With the results of the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery in, teams can begin to look forward to their selections in the upcoming draft. The New Orleans Hornets have won the lottery and will be picking first in the 2012 draft, but after the first pick the draft, decisions are a lot less clear cut. Kentucky's Anthony Davis stands to be drafted first overall, and the chips may not fall predictably from number 2 on out. There's a related question fans may begin asking themselves in Detroit-- should the Pistons, picking 9th, attempt to move up for a wider selection in this deep draft?
Trading up in the NBA draft is never a buyer's market. A high lottery pick is golden on the trade market for the seller, while buyers may mortgage a bit too much to attempt a draft-day blockbuster. The question to ask is simple-- would any of the top lottery teams consider parting with their picks for a Pistons asset? If Greg Monroe is on the table, they'd be wise to listen. If the Pistons are offering, they'd be wise to stop. Let's explore the top picks and see who might be open to a trade by draft day on June 28th:
1. New Orleans Hornets
The Hornets, having traded Chris Paul, are in need for the best, cheapest star player they can get their hands on. There is no greater promise to a team like the Hornets than Anthony Davis, and there is no one standing in their way for this pick. Unless Pat Riley makes a last minute call to Dell Demps, there should be nothing to make NOLA pause for a second on their draft day planning.
Will the Hornets trade down? As unlikely as it gets.
The Bobcats have a horrible roster with a world of promise. They've got a team full of expiring assets for next season and are in a position to rebuild better than most teams that need it. The fact that Anthony Davis is off the board might actually be a good thing for Charlotte. They need a dynamic scorer that doesn't suck on the other end, and Thomas Robinson might be the best draft option they could hope for. Things are about to change for the Bobcats, and by this time next summer they might become a fast-rising team to watch out for.
Will the Bobcats trade down? Very unlikely*.
*the only note is that Rich Cho is a smart MFer and I wouldn't be surprised if he pulled a trade of the #2 for two later lottery picks. This is the type of guy who walks out of the draft with Kendall Marshall and Jared Sullinger in tow.
The Wizards are in need of... everything but a point guard. They need cheap, potential star talent in a bad way, and that's precisely what will be available to them at number 3. If they choose Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, they're golden. I don't know why this franchise would over-think that. If they stick to their guns, they're due a dramatic improvement on the wing.
Will the Wizards trade down? As unlikely as it gets.
The Cavaliers made out brilliantly in the 2011 draft, taking Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. This team has needed wings for ages, and they're in a great position to fill that need in June. Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes-- expect them to land right here on draft night. Sure, Cleveland could trade down or out, but why reach for a more expensive option for a squad so young and promising?
Will the Cavaliers trade down? As unlikely as it gets.
The interest in looking at the top four picks and their likelihood to trade is telling. Beyond these four, is there any reason for Detroit to attempt to move up to pick between 5 and 8? At this point in the draft, Detroit would be looking at marginal wing players and combo guards that the team doesn't need. Andre Drummond might be selected in this range, but that's a great thing for the Pistons as it pushes other prospects lower. Even including Drummond, is there any reason the Pistons should seek to move up for a higher draft?
In short, no. There is no player in the 5-8 range that is attractive enough that Detroit should consider giving up an asset to pick higher. As far as trade assets go, we've been pretty explicit about who is a trade asset and who is not. Detroit would have to give up something real to move up, and chances are the price would be too high. Now if the Pistons can use a mid-tier roster player like Brandon Knight to acquire another pick, that's something to discuss on its own.
There's no real value in attempting to trade up this season. The top four picks are where the concrete value lies, and the teams that hold those picks should have no reason for moving down. After those picks, the next four don't hold a lot of value for the Pistons' roster needs.
While it has been very different in the past, this draft is different. There's no apparently greater opportunity or value in trading up in the 2012 NBA draft. There should be real value on the board at #9, and looking higher only complicates the very difficult job of player analysis. If you're picking 6th or 9th in this draft, you might be equally liable for an upset come November. Personally, I would have loved to have earned the 6th pick naturally-- but keeping this pick and holding on to the rest of the team's assets seems like the wise option today.