Reviewing The History Of Teams Trading A Top Five NBA Draft Pick In Rookie Season


Feb 2, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Chris Copeland (14) defends Sacramento Kings power forward Thomas Robinson (0) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 120-81. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday marked just the sixth time since the creation of the NBA Lottery that a top five pick was traded in his rookie season – below are the other moves:

Donyell Marshall – Traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Golden State Warriors for Tom Gugliotta.

Derrick Favors – Traded by the New Jersey Nets with Devin Harris, cash, a 2011 1st round draft pick (Enes Kanter) and a future 1st round draft pick to the Utah Jazz for Deron Williams.

Chauncey Billups – Traded by the Boston Celtics with Dee Brown, Roy Rogers and John Thomas to the Toronto Raptors for Kenny Anderson, Popeye Jones and Zan Tabak.

Drew Gooden – Traded by the Memphis Grizzlies with Gordan Giricek to the Orlando Magic for Ryan Humphrey, Mike Miller, a 2003 1st round draft pick (Kendrick Perkins) and a 2004 2nd round draft pick (Sergei Lishouk).

Looking at those deals, you get a pretty big bag of mixed results.

Marshall ended up playing parts of six seasons for the Warriors, but only broke the 33 minute barrier in one of those seasons. Marshall ended up averagging over 11 points and 6 rebounds during his tenure by the Bay. Gugliotta on the other hand spent four seasons in Minnesota and put up much better numbers, averaging nearly 18 points with over 8 rebounds a game. Statistically, you could call the Timberwolves winners in that deal.

The Derrick Favors deal is still one that could go either way, at least from a numbers standpoint. Favors has played relatively well during his floor time in Utah, but with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap infront of him, it’s been difficult for the former Georgia Tech talent to see the floor. Utah has expressed interest in moving Jefferson or Millsap however to get Favors the needed minutes, but it’s tough to call this trade either way. For Brooklyn and Deron Williams, the numbers have dipped since the All-Star talent went East and there’s been turmoil with the team, something there were reports of in Utah as well that ended up being a driving force behind the trade. The addition of Enes Kanter and a first round pick could sway this one towards Utah if you really wanted to make a pick now, but more realistically – you might want to wait a few more seasons to give a final tally.

One trade that certainly didn’t get equal value would be the Orlando Magic’s acquisition of Drew Gooden. The then 21 year old only spent two seasons in the land of Disney before moving on, only putting up sub-par numbers of 12.6 and 7.4 rebounds a game, not exactly what you were hoping for given the price tag. Mike Miller on the other hand spent parts of six seasons in Memphis, put up 14.6/4.6 rebounds/3.3 assists, with a handful of those seasons playing as a reserve. Add in a first round draft pick (that would eventually become Kendrick Perkins, though he never played for Memphis) and the Grizzlies were the clear and obvious beneficiaries of this move.

Lastly, is the Chauncey Billups trade – one that Boston Celtics are still probably regretting. Billups was most certainly a slow bloomer which more than a few GM’s can admit a whiff on, but for the return, it’s still difficult to give Boston a positive grade on the move. Kenny Anderson, the one time All-Star, was the centerpiece of the acquisition and while he did play parts of five seasons for Boston and put up respectable numbers, Billups easily turned out to be the best talent out of that trade.

So while historically we don’t have a lot to go off of when a team trades a top five pick in their rookie year, what we do know is the results are mixed. The Minnesota Timberwolves did well trading their top five pick as did the Memphis Grizzlies. The Boston Celtics, did not. As for the Brooklyn (then New Jersey) Nets – the jury is still out on that deal, maybe it’s the lone deal that worked out for both teams – that remains to be seen.

Hopefully for Sacramento and Houston, both young talents emerge and become the player both teams are wanting. Historically, there always looks to be a winner – at least in this scenario – but we wont know that result for a few more years, at least. Still a difficult pill to swallow if you’re a Sacramento Kings fan though.