Bonus Content: Cost of Acquiring Picks

June 6th, 2013 | by Dan Clayton

In today’s main post, Dan Clayton explores the economics behind trades involving top 10 picks and delivers bad news to Jazz fans who are pining for Trey Burke, et al. In this bonus post, his study continues with a glance at the cost of acquiring picks in the teens and twenties.

As a reminder for those who forgot since clicking from the other post, I scoured 10 years worth of draft history to analyze the economics of scoring an extra pick or moving up. We analyzed 13 of the 53 past cases in our post about top 10 picks, The findings, much to the chagrin of Jazz fans pining for the top guards like Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams or CJ McCollum, is that moving up into that range is pretty impossible without giving up a member of Utah’s young core.

The study of those 13 trades shows that you almost always have to surrender at least two of the following three assets to get a top 10 pick: a lower top 10 pick, a star or multiple starter-caliber players, or cap space to absorb bad salary. The Jazz don’t have a high enough pick to dangle as bait, so it would likely cost them both their use of financial flexibility and the willingness to surrender one of the four recent lottery picks on the team’s roster.

But there have been 40 more trades involving picks in the back two-thirds of the draft. Let’s take a look at those to see what they tell us about moving up (or scoring an extra pick) in the later stages of round one.

Picks in the teens

Another 14 trades involved picks 11 through 18 in the last 10 drafts, with a more reasonable asking price.

Again, the biggest category here was trade-ups. Six of the 14 were a team moving from a later first-rounder by either packaging picks (like Cleveland packaging 24+33+34 to get #17 and take Tyler Zeller) or combining talent with picks (like Portland sending #13 along with Jarrett Jack and Josh McRoberts to get #11).

Another common way to get a mid first rounder is by giving up a veteran role player (but he doesn’t have to be a star). The Spurs turned George Hill into #15 in 2011 to get Kawhi Leonard, and the Rockets did the same with Chase Budinger last season.

Finally, you can find a team that is trying to clear room by dumping picks. In the frenzy created by the 2010 free agent class, Miami and Chicago gave up the 17th and 18th picks to teams willing to help them clear the decks and take on Daequan Cook (OKC) and Kirk Hinrich (WAS). The 2013 equivalent of these moves might be the Dallas Mavericks giving up #13 if someone will clear Shawn Marion or Vince Carter off their books so they can go shopping this summer.

Late First Round

The most common draft pick trades involve the last third of the first round. They’re also the cheapest.

Half of the picks acquired in the last 10 drafts (26 of 53) were in this range, and the price was almost always a future pick, throwing in a second-rounder, or even just cold hard cash. In all but five of these 26 trades, that was all it cost to sneak into the late first round.

The other five were a mixed bag. Houston threw in Brad Miller with three picks in their pursuit of 2011 #20, but they also got Johnny Flynn and a future 2nd back. New York threw in an aging-but-effective Kurt Thomas to get a late pick they turned into Nate Robinson in 2005. Boston needed to take back a retired Brian Grant in 2006 to turn their future 1st into #21 (Rajon Rondo). And Denver got the 26th pick in 2011 simply by “downgrading” at the point from Raymond Felton to Andre Miller.


Do the Jazz need a top 10 pick pick to add a PG to their core of four? Unfortunately, they can’t add one without breaking up the same core, we found out in the main part of this study. We’ve also learned that mid first-rounders can be had for a variety of prices and that the latest picks can be had for for cash, second-rounders, future picks or a nice box of chocolates.

Basically, if the Jazz are inclined to improve their draft-day situation, they’ll likely have to settle for making some mid first-round noise or picking up an extra late pick. Looking for a franchise savior? It better be the draft steal variety.



Dan Clayton

Dan Clayton

Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City, but contributes regularly to Salt City Hoops, FanRag and BBALLBreakdown.
Dan Clayton

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  1. Clint Johnson says:

    I think getting another pick in the last third of this draft could be really smart. There’s going to be solid talent there.

  2. JT McKenna says:

    This is an abnormal draft. Very little difference in talent between #1 and #14. Because of that, it should cost less to trade up than it typically would. I also don’t know that the Jazz need to trade into the top 10. They should try to have a plan in place though to try to trade up for one of the top 4 PGs if it looks like none will be available at #14.

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