Now that the 2015 Draft is officially done, it’s time NBA betting fans take a look at which teams now have the better position going into the free-agent signing period.
Let’s start with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Just about the entire planet knew that the team would be choosing Karl-Anthony Towns from Kentucky with the first overall draft. Initially, there was some going back and forth between Towns and Jahlil Okafor from Duke as the better pick, but Towns emerged as the consensus candidate.
NBA Betting: Best Positioned Picks in the 2015 Draft
— NBA (@NBA) July 1, 2015
Back when Minnesota drew the winning ball out of the lottery, the team’s fans had a good reason to think that the team might blow it. After all, team president Flip Saunders had created an old-school vibe with the team during the 2014-2015 season. Also coaching the team, Saunders told his players not to shoot from behind the three-point arc and pooh-poohed the idea of resting players from time to time. Saunders gave up a first-round draft pick to end up with Kevin Garnett, saying that the veteran’s mentoring would be worth more than a dynamic young player. Because Jahlil Okafor has a low post game that is already NBA-ready, a lot of people thought that the Timberwolves would pick him. It didn’t help matters that Saunders was closely connected to Okafor’s representative, Bill Duffy.
The good news for Minnesota fans is that Saunders came through and chose the best prospect with the first draft choice. Towns will need a little more seasoning to be ready for the NBA than Okafor, but Towns’ ceiling is a lot higher. Just like the #1 pick from 2014, Andrew Wiggins, Towns represents primo talent and huge upside, and as he grows into the pro game, he will change games on both ends of the floor, both as a post defender and as an offensive contributor from the rim all the way out to the arc. Now the Timberwolves need to hire a coach so that Saunders can focus on the executive side of his job.
Another team that came out strong was the Los Angeles Lakers. Their decline and malaise have been a reality for several years now, perhaps beginning when the Dallas Mavericks swept them out of the Western Conference semifinals in 2011. Since that time, the team’s management team has made a series of awful decisions. However, all of that may have come to an end when the team chose D’Angelo Russell from Ohio State.
One major beef that Lakers fans have with the team”s management is that they seem to be living during the Showtime era, or at least when Shaq and Kobe were ruling the league. Even though Kobe Bryant has now had three different injuries end three different seasons, the team seemed committed to building around him. When ownership was meeting with potential free agents, it wasn’t future possibilities they were selling; instead, it was the storied past of the Lakers franchise.
It would have been easier for the Lakers to take Jahlil Okafor, just like it would have been easy for Saunders to mess up and pick him first. Conventional wisdom around the league is that it’s impossible to go wrong with a big man (of course, the people who drafted Sam Bowie and Greg Oden in Portland might disagree with that). Los Angeles has a tradition of strong big men, dating back to Wilt and Kareem and continuing to the present day with Shaq and Pau Gasol. Because Okafor wouldn’t fit well alongside Julius Randle from the 2014 lottery, though, – they were too much the same player – they went with Russell, who has an incredible talent for making something out of nothing.