2015 NBA Championship Odds: Fresh Update Post-Draft
Which elite rookies from the 2014 NBA draft class will be leading a championship charge during the 2014-15 season?
Will Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid be able to carry their squads into contention, or will the rookie on the championship team be more of a role player—one selected in either the tail end of the first round or during the second half of the June 26 proceedings?
The last iteration of these championship odds came right after the San Antonio Spurs finished dethroning the Miami Heat, putting an end to any dreams of a Miami three-peat. Even though we're still waiting on the free-agency period to begin, a lot has already changed.
Multiple teams have gotten together and made trades. Sixty players have been added to the ultra-exclusive NBA fraternity.
Even though we're still left making plenty of free-agency assumptions, it's time for an update of those title odds.
30. Milwaukee Bucks
Predraft Odds: 300-1 (No. 30)
Additions in the Draft: Jabari Parker (No. 2), Damien Inglis (No. 31), Johnny O'Bryant (No. 36)
It takes more than one good pick to pull a team out of the gutter.
The Milwaukee Bucks did a nice job in the draft, but their picks were geared more toward the future than the present. Even though Jabari Parker can settle in as the No. 1 offensive option during his rookie season, Damien Inglis is a draft-and-stash candidate, while Johnny O'Bryant requires some D-League defensive seasoning before he can fit in on the big league roster.
Additionally, while Parker is an NBA-ready product as a scorer, he's going to be a defensive liability. He doesn't have the foot speed to hang with quicker forwards in the Association, and he spent so much time guarding the post at Duke that he's behind the curve when it comes to his perimeter work.
For a Milwaukee unit that finished dead last in defensive rating during the 2013-14 season, per Basketball-Reference.com, that's problematic.
Post-Draft Odds: 300-1
29. Philadelphia 76ers
Predraft Odds: 200-1 (No. 27)
Additions in the Draft: Joel Embiid (No. 3), Dario Saric (No. 12), K.J. McDaniels (No. 32), Jerami Grant (No. 39), Vasilije Micic (No. 52), Jordan McRae (No. 58)
Though the Philadelphia 76ers' massive draft-day haul deserves to be looked at in a favorable light, it's a collection of talent that's geared more toward the future than the 2014-15 season.
This team will be more competitive next campaign, due to the additions (including the debut of Nerlens Noel) and the expected improvement of the incumbents, but the development won't move along too quickly.
Joel Embiid could be treated as Noel was before him, being asked to sit out his true rookie year as a precautionary measure. Dario Saric won't be playing in the NBA for the next two seasons, and Vasilije Micic needs more development before he's ready for the sport's highest level, seeing as passing is his only standout skill at the moment.
Philly deserves to love what it gained on June 26. However, the love won't be rewarded until another lottery season is in the books.
"Watching Philly next season is going to be awful," wrote Grantland's Zach Lowe in the immediate aftermath of the draft. "It is only for the NBA’s jittery League Pass fiends watching four games at once, tweeting, and chugging Red Bull. But watching Philly over the next half-decade is going to be amazing."
Post-Draft Odds: 250-1
28. Utah Jazz
Predraft Odds: 225-1 (No. 28)
Additions in the Draft: Dante Exum (No. 5), Rodney Hood (No. 23)
The Utah Jazz are overflowing with young talent.
Once the two first-round picks are inked to NBA contracts, the Jazz will have nine controlled players on the depth chart, as broken down by Bleacher Report's Michael Pina:
- Point guard: Trey Burke
- Shooting guard: Dante Exum, Alec Burks
- Small forward: Gordon Hayward (restricted free agent), Rodney Hood
- Power forward: Derrick Favors, Jeremy Evans
- Center: Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert
Every player is brimming over with skill, and Jeremy Evans (26) is the oldest player listed up above.
However, this team is a few years away from being truly competitive, as it takes time to adjust to the NBA, especially when a rookie is given a featured role. There's plenty of upside, but there's also an abundance of inexperience in Salt Lake City.
