The NBA Draft is finally over, and we are now just bracing for impact heading into free agency. Normally, at this time of year, I am looking at some interesting possibilities that could provide value, but there is a major problem with the 2020 NBA Finals odds right now, and that is going to be the main focus.
The Denver Nuggets are BY FAR the best bet on the board right now, and I would adamantly disagree with anyone that begs to differ. The Nuggets are currently behind the following teams:
Los Angeles Lakers (+300): This team is LeBron, Kyle Kuzma, Anthony Davis, and an average remaining salary of less than 3 million dollars. A realistic starting lineup for the Lakers is those 3, T.J. McConnell, and Bojan Bogdanovic. This would likely leave the Lakers with another $3-8 million and then vet minimum contracts. THAT team is the significant favorite?
Milwaukee Bucks (+600): The Bucks had an elite regular season and fell short to a great Raptors team. I like the Bucks, but they COULD lose any of Middleton, Brogdon, Hill, and Mirotic. I don’t think they’ll lose all four, but just the loss of Brogdon hurts these odds down the line. We have also heard that Middleton IS willing to listen to other offers.
Los Angeles Clippers (+700): The Clippers NEED Kawhi. If they don’t get him, these odds fall drastically.
Houston Rockets (+800): The two best players on this team have some significant issues. They have no cap space to make big moves.
Toronto Raptors (+1000): If Kawhi leaves, you can kiss this bet goodbye. Even if Kawhi stays, people seem quick to forget that the 76ers were a shot away from beating the Raptors in a seven-game series. This team won the Finals, but it wasn’t a dominant or necessarily repeatable run.
Philadelphia 76ers (+1000): If they can’t return at least two of Redick, Harris, and Butler, these odds will go away fast. The 76ers’ core should improve with another offseason, but they are likely to lose one of their key contributors to a team that didn’t get out of the second round, although they gave the eventual champions the best run for their money.
Golden State Warriors (+1200): I think the Warriors’ best-case scenario is that they spend $70 million on two players that won’t touch the floor until very late in the season or even 2020. That is not ideal.
In certain spots, you will find the Nuggets behind these teams:
Brooklyn Nets: Best-case scenario here is they can sign Kyrie and KD. Durant probably won’t even play next year. How different are the Nets with Kyrie instead of Russell? Not very.
Boston Celtics: Very likely to lose Kyrie and Horford in free agency, their ideal core next season is something like Rozier, Smart, Brown, Tatum, Hayward, and a free agent like Vucevic. That’s not scaring me.
New York Knicks: Very similar to the Nets. There are a few potential stars on the radar here, but I don’t really see two guys that could join the Knicks and make them an instant contender unless we knew KD could play late next season or that Kawhi was a possibility.
Nuggets Have Talent
This is absurd. The Denver Nuggets were the second-best team in the West this season according to record. They actually did endure a lot of injuries throughout the year. The only team with a better record in the West was Golden State, who will lose almost all of KD, Klay, and Cousins’ production. The Nuggets won’t lose anyone important in the offseason.
They are almost all ascending in their career path besides Paul Millsap, meaning they should all be improving basketball players. Maybe Will Barton and Mason Plumlee are at the peak, but they shouldn’t be going down yet.
Now, the Nuggets will enter the season with the addition of two key players. Michael Porter Jr. is expected to be healthy going into the Summer League. Porter was one of the best players in the 2018 Draft, talent-wise. He had major injury concerns, but he is a rare player in a very similar mold to Kevin Durant with an incredible skill set.
If MPJ is back to full health, it will be adding an instant Rookie of the Year contender and a legitimate wing scoring threat that the really good Nuggets lacked. The Nuggets might be in the best situation, regardless.
On Thursday night, Denver added Bol Bol in the middle of the second round. Bol Bol is an elite talent. He is 7-2 center with a 7-9 wingspan. He is an elite shot blocker. He shot incredibly well from three and was good from the line in limited action.
He can run the court well. Bol Bol has injury concerns, but he is currently healthy. There are work ethic concerns as well, but who cares at pick 44? Half of those guys don’t make it anyways. Bol Bol’s player comp is Kristaps Porzingis.
Not maybe someone that can work hard and be kind of close to Kristaps but not as good. Just as good as Kristaps. Imagine adding THAT to Denver with top three 2018 Draft talent MPJ. That team is behind ALL of those teams? Sign me up.