Analyzing NBA Draft Picks and Draft Day Trades

Analyzing NBA Draft Picks and Draft Day Trades

DS: With the NBA Finals over we can now look at the new season ahead. There were some major shake-ups made around the NBA. First and foremost is the trade of Serge Ibaka from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Orlando Magic. A number of analysts from ESPN and other sports aggregates have insinuated that the Thunder got away with highway robbery in this trade. The Thunder are trading away Serge Ibaka and in return the Magic are giving the Thunder Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and Victor Oladipo. The Thunder are happy because they get a young, cheap asset in Oladipo who was a highly touted lottery pick not long ago.

Another major trade occurred between the Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers and the Utah Jazz. The Hawks sent Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers, the Pacers sent George Hill to the Utah Jazz, and the Jazz sent the 12th pick in this year’s draft to Atlanta. The Pacers definitely benefited greatly from this trade as their starting lineup now consists of Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis, Paul George, Thaddeus Young, and Myles Turner. The Pacers will have an extremely potent scoring starting 5 and will most definitely be a top-4 team in the East. The Jazz will be probably be using George Hill heavily next season as Dante Exum returns from his ACL injury, but I still think the 12th pick was a little too hefty a price tag for an aging point guard.

Perhaps the most surprising trade to date has been the Bulls shipping of Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday, and a 2017 2nd-round pick to the New York Knicks for Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, and Jose Calderon. The Knicks will be looking to make a playoff run relying on Carmelo, Kristaps, and Derrick Rose. If the Knicks could somehow add a Kevin Durant or Dwight Howard, they could be in the conversation to compete for the Eastern Conference crown.

The Sacramento Kings traded Marquese Chriss, their 8th pick in this year’s draft to the Phoenix Suns for the 13th pick and 28th pick, a future second-round pick, and the draft rights to Bogdan Bodganovic. I think the Kings actually lost out in this trade because Marquese Chriss looks like the real deal. He can shoot, block shots, and makes plays above the rim. The Kings could have really used a versatile player like Marquese who is extremely young, raw, and athletic.

Instead, the Kings had to settle for a sub-optimal trade, and one they could easily come to regret in the coming seasons. The Kings also traded Marco Belinelli to the Hornets for the 22nd pick in this year’s draft which they used to select Malachi Richardson who is a solid pick according to most draft boards. The Kings made another mistake by using the 13th pick to draft 18-year old Greek Center Georgios Papagiannis, who won’t see NBA action for a year or two at least.

MH (On IND-ATL-UTA trade):

I see this trade as relatively balanced in the sense that no party emerged undisputably better, while no participant got ripped off either. That said, I think there is a clear pecking order in who will benefit most from this trade: Indiana first, then Utah, with Atlanta serving as the “loser” of the trade.

Note that Hill and Teague have identical 1 year $8 million contracts so there isn’t any financial implications to this deal. Teague really fits better with this Pacers team given the emergence of numerous scoring options on this roster. Hill was most effective during the 2014–2015 season when Paul George was sidelined, and Hill was needed to carry the scoring load. He will always be a score first point guard, whose primary assets are his craftiness and ability to shoot from the perimeter. However, with George back in the fold, George saw his role diminish substantially:

2014–2015: 16.1 ppg, 47.7% fg, 4.2 reb, 5.1 ast, 1.6TO

2015–2016: 12.1 ppg, 44.1% fg, 4.0 reb, 3.5 ast, 1.4TO

Hill is the most effective when he is the first or second scoring option, which is no longer the case in Indiana with Monta Ellis, George and Myles Turner in the fold. Meanwhile, Teague had a “down year” last season by averaging 15.9 ppg, 43.9% fg, 2.7 reb, 5.9 ast, 2.8 TO. His bad year is very similar to Hill’s best year in Indiana, and he was able to do this while playing hurt all of last year with a torn patellar tendon. With a healthy Teague next season, the Pacers can look forward to a transition from a score first to pass first point guard which is more suitable to this team, with slightly better output across the board. The Pacers were able to achieve this upgrade without any financial repercussions.

Meanwhile, Hill will be a much better fit for a Utah Jazz team that often struggles to score outside of Gordon Hayward. Hill offers Utah a veteran presence at PG and a more natural backcourt mate to promising young SG Dante Exum, as there have been numerous concerns that the smaller defense sieve Trey Burke would not be a good fit with Exum.

While the Jazz did have to surrender a lottery pick in a deep draft to acquire Hill, this is a team with a lot of promise that is shifting into win now mode. There wouldn’t have been many NBA ready scorers available for Utah at the time they would have picked at 12 (Denzel Valentine is the only guy that comes to mind off the top of my head), so this move makes sense and should make Utah fans feel good about the direction the team is headed.

There are some positives for Atlanta in this trade which is why I started by noting that no team got embarrassed in the deal. With shipping Teague, the Hawks will likely save roughly $6 million in cap room ($8 million to Teague-~$2 million cap hold for the 12th pick) which could be very useful in their quest to resign Kent Bazemore who has emerged as a very solid role player for the ATL, and is likely to be aggressively pursued by other teams.

Furthermore, the Hawks knew that they were going to have to choose between Schroder and Teague at some point, and this trade serves as a vote of confidence in Schroder as the clear starter in Atlanta. While I personally would have stuck with the former All-star Teague, Schroder in the younger player who boasts a ton of potential if he can learn to improve his decision making and defense.

Unfortunately, Atlanta gets the lowest mark in my book due to the way they used the 12th pick from Utah. Sometimes a team simply loves a guy so much they can’t risk passing on him, but Taurean Prince was projected to go 10 picks ;ater than where the Hawks drafted him at 12. If Atlanta was sold on Prince, they could have at least tried to trade back and accumulate picks.

MH (ON CHI-NYK trade)

As a Bulls fan, I am very skeptical and critical of most moves that GarPax make given that they have alienated so many valuable players/coaches (You’re welcome T-Wolves fans), were unable to lure a second star to Chicago during the team’s championship window, and have been unwilling to blow the team up even though it is clear that the window shut long ago on this team and it is headed for basketball hell like what happened last year when they finished 9th in the east. In this league you want to be contending for championships or tanking, nor barely missing the playoffs. Nonetheless, this was objectively a good move for the team, as Chicago got a solid package in exchange for its fallen, hometown hero. With Noah inevitably leaving this summer, the Bulls got the absolutely perfect replacement in RoLo. Outside of Noah’s unique inside passing ability, Lopez gives you almost everything Noah gave you and does so at a team friendly contract for three years. He is also younger than Joakim and instantly becomes a part of the Bulls core. Meanwhile, Calderon is a good stopgap option at point guard who will provide solid production and gives the Bulls flexibility in whether they want to be bad or good. Finally, Grant is a low risk flier who will not cost the Bulls anything if he does not pan out.

The Knicks could not afford to have another disappointing year like last year, and I see this move as one directed towards another splash later in the offseason. One vastly underrated aspect of this move is the acquisition of Holiday who I was very sad to see the Bulls surrender as he was one of our brightest spots in a hugely disappointing year. He can consistently knock down midrange Js and is very coachable. Finally, although it is extremely unlikely Rose every returns to MVP form, he still is a large upgrade athletically over Calderon and as long as his usage rate rate does not exceed 20% offers the Knicks a solid 3rd scoring option.