NBA PM: What Future Draft Picks Can Turn Into
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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Future draft picks are included in trades so much that it’s almost surprising when at least one isn’t involved in a deal. They’re valuable assets that can help make or break potential trades, but they can also make trades that appeared to be lopsided turn out to be absolute steals for the other team if they draft the right player.
HOOPSWORLD recently overhauled the trade history page, which dates back to 2006. As it was being updated, some trades that included future draft picks at the time turned out to be surprisingly significant based on who was drafted. With that in mind we decided to breakdown some of the more interesting players who were selected with picks that originally belonged to other teams.
Goran Dragic – Pick originally owned by the Toronto Raptors
On draft night in 2007 the Toronto Raptors traded their 2008 second-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for the rights to Giorgos Printezis, who to this day has still never played in the NBA. The Spurs then proceeded to flip the pick to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for the draft rights to Malik Hairston and a 2009 second-round pick of the Golden State Warriors, which the Suns acquired in a trade for Zarko Cabarkapa.
With that 2009 second-round pick the Spurs drafted DeJuan Blair, who has been a solid pick up for them. The Suns eventually traded Dragic to Houston in a multiplayer deal that brought back Aaron Brooks, but re-signed him this summer to replace his former mentor, Steve Nash.
Marcus Thornton – Pick originally owned by the Indiana Pacers
Over the last couple of seasons the Indiana Pacers have been searching for a guard who can create his own shots and provide instant offense off of the bench. Unfortunately for them, they owned a pick that turned into Marcus Thornton, who fits that description perfectly. In 2007 they traded the 2009 second rounder that eventually became Thornton to the HEAT for the draft rights to Stanko Barac, who never played in the NBA.
The HEAT didn’t exactly cash in on the steal either, but there is still hope. They flipped Thornton on draft night to the New Orleans Hornets for Jarvis Varnado and a second-round pick yet to be conveyed still. Thornton had a solid two years for the Hornets before they ended up shipping him to Sacramento for Carl Landry.
Omer Asik – Pick originally owned by the New York Knicks
In 2007 the Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers completed a monster deal that featured Zach Randolph going to the Big Apple with Steve Francis, who was almost immediately bought out, going to Portland. The swap also included a 2009 second-round pick of the Knicks going to Portland as well.
That pick ended up becoming Omer Asik, who is now set to start at center for the Houston Rockets. He never made his way to Portland, though, because they traded him to Chicago in a three-team deal that also included Patrick Mills, Jon Brockman, and Jerome Jordan. Just a throw in at the time, Asik is now arguably the second-best piece involved.
Nando De Colo – Pick originally owned by the Houston Rockets
The Luis Scola trade will haunt the San Antonio Spurs for the rest of their livelihoods. Restricted by ownerships’ hard stance against paying the luxury tax, the Spurs were forced to trade Scola to Houston for Vassilis Spanoulis, cash, and a future second-round pick after not being able to come to agreement on a contract with him. This came in the summer of 2007 after winning their fourth championship; they haven’t won one since.
Spanoulis went back to Greece while Scola went on to establish himself as one of the best power forwards in the game. The second round pick turned into Nando De Colo, who signed with the Spurs this offseason. He’s their only hope to ease the regrets over trading Scola, which made Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich so angry that he said it made him want to spit shortly after.
Serge Ibaka – Pick originally owned by the Phoenix Suns
There’s a long list of moves that the Suns made as a means to cut costs that played a major role in their championship window closing. A 2007 trade that sent Kurt Thomas, a 2008 first-round pick, and a 2010 first-round pick to Oklahoma City for basically nothing (Emir Preldzic, who never made the jump and a $9 million trade exception that went unused) has a firm spot on that list.
The 2008 first rounder turned into Ibaka, one of the league’s rising stars at the power forward position. Ibaka fits the mold perfectly for the Suns’ style of basketball. Even though his best years would have come after Nash’s prime, he still would have been a great piece to have a rebuild with. To lose him for nothing stings.
Ty Lawson – Pick originally owned by the Miami HEAT
In 2007 the Miami HEAT gave up a future first-round draft pick in a deal that sent Antoine Walker, Wayne Simien, and Michael Doleac to Minnesota for Ricky Davis and Mark Blount. That pick was rendered in 2009 and was used on Ty Lawson in the infamous Timberwolves draft where they took three point guards in the first round including Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn. Lawson, who up to this point is the best of the three, was immediately the odd man out.
The Timberwolves traded him to Denver for Luke Babbitt, who they proceeded to pair with Ryan Gomes for Martell Webster. Webster struggled in Minnesota and is now a Washington Wizard. Meanwhile, Lawson is the starting point guard for the Nuggets and currently negotiating a sizable long-term extension.
Isaiah Thomas – Pick originally owned by the Chicago Bulls
There probably won’t ever be a case of a team regretting losing the 60th overall pick more than this one. The Bucks originally received the pick from the Bulls in a multiplayer trade that included Hakim Warrick, Joe Alexander and multiple picks. The 2011 second-rounder that was included turned out to be the steal of the draft: Isaiah Thomas, but the Bucks gave it up long before the selection was even made.
In a deal during the 2010 offseason, the Bucks paired up Darnell Jackson with a second-round pick for Jon Brockman. Brockman averaged just over one point and two rebounds a game during his time with Milwaukee, while Thomas went on to prove just about the entire league wrong during his stellar rookie campaign.
