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Don’t Bet the Farm on NBA Draft Night Trades

This 2024 NBA Draft class is weird for several reasons. First, there is no clear-cut, All-Star-level talent at the top of the draft. Second, two teams selecting among the top five picks nearly made the playoffs/Play-In Tournament last season. Both are big reasons why NBA odds lean toward the 2024 Draft featuring some trades.

Because the talent in this draft features more role players than impact players, playoff teams might be more willing to trade up to select the perfect fit for them, which gives them contract control for the next seven seasons. That is an incentive for teams to trade up into the top 10 picks to ensure they get that missing piece to their roster.

Don’t Bet the Farm on NBA Draft Night Trades
Atlanta Hawks wins the NBA draft lottery in Chicago - Jacek Boczarski / Anadolu


Will Hawks Buck Odds, Trade No. 1 Overall Pick?

With the Atlanta Hawks winning the first overall pick in the draft lottery, they are in position to trade it away for a veteran player to help them win now. The Hawks had the 10th-lowest percentage of winning the first overall pick, with a 3% chance of jumping up to the first overall selection. They ended last season in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, losing in the Play-In Tournament.

Winning the draft lottery opened up a whole new world for the Hawks. They can go anywhere on their magic carpet ride, which is the No. 1 overall pick. There are rumors of them trading away one of their star guards in Trae Young or Dejounte Murray, potentially starting a rebuild and keeping the first overall pick. The Hawks could also trade center Clint Capela, opening the door for them to draft Donovan Clingan first overall.

However, neither of these possible trade options involves the Hawks moving the first overall pick. Because there is no All-Star-level talent at the top of the draft, the Hawks likely will not be able to trade the first overall pick for a top veteran player. Due to its value, the Hawks will take the gamble and not trade the first overall pick, likely not getting the best return for it. The sportsbook odds are set at -400 for them not to trade the pick.


Good Bet One Team Trades into Top 5?

With it seeming that the Hawks will use their first overall pick, there are four other options for a team to trade into the top five. According to the sportsbook, that does seem like a possibility, with the line for the over on ½ trades within the top five picks being set at +120.

In reality, only one team seems open to trades if the Hawks don’t change their mind, and that is the Houston Rockets at No. 3. The Washington Wizards (No. 2), San Antonio Spurs (No. 4) and Detroit Pistons (No.5) are all teams going through rebuilds, meaning they will use this opportunity to add young talent and making it less likely they will trade their pick.

However, the Rockets went 41-41 last season, getting the third overall pick when they traded James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets in 2021. Furthermore, the Rockets’ roster is already filled with young talent. Since 2021, they have drafted five important players: Jalen Green, Jabari Smith, Tari Eason, Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore. They also traded for Alperen Sengun’s draft rights.

All six of these players have been selected in the first round, and it does not seem like t​​his roster needs more young talent to develop. It is already hard enough to find roles for all six of these players, and adding another will only make it more complicated, especially if the Rockets want to be competitive in the tough Western Conference this season.

The smartest decision is to trade the third overall pick for a win-now player. Will that happen? Time will tell, but it seems like a real possibility.


Will This Draft Go Against History? Odds Say No

The final odds the sportsbook has up for draft night trades is an over/under on the number of trades within the first 10 picks. The line is set at two, with the odds to hit the under at -150, which makes a lot of sense, given the history of the draft.

Last season, in the 2023 draft, there were only two trades within the first 10 picks. The Indiana Pacers and Wizards flipped the seventh and eighth picks while the Dallas Mavericks moved up to the 10th pick. That was the first time a top-10 pick was traded since the New Orleans Pelicans traded the 10th overall selection in 2021.

In addition, only five other top-10 picks have been traded on draft night since 2014. That makes only eight trades within the first 10 selections of the NBA draft in 10 years. Even though this draft has the potential to be one in which teams try to make trades because of the uncertainty of the class, the history does back the line.

That makes the over, on two trades within the first 10 picks, with odds set at +110, an unlikely betting option.


Best Bet for Draft Night Trades

If you are looking at the NBA lines for draft-night trades, there is not that much value. The best value is that a team will trade into the top five picks because the Rockets are the most likely option for that. But the over on ½ trades in the first five picks has moved from  -110 to +`120. The next best option is to take the under on two trades in the first 10 picks, mainly due to the history of the draft and the slim chance of it hitting the over while still having decent odds at -150.



Questions Of The Day

Will a team trade up into the top 10 in the 2024 draft?

The best spot for a team to trade up in the draft might be the Houston Rockets at pick three. They don’t need much more young talent and could try to trade the pick for a role player in a win-now move.

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