Take solace in the fact that the Jazz are headed in the right direction.
Post-Draft Odds: 210-1
27. Sacramento Kings
Predraft Odds: 150-1 (No. 25)
Additions in the Draft: Nik Stauskas (No. 8)
Does drafting Nik Stauskas mean that the Sacramento Kings are already giving up on Ben McLemore?
After all, the two shooting guards boast extremely similar skill sets. Each is an impressively athletic wing player who thrives while shooting perimeter jumpers or slashing to the basket for an athletic finish. Neither creates shots for himself on a consistent basis or flourishes when putting the ball on the floor, but both are laden with defensive potential, which helps make up for their deficits.
Sure, they're not the exact same player, last year's pick being better defensively and this year's more adept at creating for himself, but Stauskas and McLemore can't both boast big roles for the Kings. Even if the Michigan product was the top player available on the Sac-Town board, he was a redundant selection, which is never good when drafting in the top 10.
At least overlooking the point guards in this class means that the Kings are presumably planning to match any offer sheet that Isaiah Thomas signs in restricted free agency, which would keep together the promising 1-guard rotation comprised of the former Mr. Irrelevant and Ray McCallum.
Post-Draft Odds: 205-1
26. Detroit Pistons
Predraft Odds: 105-1 (No. 22)
Additions in the Draft: Spencer Dinwiddie (No. 38)
Spencer Dinwiddie was a great pickup for the Detroit Pistons, even if the public doesn't know how long his torn ACL will keep him out of action. Once the team's medical staff gave the go-ahead, the Colorado Buffalo became a tremendous value at No. 38, especially since he was a potential lottery candidate before his injury.
While suiting up as both a point guard and a shooting guard, Dinwiddie will provide the Pistons something they're sorely lacking—shooting. However, how much is he going to play while operating behind Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brandon Jennings?
Yes, Dinwiddie was a nice value pick. But he doesn't increase the championship odds, which actually decrease because so many other teams in this tier improved by significantly greater amounts.
Remember, on a day when everyone is supposed to improve their roster, it's possible to get better but still emerge with worse odds.
Post-Draft Odds: 200-1
25. Orlando Magic
Predraft Odds: 250-1 (No. 29)
Additions in the Draft: Aaron Gordon (No. 4), Elfrid Payton (No. 10), Roy Devyn Marble (No. 56)
The Orlando Magic's decision to draft Aaron Gordon at No. 4 was a strange one, especially since Dante Exum and Marcus Smart were both on the board. Either floor general would have been capable of transforming into the franchise point guard the Magic so desperately need to pair with Victor Oladipo in the backcourt.
However, things looked much better when the Magic landed Elfrid Payton in a trade with Philadelphia.
Payton and Oladipo will combine to form one of the better defensive duos in the NBA, even during the Louisiana-Lafayette standout's rookie season. He's already that polished on that end of the court, comparing favorably to Rajon Rondo.
Jameer Nelson will likely earn a lot of playing time, probably remaining the starter for much of the year. But down the road, this team is overflowing with potential.
A five-man core of Payton, Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Gordon and Nikola Vucevic is quite an impressive one, improving the championship odds even in the wake of turning Arron Afflalo, a fringe All-Star candidate, into Evan Fournier and Roy Devyn Marble.
Post-Draft Odds: 150-1
24. Boston Celtics
Predraft Odds: 120-1 (No. 23)
Additions in the Draft: Marcus Smart (No. 6), James Young (No. 17)
In a vacuum, Marcus Smart is a terrific prospect—a steal even, since he was drafted just outside of the top five.
But on the Boston Celtics, he's not going to be able to shine. Throwing out Smart and Rajon Rondo at the same time is a recipe for disaster, seeing as both point guards are incapable of knocking down jumpers with any sort of consistency.
James Young is a much better shooter, but that's not enough to make up for the perimeter woes of the two lead guards on the Boston roster. Smart's physicality and defensive play will make him a terror next to Rondo, but only in some situations.
