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It’s a Good Year to Move Up in the Draft

April 29, 2013


Generally speaking, I would discourage any team from trading its assets to acquire a higher draft pick. This is because, frankly, there just isn’t a lot of value in most drafts. Only a handful of good players will come out of any given draft, including about five all-stars per year. And teams generally perceive their high picks (especially when we’re talking top five) to be more valuable than they really are. In fact, the only pick that more often than not turns out to be a high impact player is #1. So trading up is usually a bad idea unless it either allows you to get a large, unwanted contract off your hands or you trade up a spot or two and it doesn’t cost you much.

But this year is a bit peculiar. It is almost universally considered to be a “weak” draft, especially after the decisions of a number of high profile potential draftees (Marcus Smart in particular). More specifically though, it’s viewed as a draft with a handful of solid players but no sure-bet all-star types. Accordingly, a pick in the two to five range isn’t viewed as that much better than a pick in the six to fourteen range this year, at least if you believe the prominent media, who purportedly have a great deal of contact with the general managers who actually make the decisions.

And that’s exactly where you can pull a fast one this year. In the three to eight range sits a man named Otto Porter. Now, I’m not Miss Cleo or John Titor, but my draft model has Otto as better than a +3. And if you recall, I consider +2 or better to be as close to a sure thing as you’ll see.

In other words, I believe Otto Porter has a pretty good chance to be an all-star caliber NBA forward a few years down the road. Don’t let Georgetown’s poor performance in the tournament fool you, Otto’s supporting cast was not particularly impressive, and the fact that they rode his coattails to the Big East’s best record is remarkable in itself. I think it’s actually a testament to Otto’s ability to lift an average team to elite levels. And that shouldn’t be a surprise if you watched him play this year. He is a do-everything type player who puts up superb numbers across the board and adds plenty of intangibles that don’t show up in the box score. He is a very good shooter (and scorer) in spite of his shooting form. He’s also an excellent if underrated passer who has a LeBron-esque ability to find the open man anywhere on the court. And while he lacks elite athleticism, he makes up for it with craftyness, a high basketball IQ, and a great overall feel for the game. He is also valuable because of his ability to play either forward position on both offense and defense and have a matchup advantage against most of the league because of his size-skill combination. This is a 6-8 guy with a 7-2 wingspan who shot 42% from long range and showed a terrific ability to steal the ball, block shots, and simply menace opponents on defense. Because of all this, I think that he’s arguably the best player in this class.

And that’s why I think it’s worth taking a shot to try to move up to a position where you can draft Porter. Of course this is easier said than done, but if your team has assets of some value, it’s worth making some calls to see what you  might be able to get for them, especially if the assets are either expiring contracts or reasonably expendable given their relative value or redundancy. Because of the overall lukewarm attitude toward this draft, I’m willing to bet that someone will listen. And if you can spin this kind of asset into Otto Porter, I’m confident it will have been well worth it.

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