The Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to acquire Donovan Mitchell for a huge package that contains Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, Collin Sexton, three first-round picks, and two NBA pick swaps. And now we know exactly why Kevin Durant wasn’t traded away from the Nets.
No package would be big enough for Durant. The Cavaliers went 44-38 last season, finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference. If the Cavaliers played a few seasons ago, 9th place wouldn’t have even made the playoffs.
The Cavs did have to endure some injuries, but so did most teams in the NBA. Mitchell should help this group be better, but how far can the Cavs really go with Mitchell on the team? Here’s how Mitchell’s trade has impacted the NBA Championship Odds.
Cavaliers Are the 14th Best Team in NBA
The Cavaliers certainly got better with Mitchell. But was it really worth it to trade the future for Mitchell? The Cavaliers will start Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Isaac Okoro, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen, and they’ll also have Ricky Rubio, Cedi Osman, Caris LeVert, Lamar Stevens, Kevin Love, and Robin Lopez off the bench.
They’ve got depth, but we can still list a bunch of teams that are better than Cleveland. I’d be surprised if the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, and Brooklyn Nets finished below the Cavaliers, even with Mitchell.
The Cavaliers didn’t increase their championship potential with Mitchell. That’s why this move wasn’t the smartest. The Cavaliers traded away multiple first-round picks and a ton of young talent just to finish 8th in the Eastern Conference.
Knicks Have the Brighter Future
The Knicks were supposed to end up with Donovan Mitchell. He grew up around that area, and he’s always talking about New York sports, especially the New York Mets. Mitchell would’ve fit well with the Knicks.
However, the Knicks weren’t meeting Utah’s demands for Mitchell. Utah wanted RJ Barrett in a deal, and when Barrett wasn’t available, they asked for Quentin Grimes and Obi Toppin, along with other young talents. The Knicks wouldn’t budge and eventually gave up on trying to get Mitchell.
Many Knicks fans were crying about the Knicks’ inability to land a superstar, but New York actually has a brighter future because of staying away. It’s not that Mitchell is a bad player. He’s a really good one and would bring so much energy to the Garden.
Let’s be honest. Just like the Cavs, the Knicks would still be a borderline playoff team and wouldn’t even make it to the second round in the NBA playoffs with Mitchell on the squad. That, especially with all of the young talent off the roster. So at this point, the Knicks will have a brighter future moving forward.
How Many Teams Win Without Drafted Players?
I think what a lot of people forget is that most teams are winning NBA Championships with drafted players. The Warriors have won multiple with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. The Milwaukee Bucks found a way with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Sure, the Lakers won with LeBron James, and the Raptors found a way with Kawhi Leonard, but for the most part, teams win more championships with developed players.
Unless you’re a LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard, or even Kevin Durant, it’s going to be hard to go somewhere else and win a championship.
Development is key
Durant landed with Golden State, but Golden State still had mostly drafted players with Durant arrived.
The Raptors were a team with many developed young players surrounding Leonard.
You can’t buy championships
Look what’s happened to the Nets. The 76ers aren’t able to buy anything around Joel Embiid.
But the Boston Celtics went to the championship with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart leading the way.
Do you see what I mean?
More teams are better off being put together on draft day. Then once they’ve developed as a team and personally, things get better. But anyway, what I’m trying to say is that the Cavaliers haven’t changed the Championship odds very much.
The Cavs are still going to be in the bottom half of the playoff teams in the East. Mitchell makes the Cavaliers exciting, but they’re still not better than about eight teams in the East.
Therefore, nothing has changed when it comes to the NBA Championship odds. All 13 teams projected ahead of them will likely still be better than the Cavs in both conferences.
Don’t fall for the trap of buying the Cavaliers. They’re going to be fun but they’re not going anywhere in the playoffs.
*The line and/or odds and picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.