NBA draft picks as a team rebuilding strategy


I envisioned three possible values of draft picks: better player talent, cheaper pay, and increasing options for the future. The main negatives of uncertainty in player development and the time needed to develop. But had really no great idea on how to weigh them.

However, I came across some great articles, particularly and, that helped clear the picture more. They really narrowed it down to simply how much cheaper a drafted player's results are compared to the same results from free agency.

Averaging from 538's table of net profit per pick... it appears that as of 2014, a random first round draft pick was a gain of about $13 million dollars salary over 5 seasons on average, or about $2.6 million per season. Which is about 4% of a team's cap (now ~ $3.1 million, next year probably near $4 million). Second round picks are worth probably at...

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It is legal in the NBA CBA to trade a player for cash (see pages 169-173). Larry Coon's excellent site covers this in detail. There is a limit for the total amount of cash that can change hands during the salary cap year per team; it changes each year but is between $3MM and $4MM total. As such it's not a whole lot of money compared to the total value of a team, so it's not exactly a lucrative way to make money.

Draft picks aren't explicitly mentioned as being able to be traded for cash or not being able to be traded for cash, so I believe they are able to be traded (as they're not particularly different from players), subject to the Ted Stepien Rule. They count as $0 towards the salary cap, though, until drafted. Given the fact that draft picks tend to be how you build a lower-salary team [as drafted players tend to overperform their salary due to rookie scale contracts], it wouldn't make a lot of sense to 'sell' a draft pick for cash directly. More effective would simply...

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Age: 16 - 18

I analyzed the past two championship teams who won it all in the last two years, and here is what I discovered about the types of players they drafted:

1. Last year's team:
First Round pick: Quick explosive ball handler
Second Round pick: Big man
Third Round pick: Big man
Fourth Round pick: Big man

From there on out, the team drafted mostly all-around role players and ball handlers.

2. Champions from two years ago:
First Round pick: Strong big man
Second Round pick: Strong big man
Third Round pick: Ball handler / Three point shooter
Fourth Round pick: Big man / Ball handler

From there on out, the team drafted all-around role players.

The obvious pattern here is that in order to build a good team, you should draft big men early. But Team 1 drafted the best player available (which wasn't a big man) and then proceeded to use the next three picks to draft big men. Team 2 made sure it drafted...

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European basketball players can apply for draft, just as any other player in world (USA colleague or high school player). Most of them are already scouted by some teams.

All NBA teams participate in draft lottery. There is decided in what order what team will pick players. NBA team with worst record last season has biggest chance to win rights to choose players first.

When teams know what pick they have, then they focus on that talent group. If team has mid-range pick (15th, for example), they will try to estimate what group of players will be left by then. So, week before draft night training camps takes place for all players that are to be drafted, and each team focus on particular group of players. They evaluate their skills, plus and cons, scout an evaluate them.

At the draft night, each team chooses player that they think is best from the pool of players left in the order decided by draft lottery.

By this time European players had same treatment as...

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Draft Grade

Additions Analysis


Tim Hardaway, Jr. (acquired for Kelly Oubre)
#50 Marcus Eriksson
#59 Dimitrios Agravanis

Obviously, the big acquisition from this draft for the Hawks was Tim Hardaway, Jr., which was kind of an odd addition as his volume shooting style isn’t very Popovich-ian and doesn’t seem to gel with the Hawk's current style of play. Plus, Kyle Korver is coming off a career year and seems to be The Guy on the wing, despite his age. Granted, as a team looking for help right away, with Hardaway, you know exactly what you’re going to get, and it's very solid. He’s better than the average pick that you will get at 15, but you sacrifice the upside of some of the guys you could have selected at #15 (like Kelly Oubre). Beyond Hardaway, the Hawks took a couple of draft-and-stash Euro prospects with their late picks. These two weren’t even really on the radar for international prospects. Both appear to be mildly skilled,...

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Just because the team is primarily building through the draft, doesn’t mean they can’t spend in free agency. Most high-profile free agents cost way too much though. A team should look to find good values deals. This can mean a third star for a sum of about $15-$20 million. Maybe the player is not a star but is pretty good and has potential, then go $10 million. If a good player is available though, the team should make a play on them, just as long as it doesn’t compromise financial capability for the future. Role players also need to be acquired. This might be a three-point specialist that can’t play defense, a rebounder that can’t score, or a wing-defender that can’t do... anything... besides defend the wing. These players are usually super cheap and can provide great value to the team. They will fill the roster outside of the drafted stars, a potential free agent acquisition, and a few filler players that are also acquired via free agency or in later drafts. Contracts should be...

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On Tuesday night, Kobe Bryant played his final game before his hometown crowd in Philadelphia. A rare sellout crowd at the Wells Fargo Center got everything it could’ve hoped for: a flurry of early threes from Bryant that touched off off a hard-fought game and ended in a standing ovation and a rare 76ers victory.

The Philadelphia faithful – who had booed Bryant in many past visits – continued to chant “Ko-Be!” after the final buzzer sounded, praising him for a career of a single-minded commitment to one thing – winning. Bryant lingered around the court, congratulating the young Sixers players on their first win of the season and holding up his hands in appreciation of the fans before finally departing through the tunnel. Everyone went home happy.

Everyone that is, except for maybe Philadelphia 76ers GM Sam Hinkie.

For NBA GMs, it is never too early to start looking toward the offseason. In their effort to turn losing franchises into winners, GMs employ a...

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Atlanta Hawks

2017 second round draft pick from Brooklyn
Brooklyn's 2017 2nd round pick to Atlanta [Atlanta-Brooklyn, 7/11/2012]

2017 second round draft pick from Miami
Miami's 2nd round pick to Atlanta protected for selections 31-40 in 2017 and unprotected in 2018 [Atlanta-Miami, 6/27/2013]

2018 first round draft pick from Minnesota
Minnesota's 1st round pick to Atlanta protected for selections in 1-14 in 2018, 1-14 in 2019 and 1-14 in 2020; if Minnesota has not conveyed a 1st round pick to Atlanta by 2020, then Minnesota will instead convey its 2020 2nd round pick and 2021 2nd round pick to Atlanta [Atlanta-Minnesota, 2/10/2015]

2019 first round draft pick from Cleveland
Cleveland's 1st round pick to Atlanta protected for selections in 1-10 in 2019 and 1-10 in 2020; if Cleveland has not conveyed a 1st round pick to Atlanta by 2020, then Cleveland will instead convey its 2021 2nd round pick and 2022 2nd round pick to Atlanta...

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