Kyrie Irving – Pick originally owned by the Los Angeles Clippers
There was a great debate over whether or not the Clippers should have protected the 2011 first-round pick that the paired with Baron Davis in exchange for Jamario Moon and Mo Williams (for a detailed breakdown of exactly why the Clippers couldn’t protect the pick, read Larry Coon’s article here). Due to significant restrictions and hurdles, though, they let go of the potential top-10 pick in a draft they felt was relatively weak anyway.
As the Clippers’ luck would have it, their pick, even with a 2.8 percent chance, ended up as the lottery winner. So, the Cavaliers ended up with Irving, the classes’ only sure thing who went on to win the Rookie of the Year award, and is now the face of their franchise. If it wasn’t for the acquisition of Chris Paul just a few months later, the Clippers would still be reeling from this one.
Austin Rivers – Pick originally owned by the Minnesota Timberwolves
Although he had no idea at the time, at 13 years old a trade between the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves went down that would become a factor for Rivers later in life. The Timberwolves traded Sam Cassell and a 2006 first-round pick with protections only through 2011 to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Marko Jaric and Lionel Chambers. The protections came into play all the way until 2012, when it became unprotected.
The unprotected pick ended up helping seal the deal in a franchise-changing trade for the Clippers, who used it as a centerpiece in the deal for starting point guard Chris Paul. It would end up being the 10th overall selection, which the Hornets used on Rivers to pair him up with number one overall pick Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, and Ryan Anderson as the franchise’s core.
Damian Lillard – Pick originally owned by the Brooklyn Nets (Gerald Wallace deal with Okur, Shawne Williams)
The Trail Blazers needed to free up time for Nicolas Batum and the Nets were desperate to find a quality running mate for soon-to-be free agent Deron Williams. That made them logical trading partners. At the time people felt including a top-three protected pick for Wallace was overpaying, so you definitely don’t want to know what they gave him this offseason.
That pick turned into Lillard, who was the Co-MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League. In the end both teams got what they wanted; Portland gets their future point while the trade helped Brooklyn eventually lock of theirs of the present. Even if Lillard goes on to become a top-five point guard in the league, it’s a reasonable price to pay to help keep Williams.
It’s important to note that had the pick not been traded, there’s no guarantee the same player would have been selected. But, the team who received the pick, and the player it turns it, considers it a part of the package they received in return for what they shipped out.
Curious about what future draft picks have already been moved and what kind of protection they have? Then make sure to check out our recently updated draft pick debt page. There you’ll be able to find out which picks have been moved in the 2013 draft and all the way through 2017 as well!
NCAA Stars in Jeopardy: While we’re on the topic of the draft, several top prospects’ statuses are currently in limbo as the NCAA investigates whether or not they are eligible. We’ve known for the last few weeks that Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, N.C. State’s Rodney Purvis, and UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad were being looked at. Now, Muahmmad’s teammates Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker’s eligibility have come into question as well.
The college basketball season does not get underway until November, so we should know well in advance of that whether or not these freshman standouts will be allowed to play.
If they are not, then you can go ahead and pencil them in for the 2013 NBA Draft regardless of where their stock is.
While that may have been what Noel and Muhammad were going to do all along, the same cannot be said for Purvis, Anderson, and Parker. As great as their potential is, they were projected as guys who would need a couple of years before being ready to make the jump into the NBA.
In the past the NCAA has shown no hesitancy to bring the hammer down on kids who receive impermissible benefits no matter how big of a name they are.
Their decision on these five players will undoubtedly have a major effect on the college basketball landscape in 2012-13. UCLA and Kentucky are certified contenders, but not if the NCAA rules against their top recruits. N.C. State is in that same mix as well and a serious dark horse. Purvis could be the difference maker that puts them in title contention.
So as these teams wait for official practices to begin, battles off the court weigh just as heavily on their minds as any big match up they have scheduled.
Kareem Working With Dwight: Since the Los Angeles Lakers acquired All-Star center Dwight Howard last month, questions have been running rampant about when he’ll return, how he’ll fit in, and whether or not he’ll end up re-signing with the team next summer. We’ll have to wait and see on all of those, but one other question that was popping up pretty frequently was whether or not Howard would work with all-time great center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who has served as a big man specialist coach in recent years, most notably to former Lakers center Andrew Bynum.
The wait wasn’t long for the answer on that question as in an impromptu twitter Q&A session Howard said that he would like to work with Kareem. Kareem went on twitter to say that the idea is great, but they have not met yet. No more than a few hours later Howard posted a picture of the two of them together saying that he’s looking forward to working with him for many years to come.
While this is far from groundbreaking news, it is intriguing that Howard, who has clearly established himself as the league’s best center with the resume to back that up, is open to working with Kareem. Bynum had recently stopped working with Kareem on his own accord. This obviously isn’t a tremendous project for Kareem like Bynum was, but perhaps he can give Howard some tutelage on the offensive end that leads to him adding a couple more effective moves to his arsenal.
One of the areas that Kareem has run in trouble to with his students is that offensively they approach the game differently than he did. Kareem always looked over his shoulder, where the majority of players now are accustomed to facing up. That’s why Bynum patented the baby hook rather than the sky hook, because the footwork didn’t come to him anywhere near as naturally.
Howard may have the same issue, although he did seem to develop quite a liking to the running hook that shares some similarities to the sky hook.
In the end, you can never know too much about the game so it’s a great sign that Howard is going into his tenure as a Laker willing to work with Kareem. Add this along with the fact that Howard recently bought a $20 million mansion in the area and you have another indication that he could be a long-term Laker.