With the NBA preseason starting, the hopes of fans around the league are high. A lot of people are talking themselves into this being their year to surprise the rest of the league, and for some fans and teams that will be true. However, the stark truth of it all is some teams will suck, either because they simply aren’t good enough or due to season-crushing injuries.
Your hopes and dreams of a 2015-16 Cinderella story will have an M. Night Shyamalan twist that nobody likes. Because of that, it’s important to know just how much attention you should be paying to college basketball scouting and the draft throughout the year. You also need to know if your team has its first-round pick, and if not, why did it go away? Are there protections on the first-round pick that should be kept in mind just in case the dreaded “tanking” word starts to motor its way into your arena?
Here’s a quick and easy rundown of each team’s first-round pick situation heading into next summer:
Atlanta Hawks — Own their pick.
The Hawks haven’t owed a pick since 2011 when they conveyed the 18th pick (Chris Singleton) to the Washington Wizards. That was to complete acquiring Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong for Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans and the pick.
Boston Celtics — Own their pick.
The last time the Celtics conveyed a pick since 2009 when the Minnesota Timberwolves received the 28th pick (Wayne Ellington) to complete the 2007 trade for Kevin Garnett. Fun fact about that trade is the Wolves were returned a first-round pick they owed to the Celtics, as well. That was seven-player, three-pick trade that essentially sent Wally Szczerbiak to Boston and Ricky Davis to Minnesota. The Wolves used that returned pick on Jonny Flynn. Wait, that’s not fun at all.
Boston could have as many as four first-round picks in 2016.
Brooklyn Nets — The Nets owe their pick to the Celtics, regardless of where they finish.
The Nets sent this pick, the right to swap picks in 2017, and their 2018 first-round pick as part of the bounty in the trade that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets in 2013. Even if the Nets are the worst team in the NBA and win the lottery, there isn’t a single bit of pick protection on this selection for Brooklyn. It goes to Danny Ainge. Always remember to protect your picks.
Charlotte Hornets — Own their pick.
The Hornets last conveyed their pick in 2014 to the Chicago Bulls. In 2010, the Bulls traded Tyrus Thomas to the Bobcats in exchange for Flip Murray, Acie Law and the protected first-round pick. It was only Top 10 protected in 2014 and ended up as the 16th pick to Chicago. The Bulls used the pick on Jusuf Nurkic, which completed trading Nurkic, a 2015 second-round pick, and the draft rights to Gary Harris for the draft rights to Doug McDermott and Anthony Randolph.
Chicago Bulls — Own their pick.
The Bulls last conveyed their pick to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2010. The Bucks used the 15th pick in the 2010 draft on Larry Sanders. Milwaukee acquired that pick by trading Joe Alexander, Hakim Warrick, and a future first that became Kevin Seraphin for John Salmons, the pick that became Sanders, and two future second-round picks that became Isaiah Thomas and Robert Sacre. Who would’ve thought one of the future second-round picks would end up being the best player in that trade? Sorry, not you, Robert Sacre.
When the Cavaliers moved Tyler Zeller to the Celtics and Jarrett Jack to the Nets in a three-team, salary cap-clearing deal, they included this Top-10 protected pick to the Celtics. Boston then moved this pick and Marcus Thornton at the trade deadline in exchange for Isaiah Thomas. The Cavs used this cap space on signing LeBron James, so it looks like it worked out for now.
Dallas Mavericks — Pick is Top-7 protected but owed to the Boston Celtics.
When the Dallas Mavericks acquired Rajon Rondo and Dwight Powell last December, they moved this protected pick with Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson and a future second-round pick. Turns out that owing a first-round pick so that you can just have Dwight Powell on your roster is not ideal. Rondo split during the playoffs and the Mavs don’t have much to show for it. The interesting thing is with the early injuries to Chandler Parsons, Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams, you can envision a scenario in which the Mavs get to keep their pick this season. It could get ugly quickly in Dallas, and that wouldn’t be a bad thing.
This pick is Top-7 protected through 2020, otherwise it becomes two future second-round picks.
The Carmelo Anthony trade is still alive. If the Knicks end up with a higher pick than the Nuggets do in 2016, Denver can swap their picks. The less favorable of the picks will end up with New York, which then ends up in the hands of the Toronto Raptors. However, with the way the Knicks improved in the offseason and the way the Nuggets have seemingly gone into rebuilding mode, the picks are unlikely to be swapped, right? Actually, don’t answer that.
Detroit Pistons — Own their pick.
Stan Van Gundy inherited a team in 2014 that didn’t have their first-round pick. It was Top-8 protected in 2014 and ended up at No. 9, which meant it was conveyed to the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets used the pick on Noah Vonleh, which completed a Corey Maggette for Ben Gordon and a pick trade. The crazy thing is that trade happened in 2012, when it was well known neither player had much value left. Joe Dumars still gave up a first-round pick in the process though.