So this means one of two things.
Either Smart and Rondo are going to struggle to thrive while playing with each other, which decreases Boston's championship odds, or the longtime Boston floor general is on the way out, bound to be traded so that Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens can turn things over to the team's newest lottery pick.
I'm pretty sure that decreases the odds as well.
Post-Draft Odds: 125-1
23. Los Angeles Lakers
Predraft Odds: 125-1 (No. 24)
Additions in the Draft: Julius Randle (No. 7), Jordan Clarkson (No. 46)
The Los Angeles Lakers aced the 2014 NBA draft.
Not only is Julius Randle a great pick at No. 7, bringing his post skills, underrated athleticism and all-around offensive play to Hollywood, but Jordan Clarkson was one of the steals of the draft. The big and athletic combo guard would have been a justifiable pick in the 20s, so landing him at No. 46 signifies great value.
Just one problem remains.
Even after Randle and Clarkson ink their contracts, the Lakers will be rostering just six players—the two draft picks, Kobe, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and Kendall Marshall. Barring a free-agent coup, this is not a playoff-caliber team, much less a championship-caliber one.
Post-Draft Odds: 115-1
22. Brooklyn Nets
Predraft Odds: 75-1 (No. 18)
Additions in the Draft: Markel Brown (No. 44), Xavier Thames (No. 59), Cory Jefferson (No. 60)
The Brooklyn Nets didn't have any picks before the start of the draft festivities, but they emerged with three promising young players. Markel Brown, Xavier Thames and Cory Jefferson are all capable of making small contributions during the 2014-15 season, though the first two are pretty redundant selections, while Jefferson is going to be hard-pressed to find playing time at the 4.
Brooklyn was aided by the news that Kevin Garnett will be coming back for another season, but he's devolved into more of a role player at this stage of his career. That's only slightly beneficial, strange as that may be to say about the formerly dominant big man once known as The Big Ticket.
Mortgaging their future is still coming back to bite the Nets here.
Even though the three second-round selections were quality picks, not having the opportunity to add a true standout in this deep class is problematic, especially when so many of the teams directly around Brooklyn in this countdown of odds added multiple players.
Post-Draft Odds: 110-1
21. New York Knicks
Predraft Odds: 100-1 (No. 21)
Additions in the Draft: Cleanthony Early (No. 34), Thanasis Antetokounmpo (No. 51), Louis Labeyrie (No. 57)
Phil Jackson is a magician.
"Watching them play I saw guys that looked at each other like, 'You didn't back me up, you weren't here when I needed help,'" the Zen Master explained to ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley. "There just wasn't the right combination or feel (where) it felt like everybody was in sync all the time."
What was he explaining? The decision to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks for a second-round pick, a high-upside guard (Shane Larkin), an established shooter (Jose Calderon) and a defensive, albeit aging, big man (Samuel Dalembert).
Then, that pick—along with another one that Jackson decided to buy—turned into Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, two uniquely named forwards who can immediately contribute for the 'Bockers.
That's quite the impact the president of basketball operations has had on a team that entered the offseason with no financial flexibility or draft picks.
But while Jackson is imbuing the fanbase with optimism for the future, it's important to stay grounded in the present. This is a squad that will top out with a No. 6 or No. 7 seed in the weak Eastern Conference, even if Carmelo Anthony decides to return to his hometown team. And that's not a guarantee, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Get excited for what's coming in the summer of 2015, but temper expectations before then.
Post-Draft Odds: 90-1
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
Predraft Odds: 175-1 (No. 26)
Additions in the Draft: Zach LaVine (No. 13), Glenn Robinson III (No. 40)
The Minnesota Timberwolves must have enjoyed draft night.
Not only did the team land two players who were good values and filled needs, but there's an underrated piece of news that we'll get to in a bit.
Zach LaVine has tremendous upside. He's as raw as an uncooked steak, has springs in his legs reminiscent of Gerald Green and plays defense like he actually prides himself in preventing the other team from scoring. That combination of athleticism and work on the less glamorous end is exactly what Minnesota was missing from its core group of wing players.
