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.
|Pct of Selections|
|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.
|2015||27||Larry Nance Jr.|