The Warriors acquired Jason Thompson this offseason in exchange for Gerald Wallace (waived) and the right to swap first-round picks in 2016. The complicated thing about this is the Sixers can swap any of the picks owed to them in exchange for the Warriors’ pick. If Golden State end up with the best record in the league again, it won’t affect the swap because the Sixers won’t swap down. However, if the Heat or Thunder finish with a better record than Golden State, the swap will be completed. Regardless, the Warriors will have a first-round pick. They hope it’s their own.
Houston Rockets — Pick is Top-14 protected but owed to the Denver Nuggets.
The Houston Rockets acquired Ty Lawson and a future second-round pick this offseason in exchange for this protected first-round pick, Nick Johnson, Kostas Papanikolaou, Pablo Prigioni, and Joey Dorsey. Unless James Harden, Dwight Howard, and Ty Lawson all get injured for the season, I don’t think the Rockets will expect to make their selection on draft night. They’re probably fine with that.
Indiana Pacers — Own their pick.
The Pacers last conveyed their first-round pick on 2014. Bogdan Bogdanovic was selected by the Phoenix Suns with the 27th pick and it completed a trade that sent Luis Scola to Indiana in exchange for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, and the pick. This trade happened in 2013 when Scola was 33 years old. Perhaps the Pacers thought they were acquiring FIBA God Mode Luis Scola and not regular NBA role player Scola.
Los Angeles Clippers — Own their pick.
The Clippers last conveyed their first-round pick this year. The Boston Celtics used the 28th pick on R.J. Hunter to complete the trade for coach/president Doc Rivers. Considering on how Doc handled the Donald Sterling debacle and how he very clearly isn’t Vinny Del Negro, the Clippers are still happy with the move. Doc is happy with the move to because as an executive, he’s shown that he doesn’t care about first-round picks.
Los Angeles Lakers — Pick is Top-3 protected but owed to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Lakers first moved this pick when they acquired Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade with Phoenix. Nash was given a three-year deal to be on the Lakers and the Suns received a 2013 pick that ended up being Nemanja Nedovic for the Warriors, two future second-round picks, and this pick still owed. The Suns moved this pick to Philadelphia at the trade deadline in order to Brandon Knight in a three-team deal. This pick was nearly conveyed in 2015, but the Lakers won the second spot in the lottery with the pick being Top 5 protected. They took D’Angelo Russell.
Memphis Grizzlies — Pick owed to the Denver Nuggets if it lands between 6 and 14.
This pick was originally sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a salary dump by the Grizzlies that moved NBA champion Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby to the Cavs for Jon Leuer. The Nuggets acquired this pick when they sent Timofey Mozgov to the Cavs this past season. Unless the Grizzlies completely fall apart, but not too far apart to get a Top 5 pick, they’ll retain their draft pick.
Miami Heat — Pick is Top-10 protected but owed to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Remember when LeBron James took his talents to South Beach? The sign-and-trade that allowed him to earn a bit more money is still alive with this pick owed. It’s Top-10 protected (like it was this summer when the Heat landed the 10th pick and Justise Winslow) and the Sixers now own it. The Cavs sent it to the Sixers in the trade that netted them Kevin Love and sent Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to the Wolves. The Sixers sent Thaddeus Young to Minnesota as well. The Heat got two titles out of it, so they’re probably fine with conveying this pick still. It would take a second straight disastrous season in order for them to keep their pick.
If that happens, it’s unprotected in 2017.
Milwaukee Bucks — Own their pick.
Milwaukee last conveyed a first-round pick in 2012 when the Houston Rockets selected Jeremy Lamb with the 12th pick. The Bucks acquired Samuel Dalembert, a 2012 first-round pick (John Henson), a future second and cash in exchange for Jon Brockman, the pick that became Lamb, Jon Leuer and Shaun Livingston. The Rockets eventually flipped Lamb as part of the package that landed James Harden.
Minnesota Timberwolves — Pick is Top 12 protected but owed to the Boston Celtics.
KAAAAAAHHHHHN! That’s right; the David Kahn era is still alive, folks. The Wolves moved this first-round protected pick as a sweetener for the Phoenix Suns to also acquire Wesley Johnson (the man Kahn took ahead of DeMarcus Cousins) back in 2012. The Suns then flipped that pick this past season to acquire Brandan Wright from the Boston Celtics. The bad news for the Celtics is the Wolves are still bad and it would take a miracle for this to become a first-round pick for Boston. If it doesn’t get conveyed this season, it becomes a second-round pick in 2016 and a second-round pick in 2017.
New Orleans Pelicans — Own their pick.
The Pelicans conveyed a pick this year in the 2015 draft to the Houston Rockets. Dell Demps has never been huge on first-rounders since he selected Anthony Davis with the first pick in 2012. He was willing to part ways with his 2015 first-round pick in exchange for Omer Asik in a three-team deal. The Rockets used the 18th pick from New Orleans on Sam Dekker. Demps must still be happy with the trade because he gave a huge contract to Asik to keep him this summer.
New York Knicks — Owe their pick to the Toronto Raptors.