Picked up at No. 40, Glenn Robinson is a first-round-caliber talent who will emerge as a big-time steal if he can become more aggressive than he was at Michigan. His combination of shooting and athleticism—impressive, though not as jaw-droppingly astounding as LaVine's—will be beneficial right from the get-go.
But that underrated news?
Kevin Love is still on the 'Wolves, and the prospects of winning with him look a lot better. Teams are more likely to trade picks than prospects who have already held up the franchise's jersey and donned a cap, which means Minnesota may as well hold onto the All-Star power forward until either the trade deadline or the end of the season, assuming wins are piling up.
Post-Draft Odds: 85-1
19. Cleveland Cavaliers
Predraft Odds: 99-1 (No. 20)
Additions in the Draft: Andrew Wiggins (No. 1), Joe Harris (No. 33), Dwight Powell (No. 45)
The Cleveland Cavaliers have moved up in the world.
They haven't advanced too far, as the predraft set of odds assumed that they'd take a high-impact player, whether it was Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid. But there's still a rise, seeing as the Cavs made the perfect choice at No. 1.
Wiggins is the two-way presence that Cleveland needs, and his lack of assertiveness won't be problematic since he'll spend his rookie season (at least) playing next to a pair of ball-dominant guards. So long as Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters are on the floor, it doesn't make sense for Wiggins to control the rock all that frequently.
With the former Jayhawk on the roster, Cleveland now has a legitimate shot at the postseason, especially seeing as it's a part of the Eastern Conference. But there's a major difference between making the playoffs and legitimately competing for a championship.
Until the young players show development and cohesiveness, the Larry O'Brien Trophy is just a pipe dream.
Post-Draft Odds: 80-1
18. New Orleans Pelicans
Predraft Odds: 50-1 (No. 15)
Additions in the Draft: Russ Smith (No. 47)
The New Orleans Pelicans have made a number of questionable decisions over the years.
Acquiring Jrue Holiday for such a hefty price no longer looks like the best idea. Investing in one season of Omer Asik and giving up another first-round pick is similarly wasteful, even if his presence next to Anthony Davis should make the team more competitive before Asik hits the open market.
And the latest trade involved swapping Pierre Jackson—who spent the season dominating in the D-League, racking up 40- and 50-point games—for the No. 47 pick, which was used to select Russ Smith.
The Louisville product is not on the same level as Jackson, even if he has more size. The Pelicans should know that firsthand, seeing as they've had scouting access to him for the last calendar year. If they really need a point guard, promote him. If not, use the pick on a different decision.
So not only did NOLA fail to have a first-round pick, but it also messed up the second-round selection it inexplicably gained.
Health should still do wonders for this team, but the Pelicans did nothing to help their stock for the time being.
Post-Draft Odds: 70-1
17. Dallas Mavericks
Predraft Odds: 80-1 (No. 19)
Additions in the Draft: None
The Dallas Mavericks didn't have any draft picks this year, but that didn't prevent them from making news during the week of the selection process.
In a trade that came out of left field, the Mavs dealt a second-round pick to the New York Knicks, along with Samuel Dalembert, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin and Jose Calderon, for Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton.
Right now, it makes Dallas slightly worse. Calderon was the best player involved in the swap, and the upgrade from Dalembert to Chandler is less significant than the downgrade from the Spanish floor general to Felton.
So, why are the Mavericks actually rising in this countdown?
As broken down at length here, the addition of Chandler—a legitimate defensive presence at center who makes a Dirk Nowitzki-Chandler combination a much more appealing frontcourt duo—legitimizes Dallas as a contender for the services of elite free agents like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
The Mavs are by no means the favorite in that hunt, but they're true contenders in free agency, so the potential addition slightly raises their overall standing.
