As if the Knicks’ and Nets’ awful starts weren’t bad enough on their own, both teams’ early-season struggles have been amplified by the fact that neither team will have its 2014 first-round pick. New York’s first-rounder is likely headed to Denver as part of 2011’s Carmelo Anthony trade, while the Hawks will have the opportunity to grab Brooklyn’s pick due to 2012’s Joe Johnson deal.
There’s no protection on those picks or the Warriors’ first-rounder, which will be sent to the Jazz no matter where it lands, but most of the traded 2014 first-rounders have some conditions attached. It’s still too early in the season to know for sure whether or not many of those picks will change hands, but based on the results so far, we can at least make some educated guesses.
With the help of our 2013/14 reverse standings feature, let’s take a look at the status of 2014’s protected first-round picks….
Likely to change hands:
- New Orleans Pelicans (to 76ers if not in top 5). Current projection: 13th.
- Detroit Pistons (to Bobcats if not in top 8). Current projection: 18th.
- Washington Wizards (to Suns if not in top 12). Current projection: 20th.
- Portland Trail Blazers (to Bobcats if not in top 12). Current projection: 28th.
- Indiana Pacers (to Suns if not in top 14). Current projection: 30th.
The Pacers’ pick is a lock to be on the move, since there’s no way Indiana misses the playoffs in the East. The same can’t be said about the Wizards and Pistons, but given how weak the conference looks so far, both teams are pretty good bets to earn postseason berths and give up their first-rounders.
Out west, the Trail Blazers would have to fall off significantly for their pick not to change hands. That’s also true of the Pelicans, though perhaps New Orleans is a likelier candidate to slide in the standings now that the club is without Anthony Davis for a few weeks. Still, the Pelicans don’t look anything like a bottom-five team.
Unlikely to change hands:
- Sacramento Kings (to Cavs if not in top 12). Current projection: 4th.
- Philadelphia 76ers (to Heat if not in top 14). Current projection: 9th.
There’s a very outside chance the Sixers lose their pick if the Atlantic remains as bad as it’s been so far and Philadelphia somehow sneaks into the postseason as the division winner. But that’s unlikely. Both of these teams should feel comfortable about keeping their first-round picks for 2014.
Up in the air:
- Minnesota Timberwolves (to Suns if not in top 13). Current projection: 10th.
- Charlotte Bobcats (to Bulls if not in top 10). Current projection: 16th.
- Dallas Mavericks (to Thunder if not in top 20). Current projection: 22nd.
The nightmare scenario for the Timberwolves and Bobcats involves just barely missing the playoffs and also losing their respective first-rounders — neither pick is entirely lottery-protected, so that possibility is in play. As for the Mavericks, they’ve looked a little better than expected so far. If the Eastern playoff teams continue to hover at or below .500, the Mavs’ pick could end up in the 20s even if they finish the season as a No. 6 or 7 seed in the West.