With the NBA Draft approaching, we take a look at which teams will be the most likely to trade up or down to get the player they want. ISH breaks down who may move on draft night, and what the motive is behind it.
-Phoenix Suns: Picks 14, 18, 27
The Phoenix Suns are the only team in the draft with more than two first round picks, and don’t be surprised if they don’t use all of them. They potentially could package the picks, or just two of the picks, and move up in the draft to get one of the superstars that will go early. They struck out last season with Alex Len, and in fact the Suns’ front office hasn’t drafted a single one of their starters, but instead they have had to trade for them. The best player they have drafted in the last 5 years was Markieff Morris out of Kansas, and it isn’t like he is making a huge impact on the league. The Suns desperately need to redeem themselves for these poor drafts, and if it requires moving up to get someone that they know will be able to make an impact then that is what they need to do. The last thing they would want happen is for them to draft 3 risky guys in the middle of the first round and have none of them play out like they wanted. They have the possibility of moving all the way up to pick 5 depending on how the Jazz like the board at that time. Other potential takers on a trade for multiple picks would be the Celtics (6), Lakers (7), 76ers (10), or Nuggets (11). Guys that they may look into getting if they move up would be Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh, or Julius Randle.
The most likely of these scenarios would be Denver, unless they were to make a very generous offer to the higher 3 teams. All teams are potential ones to move around on draft night, but the Nuggets are the only team that doesn’t need immediate help. Denver has also announced that they may try to shop the 11th pick, and certainly they probably wouldn’t mind getting a 2 for 1 deal with the Suns. With the 11th pick the Suns could get possibly a top prospect that may have fallen, possibly someone like Marcus Smart or Julius Randle. If not then they could settle for another very good player like Dario Saric, Nik Stauskas, or James Young.
The Suns came so close to the playoffs last year, one key piece could be what gets them there this season, and they certainly don’t want to miss on that opportunity.
-Boston Celtics: Picks 6, 17
The Celtics are a team I could see moving either up or down. To begin lets say they move down, and the reason they would do that is to nab superstar, Kevin Love, in a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. They would certainly trade the 6th pick and either the 17th or a different future first rounder, as well as a couple players. Here is a theoretical trade where the Celtics would acquire Love.
Celtics receive: Kevin Love
Timberwolves receive: 6th overall pick, Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, top 8 protected pick in 2015
The Timberwolves would be able to get a promising big man in Olynyk, a good shooter and scorer in Bradley, and the chance to add a potential superstar with the 6th pick. If GM Danny Ainge is willing to do this then that should be enough to send Love packing to Boston.
But lets say they decide they would rather have a more youthful star without giving up the utensils that they would need in the Love trade. They are big on Aaron Gordon, the high flying forward from Arizona, but so are the Jazz who own a pick ahead of them. They could potentially trade both their first rounders to move up just one spot in the draft, or keep the 6th and move up to another pick in the lottery. It might be harder to find a team to go forth with this trade, but potential teams that might be willing to give up their lottery pick for the 17th and a future first rounder would be the Nuggets or the Timberwolves. This is an unlikely scenario and they would probably have to throw Brandon Bass into the mix to try and draw more attraction to the trade.
The Celtics are probably one of the top question mark teams going into next season, and depending on what they do with their picks here then it could make or break their season. Personally I think they should stay where they are and try to get either Aaron Gordon or Julius Randle with the 6th pick, and hope that a good player slides to them at 17.
-Los Angeles Lakers: Pick 7
The Lakers are a team that may be looking to trade out of the draft all together, despite how desperately they could use the help. They would mainly be looking for players that could help them win again right away; potential buyers into this trade would be the Hawks, Rockets, or Bulls. The Hawks would give up Al Horford, but that would be too generous and the Lakers would likely need to give up more than just the pick. With the Rockets they could probably get Chandler Parsons, but Parsons alone would not make nearly the impact needed to get the Lakers back on the track to success. I think their best bet would be a trade with the Bulls to potentially get Carlos Boozer or Taj Gibson. For Boozer they wouldn’t even necessarily need to trade the pick, but maybe do a sign-and-trade deal involving Steve Nash and someone else like Jodie Meeks. If this outcome was to come up then they would use the pick to draft Marcus Smart, Elfrid Payton, or Zach LaVine most likely.
