Here we are ! The 2022 NBA Draft will begin in a few hours. To preheat tonight, we wanted to list some of the biggest swaps of the last decade, swaps that fell on the day of the ceremony or shortly before. Be careful, in hindsight, some of these operations could shock uninformed readers.
Kawhi Leonard, Davis Bertans and Erazem Lorbek vs George Hill (2011)
So this really stings, even after more than ten years. Remember: we are in June 2011 and the Draft revolves around the Kyrie Irving phenomenon, selected in first choice. In the Top 10 of that year we find guys like Kemba Walker, Tristan Thompson or … Bismack Biyombo. Anyway the next. A little further down, a young winger named Kawhi Leonard is expected. Despite his obvious qualities, the executives have doubts about some aspects of his game, especially the 3-point shot. The Klaw then drops to 15th place, where he is enlisted by the Pacers. With Paul George already in this position and rather looking for a guard, Indiana will then try to trade him. Highly intelligent, the Spurs offer in return … 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 become since then, we know some who had to bite their fingers very hard in Indiana, but also among the 14 highest-placed franchises that year.
TODAY 10 YEARS AGO
The Pacers picked Kawhi Leonard with their 15th pick.
They then traded 42nd pick (Davis Bertans) and Erazem Lorbek with Spurs for George Hill. pic.twitter.com/w2EuzK2AlP
– Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) June 23, 2021
Third pick in draft (Jayson Tatum) and future pick in first round versus first pick (Markelle Fultz) (2017)
We have known for several years now that Danny Ainge is seriously ill when it comes to organizing exchanges to put his team in a good position. One of his biggest feats as a GM happened in the 2017 Draft. At the time still GM of the Celtics, Ainge is preparing for this deadline in a strong position as his franchise has the first pick for this Draft (thanks again to the Nets of the way). Markelle Fultz is the expected prospect in the first place, but Danny doesn’t feel that way. Also interested in Jayson Tatum, he will agree with the Sixers just a few days before the ceremony to swap their first pick for their pick 3 and a future round one pick. Everything is validated, the Sixers enlist Fultz while the Celtics choose Tatum. Five years later, JT has become the franchise leader in clubs and one of the best players in his position, while Markelle Fultz continues to struggle physically and struggle to exploit his potential. Hard reality for the player and the Sixers, but Danny Ainge still had his nose on this one.
Donovan Mitchell vs Trey Lyles & Tyler Lydon (2017)
Well, we grant you, this was perhaps more difficult to see it arrive. Dismissed by many franchises as he was only drafted in 13th position, Donovan Mitchell nevertheless took only a few months to establish himself as one of the best players of his year. We must therefore congratulate the Jazz on this big shot, since the Mormons did not have, from the start, a sufficiently good draft choice to hope to recover it. But with Mitchell still available after the first 10 selections, Utah tried their luck negotiating with Denver to claim full-back rights after the Nuggets picked him. Offering in exchange Trey Lyles and Tyler Lydon, newly drafted position 4 in 24th position (the counterpart pays), the deal was closed. Two players who won’t give much in the Rockies, unlike Donovan Mitchell who has been brilliant since his rookie year in Salt Lake City.
Luka Doncic vs Trae Young (2018)
And we end up with the heavy, and a profession that was talked about a lot at the time. We give you the context: we are on the eve of the 2018 Draft, a year that brings together many great talents. If Deandre Ayton is expected as the No. 1 in Phoenix, behind, things are shaking a bit: the Kings, Hawks, Grizzlies and Mavs are preparing and will have to make a choice. But some franchises are confident in the player they want to select and will agree with each other to secure the shot. It is in this idea that Atlanta, which has the third choice, will negotiate with Dallas, who will choose in fifth position. The Mavs absolutely want to recover Luka Doncic and will ask the Hawks to recruit him for them before recovering Trae Young two notches lower and proceeding to an exchange that also includes a protected draft of the first round 2019 (in favor of Atlanta). We already suspected this by seeing what the Slovenian had achieved in Europe, but we had the confirmation that Atlanta undoubtedly lacked generational talent while the franchise was in a position of strength. No disrespect against Trae Young, who is All-Star, he has a great start in his career in the NBA and is a great player in shape with his frankness. But when we see Luka’s greatness, especially in the playoffs, we think the Hawks may have missed out on something big in 2018.
BREAKING: Atlanta, who will draw Trae Young, will send Luka Doncic to Dallas to recover Young and a future draft pick!
– TrashTalk (@TrashTalk_fr) 21 June 2018
The last few hours before the Draft ceremony can get a little crazy and there’s a lot going on. Often trade 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.