The Value of the Portland Trail Blazers Draft Picks

Dave,

I've heard a lot about the value of trading the 6th pick and or packaging the 6th amd 11th pick together. In your opinion what are the different scenarios and the value individually/collectively the picks might return in value?

Well that's the question of the hour, isn't it? The Blazers are certain to find out the answer in the next three weeks. Let's hope we like it.

As I've already said (and will surely say again before the draft is complete) those picks have no absolute, intrinsic value. They're only as good as the players you can draft with them. That leaves the determination of value in the purview of the guy on the other end of that trade phone. If another GM is all agog about a player they can get at #6 that pick's value is high. If not, it nears zero.

We can make some guesses at the relative value of the picks compared to other years, however, even knowing that the estimate will be inexact.

This draft is purported to be deep. There's a drop-off after the first pick, again around picks 5 or 6, and again in the teens. But the drops aren't as severe as in many years. Therefore relative to other picks, these mid-lottery selections have comparatively high value. Trading up should be easier this year than most, as higher lottery teams can still find legit players--maybe not too much worse than the ones they would have gotten--at Portland's positions. A two-for-one to move up should be quite enticing. Trading down is an option in every draft. You can always find partners willing to move up, it's just a matter of how low you're willing to go to get the deal done. If the Blazers have targeted a specific player and know where he's going to go they should be in great position to maneuver. Unless, of course, that player is Anthony Davis. Then forget it.

That same lack of definition may make trading for established players more difficult, however. This draft is heavy on solid players, light on perceived superstars. You might not see GM's willing to make a swing-for-the-fences kind of move even for a relatively high pick. Unless you covet a specific player, why pay through the nose for #6 when you might get comparative value at #13 for a much lesser cost? Why trade a solid experienced player--let alone a star--for a solid inexperienced one? That's not to say trades are impossible, but you're either going to have to find somebody who sees great potential in a guy available at #6 (as opposed to 3, 4, or 5) or you're going to have to throw in other considerations like taking on extra salary in order to get such a deal done.

I could see the Blazers making a trade for a solid guy with the #11 pick. Because of draft depth, another team might expect to get a potential starter there. If they're looking for someone with a higher ceiling and are willing to part with a mid-rotation player to get that chance, Portland might be well-advised to take that deal...in essence getting a sure 5th-7th man who isn't going to get better in exchange for a rookie who might get better but isn't going to contribute right away. This assumes, of course, that the Blazers are still set on rebuilding quickly around LaMarcus Aldridge. If they're willing to go through a deeper, slower rebuild they need to use both picks because that #11 is like a free extra shot at a long-term rotation guy.

Summarizing: The lengthy middle bell curve of this draft also translates to the lack of a pronounced high end. This should make trading around in the draft much easier. It should also allow the Blazers to look for solid, experienced players in trade around the league. But it might not lead to an easy star-level acquisition despite the 6th and 11th picks looking pretty good on paper. Teams with really good players to offer should have plenty of opportunities to make trades above, below, and around the Blazers in this kind of draft, providing they're inclined to offer them in the first place.

--Dave (blazersub@gmail.com)

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