Another possibility (which may seem crazy but bear with me) is to trade with the 76ers for Michael Carter-Williams. It may seem crazy for the Sixers to trade the reigning Rookie of the Year, but maybe not as much as you may think. If this were to play out then the 76ers would end up with three of the top 10 picks, and a sure fire shot at getting the building blocks to restart their franchise. It would mean they would draft Dante Exum at 3, then potentially Randle or Vonleh at 7, then finally another potential star at 10. Even though it is an unlikely situation, it is one where both parties would thrive greatly from the deal.
Overall I think that the Lakers are going to try their hardest to trade this pick, but it may be hard to find the right team to buy into it without one party giving an unfair amount.
-Philadelphia 76ers: Picks 3, 10
I know I just talked about the Michael Carter-Williams trade, and I am done talking about that scenario, but the 76ers have many more trade options than just that. They are one of several teams with two picks in the first round, but unlike most they are two top 10 picks, and just to top it off, they follow that up with FIVE second round picks. You can bet that teams like the Knicks, who have no picks in the draft, may look to the 76ers as their way into it. Phil Jackson has already announced that the Knicks may try to by their way into the draft; perhaps by from the team that has seven more picks from you? This is a highly probable scenario. And even if it wasn’t with the Knicks, the Sixers could still look into getting another first rounder by trading a couple second rounders or future first round picks.
No matter what trades they make (unless they trade completely out of the first round) on draft day, you can almost guarantee that afterwards the 76ers will have one of the best young teams heading into the future. But I can almost tell you for fact that those seven picks are not all going to stay in Philly.
-Denver Nuggets: Pick 11
Denver has already announced that they are shopping the 11th pick in the draft, but there is no team in particular that has stood out as a potential trade destination for the 11th pick. The Nuggets really have two options as I see it, and that would be to trade down for more picks (since they don’t need talent to come in and compete right away), or trade for a veteran talent that could help immediately.
Lets start with the first of the two options, in that they trade down to acquire more picks. The only teams that have 2 or more picks after the Nuggets are the Suns, Bulls, and Thunder. I have already talked about the trade possibilities with the Suns, so lets move on to the Bulls. The Bulls are the most likely destination that I see this pick going, because they could prosper the most from the players most likely to be left on the board at that pick. One of the key needs for the Bulls is depth at the point guard position, especially with Derrick Rose hurting himself more than Wylie Coyote. At this pick you would most likely have Elfrid Payton, Tyler Ennis, and Shabazz Napier still on the board, where as at pick 16 or 19 you may not have all three options to choose from. Denver would love this trade because they already have the pieces to make the playoffs, so they are able to draft guys that may take longer to develop and not ones that need to play right away. I don’t see the Thunder doing this trade though because they are in the same boat as the Nuggets, in that they don’t need guys to play right away so they may draft, perhaps, foreign players that may not even come to the NBA right away.
The other option is to trade for a veteran talent, which right now would look like it would be Kevin Love. The issue with this is they don’t have a super shiny, inviting pick, like the Celtics or Lakers may have, so they will have to trade some big talents from their own team. Here is one theoretical scenario where the Nuggets get Love:
Nuggets receive: Kevin Love
Timberwolves receive: 11th overall pick, Wilson Chandler, Nate Robinson, JJ Hickson
At this point it isn’t even worth getting Love for all they would be losing. So yes, it would be nice to acquire a veteran talent, but at the same time you want to keep the talent you have as well.
These aren’t the only trades that will happen when the big night roles around, but they are the most likely. Feel free to comment on any other trades that you think may go down.