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Los Angeles Lakers

NBA Trade Deadline: Should teams trade late 1st-round picks?

Jimmy Butler, Pascal Siakam and Christian Eyenga
Jimmy Butler, Pascal Siakam and Christian Eyenga (Getty Images)

The NBA trade deadline is just around the corner and with the clock ticking, teams have ramped up discussions on possible trades.

Whether it's the already completed trade of Kristaps Porzingis or the potential trade of Anthony Davis, one constant in trade talks is the inclusion of future draft picks.

While the Knicks cleared up enough cap space to potentially make room for two max contracts this summer, they also received a pair of 1st-round picks from the Dallas Mavericks.

Sources have reported that the Lakers have included two future 1st-round picks in their offer for Anthony Davis with other sources reporting that the Pelicans are asking for as many as four future 1st-round picks.

Assessing the value of picks so far into the future is tricky business for any franchise given the sheer volume of moving parts and forward-looking projections that come into play. The margins might differ for decision makers in any front office and can change based not only on the degree of optimism or pessimism, but also on external factors completely out of their control.

The perspectives also shift based on priorities.

Let's start with the Pelicans.

How much stock would you put into a collection of future 1st-round picks from a team that's likely to be among the best in the league for years to come? If you're re-building from the ground up after moving on from a franchise player of Davis's magnitude, how realistic are the odds of striking big at the tail end of the 1st round? Will the Pelicans reliably add a star to help fill the massive void left in the wake of their star's departure?

For the Pelicans, the hope is finding the next Jimmy Butler or Rudy Gobert, diamonds in the rough and viable long-term All-Star building blocks.

Playing the percentages, here's a breakdown of how likely players selected 25-30 are to develop into various roles, courtesy of DraftExpress.com's pick expectations.

Draft Picks 25-30
Pct of Selections
All-Star 3.2%
Starter 7.6%
Reserve 27.8%
End of Bench 40.6%
Didn't play in NBA 20.8%

Now let's look at it from the Lakers' perspective.

Should they trade away a truckload of assets to add Davis to a roster that includes LeBron James and not much else, the next step would be to fill out a championship contender with limited cap space. One of the most valuable commodities in the NBA are players on rookie contracts which can often be far below market value. Given there's only so much you can add with exceptions and veteran minimums, 1st-round picks provide an avenue to fill in the cracks and crevices around core stars.

While no team would balk at finding the next Butler, the aims for a contending team picking late would be to add the likes of Taj Gibson or Andre Roberson, both of whom developed quickly into reliable rotation pieces. The Lakers are enjoying the fruits of this very strategy right now with Josh Hart, the 30th overall pick in the 2017 draft and immensely valuable player on the books for only $1.7M this season, $1.9M next season and a team option for $3.5M in 2020-21 before hitting restricted free agency in the summe of 2021.

The risk in forking over too many late first-round picks can be seen in the success story of the NBA's current dynastic franchise, the Golden State Warriors. Though it would be foolish to say they won titles because of it, there's no denying the value of players like Festus Ezeli, Kevon Looney and Damian Jones, all of whom were picked in that 25-30 range and helped fill out Golden State's frontcourt.

Regardless of strategy - swinging for the fences on projects, draft-and-stash candidates, high floor NBA-ready players - there's never a guarantee of hitting. For every Pascal Siakam, there's Christian Eyenga. For every Rudy Gobert, there's Livio Jean-Charles. For every Jimmy Butler, there's Lazar Hayward.

The NBA Draft - especially the later you get - is far from an exact science. It's just one more piece of the trade deadline puzzle to consider as teams spend the next several days deciding whether to stay put or wheel and deal.

Here's a complete list of every player over the last decade selected between 25th and 30th.

Last 10 Years - Picks 25-30
2018 25 Moritz Wagner
2018 26 Landry Shamet
2018 27 Robert Williams
2018 28 Jacob Evans
2018 29 Dzanan Musa
2018 30 Omari Spellman
2017 25 Anzejs Pasecniks
2017 26 Caleb Swanigan
2017 27 Kyle Kuzma
2017 28 Tony Bradley
2017 29 Derrick White
2017 30 Josh Hart
2016 25 Brice Johnson
2016 26 Furkan Korkmaz
2016 27 Pascal Siakam
2016 28 Skal Labissiere
2016 29 Dejounte Murray
2016 30 Damian Jones
2015 25 Jarell Martin
2015 26 Nikola Milutinov
2015 27 Larry Nance Jr.
2015 28 R.J. Hunter
2015 29 Chris McCullough
2015 30 Kevon Looney
2014 25 Clint Capela
2014 26 P.J. Hairston
2014 27 Bogdan Bogdanovic
2014 28 C.J. Wilcox
2014 29 Josh Huestis
2014 30 Kyle Anderson
2013 25 Reggie Bullock
2013 26 Andre Roberson
2013 27 Rudy Gobert
2013 28 Livio Jean-Charles
2013 29 Archie Goodwin
2013 30 Nemanja Nedovic
2012 25 Tony Wroten
2012 26 Miles Plumlee
2012 27 Arnett Moultrie
2012 28 Perry Jones
2012 29 Marquis Teague
2012 30 Festus Ezeli
2011 25 MarShon Brooks
2011 26 Jordan Hamilton
2011 27 JaJuan Johnson
2011 28 Norris Cole
2011 29 Cory Joseph
2011 30 Jimmy Butler
2010 25 Dominique Jones
2010 26 Quincy Pondexter
2010 27 Jordan Crawford
2010 28 Greivis Vasquez
2010 29 Daniel Orton
2010 30 Lazar Hayward
2009 25 Rodrigue Beaubois
2009 26 Taj Gibson
2009 27 DeMarre Carroll
2009 28 Wayne Ellington
2009 29 Toney Douglas
2009 30 Christian Eyenga

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