Post-Draft Odds: 65-1
16. Phoenix Suns
Predraft Odds: 40-1 (No. 14)
Additions in the Draft: T.J. Warren (No. 14), Tyler Ennis (No. 18), Bogdan Bogdanovic (No. 27), Alec Brown (No. 50)
Are the Phoenix Suns banking on Eric Bledsoe signing a max offer sheet with another team? They could still bring him back even if that were the case, but drafting Tyler Ennis might be a precursor to the desert-based franchise going in a different direction.
After all, Ennis is a true point guard who thrives as a distributor, and he'd be a great fit next to Goran Dragic. That said, such a move would work against the Suns' immediate progress, and there's no guarantee the Syracuse product ever reaches the level Bledsoe is currently at.
All in all, this was a strange draft for Phoenix.
T.J. Warren isn't an established perimeter shooter or post scorer, instead relying on having the ball in his hands and finding creative ways to put up points. Even if that works at the next level—and he's talented enough to make that happen, though No. 14 was a reach—it doesn't exactly shore up a need for Phoenix.
In fact, the player who came closest to actually filling a need is Alec Brown, who might not even earn playing time with the Suns if they're still invested in the future of Alex Len, as they should be. The Wisconsin-Green Bay's shooting prowess might just go to waste on the pine.
Post-Draft Odds: 50-1
15. Charlotte Hornets
Predraft Odds: 60-1 (No. 17)
Additions in the Draft: Noah Vonleh (No. 9), P.J. Hairston (No. 26), Semaj Christon (No. 55)
The Charlotte Hornets needed shooting, and they found it.
Noah Vonleh is the rare big man who can protect the rim on one end and capably step out to drain mid-range jumpers on the other. If he's the floor-spacing big that Cody Zeller was supposed to be, it'll take him about half a season to justify being drafted at No. 9. Even now, he already looms as the biggest steal of the lottery.
Then there's P.J. Hairston, who can light it up from beyond the arc.
While playing for the Texas Legends in a league that uses the NBA three-point arc, the D-League product knocked down 35.8 percent of his looks from downtown while lofting up 7.8 triples per game, according to RealGM.com.
And don't look now, but Michael Jordan's franchise still has money to burn this summer. Divorce yourself of the notion that the Hornets are always going to be mired away in mediocrity—or worse.
This is a team with a dominant defensive scheme that just keeps adding quality parts. And if the offense starts clicking, the Hornets could be true dark horses in the East.
Post-Draft Odds: 49-1
14. Memphis Grizzlies
Predraft Odds: 32-1 (No. 13)
Additions in the Draft: Jordan Adams (No. 22), Jarnell Stokes (No. 35)
Though the Memphis Grizzlies added two rotation members in the draft, despite not picking before No. 22, they didn't improve as much as a few other teams, which explains why they're moving slightly down in the championship odds.
Nonetheless, Jordan Adams is a sharpshooting 2-guard who can capably help fix Memphis' shooting woes, something they've tried—and failed—to address numerous times over the past year. Meanwhile, Jarnell Stokes is a tough, physical big man who fits the "Grit n' Grind" mentality of these Grizz to a T.
There's nothing to complain about here, except for the unfortunate fact that Memphis didn't have a pick high enough in the proceedings to select a potential starter. Both Adams and Stokes should land in the rotation, but they'll be coming off the bench in order to do so.
At least Zach Randolph is extending his contract, per ESPN.com's Marc Stein. The big man is now opting into his $16.5 million player option for 2014-15, and then his two-year, $20 million extension kicks in the very next season.
Post-Draft Odds: 40-1
13. Toronto Raptors
Predraft Odds: 27-1 (No. 11)
Additions in the Draft: Bruno Caboclo (No. 20), DeAndre Daniels (No. 37)
Even if Bruno Caboclo really is the Brazilian Kevin Durant, he's still—as ESPN's Fran Fraschilla put it during the telecast of the draft—two years away from being two years away. He obviously won't be making any sort of impact in 2013-14.
Was it a reach? Absolutely.
But at the same time, Masai Ujiri has earned our trust, so let's give him the benefit of the doubt...in a future context, not for the present.
