Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Before You Declare A Winner...

In the aftermath of the Kevin Garnett trade every sportswriter, blogger, and watercooler guy has jumped in to declare a definitive "winner" and a definitive "loser" in the deal. The thing is though, it is way too early to make such a determination. I am not suggesting that we need to see how Garnett plays with the Celtics. My hesitation involves the two most underrated assests involved in the trade; the two first round picks.

The "future first round pick" in the NBA is the equivalent of the "player to be named later" in baseball trades. The pick usually remains unnoticed until the draft comes around, at which time everyone says "Man, how are the Bulls picking 9th this year?" (If you were wondering, the answer to that question is the Eddy Curry deal with New York.) Not only will the Timberwolves have the Celtics pick (probably somewhere between 14-20), but they also get their own first round pick back that they had traded to Boston in the Ricky Davis deal. If the Wolves are as bad the next couple of years as some people think they will be, that pick very well could turn out to be a top 5 selection, which could completely change the complexion of the Garnett trade.

For the sake of fun, here is a look at the top ten players that were selected with picks that were traded before the draft;

10. Ron Artest
#16 by the Bulls in 1999
Pick From: Phoenix Suns

9. Michael Finley
#21 by the Suns in 1995
Pick From: LA Lakers

8. Antoine Walker
#6 by the Celtics in 1996
Pick From: Dallas Mavericks

7. Emeka Okafor
#2 by the Bobcats in 2004
Pick From: LA Clippers

6. Shawn Kemp
#17 by the Sonics in 1989
Pick From: Philadelphia 76ers

5. Detlef Schrempf
#8 by the Mavericks in 1985
Pick From: Cleveland Cavaliers

4. Shawn Marion
#9 by the Suns in 1999
Pick From: Dallas Mavericks

3. Scottie Pippen
#5 by the Sonics in 1987
Pick From: New York Knicks

2. James Worthy
#1 by the Lakers in 1982
Pick From: Cleveland Cavaliers

1. Charles Barkley
#5 by the 76ers in 1984
Pick From: LA Clippers

I have to admit, it is pretty interesting that there are some repeat offenders on this list. The Clippers traded away Charles Barkley and Emeka Okafor, the Cavs traded James Worthy and Detlef Schrempf, and the Mavs traded both Shawn Marion and Antoine Walker. If one of the first round picks from the Garnett trade turns out like one of these, perhaps the Wolves will come out looking a lot better than people are giving them credit for right now.

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Anonymous said...

The Phoenix Suns have sold five first round draft picks in the last three years, since Sarver bought the team. They sold the first round pick from 2008 and 2010 to get rid of Thomas. They still hve Atlanta's pick from 2009 but I am sure Sarver already has that one on the market too.

Bstone said...

Didn't Phoenix essentially pass on Luol Deng (who may or may not have been stupendous and much cheaper in the "Matrix" role) by giving up a pick to the Bulls a few years ago?

I will say though, that calling the Celt's pick "14-20" is WAAAAY underselling how this team should perform next year. No way that pick should be any lower than 20 and likely around the 25 area, assuming they go as deep in the East as they should with those three bodies.

I think you have to take into account, too, who was received on the other end of a trade, but I totally agree, Hank, that NBA GM's tend to think of a draft pick as a "PTBNL" when they are far more valuable than a minor league throw in.