Here we are ! The 2022 NBA Draft begins in just a few hours. To preheat for this evening, we wanted to list you some of the biggest trades of the last decade, trades that fell on the day of the ceremony or just before. Be careful, with hindsight, some of these operations could shock uninformed readers.
Kawhi Leonard, Davis Bertans and Erazem Lorbek vs. George Hill (2011)
So this one really stings, even after more than ten years. Remember: we are in June 2011 and the Draft revolves around the phenomenon Kyrie Irving, selected in first pick. In the Top 10 that year, we find guys like Kemba Walker, Tristan Thompson or… Bismack Biyombo. Anyway next. A little further down, a young winger named Kawhi Leonard is expected. Despite obvious qualities, the managers have doubts about certain aspects of his game, in particular the 3-point shoot. The Klaw therefore goes down to 15th place, where he is drafted by the Pacers. With Paul George already on this position and rather looking for a guard, Indiana will therefore seek to exchange him. Very clever, the Spurs offer in exchange… George Hill. The deal is complete, and San Antonio even gets Davis Bertans and Erazem Lorbek (who?) along the way. When we see what Kawhi has since become, we know some who had to bite their fingers very hard in Indiana, but also among the 14 franchises placed higher that year.
10 YEARS AGO TODAY
The Pacers drafted Kawhi Leonard with the 15th pick.
They then traded him, the 42nd pick (Davis Bertans) & Erazem Lorbek to the Spurs for George Hill. pic.twitter.com/w2EuzK2AlP
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) June 23, 2021
The third draft pick (Jayson Tatum) and a future first-round pick against the first pick (Markelle Fultz) (2017)
We’ve known it for several years now that Danny Ainge is seriously ill when it comes to setting up trades to put his team in a good position. One of his biggest feats as GM happened in the 2017 Draft. At the time still GM of the Celtics, Ainge is preparing for this deadline in a position of strength since his franchise has the first choice for this Draft (thanks again to the Nets by the way). Markelle Fultz is the expected prospect in the first place but Danny does not hear it that way. Also interested in Jayson Tatum, he will agree with the Sixers just a few days before the ceremony to trade their first pick for their pick 3 and a future first-round pick. Everything is validated, the Sixers draft Fultz while the Celtics choose Tatum. Five years later, JT has become the franchise’s leader at clubs and one of the best players in his position while Markelle Fultz continues to struggle physically and struggles to exploit his potential. Harsh reality for the player and the Sixers, but Danny Ainge still had his nose on this one.
Donovan Mitchell vs. Trey Lyles and Tyler Lydon (2017)
Well, we grant you, this one was perhaps more difficult to see coming. Snubbed by a lot of franchises since he was only drafted in 13th position, Donovan Mitchell nevertheless only took a few months to establish himself as one of the very best players in his vintage. We must therefore congratulate the Jazz for this big blow, since the Mormons did not have, at the start, a draft choice sufficiently well placed to hope to recover it. But seeing that Mitchell was still available after the Top 10 selections, Utah tried their luck in negotiating with Denver to reclaim the rights to fullback after the Nuggets picked him. By offering in exchange Trey Lyles and Tyler Lydon, position 4 just drafted in 24th position (pays the counterpart), the deal was concluded. Two players who will not give much in the Rockies, unlike Donovan Mitchell, brilliant since his rookie year in Salt Lake City.
Luka Doncic vs. Trae Young (2018)
And we end with the heavy, and a trade that had a lot of talk at the time. We give you the context: we are on the eve of the Draft 2018, a vintage that brings together a lot of big talents. If Deandre Ayton is expected as the No. 1 choice in Phoenix, behind, things are shaking up a bit: the Kings, the Hawks, the Grizzlies and the Mavs are preparing and will have to make a choice. But some franchises are sure of the player they want to select and will agree among themselves to ensure the shot. It is in this idea that Atlanta, which has the third choice, will negotiate with Dallas, which will choose in fifth position. The Mavs absolutely want to recover Luka Doncic and will ask the Hawks to draft him for them before recovering Trae Young two notches lower and making a trade also involving a protected 2019 first round draft (in favor of Atlanta). We already suspected it by seeing what the Slovenian had achieved in Europe, but we had confirmation that Atlanta undoubtedly missed a generational talent while the franchise was in a strong position. No disrespect towards Trae Young who is All-Star, made a great start to his career in the NBA and is a very good fit with his frankness. But when we see Luka’s greatness, especially in the Playoffs, we think that the Hawks may have missed something big in 2018.
BREAKING: Atlanta, who will draft Trae Young, will send Luka Doncic to Dallas to recover Young and a future draft choice!
— TrashTalk (@TrashTalk_fr) June 21, 2018
The final hours before the Draft ceremony can get a little crazy, and there’s a lot going on. Often trades trivial, but sometimes also unexpected moves that change the fate of a franchise. We can’t wait to see what the GMs have in store for us tonight.