NBA Betting: Analyzing the Eastern Conference Trade Deadline
With the trade deadline behind us, it is important for bettors to get a feel for the moves that have been made, and how they may impact the success of the teams taking on or losing new players. As well, it’s key to consider what the individual transactions suggest about the trajectory of a given team, as they may give bettors an idea what an organization’s goals are for the rest of the year. Let’s take a look at some of the major players at this years deadline, and what we may expect from them going forward.
Arrivals: Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, and Solomon Hill
Departures: Justise Winslow, James Johnson, and Dion Waiters
Iggy has long been considered one of the bigger prizes available at this year’s deadline. The former Finals MVP had been sitting out the season with Memphis, and it was clear that the Grizzlies would flip him in order to get some value, and to eliminate an potential distraction during its playoff push. Of the top six Eastern Conference teams, Miami made the biggest statement of intent by bringing in Iguodala. The Heat remains something of a mystery to bettors and the books alike. The team has substantially over-performed this season, but its home and road splits are troubling. The Heat are a phenomenal 22-3 SU at home, but worryingly, Miami is only 12-13 on the road. For many, this suggests that the Heat are something closer to pretenders than contenders. Adding Iguodala is a clear sign that Pat Riley and Miami’s front office care to disagree.
Losing Winslow has to be somewhat tough for Miami. The young wing had made strides this season, particularly on the defensive end. Miami’s defensive rating was a massive 9.3 points better with Winslow on the floor. Unfortunately, the former Duke standout has been injured for much of the season, and clearly Miami felt it could not rely on Winslow as it shifts to something approaching win-now mode. One has to wonder if the Heat front office was concerned with the team’s defensive slippage and moved to acquire Iguodala to impact the team on that end of the floor. Miami’s defensive rating has declined in each successive month of the season. In five October games, the team had a defensive rating of 99.3. In January, that number had increased to 111.4. In three February games, the rating is worse still, at 113.7. The hope will be that Iggy helps stop the bleeding. He is not as impactful as he once was, but there’s little doubt that he will benefit from a reduced role as a defensive specialist. The dividends should come quickly, and last the rest of the year. Also, his veteran presence could be very helpful, particularly when it helps to getting more out of the team when it is away from home. Jae Crowder could well help in this regard. While he does have some weaknesses, he has the sort of positional versatility head coach Erik Spoelstra loves, and he is known as a very competitive, and steely long-time pro.
Arrivals: Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III
Departures: James Ennis, Trey Burke (waived)
There is serious trouble in Philadelphia. The team has lost four games in a row, and its home and road splits are even worse than Miami’s. The 76ers are 22-2 SU at home and a horrible 9-19 on the road. The team has a net rating of +10 at home, but a brutal -5.0 on the road. As the deadline approached, the Sixers were dismantled by rivals Boston and Miami, by 21 and 31 points, respectivel. Al Horford has alluded to discontent in the locker room, Joel Embiid is claiming he might have to change his entire personality, and Head Coach Brett Brown is squarely on the hot seat. Into this mess, step Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III, who join from Golden State after Philadelphia sent a series of low-value draft capital back to the Warriors. The truth is, there was very little the 76ers could do to improve, given the top-heavy nature of the team’s roster. No starter was going to be made available, and the bench is one of the worst in the NBA. Alec Burks could become a big part of Philadelphia’s second unit. He is shooting 37.5% from three-point range, which will help a team that often struggles from outside. He has had a big role with the Warriors, and was averaging 16.1 PPG. His role and production will be seriously reduced, but both he and Robinson III, who shoots 40.0% from distance, will be relied upon to help a bench unit that ranks 28th in the NBA in bench scoring, at only 29.0 PPG. If they blend in well, there may be value on the OVER as the market adjusts to this new group. However, it’s hard to see these additions solving what really ails the 76ers, and it can at times be very tricky to bring new players into the rotation when there are chemistry issues in the first place. The 76ers have often said the goals is to peak for the playoffs, and things may well get worse here before they get better.
Arrivals: Clint Capela, Nene, Dewayne Dedmond, Skal Labissiere, Derrick Walton Jr.
Departures: Jabari Parker, Alex Len
Arguably the most active team at this year’s trade deadline, Atlanta completely retooled its big man rotation, which is a good thing considering how bad the team’s front-court has been this season. The big get, unquestionably, is Clint Capela. A fantastic finisher and rebounder, Capela has a high basketball IQ, and should improve the Hawks at both ends of the floor immediately. One should also not discount Capela’s motivation. He had solid years with the contending Rockets and then was left out in the cold and the team changed its style of play. He should be locked in and hell bent on showing the league he can still be a big asset.
While Atlanta is not going to make a run to the postseason, these moves do show that Atlanta has a clear sense of direction organizationally, and that the front office has a willingness to get better, even when choosing to tank may have been an easier option. There have been rumors that star Trae Young was already unhappy with the lack of support he was getting, and Atlanta’s front office has responded, particularly with the addition of Capela. He should work very well with Young, as he is one of the best lob targets in the NBA. Capela should allow franchise cornerstone John Collins more freedom upfront, to make better use of his athleticism and length. Also, Capela’s presence will make it much more difficult to double-team Collins at will. Atlanta has already been playing better basketball of late, and we might see another step up over the rest of the season.
While Boston did stand pat at the deadline, its situation warrants some attention. While there can be a tendency, particularly at the deadline, to look at transactions to get a feel for what may change, the Celtics are a great example of how player development and changing roles can improve a team that makes no moves at all. Boston is playing some of its best basketball of the season. Boston has won five in a row, and eight of nine, while dealing with a whole series of injuries. Robert Williams remains out, Enes Kanter has missed time, as has Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart. Gordon. Tonight, Boston will be without Brown and Williams, in addition to Gordon Hayward and Daniel Theis. Despite all of this, the Celtics continue to roll. Part of the reason for that has been the increased involvement and impact of Semi Ojeleye and Grant Williams, as well as the introduction of rookie Romeo Langford. While there’s no doubt that Brad Stevens would prefer to be at full health, some positives have come out of this. Boston’s bench has played better and has begun to provide Stevens with a ton of lineup versatility.
A similar situation unfolded recently in Toronto. The Raptors spent a ton of time without the likes of Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and Norman Powell. Ultimately, it has been to the team’s benefit. Head Coach Nick Nurse clearly did not trust his bench to start the season, and it was likely one reason his key players wore down during the year. However, he’s now leaning on the likes of Terrence Davis, Chris Boucher, and Patrick McCaw to bolster the rotation. As the team has gotten healthy, its become deeper, and the Raptors are in the midst of a 12-game win streak. These are two teams that may be considering playing on, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the trade deadline. As other teams adjust their rotation and playing styles to fit with their new rosters, teams with good chemistry and continuity will have an advantage.