The Missing Piece: Trading out of the 2014 Super Draft

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Published: May 25, 2013

Though I always try to do the pieces in this series as objectively as possible, two things have become blatently clear to me in this last week, and as a result, this Missing Piece will be more subjective than any of the others. The two things are as follows:

1.) The 2014 NBA Draft appears to have the most talent since the infamous 2003 Draft.

and

2.) The New Orleans Pelicans need to trade their 2014 1st round pick NOW!

The second statement doesn’t seem to naturally follow from the first, unless of course my argument was that I wanted to sabotage the Pelicans. But read that first statement again. Did you notice that I used the phrase ‘appears to have’, as opposed to saying that it ‘has the most talent? I say that because it is impossible to judge a draft this far out, and this year’s draft is evidence of that. Remember when James McAdoo, Tony Mitchell, and Alex Poythress will are projected top five picks? You should, it was just a few months ago that they were all projected to go high and become difference makers in the league. Archie Goodwin was another sure fire lottery pick and Steven Adams was #1 or #2 on some mock drafts last August. Then those guys actually played games this year and the rest is history. Now, look at some of these 2014 mock drafts, the one’s that imagine the ceilings for all these 17 and 18 year old boys. Of course the 2014 draft looks strong in that context, but how much do you want to bet that half of the guys in the top 16 of that mock draft aren’t even in the discussion for being a lotto pick this time next year?

But even if you believe that this year will be different, wouldn’t you agree that selling a stock at its peak is almost always a good idea? The Clippers did it to us when they gave us the Minnesota pick for CP3 and the Rockets did it when they gave up Toronto’s pick to acquire James Harden. In thoery, those picks were so tempting to the teams that acquired them because they weren’t a player with flaws; they were abstract, endless possibilities, and GM’s like those so much more. Each of those picks were the second best assets in trades that landed superstars. Heck, you could argue that at the time the Thunder traded James Harden, the Toronto pick might have been the most coveted long term asset in that deal. Flash forward a couple months later and that has turned into the 12th pick in a weak draft and it probably couldn’t fetch you a solid 7th or 8th man in a trade. Same could probably be said for Rivers, who New Orleans took with the Minnesota pick. The Rockets and Clippers sold high. The Pelicans should do the same.

And you gotta believe that any team that trades for the Pelicans first round pick in 2014 thinks that they will get a top 7 or 8 pick, and why shouldn’t they? New Orleans has finished last and second to last in the Western Conference the past two years. You sell that pick early in the offseason, before you make massive improvements, and teams will give you more than they would after you signed an Iguodala or a Pekovic. When you add all of these factors and combine it with the fact that the team wants to create a winning culture, everything points to trading this pick when its value is at an all time high. So, now that we have all agreed on this philosophy, let’s take a look at who we can target.

1. Anybody in the 2013 Draft

Pick up the phone and tell them that you will trade the 6th pick and your 2014 1st rounder and you can move up as high as you want in this draft if you identify a particular player that can be a major piece moving forward.

2. Rajon Rondo

If the Celtics decide to blow it up this year, they will at least entertain offers for Rajon Rondo. Our pick this year and next plus either Vasquez or Austin Rivers might be hard for Boston to pass up.

3. Nicolas Batum

The Blazers like him, but Monty loves him. If they identify a small forward that they love at number 10 this year, they could move Batum for Robin Lopez and our 2014 1st rounder.

4. Al Horford

I was told by a little birdie that if Atlanta strikes out on CP3 and Dwight, they might consider blowing it all up and trying to pick up multiple picks in the 2014 draft. Our 2013 and 2014 1st rounders plus Robin Lopez could make them a very interesting team by 2015. I was told they love CJ McCollum. McCollum, Wiggins, and Willie Cauley-Stein could make them Thunder East.

The formula is there and the time is right for the New Orleans Pelicans to sell an asset right now at its absolute peak. If they truly believe that this past season will be the last one where they will lose more than they win for the foreseeable future, then they need to move the 2014 pick while the other 29 times in the league believe that the 2014 draft will be chalk full of All-Stars and the Pelicans will be a bottom feeder once again. Pray on their hope. Pray on their ignorance. Pray on their fantasies. Pray on all of this by trading the pick as soon as possible to get the missing piece.

The Missing Piece is a weekly feature that you can find every Saturday on bourbonstreetshots.com. For past articles in this series, click here.

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