Trading back into the NBA Draft after selecting in the late-lottery is a great option for the San Antonio Spurs as they begin their rebuild.
It’s looking more and more like the San Antonio Spurs are going to miss the postseason for the first time in 22 seasons, which means it’s time to look toward the future. A large part of that next step will be their plethora of decisions regarding the 2020 NBA Draft and which players they’re most interested in pursuing moving forward.
San Antonio’s young core is strong and full of potential, led by star guards with athleticism and two-way prowess that will bode well as they develop as professionals. However, they’ll need to address some concerns in the frontcourt before they take that next step. Considering this is a relatively guard-heavy draft class, especially at the top, the Spurs might want to add a pick so they can take a swing on a big-name guard early and snag a frontcourt player later on.
One way to do that is to recognize which teams are the major players on the draft board. The lottery is still undetermined as the end of the season will decide where everyone falls exactly, but we can project ahead based on current standings and the scope of knowledge that we already have. As of now, it’s looking like a few of these teams with multiple first-round draft picks will want to do some creative maneuvering and the Spurs could be in line to capitalize on that.
The NBA Draft isn’t an easy situation to navigate, but San Antonio’s front office is known for its ability to select high-quality NBA talent late in the draft. Now that their own pick is going to be higher than its been since 1997, they can seriously consider some of the top talents in this class.
So which teams are the most likely to trade their first-rounders this offseason?
Next: Minnesota gears up for a new dawn
Minnesota Timberwolves: Projected 3rd, 16th and 33rd picks
Now that the Timberwolves were finally able to acquire rising star D’Angelo Russell after multiple attempts at courting him, they’ve got the duo that they intend to build their franchise around. Combine that with the fact that newly-acquired wing Malik Beasley is playing well above expectations and now, T-Wolves executive Gersson Rosas has got to be feeling pretty good about his team.
That’s why now’s the perfect time to trade away the 16th overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Minnesota has been drafting talent from outside of the playoffs for the majority of their franchise’s existence and after one brief playoff appearance in 2018, their eyes are likely set on returning to the postseason again next year. With that in mind, they might not want to go through the hassle of drafting and developing a player instead of using that pick to bring in someone who can help them immediately.
The Minnesota Timberwolves NEED to hit big with their two firsts this year. With 3 picks projected within the top 33, 2 in the first round (1 in top 3) they have to come away with a big time player.
— Damienひ (@DABartonek) June 15, 2020
Veteran forward Rudy Gay makes a lot of sense for the Timberwolves as a leader and tertiary scorer off the bench. Their frontcourt rotation, outside of Karl-Anthony Towns, could use some help and bringing in a presence like Gay to provide leadership to that locker room would be a great opportunity for them. Luckily, they acquired Beasley’s bird rights in the trade, so they can go over the cap to re-sign him without being penalized too heavily.
Meanwhile, San Antonio could work wonders in that range by picking one of the more interesting players who’s bound to slip outside of the lottery.
Next: Contenders don't need picks
Boston Celtics: Projected 17th, 26th, 30th and 46th picks
We all know that Celtics general manager Danny Ainge likes to work wonders in the NBA Draft, but this time, he doesn’t need to. His Boston squad is already one of the contenders to win the Eastern Conference on the back of first-time All-Star Jayson Tatum’s breakout year and a well-balanced roster of talented players. Now, he can use these picks to bring in quality role players.
Boston’s biggest need is in the frontcourt without question and has been rumored to be in the market for bigs ever since center Al Horford left them for the rival Philadelphia 76ers. Ainge could use one of those picks to dangle over the San Antonio Spurs heads for any number of players—specifically in the frontcourt.
With such a wealth of draft assets this year, the Celtics don’t need four new rookies on their team. What they really need is passionate, athletic bigs to slot in with that small-ball lineup of switchable wings and an All-NBA-caliber floor general in Kemba Walker.
I could see the Spurs sending second-year big Chimezie Metu to Bean Town for a late-first rounder considering his athletic ability and cheap contract. Boston doesn’t have much money to toss around this offseason and the talent pool is shallow, so trading for a young, cheap player like Metu might be something that would entice them.
Another idea to consider is a sign-and-trade for Jakob Poeltl, who the Celtics witnessed first-hand against their Atlantic Division rivals, the Toronto Raptors for two seasons. In theory, Poeltl can bring everything the Celtics need in a big man right now: rim protection, rebounding prowess and a low-floor, high-ceiling offensive game. That deal would net the Spurs that 17th pick or better.
Next: New York is fed up
New York Knicks: Projected 6th, 27th and 38th picks
I’m about to do something that very few people ever dare to do and give the New York Knicks some credit. Despite completely wasting the best basketball market in the world for the better portion of their existence, the Knicks actually have decent scouting at times. In recent years, some of their successful pickups include Mitchell Robinson, Kristaps Porzingis, Allonzo Trier, Kenny Wooten and Damyean Dotson.
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Believe it or not, the Knicks do a decent job of picking guys who can go out there and get buckets for them. However, they’ve also swung and missed on quite a few in the meanwhile. The jury’s still out on RJ Barrett, who has a lot of talent but had horrific shooting splits on a team that was not designed for him at all in his rookie year. We’ve seen just about nothing from Kevin Knox so far and Frank Ntilikina remains an unknown with a niche fanbase pulling for him to find his way.
There’s no doubt in my mind they’re going to try to land LaMelo Ball this offseason, but they might not have the right assets to make it work. Regardless, It’d be very unsurprising to see the Knicks shop that 27th pick and bank on their ability to find solid talent in the second-round, which is one of their actual talents as an organization.
I could see New York fed up with using these picks to no avail under new management this year. Therefore, the Spurs might be able to capitalize on that by shipping one of their players to the Knicks for that 27th pick to take a swing late in the draft.
It probably wouldn’t take all too much either, though there’s always a chance that the Spurs ship DeMar DeRozan to the Knicks in a sign-and-trade to get them their long-awaited star.