The concept of which teams “won” and which teams “lost” on draft night seems rather ridiculous to me. To try to project the next five years for a player before they’ve even signed a contract just doesn’t jive with common sense. For example, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was selected #2 overall by Charlotte. By all accounts, Kidd-Gilchrist is a good kid and a strong player. Some people have gone so far as to say that he could be the next Scottie Pippen.
The only problem with that comparison is that Kidd-Gilchrist, as he is right now, can’t really dribble or shoot. It’s hard to be the next Scottie Pippen, one of the best all-around forwards in league history, when lacking those primary talents. To be frank, the likelihood that Kidd-Gilchrist never develops those skills and ends up only as a better version of Corey Brewer seems just as high as the likelihood that he evolves into the second coming of the Chicago Bulls great.
Furthermore, Kidd-Gilchrist’s offensive game isn’t much to speak of at the moment, but he will most likely be asked to shoulder a fair share of the offensive load in Charlotte, as the team really doesn’t have anyone else capable of doing so. Giving a young player more responsibility than he can reasonably handle can lead to a host of problems, like developing poor shot selection. Had he been drafted by a team like Cleveland, who already possess an elite offensive creator in Kyrie Irving, Kidd-Gilchrist would have only had to run the floor, crash the boards, and be all over the place on defense, three elements of the game where he shines. In Charlotte, he’ll be required to do all of those things, in addition to a ton of other responsibilities on the court that he simply isn’t good at, and won’t be any time soon.
So yeah, in five years, Kidd-Gilchrist might be as good as Andre Iguodala is now. He might be the second-best player from this draft. On the other hand, he might only be as good as Corey Brewer is now, which possibly makes him only be the ninth-best player from this draft. So did Charlotte “win” or “lose”? Do you see why these questions are rather disingenuous? Here are a two other examples:
Houston dealt their first-round pick (#14) pick and Samuel Dalembert to Milwaukee for the #12 pick, and traded Chase Buddinger to Minnesota for the #18 pick. Those two picks, along with the #16, which they got from New York in the 2010 Tracy McGrady trade, were reportedly being shopped, hoping to get a top-10 pick in return. The Rockets were making a run at Dwight Howard, and were trying to assemble the pieces to offer a palatable package to Orlando.
As we know now, they came up short. This has led some people to label them as “losers” of this year’s draft. However, this logic makes little-to-no sense. Does this mean since the Rockets weren’t able to build a package for Dwight Howard, that the franchise going to fold? Of course not. They are just going to continue to roll over their assets, as they did after their trade for Pau Gasol (part of the Chris Paul-Lakers swap) was nixed by the NBA. They enjoy a fair amount of cap space and a handful of promising young players with inexpensive contracts. Just because they struck out on Dwight Howard doesn’t mean they failed. If Josh Smith, Pau Gasol, or any other big-name player becomes available in the next few months (which seems likely), the Rockets will be at the top of the list of teams able to obtain them.
As Miami’s pick approached in the draft, it seemed more and more likely that the Heat would be able to fill a hole on their roster. If they wanted a banger who could score and rebound in the post, they could have swiped Arnett Moultrie from Mississippi State. If they wanted a big man who could protect the rim and block shots, they could have taken Festus Ezeli from Vanderbilt. If they wanted a shooter who could stretch the floor and (possibly) replace the (possibly) retiring Mike Miller, they could have taken Jeff Taylor from Vanderbilt. If they wanted to add a swingman with versatility to fit into the famous mix-and-match lineups that LeBron and Wade allow them to play, they could have nabbed Perry Jones or Quincy Miller from Baylor, or Draymond Green from Michigan State. Each of those players were on the board, and any of them would have likely filled a role and succeeded for Miami.
So what did Miami do? They traded the pick. In return, they received a future first-round pick from Philadelphia (most likely next year) and the #45 pick, where they took Justin Hamilton from LSU.
The detractors said this was a poor trade. ESPN’s Chad Ford gave Miami’s effort an “F” in his Draft Grade column on Friday. There were a number of players on the board who could have helped the team right away, and while the pick from Philadelphia next year will likely be higher in the draft, it’s just as likely to possess less value, as next year’s draft is projected to be much weaker.
However, there are a number of reasons why this trade was a smart one for Miami. A first-round draft choice has a guaranteed contract that goes along with it, something that Miami is trying to avoid right now. Second-round picks have no such guarantee. By trading the pick, Miami keeps money off their books, which could prove to be immensely valuable. If Mike Miller retires or agrees to a partial buyout of his contract, that would allow Miami to use their amnesty exception on Joel Anthony. If they do both of those things, they will be underneath the luxury tax threshold, which allows them to spend more money in free agency.
If they are over the luxury tax, the most money they can offer is the “mini-Mid-Level Exception," starting at $3 million for the first season. However, if they get below the luxury tax threshold, they can offer the full Mid-Level exception, starting at $5 million for the first season. This puts them in a much more competitive position to sign some of the more coveted free agents this summer, such as Steve Nash or Ray Allen. If they had kept their first-round pick, and the guaranteed contract attached to it, this scenario is effectively impossible. If you were Miami, would you rather have Draymond Green, or Ray Allen?
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