Draft night is one of the most important days of the season for NBA Fans, media and teams, as several moves that may shake off the entire NBA picture take place right before our very eyes, even if we don’t know how determinant they will end up being at the time.
A lot of players are rumored to be moved during the Draft night, with this being one of the most stacked classes in years and several teams looking to trade up, pile up assets or make the most of this opportunity to snub some already proven veterans.
With the Draft right around the corner and several moves rumored to take place, we can’t help but to remember some of the most memorable and bold trades teams have ever made during this crucial evening. That’s why today, we’re going to remember the 15 best Draft night trades ever.
Brandon Roy – June 28, 2006: Drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1st round (6th pick) of the 2006 NBA Draft. and traded to the Portland Trail Blazers for Randy Foye.
Charles Oakley – June 18, 1985: Drafted and traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers with Calvin Duncan to the Chicago Bulls for Keith Lee and Ennis Whatley.
15. Mark Price
June 17, 1986: Drafted and traded by the Dallas Mavericks to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 1989 2nd round draft pick (Jeff Hodge was later selected).
Before LeBron James, Mark Price was considered the greatest player in Cavaliers history, as the sharpshooter was one of the best point guards in the league from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, making it to 4 All-Star teams en route to having his number 25 jersey forever hanging high in the rafters.
The Cavs were able to steal him from the Dallas Mavericks, the team that had drafted him with the 25th overall pick in 1986, becoming instant playoff contenders in the East while the Mavs wouldn’t be able to find any kind of success during Price’s prime. Sadly, he was never able to make it to The NBA Finals.
14. Vince Carter
June 24, 1998: Drafted and traded by the Golden State Warriors with cash to the Toronto Raptors for Antawn Jamison.
Vince Carter is amongst the top 10 best players in NBA history to never to win a Championship, and even though most youngsters may not remember him, he was once considered to be the greatest player in Toronto Raptors history before completely breaking out with the New Jersey Nets.
Carter was traded by the Warriors with the 5th overall pick in 1998 but was immediately traded to the Raptors in return for Antawn Jamison. Air-Canada would go on to become basketball’s ambassador up north with his breathtaking dunks and explosive plays, while Jamison would thrive as a Sixth Man for years.
13. Pau Gasol
June 27, 2001: Drafted and traded by the Atlanta Hawks with Brevin Knight and Lorenzen Wright to the Vancouver Grizzlies for Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Jamaal Tinsley.
Pau Gasol is considered to be one of the best foreign players the league has ever seen, a 2 time NBA Champion that really helped the Los Angeles Lakers go back to contention following the post-Shaq era after they lured him out of the sluggish Memphis Grizzlies back in 2008.
Being drafted 3rd overall in 2001 by the Atlanta Hawks, the team immediately traded him alongside Lorenzen Wright and Brevin Knight in return for Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Gasol would go on to take the recently relocated franchise to playoff contention, while also giving him the chance to get his younger brother Marc (the best player in Grizzlies history) when he was dealt away to the Lakers.
12. Rajon Rondo
June 28, 2006: Drafted and Traded by the Phoenix Suns with Brian Grant to the Boston Celtics for a 2007 1st round draft pick (Rudy Fernandez was later selected).
Boston landed a huge bargain back in 2006, when they traded away a future 1st round pick to the Phoenix Suns in order to get their hands on Rajon Rondo, a standout point guard out of Kentucky that would slip all the way to the 21st spot before becoming one of the league’s most dominant playmakers.
Rondo would become a major piece in the Celtics’ last Championship run due to his top-notch passing ability and his pesky and suffocating defense, staying at the Garden for 9 full seasons. Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns would eventually just trade away that very same Boston pick to the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007.
11. LaMarcus Aldridge
June 28, 2006: Drafted Traded by the Chicago Bulls with a 2007 2nd round draft pick (Demetris Nichols was later selected) to the Portland Trail Blazers for Viktor Khryapa and Tyrus Thomas.
The Portland Trail Blazers flat out robbed the Chicago Bulls during the Draft night in 2006, taking away LaMarcus Aldridge (the 2nd overall pick of his class) in return for the draft rights of Viktor Khryapa and Tyrus Thomas, arguably the worst deal the Bulls front office has ever pulled off by a long shot.
