First-Round Pick Debit, Credit Totals

The Celtics and Sixers have a bunch of extra first-round picks coming their way, but they’re not the only ones. Seven other teams have traded for more first-rounders than they’ve traded away, including the Nuggets and Suns, who have three extra first-rounders apiece. The Nuggets also have the more favorable side of a pick swap, since they have the right to exchange their first-rounder for New York’s in 2016 if they want to, a vestige of the Carmelo Anthony trade.

Conversely, perhaps no team is in worse draft position than the Heat, who have to give up three first-rounders, including an unprotected 2021 pick. The Kings and Nets may also lay claim to the league’s least favorable draft position, since they have to give up two first-rounders and are on the short end of possible pick swaps, too.

Draft pick credits and debits become relevant as trade season unofficially begins December 15th, the date when most offseason signees become eligible to be traded. Boston and Philadelphia have draft assets to spare, while Miami, Sacramento and Brooklyn are limited, especially given the stipulations of the Stepien Rule, which prohibits teams from trading consecutive first-rounders.

Keep in mind that not all first-round picks are created equal. Many first-round picks are protected, and some of those protected picks are conditional; that is, the team that owes the pick could wind up never conveying the pick in certain circumstances. Sometimes the obligation converts into second-round picks. For instance, if the Timberwolves wind up with a top 12 pick this year, they don’t have to give up the first-rounder they owe the Celtics and would instead have to relinquish two second-rounders.

The conveyance of some first-round picks is contingent on others. The Kings would only have to swap first-rounders with the Sixers if they don’t give up their pick to the Bulls. That’s why there are five pick swap “plusses” and only four “minuses.”

These are the teams that have more first-round picks coming their way than they owe:

  • Celtics: +5 (+1 pick swap)
  • Sixers: +4 (+3 pick swaps)
  • Nuggets: +3 (+1 pick swap)
  • Suns: +3
  • Jazz: +2
  • Raptors: +2
  • Bulls: +1
  • Hawks: +1
  • Magic: +1

This is the break-even group, with a net zero first-round pick debt:

  1. Bucks: 0
  2. Hornets: 0
  3. Pacers: 0
  4. Pelicans: 0
  5. Pistons: 0
  6. Spurs: 0
  7. Wizards: 0

These teams owe more first-rounders than they have coming their way:

  • Cavaliers: -1
  • Clippers: -1
  • Knicks: -1
  • Mavericks: -1
  • Rockets: -1
  • Trail Blazers: -1
  • Warriors: -1 (-1 pick swap)
  • Grizzlies: -2
  • Lakers: -2
  • Thunder: -2
  • Timberwolves: -2
  • Nets: -2 (-1 pick swap)
  • Kings: -2 (-2 pick swaps)
  • Heat: -3

The RealGM traded draft pick details database and Mark Porcaro’s list of traded draft picks by round were used in the creation of this post.

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