The pick was already headed to Denver in a potential swap from the Carmelo Anthony trade, but even if that happens, the Knicks won’t have a first-round pick from the exchange. They send whatever pick they were supposed to end with to the Toronto Raptors from the infamous Andrea Bargnani trade back in 2013. The Knicks sent Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, a second-rounder and the less favorable of the Knicks, Nuggets picks for Bargnani. There’s no way they regret this move, right?
Oklahoma City Thunder — Pick is Top-15 protected and owed to the Philadelphia 76ers.
This pick has been moved three times since January and could potentially be moved one more time by draft night. The Thunder moved this pick in order to acquire Dion Waiters in the three-team deal that sent J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cavs in January of this past season. Then it got moved to Denver when the Cavs acquired Timofey Mozgov two days later. It got moved again at the deadline when Denver sent JaVale McGee to Philadelphia in a salary dump. It could be swapped with the Warriors’ pick, but most likely won’t be something the Thunder get to use unless Kevin Durant has another injury-filled campaign.
Orlando Magic — Own their pick.
Orlando last conveyed a pick in 2011 when the Houston Rockets selected Nikola Mirotic with the 23rd pick. The pick was originally moved to Phoenix in a three-team deal. The Suns received Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat with the pick. Orlando and Washington also swapped albatross contracts in Rashard Lewis and Gilbert Arenas in that trade. The Suns then traded that pick with Goran Dragic to the Rockets for Aaron Brooks. There’s so much sadness in this pick history.
Philadelphia 76ers — Own their pick.
The Sixers haven’t conveyed a pick since 2005 when five trades eventually allowed the Toronto Raptors to select Joey Graham with the 16th selection. The pick was originally sent to the Warriors in a trade that involved Vonteego Cummings, Cedric Henderson, Corie Blount and anything else you used to throw into video game trades to try to trick the computer. Sam Hinkie isn’t giving up these deals any time soon.
The Sixers could have four first-round picks in 2016
Phoenix Suns — Own their pick.
2010 was the last year the Suns conveyed a first-round pick owed in a trade. The Thunder took Quincy Pondexter with the 26th pick after taking Kurt Thomas’ contract in one of many salary dumps by Robert Sarver over the years. That trade also included the pick in 2008 the Thunder used to take Serge Ibaka. I’m sure the money saved on luxury tax payments was worth it though.
Portland Trail Blazers — Pick is Top-14 protected but owed to the Denver Nuggets.
The bad news is the Portland Trail Blazers owe their pick to the Denver Nuggets for the Arron Afflalo trade. Afflalo left Portland in free agency when he signed with the Knicks this summer. The good news is the Blazers lost 80 percent of their starting lineup in addition to Afflalo. How is that good news? Damian Lillard would have to reveal himself to be a superhero in hiding in order for the Blazers to make the playoffs and keep their first-round pick.
Sacramento Kings — Pick is Top-10 protected but owed to the Chicago Bulls.
The Kings have owed their pick since 2010 when they sent the future selection and Omri Casspi to the Cavs for J.J. Hickson. That’s back when Hickson was being dangled as the key trade asset in exchange for a healthy Amar’e Stoudemire. What a world we used to live in. That pick eventually got moved to the Bulls in exchange for Luol Deng, and now the Bulls are the team waiting for the Kings to be just good enough to convey their pick.
The Sixers can also swap first-round picks with the Kings if the pick doesn’t get conveyed to the Bulls, thanks to the Nik Stauskas-Jason Thompson salary dump this past summer.
San Antonio Spurs — Own their pick.
The Spurs last conveyed their 2012 pick to the Golden State Warriors. They took Festus Ezeli with the 30th pick in the draft to complete the acquisition of Stephen Jackson by the Spurs. San Antonio sent that pick, Richard Jefferson and T.J. Ford for Jackson, who went off against the Thunder during the 2012 playoffs.
Toronto Raptors — Own their pick.
The Raptors last conveyed a first-round pick in 2013 when the Thunder took Steven Adams with the 12th pick. Toronto sent the pick to Houston when it acquired Kyle Lowry in 2012, and Houston sent the future first as part of the package to acquire Harden right before the 2012-13 season. The Raptors are happy to have their pick now, but they’re probably very excited about the possibility of a high pick thanks to moving Andrea Bargnani, as previously mentioned.
Utah Jazz — Own their pick.
The last time the Jazz conveyed a first-round pick was in 2012. The Rockets ended up taking Terrence Jones with the 18th pick. Originally the Jazz sent the pick to the Wolves as part of the trade package that netted them Al Jefferson. That trade involved Kosta Koufos and another first-round pick that ended up being Donatas Motiejunas in 2011. The pick found its way to Houston when the Rockets traded Chase Budinger for it.
Washington Wizards — Own their pick.
The Wizards last conveyed a pick in 2014 when the Suns selected Tyler Ennis with the 18th pick. Phoenix arrived at that pick after trading Marcin Gortat, Kendall Marshall, Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and the pick to Wizards for Emeka Okafor. Perhaps the player selected by Washington in 2016 will be part of a big sign-and-trade to land Kevin Durant?
You never know how these traded draft picks will shake out.
Does your team get to pick in the upcoming first round? (USATSI)
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