Aldridge would thrive next to Brandon Roy and then Damian Lillard at RIP City, staying put at Portland for 9 seasons before heading to the Spurs in free agency. He’s yet to win an NBA Championship but has become one of the league’s most prolific elbow scorers and smoothest shooters.
10. Chris Webber
June 30, 1993: Drafted and traded by the Orlando Magic to the Golden State Warriors for Anfernee Hardaway, a 1996 1st round draft pick (Todd Fuller was later selected), a 1998 1st round draft pick (Vince Carter was later selected) and a 2000 1st round draft pick (Mike Miller was later selected).
Chris Webber was drafted with the 1st overall pick by the Orlando Magic in 1993, but the team then surprisingly traded his rights to the Golden State Warriors in return for Penny Hardaway and three future 1st round picks the team would eventually trade once again later.
While Hardaway would fit perfectly next to Shaquille O’Neal and lead his team to the NBA Finals, Webber would have the best years of his career as a member of the Sacramento Kings. Neither of them would be able to win a Championship, but Webber was considered to be one of the most dominant skilled big men in the league during his prime, due to his ability to do a little bit of everything on a nightly basis.
9. Steve Nash
June 24, 1998: Drafted and traded by the Phoenix Suns to the Dallas Mavericks for Pat Garrity, Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells and a 1999 1st round draft pick (Shawn Marion was later selected).
Back in 1998, the Phoenix Suns traded away Steve Nash to the Dallas Mavericks in return for Bubba Wells, Pat Garrity, Martin Muursepp and a future 1st round pick that eventually would be used to draft Shawn Marion, helping Nash’s development under coach Don Nelson and forming a deadly trio next to Michael Finley and Dirk Nowitzki.
Playing next to Nash brought out the best of Nowitzki’s game up to the point where he became the greatest player in Mavs’ history, while Nash would grow on to become one of the most talented point guards in the league, eventually heading back to the Phoenix Suns to win back-to-back MVP awards.
8. Kevin Love
June 26, 2008: Drafted and traded by the Memphis Grizzlies with Brian Cardinal, Jason Collins and Mike Miller to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Greg Buckner, Marko Jaric, O.J. Mayo and Antoine Walker.
Kevin Love was a huge steal by the Minnesota Timberwolves back then in 2008, as they were able to snatch him in return for the highly ranked and 3rd overall pick OJ Mayo, once considered to be the most talented young man in the world since LeBron James.
Needless to say, Mayo would merely be a role player during his time in the league due to his lack of discipline and consistency, while Love would become one of the league’s best big man right out of the gate. Also, he would eventually bring the Timberwolves Andrew Wiggins when he left via trade to join James and the Cavs.
7. Ray Allen
June 26, 1996: Traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves with a 1998 1st round draft pick (Rasho Nesterovic was later selected) to the Milwaukee Bucks for Stephon Marbury.
Ray Allen was one of the biggest draft steals in Milwaukee Bucks history. He spent 7 amazing seasons with the Bucks, averaging 19.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.
After that, Allen spent 5 seasons with the Seattle Supersonics and finally he was traded to the Boston Celtics, where he was a part of the superteam.
Ray Allen played for a superteam alongside Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, making it to a couple NBA Finals under Doc Rivers’ tutelage. Eventually, his relationship with the team and several teammates would crash beyond repair, but it was a hell of a run for the Hall of Famer.
6. Kawhi Leonard
June 23, 2011: Drafted and traded by the Indiana Pacers with Davis Bertans and Erazem Lorbek to the San Antonio Spurs for George Hill.
George Hill, Kawhi Leonard. Rarely are these two in the same sentence together. One is a decent starting point guard, the other is widely considered to be the best defender and two-way player in the league. Yet Kawhi was originally drafted by the Pacers in 2011, then sent over to San Antonio with three other players for George Hill.
This not only shows the Pacer’s misfortune but also the utter genius that is the San Antonio Spurs. They were able to see what Indiana could not, that the quiet and humble demeanor of Kawhi Leonard hid beneath it one of the fiercest competitive drives in the NBA.
