While it’s possible that more 2018 first round picks will be on the move at this season’s trade deadline, nearly one third of the NBA’s teams have already moved their own first-rounders. In total, eight of 30 first-rounders for 2018 are owed to new teams, and many of those picks include conditional protections. As such, it’s worth checking in on the likelihood of all those selections actually changing hands this June, now that we’re more than halfway through the 2017/18 season.
With the help of our 2017/18 Reverse Standings, let’s dive in and see where things stand for those eight traded picks…
- Suns to acquire Heat‘s pick (top-seven protected). Currently projected to be No. 23.
- Hawks to acquire Timberwolves‘ pick (lottery-protected). Currently projected to be No. 25.
- Nets to acquire Raptors‘ pick (lottery-protected). Currently projected to be No. 27.
- Hawks to acquire Rockets‘ pick (top-three protected). Currently projected to be No. 28.
We’ll start with the picks that are locks to change hands. The four selections listed above appear very likely to fall somewhere in the 20s, well out of their protected ranges.
Given how streaky the Heat have been over the last year and a half, it’s possible they could slip down the standings a little, but their pick is extremely unlikely to land in the top seven, so the Suns will get it this season. That actually could be good news for the Heat, since it would create a little flexibility for them when it comes to trading future first-rounders going forward.
- Cavaliers to acquire Nets‘ pick (unprotected). Currently projected to be No. 7 or 8 (tie).
- Timberwolves to acquire Thunder‘s pick (lottery-protected). Currently projected to be No. 21 or 22 (tie).
Since the Nets‘ first-rounder is unprotected, there’s no question that Brooklyn will lose it, but it’s still a pick worth monitoring all season. Its value could increase or decrease significantly depending on how the Nets play in the second half, and there’s also no guarantee that the Cavaliers will still own it by the time June rolls around.
As for Oklahoma City’s pick, we nearly put the club in the “no drama” list above, but OKC is only two games ahead of the ninth-seeded Nuggets. Even though the Thunder seem very likely to hang onto a playoff spot in the West, it’s probably a bit premature to call them a lock. Nonetheless, the Timberwolves should get that pick.
Very much up in the air:
- Sixers or Celtics to acquire Lakers‘ pick (Sixers receive it if it’s No. 1 or between 6-30; Celtics get it if it’s between 2-5). Currently projected to be No. 5.
- Suns to acquire Bucks‘ pick (top-10 protected and protected between 17-30). Currently projected to be No. 16, 17, 18, or 19 (four-way tie).
The fate of the Lakers‘ 2018 pick is one of the most fascinating off-court storylines of this season. Both the Sixers and Celtics have very solid foundations of young talent in place already, so acquiring another top-10 pick would just be an added bonus for either team. The Lakers currently have the fifth-worst record in the NBA, but even if they finish the season in that same slot, the lottery could flip the pick from Boston to Philadelphia — the Sixers would get the pick if the Lakers won the lottery, or if another team leapfrogged L.A. and slid the Lakers’ pick out of the top five.
Meanwhile, while the Bucks have been up and down this season, they seem like a good bet to make a second-half push and avoid finishing in the middle of the pack. For now though, their first-rounder is still very much in play for the Suns, who would receive it if it falls in the 11-16 window.