Table of Contents
By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
WINNERS AND MOVERS ON DRAFT NIGHT
It’s officially official – the Wemby hype train can begin in San Antonio and we can debate for the next few months if he’ll be a boom or a bust. The 2023 NBA Draft will forever be remembered as the Victor Wembanyama draft, but beyond the #1 pick there were lots of draft-hungry teams that made some decisions that will surely alter franchises around the league. Add to that a few jaw-dropping transactions and a trade that could just be the beginning of the frenzy for my beloved Boston Celtics, and it became an eventful draft night and weekend.
For the board bettors out there, a couple of interesting winning sides were handed down in the first 30 minutes of draft night, and the betting angles quickly became just as big a headline as the actual draft itself. Let’s break down the must-know storylines from the draft as we head into the chaotic free agency window that begins in just days.
WEMBY ML BETTORS
One of the goofier phenomena to hit the futures betting circuit is laying it all down on absurd minus-money favorites that are all but a sure thing. The line on Victor Wembanyama to be the #1 overall pick had been soaring up to immeasurable levels of idiocy (-20000 at closing), but the absurd line didn’t stop bettors from collecting pennies while wagering their fortune on the first pick. Barring any last-minute arrest or tragic accident it was a guarantee as he strolled up to be the first to greet Adam Silver Thursday night. From there he’s had a less-than-impressive shootaround go viral and we’ve already started the conspiracy theories around the Spurs getting him. In the NBA we love to bring down our stars faster than we build them up.
THE SECOND PICK SNOWBALL
After Victor’s selection, I had surmised in my draft previews that G-League prospect Scoot Henderson would go likely #2 overall to the Charlotte Hornets as his -320 pre-draft odds would indicate. BOY was I wrong! As the last-second murmurs leaked about Charlotte’s interest in having Alabama guard Brandon Miller (+205) play alongside LaMelo Ball, it became apparent they would lean that way with their selection. From there, it put Scoot into the lap of the Portland Trail Blazers at pick number three, and star guard Damion Lillard seemed to not take that very well. Hours later “Welcome to Miami” was the soundtrack of a recent Instagram Live, and it’s clear that he’s not looking to co-exist with a young star guard that plays a very similar game on offense.
The Heat are the early clubhouse leaders to snatch up Dame Time, but the free agency period may yield other destinations.
CLIMB FOR COULIBALY
The biggest leap of a player from their expected draft position to their actual landing spot was from 18-years-young guard Bilal Coulibaly, Webanyama’s teammate in France and the second most sought-after French player in the draft. The questions and theories remain rampant on Coulibaly’s potential but the raw talent had him as an intriguing pick in the double-digit range of round one (Over/Under 11.5 picks). As draft day neared it felt like the excitement of the unknown on this young star rose to unprecedented levels, and though it was the Pacers that formally drafted Coulibaly Thursday night, the Wizards slid up in a draft day move to own the rights to that 7th overall pick. Coulibaly went well under his projected pick total, and anyone who bet on youth to be drafted early made out well.
It wouldn’t be a draft week leading into free agency without the appetizer course of trades to get us salivating. On the heels of my Celtics falling short in the Eastern Conference Finals and GM Brad Stevens saying only “tweaks” were coming this offseason, I didn’t expect to be topping ESPN headlines. Nonetheless, Stevens has started with a mighty tweak to the mix in shipping off career-long Celtic Marcus Smart for Kristaps Prozingis and future picks. While the idea of the Porzingis-Tatum pick and roll is mouth-watering, I’m wondering if this isn’t the last shoe to drop in Boston’s off-season roster molding. The Wizards joined in on the trade machine magic and were not to be outdone, as they both grabbed Jordan Poole from the Warriors and sent off Bradley Beal to Phoenix. If this frenetic set of June moves is any indicator of what’s to come, buckle up for a wild free agency ride.
If you lose track of who goes where, I might not blame you.
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