As a two-time defensive player of the year, a Final’s MVP and as someone who’s increased his scoring averages every year thus far, you can hear the Pacers kicking themselves on this one.
5. Dirk Nowitzki
June 24, 1998: Drafted and traded by the Milwaukee Bucks with Pat Garrity to the Dallas Mavericks for Robert Traylor.
The Great Teuton was pretty much a late bloomer, so coming as an unproven, unathletic big man out of Europe his draft stock wasn’t really high. Still, the upside he showed was enough to make Don Nelson take a huge gamble on him, trading Robert Traylor to the Milwaukee Bucks in return for their 9th overall pick.
While Traylor’s career wouldn’t carry many accolades, Nowitzki would go on to win an MVP and become the greatest player in Dallas Mavericks history, recording over 30 thousand career points and lead the Mavs to the Championship. Now, he’s considered to be the greatest European player in the history of the game, as well as one of basketball’s deadliest shooters.
4. Scottie Pippen
June 22, 1987: Drafted and Traded by the Seattle SuperSonics with a 1989 1st round draft pick (Jeff Sanders was later selected) to the Chicago Bulls for Olden Polynice, a 1988 2nd round draft pick (Sylvester Gray was later selected) and a 1989 1st round draft pick (B.J. Armstrong was later selected).
Way back then in 1987, the Seattle Supersonics drafted Scottie Pippen with the 5th overall pick, but he was almost immediately dealt to the Chicago Bulls in return for future draft picks and Olden Polynice, a guy most young NBA fans may have never heard of before reading this article.
On the other hand, Pippen would form the greatest duo in NBA history alongside Michael Jordan, leading the Chicago Bulls to a couple of three-peats en route to 6 NBA Championships, as well as being considered one of the greatest defenders in the history of the game.
3. Robert Parish and Kevin McHale
June 9, 1980: Drafted and Traded by the Golden State Warriors with a 1980 1st round draft pick (Kevin McHale was later selected) to the Boston Celtics for a 1980 1st round draft pick (Rickey Brown was later selected) and a 1980 1st round draft pick (Joe Barry Carroll was later selected).
The Boston Celtics pulled off yet another outstanding deal on the Draft night when Red Auerbach totally robbed the Golden State Warriors in 1980 by sending the Warriors their 1st overall pick in return for Robert Parish and the 3rd overall pick, a pick they used to get a standout power forward Kevin McHale.
McHale, Parish and Larry Bird would create one of the most dominant dynasties in the league, leading Boston to 3 NBA Championships, while Joe Barry Carroll (Golden State’s 1st overall pick) wouldn’t even be able to lead the Dubs to playoff contention.
2. Kobe Bryant
July 11, 1996: Drafted and Traded by the Charlotte Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac.
Believe it or not, Kobe Bryant slipped all the way to the 13th spot back in the 1996 NBA Draft, a pick that was originally entitled to the Charlotte Hornets, but the team eventually traded his rights to the Los Angeles Lakers in return for standout big man Vlade Divac, whom career would slightly decline following an impressive stint at LA.
Needless to say, the move paid off perfectly for the Lakers, as they wind up finding the greatest player in franchise history, the closest thing we’ve seen to Michael Jordan. Kobe would go on to lead the Lakers to 5 NBA titles, while the Hornets would move to New Orleans and struggle with mediocrity during Kobe’s prime.
1. Bill Russell
April 30, 1956: Drafted and traded by the St. Louis Hawks to the Boston Celtics for Cliff Hagan and Ed Macauley.
Some old fans consider Bill Russell to be the greatest player in the history of the game, and winning 11 NBA Championships can definitely back that talk up, with Russell always being in the GOAT conversation due to his dominant defensive expertise for the Boston Celtics during basketball early stages.
The St. Louis Hawks were entitled of the 2nd overall pick, a pick they used to get the 5 time MVP. Nonetheless, Red Auerbach didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger and send St. Louis native Ed Macauley, an already proven veteran that was keen to come back home. Looking back, this has to be considered the greatest Draft night deal, as Russell’s the main reason why the Celtics are the most winning franchise in the NBA.