The Raptors had needs to address, and neither Caboclo nor DeAndre Daniels filled in any of the holes. Toronto needed a backup point guard (or a starter, if Kyle Lowry leaves) and a backup center above all else. Instead, they drafted a project far too early and another wing player. Finding a second-string 3 was a secondary need, not a primary one.
For a franchise that was knocking on the door in 2013-14, this draft didn't help them pull a Cosmo Kramer.
In fact, the attempted entrance went more like this.
Post-Draft Odds: 39-1
12. Atlanta Hawks
Predraft Odds: 30-1 (No. 12)
Additions in the Draft: Adreian Payne (No. 15), Walter Tavares (No. 43), Lamar Patterson (No. 48)
While adding a 7'3" draft-and-stash prospect with a mind-numbing 7'9" wingspan in Walter Tavares, the Atlanta Hawks put two more pieces together in their increasingly promising puzzle.
Adreian Payne doesn't have the upside that Danny Ferry presumably would have liked with a pick just outside the lottery, but he's a stretch big man who can hit three-pointers and put the ball on the floor. That'll help him make an immediate impact in a system that prioritizes three-point shooting, and it'll also help Pero Antic find a smaller role than the one he filled in 2013-14.
You can probably hear Atlanta fans collectively saying "Thank goodness" after Antic's miserable postseason.
The No. 48 pick doesn't often lead to much impact during the selected player's rookie season, but Lamar Patterson is an experienced 2-guard who has one extremely marketable skill. His knack for distributing will make him an instant asset on a squad that thrives on constant ball movement and assisted makes.
Plus, let's not forget that Al Horford is coming back to join a playoff team that pushed the Indiana Pacers to the brink in his absence. Oh, and Lucas Nogueira, a first-round draft pick from the 2013 NBA draft, should be joining the squad as well after spending the last season developing abroad.
Don't sleep on the Hawks.
Post-Draft Odds: 36-1
11. Denver Nuggets
Predraft Odds: 55-1 (No. 16)
Additions in the Draft: Jusuf Nurkic (No. 16), Gary Harris (No. 19), Nikola Jokic (No. 41)
During draft week, the Denver Nuggets managed to turn Evan Fournier, Anthony Randolph, the No. 11 pick and the No. 56 selection into Arron Afflalo, Gary Harris and two top-notch draft-and-stash prospects who will aid the team down the road.
There's only one word that applies here.
All of a sudden, the Nuggets got even more dangerous. And this was a team that was already going to benefit from the returns to health of Nate Robinson, J.J. Hickson, Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee.
Now, Denver maintains a roster full of movable pieces, but it also boasts a starting five of Ty Lawson, Afflalo, Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and Timofey Mozgov. Plus, this is one of the deepest teams in the NBA, getting even deeper still with the addition of Harris.
What's not to love?
There's no superstar here, but the San Antonio Spurs just proved that depth can trump star power, which gives the Nuggets hope they can become true contenders with this iteration of the roster.
Post-Draft Odds: 35-1
10. Washington Wizards
Predraft Odds: 25-1 (No. 10)
Additions in the Draft: None
The Washington Wizards have been completely inactive during the 2014 offseason.
Not only did they fail to get involved in any early trades (which is a positive for them), but they didn't have a chance to make even a single selection during the draft.
The Wizards' first-round pick went to the Phoenix Suns as part of the trade that brought Marcin Gortat to town, and the second-round selection was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers, who elected to add Jordan Clarkson to their roster.
Free agency is still going to be the determining factor for this squad.
Post-Draft Odds: 25-1
9. Portland Trail Blazers
Predraft Odds: 24-1 (No. 9)
Additions in the Draft: None
The Portland Trail Blazers are the second team that didn't make any moves to appear in this countdown.
Rip City's first-round pick was traded to the Charlotte Hornets (then conveyed to the Miami Heat) as reparation for the 2011 deal that brought Gerald Wallace to Portland. As for the second-round selection, it was sent to the Denver Nuggets (then conveyed to the Orlando Magic) as part of a three-team deal in 2011 that centered on Raymond Felton.
