Traded 2016 First-Round Pick Exchange Scenarios

Nearly 20 different scenarios exist in which a 2016 first-round pick may change hands. Of course, some outcomes are more likely than others, but the relative likelihood in many cases has changed since the start of the season.

We’ll break down every scenario here, with an assist from our Round-by-Round Traded Picks Register, which Mark Porcaro compiles, and RealGM’s comprehensive database, as well as our Reverse Standings, which are updated daily. The simple explanation for the likelihood of each pick exchange is in bold, with details to follow:

  • Nets to Celtics (unprotected) — 100% certain to happen
  • Cavaliers to Suns (top-10 protected) — Overwhelmingly likely to happen: The Cavs haven’t disappointed thus far this season, as they sit atop the Eastern Conference, so barring a catastrophic turn of events for Cleveland, the Cavs are giving up this pick.
  • Mavericks to Celtics (top-7 protected) — Likely to happen: The Mavs, at 10-8 entering Tuesday’s game, have been surprisingly competitive, and with other Western Conference contenders struggling, the odds of Dallas keeping its pick look longer than they did at the beginning of the season.
  • Heat to Warriors (Golden State gets Miami’s pick if it falls outside the top 10 and comes after Golden State’s pick and Oklahoma City’s pick) — Unlikely to happen: A complicated set of scenarios surround this exchange, but essentially, the Heat would have to finish with a better record than the Warriors, who are already 19-0, as well as the Thunder. The Heat and the Thunder entered Tuesday separated by only a game, but that won’t matter as long as the Warriors stay out in front, so Miami’s pick probably won’t be going to Golden State.
  • Heat to Sixers (Philadelphia gets Miami’s pick if it falls outside the top 10 and comes before either Golden State’s pick or Oklahoma City’s pick) — Likely to happen: This would-be swap is a corollary to the long-shot Heat/Warriors possibility described above. Assuming Golden State keeps in front of Miami and the Heat, who are 10-6 so far, make the playoffs, Miami’s pick is going to Philly.
  • Thunder to Warriors (Golden State gets Oklahoma City’s pick if it falls outside the top 15 and comes after Miami’s pick and Oklahoma City’s pick) — Unlikely to happen: This is another one related to the Heat/Warriors exchange above. The Warriors already hold a seven and a half game lead on the Thunder, so don’t expect the Warriors to end up with this pick.
  • Thunder to Sixers (Philadelphia gets Miami’s pick if it falls outside the top 15 and comes before either Golden State’s pick or Oklahoma City’s pick) — Likely to happen: If the Thunder don’t send their pick to the Warriors, and it seems they won’t, they’re probably sending the pick to Philly. Oklahoma City, at 11-7, would have to miss the playoffs — or make the playoffs with the worst record among postseason teams — to keep the pick.
  • Warriors to Sixers (Philadelphia gets Golden State’s pick if it comes before either Miami’s pick or Oklahoma City’s pick, as long as Miami’s pick falls outside the top 10 and Oklahoma City’s pick falls outside the top 15) — Unlikely to happen: The final of this string of five possible outcomes depends on whether the Thunder or the Heat can catch the Warriors. It doesn’t seem anyone can, so this pick probably stays put.
  • Rockets to Nuggets (top-14 protected) — Toss-up: When I last looked at these scenarios, I called the Rockets a shoo-in for the playoffs. So much for that. Houston is 7-11, and after a coaching change, it’s anyone’s guess whether the team can right itself in time to make the playoffs.
  • Lakers to Sixers (top-3 protected) — Toss-up: The Lakers made moves that seemingly upgraded the team in the offseason, but that hasn’t shown up in the standings yet. Unless the Lakers start a major surge, this one likely comes down to the bounce of a pingpong ball.
  • Grizzlies to Nuggets (Denver gets the Memphis pick if it falls anywhere from No. 6 to No. 14) — Unlikely to happen: The Grizzlies looked shaky to start the season, but they entered play Tuesday at 10-8 and tied for fourth place in the Western Conference. They seem in strong position to at least make the playoffs, with so many other Western teams struggling.
  • Timberwolves to Celtics (top-12 protected) — Toss-up: The Wolves, at 8-9 going into Tuesday’s game, seem to be ahead of schedule in their climb up the Western Conference standings, but that doesn’t bode well for their chances of keeping this pick.
  • Knicks to Nuggets (Denver gets the better pick among its own and New York’s) —Toss-up: The Knicks appear to have a legitimate shot at the playoffs this season, but they’re still just two games better than Denver.
  • Knicks to Raptors (Toronto gets New York’s pick if it comes after Denver’s pick) —Toss-up: The Raptors will end up with whichever pick the Nuggets don’t take in the pick swap described immediately above, so with little separation between Denver and New York, this one is just as hard to call.
  • Nuggets to Raptors (Toronto gets the Denver’s pick if it comes after New York’s pick) — Toss-up: See the explanation for the last two picks.
  • Trail Blazers to Nuggets (top-14 protected) — Unlikely to happen: Portland has been competitive, but at 7-11 going into Tuesday’s game, the Blazers appear to have little chance at making the playoffs, so this pick is likely staying put.
  • Kings to Bulls (top-10 protected) — Toss-up: It’s tough to tell how strong the Kings truly are this season, since DeMarcus Cousins has missed seven of the team’s 19 games, and it’s hard to predict much of anything involving the Kings.
  • Kings to Sixers (Philadelphia gets the better of Sacramento’s pick and its own if Sacramento’s pick falls inside the top 10) — Unlikely: The Sixers will root for chaos in Sacramento, since Philadelphia will have a better chance to win the lottery the more the Kings lose. Still, the Kings will probably finish better than the Sixers do this year, since Philly is once more plumbing the depths of the standings, so this pick doesn’t appear destined for Philly.
  • Sixers to Kings (Sacramento gets the inferior of its own pick and Philadelphia’s pick if its own pick falls inside the top 10) — Unlikely: Since Philadelphia probably doesn’t end up with Sacramento’s pick, the Sixers probably won’t be sending their pick to the Kings.

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