The 2016 NBA Draft is finally here. At some point after 7:00 pm ET, Ben Simmons will be taken first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. Almost certainly, Brandon Ingram will follow to the Los Angeles Lakers and at the three spot, the Boston Celtics will either select Kris Dunn or get the party started with a trade.
Whether Boston pulls the trigger on a trade or not, that third pick is where the fun truly starts, as it’s the first pick in this year’s draft with any true uncertainty surrounding it. That gives the Celtics serious power, as they can upgrade at point guard via Dunn, go for long-term upside in Dragan Bender or sell their pick to the highest bidder.
Trade rumors have already started swirling, but as the draft creeps closer, they’ll only intensify. It hasn’t been all smoke to this point, either, as just yesterday we saw two massive deals that saw big names such as Derrick Rose, Jeff Teague, George Hill and Robin Lopez switch teams. There’s no guarantee as to who will get dealt during the draft tonight, but the odds certainly increase with teams jockeying for position and thinking ahead to free agency and next season.
With that, let’s countdown the remaining hours by taking a look at the biggest names that could be traded tonight:
Isaiah Thomas, PG, Boston Celtics
Thomas is a good place to start, as his team is looking at a ton of different scenarios with the #3 overall pick tonight. Drafting point guard Kris Dunn is the one that could send IT2 out of town, because his role would then likely be reduced to a bench scorer.
— Dime Magazine (@DimeMag) June 22, 2016
Thomas is a fantastic outside shooter and pure scorer, but he’s not a great defender, not a traditional point guard and he’s pretty small. He’s also still an asset, so if Boston finds a legit point guard, they could then look to move Thomas, who unlike guys like Marcus Smart or Avery Bradley, can’t really play the two due to his size and isn’t half the defender.
Bledsoe/Knight, PG, Phoenix Suns
The Suns have a new regime and a new head coach and will aim to enter next year with a clear vision of the team they want to be. With a young, budding star guard in place in Devin Booker and Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe both dealing with injuries last year, it’s possible one or both are suddenly expendable.
Report: Suns are likely to trade Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight. They offered Bledsoe a lottery pick to Utah for Hayward, Utah reject (ESPN)
— NBA Stats (@StatisticsNBA) June 23, 2016
Per reports, the Suns are reaching out to get feelers on both of their star guards, and it’s possible they deal both of them on draft night. Knight and Bledsoe both are exceptional athletes with versatile games and loads of upside, but neither could stay healthy last year and it’s still arguable that they’re both more combo guard than true point guard.
Ricky Rubio, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Seemingly always the subject of trade rumors, it’s becoming very possibly that Rubio is finally dealt tonight. Not only do the Wolves have guard help behind him in Zach Lavine and Tyus Jones, but they also could easily grab a successor in the draft.
Report: The 76ers are one of many teams interested in trading for Ricky Rubio who is being shopped by the Timberwolves.
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) June 23, 2016
Rubio is a great passer and can defend, but he has never really realized his potential and has always been a poor shooter. Shaky health has also hurt his upside and it looks like Minnesota may be ready to move on. He could have numerous takers out on the open market,
Trevor Ariza, SF, Houston Rockets
Houston is shopping just about everyone that isn’t named James Harden, as they’re putting together a new system and aren’t going to be shy about piecing together a brand new roster. Ariza is probably their best trade chip with Dwight Howard already opting out, as he can hit the outside shot and provides excellent defense and hustle.
Numerous teams could see Ariza as a good get, but he’s not alone, as point guard Patrick Beverley is also in the mix to be dealt. Contending teams make some sense for either player.
Nerlens Noel, PF, Phidelphia 76ers
The Sixers have a ton of big bodies on their roster and, while they value Noel’s defendive presence and overall upside, they may be forced to deal him to get where they want to be. Rumor has it that the team wants a legit point guard prospect, and the best way to do that in tonight’s draft is to give up a big man in return for Boston’s #3 pick.
The Celtics have thus far refrained from giving in, but it does sound like they like the idea of landing Noel, as opposed to taking on a project. The power lies in Boston’s hands, who can get a point guard upgrade or get a sure-fire defensive presence in Noel.
Jahlil Okafor, C, Philadelphia 76ers
Okafor proved as a rookie that he can score the rock, but he does not rebound well for his size, is a poor defender and due to being so young, has flashed serious personality and maturity red flags. It’s possible Okafor matures in the near future, but another dilemma Philly is faced with is a major log-jam at power forward and center.
Jahlil Okafor Proposal ‘Best Offer’ Celtics Received for No. 3 Pickhttps://t.co/b8kj3MuhDm
— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) June 23, 2016
Ben Simmons is going to be the #1 pick and probably will play a lot at the four spot, while Okafor, Noel and Joel Embiid are all ideally centers and only Noel can really play the four. In an ideal world, the Sixers start Simmons at the four, bring Embiid along slowly and have Noel start at the five. Noel is a far superior defender and with Simmons at the four, they wouldn’t need to force Okafor out of position. Instead, they could trade him.
The problem so far is Okafor does not have amazing trade value due to those very shortcomings. However, the Boston Celtics are one team that has been touching base with Philly. The Los Angeles Lakers are another team that could potentially look at Okafor, as well.