So without those picks, the Blazers were left watching the proceedings and feeling lucky that the core of Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez is still intact.
Free agency is where the bench has to be shored up.
Post-Draft Odds: 24-1
8. Golden State Warriors
Predraft Odds: 20-1 (No. 8)
Additions in the Draft: None
The Golden State Warriors are the third team in a row that hasn't made any moves since the offseason officially began.
Stephen Curry and Co. won't have any new rookies joining the team—at least not any who were drafted—thanks to the Andre Iguodala trade, which sent the first-round pick to the Utah Jazz, and the Malcolm Lee deal that cost the Dubs their second-round selection.
This is yet another squad that's left relying on free agency and trades to make any necessary roster improvements. For now, all that's changing is the overall landscape that surrounds the Warriors.
Post-Draft Odds: 21-1
7. Houston Rockets
Predraft Odds: 18-1 (No. 7)
Additions in the Draft: Clint Capela (No. 25), Nick Johnson (No. 42), Alessandro Gentile (No. 53)
The Houston Rockets are doing everything possible to increase their chances of landing either Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James.
Not only did they trade away Omer Asik for a future draft pick, a move that's a current downgrade for their championship hopes, if only a slight one, but they also selected two foreign prospects who should spend the 2014-15 season playing abroad as draft-and-stash guys. Even freeing themselves of rookie-scale deals is beneficial in the hunt for a marquee free agent.
So, does the addition of Nick Johnson cancel out the loss of Asik?
Johnson is an experienced and athletic slasher who can fill a similar role to the one Jordan Hamilton was brought aboard for midway through the previous campaign. Even though Johnson was a second-round pick, he's capable of earning a spot in the rotation.
Asik is a better player, sure, but he's also not that valuable in Houston, so long as Dwight Howard is still starting at center and eating up nearly all the available minutes. Still, Asik's value trumps Johnson's.
Post-Draft Odds: 20-1
6. Los Angeles Clippers
Predraft Odds: 8-1 (No. 3)
Additions in the Draft: C.J. Wilcox (No. 28)
I'm not entirely sure what the Los Angeles Clippers are doing. To help you get on board, let's play a game.
You have J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford, Jared Dudley, Willie Green and Reggie Bullock on the roster, all of whom are capable of playing the 2 and hitting three-pointers with their eyes closed. Meanwhile, your frontcourt rotation consists of Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and, oh wait, that's it.
Are you going to draft a shooting guard who fills the exact same role as Bullock, who was drafted last year, or pick a big man to help add some sort of depth behind the two players you need to keep healthy?
The answer should be completely obvious, but it wasn't to LAC.
This was inexplicable, as the Clippers whiffed on an opportunity to get better while wasting a first-round pick on a player who won't earn any playing time. Wilcox is a great shooter and a player whose NBA prospects I feel good about, but he just doesn't add anything new to the team.
Jarnell Stokes, for example, could have been the perfect pick to add some toughness to the frontcourt portion of the bench.
Post-Draft Odds: 18-1
5. Indiana Pacers
Predraft Odds: 14-1 (No. 5)
Additions in the Draft: None
The Indiana Pacers exit the draft experience in the same boat they entered in.
Thanks to the trade that brought Luis Scola to the Pacers, Indiana had to ship off its first-round selection to the Phoenix Suns. And when the New York Knicks bought the No. 57 pick and selected Louis Labeyrie, the Pacers were left without any sort of draft-day impact.
No trades. No news. No picks.
And for now, that allows them to stay put at the No. 5 spot in the odds countdown, though free agency has the potential to change that in a big way.
Post-Draft Odds: 15-1
4. Chicago Bulls
Predraft Odds: 15-1 (No. 6)
Additions in the Draft: Doug McDermott (No. 11), Cameron Bairstow (No. 49)
According to Basketball-Reference.com, the Chicago Bulls scored only 102.5 points per 100 possessions during the 2013-14 season. That was good for the No. 28 mark in the league, one that left them ahead of just the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers.
