Trends at No. 6: Trading the draft pick

Dirk-Nowitzke-Reggie-Evans

This is first in a series that analyzes the recent past in an effort to better understand the Sacramento Kings’ draft possibilities.

Nothing excites an NBA fan base more than a shiny, new rookie drafted in the top 10 (or perhaps free tacos). But considering the Kings’ marginal success on draft night for the last decade, trading their pick this year may be a better option.

The May 19 lottery allotted Sacramento the sixth overall pick, where teams have found gold in the likes of Damian Lillard (2012) and Antoine Walker (1996). When the dust settles from the initial few selections, the qualified crop of players left at No. 6 are usually more established prospects with lower ceilings, or riskier gambles.

The Kings, on a self-imposed deadline to skyrocket in the standings immediately, could use a youngster who contributes from the get-go. Better yet, the team could take advantage of its draft pick by flexing creativity in a trade.

In the past 20 years, the sixth overall pick has been traded at its truest value (following the lottery announcement and through draft night) three times. All occurred live during their respective drafts.

Details listed below:


1998

-Dallas Mavericks traded sixth pick (Robert Traylor)

-Milwaukee Bucks traded ninth pick (Dirk Nowitzki), 19th pick (Pat Garrity)

Notes: The Mavericks traded Garrity to the Phoenix Suns shortly after.


2006

-Minnesota Timberwolves traded sixth pick (Brandon Roy)

-Portland Trail Blazers traded seventh pick (Randy Foye), cash considerations

Notes: The seventh pick originally belonged to Boston Celtics.


2013

-New Orleans Pelicans traded sixth pick (Nerlens Noel), 2014 first round pick

-Philadelphia 76ers traded 42nd pick (Pierre Jackson), Jrue Holiday

Notes: The Pelicans’ 2014 first round pick was top five protected and used by the 76ers to draft Michael Carter-Williams.


Each trade served a different purpose. The 1996 Mavericks were looking to move down, as were the 2006 Timberwolves, though their circumstance was the result of a handshake deal gone awry. The 2013 Pelicans were intent on adding established NBA talent.

Of the three teams, today’s Kings most closely resemble the 2013 Pelicans because of their imminent desire to improve. In exchange for the sixth selection and the future tenth pick, the Pelicans received a young point guard coming off his first All-Star season.

Coincidentally, rumors have tied the Kings to acquiring the Denver Nuggets’ Ty Lawson. A similar deal not as steep in price as Holiday’s could make sense.

Sacramento can draw lessons from the 1998 Mavericks and 2006 Timberwolves too. Both teams saw a prospect they liked who was available at a lower slot, so they intended to gain assets. The Mavericks knocked it out of the park by nabbing Nowitzki and packaging Garrity in a separate deal to land Steve Nash. However the Trail Blazers at No. 7 ruined Minnesota’s backdoor deal with the Rockets at No. 8 by stealing Foye, the Timberwolves’ man all along. The Kings should recognize the value in attempting such an orchestrated move, but be wary of mischievous rival GMs.

For trading down, the Mavericks were content with the 19th pick. The Timberwolves would have liked Luther Head, who was the 24th pick a year prior. If the Kings were to trade up a few selections into the vaunted top five, the cost would be considerably higher. Sacramento’s still young and promising former lottery picks Nik Stauskas and Ben McLemore may be enough on their own to swap selections with the Magic (picking fifth) or the Knicks (fourth).

The Kings could always buck history and blow us away with a franchise-defining blockbuster for the ages. Or they could simply keep the pick. What’s clear is that Sacramento has numerous trade avenues to explore in the days leading up to June 25.

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Rui Thomas
Rui Thomas is a writer and reporter for Cowbell Kingdom. He previously covered the Sacramento Kings and the NBA for Sports Out West. He is published by Sports Illustrated’s Truth and Rumors and Yahoo Sports NFL among others.

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