Back in January, as the NBA season neared its halfway mark, I examined this year's traded first-round picks with protection, projecting whether or not those selections would end up changing hands. Surprisingly, we didn't see any 2013 first-rounders moved at the trade deadline, so there aren't any additional picks to consider today, but it's still worth checking in to see how our projections may have changed over the last several weeks.
As our tentative 2013 draft order shows, a number of picks we thought were unlikely to change hands remain near-locks to stay put. The Bulls won't be receiving Charlotte's top-12 protected pick this year, and the Kings' top-13 protected pick won't be heading to the Cavaliers. It would take a Heat-esque winning streak by the Pistons for the Bobcats to have a shot at landing Detroit's top-14 protected pick, and the same goes for Dallas — unless the Mavs absolutely catch fire, their top-20 protected pick won't be sent to Oklahoma City.
Similarly, the picks we considered likely to change hands are still on track to do so. The Heat's top-10 protected pick will be sent to the Cavs, while the Grizzlies' top-14 protected pick will go to the Timberwolves. And despite a prolonged slump over the last few weeks, the Warriors are still extremely unlikely to keep their pick, which is only top-six protected. Unless Golden State falls out of the playoffs and then really lucks out in the lottery, that pick will be sent to Utah.
Here are the latest updates on the traded picks we still considered "up in the air" in January:
Team: Raptors (23-38)
Traded pick to: Thunder
Protection: Top-3 and 15-30
Current projection: 10th
Likely outcome: The Thunder should feel fairly confident about acquiring this pick for 2013, since the Raptors' playoff push appears dead in the water. If the season ended today, Toronto would only have about a 4% chance of jumping into the top three and keeping its pick.
Team: 76ers (23-36)
Traded pick to: Heat
Current projection: 11th
Likely outcome: This pick is quickly becoming a lock to stay put for 2013, as the Sixers are currently seven games back of Milwaukee for a playoff spot.
Team: Lakers (30-31)
Traded pick to: Suns/Cavs
Current projection: 14th
Likely outcome: The Lakers are losing this pick either way, but the Suns and Cavaliers have a vested interest in seeing where it lands. Anything between 1-14 would be sent to Phoenix, but if it lands between 15-30, the Cavs will have the chance to swap the Heat's first-rounder for the Lakers pick, leaving the Suns with Miami's pick.
Team: Timberwolves (20-37)
Traded pick to: Suns
Current projection: 8th
Likely outcome: The Wolves have gone just 3-15 since our last update, moving their projected first-rounder from 13th to 8th. Getting some players healthy for the season's last 15 games or so could help Minnesota make a late-season surge, but it's still very unlikely this pick will change hands.
Team: Rockets (33-28)
Traded pick to: Hawks
Current projection: 17th
Likely outcome: The Rockets are currently viewed as stronger bets for the postseason than the Jazz or Warriors, which bodes well for the Hawks. Assuming Houston earns a playoff spot, Atlanta will receive this pick.
Team: Trail Blazers (28-31)
Traded pick to: Bobcats
Current projection: 13th
Likely outcome: Of all our up-in-the-air picks, this one remains the tightest. The Mavericks are currently two games back of Portland in the standings, so if Dallas can pass the Blazers by season's end, Portland will have a great chance at hanging on to this pick.