Well, the Bulls have taken the first step toward remedying that, packaging their two first-round selections to move up to No. 11 and take Doug McDermott, arguably the No. 1 offensive talent in this draft—for now at least, since he doesn't have the upside of Parker, Wiggins and Embiid.
If any coach can figure out how to either hide the Creighton product or turn him into a capable defender, it's Tom Thibodeau.
And that means McDermott will be able to stay on the court and use his incredible scoring skills to capitalize on the least defensive attention he's faced in years—probably since the beginning of his basketball career, though I don't have enough high school footage at my disposal and can't back that statement up.
Between McDermott's arrival, the expected improvement of Jimmy Butler, the presumed addition of Nikola Mirotic and the return of Derrick Rose, it's safe to say this won't be a struggling offense for much longer. Yes, even if Rose doesn't regain his MVP form.
Post-Draft Odds: 10-1
3. Miami Heat
Predraft Odds: 7-1 (No. 2)
Additions in the Draft: Shabazz Napier (No. 24)
"It's very difficult when everybody knows that you're zeroing in on somebody," Pat Riley explained after the draft was over, via Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick. And the slick-haired general manager still landed his primary target.
That somebody was Shabazz Napier, the Connecticut point guard who led his Huskies to the NCAA title this past season. And the reason everybody knew the Miami Heat were after him? That would be LeBron James, who tweeted his feelings right into the public forum.
The floor general is an immediate upgrade over Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, both of whom were exposed during the 2014 NBA Finals. Not only does he improve the team from the get-go, but he also helps aid the belief that LeBron will be returning to South Beach on a new contract.
These odds are based on that assumption, it's worth noting. Up to this point, there's nothing indicating he'd actually go anywhere else.
Post-Draft Odds: 8-1
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
Predraft Odds: 5-1 (No. 1)
Additions in the Draft: Mitch McGary (No. 21), Josh Huestis (No. 29)
Did the Oklahoma City Thunder get better during the draft?
Yes, but only slightly, as they reached on both of their first-round selections. Mitch McGary likely would have been there at No. 29, and Josh Huestis could have been acquired after trading down.
Nevertheless, they both help out the OKC cause.
In particular, McGary's skill set might force Scott Brooks into more creative play-calling on the offensive end. The Michigan product is a big body who can facilitate from the perimeter or the post, which means the ball won't always have to be dominated by Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. The superstars are capable of shouldering that responsibility, but it'll help them out in the long run if they can occasionally rest on offense.
The Thunder are essentially remaining the same team they were last year, just a better version. There's a bit more depth now, and the young talents are only going to get better.
Post-Draft Odds: 7-1
1. San Antonio Spurs
Predraft Odds: 10-1 (No. 4)
Additions in the Draft: Kyle Anderson (No. 30), Nemanja Dangubic (No. 54)
The San Antonio Spurs made the most San Antonio Spurs selection possible when they took Kyle Anderson at No. 30. It's the perfect fit, as he's a system player with elite passing skills and court vision who can eventually fill the exact same role Boris Diaw did during the championship run, just with a bit less presence on defense.
But Anderson alone isn't boosting the Spurs from No. 4 in the championship odds to the top spot. After all, he's going to play only a few more minutes than Nemanja Dangubic during his rookie season, and the Serbian shooting guard won't be suiting up in the NBA until—at least—the 2015-16 campaign.
The reason for the jump is that I'm correcting my own invalid assumption, one that involved Tim Duncan retiring while he was perched atop the Association.
However, as Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported, Duncan is opting into the final year of his deal with the Spurs, meaning he'll be lining up alongside Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and the rest of the San Antonio roster for one more season.
Then again, maybe my assumption will eventually prove to be correct, even if it's one year removed from the intended application.
Duncan very well could still retire while atop the Association.
Post-Draft Odds: 5-1