a first-rounder for players Thibs isn’t likely to use. They figure to be players on the buyout market after the trade deadline more than anything else.

In other words: No major odds changes should be on the horizon for Minnesota. And that could be problematic. The Thunder are gaining ground in the standings, and the Timberwolves’ depth, or lack thereof, could come back to haunt them later on, when their starters are burned out for the postseason. They should, as a result, not be viewed as even flier championship plays—not unless they significantly boost their second-string rotation ahead of the trade deadline.

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Category : Sports Betting News

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