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Insider

Trade deadline draft impact

On Friday,
I detailed the spin for every NBA team as a result of the NBA trade deadline.

What I didn't do was take a detailed look at how last week's trades and non-trades affected the draft. Here's a look at five things we learned that could have an impact:

1. The five teams at the top of the lottery look pretty stable. Barring some sort of catastrophe (or some sort of amazing run), the New Jersey Nets will walk away from a historically bad season with the best chance of winning the lottery. They made no significant additions to their team at the trade deadline and aren't expected to get any better.

The same holds true for the next two worst teams -- the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors. The Wolves made a minor move, adding Darko Milicic, but it's doubtful (despite a surprising debut) that Darko will move the needle much. The Warriors are in the same boat as the Nets. They've been awful all year, and there's no reason to expect them to get much better.

The other two teams rounding out the "Worst Five" should be the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers. The Kings traded away their second-leading scorer -- Kevin Martin -- for cap relief and Carl Landry. While I love the addition of Landry, I doubt he alone gives them too many extra wins.

The Pacers didn't do anything at the deadline. They're the toughest team to get a handle on because they play well in some games and are dreadful in other games -- but they should be stuck in the same pattern and aren't expected to dramatically increase their win total the rest of the season.

2. A few teams in the lottery did improve. The New York Knicks are sending their first-round pick to the Utah Jazz. At the time of the trade, the Jazz were looking at a possible pick somewhere between 6 and 9. Tracy McGrady played well in his debut with the Knicks; if can play that way the rest of the season (we'll see how he holds up), the Knicks should start winning enough games to push themselves out of the top 10.

The Milwaukee Bucks (currently at 11) also improved. The addition of John Salmons should help them make a last-minute push for the playoffs. If they make the playoffs, they may push either the Bulls, Heat or Bobcats into the last spot in the East for the lottery.

3. There are a few wild cards, too. My initial impression after the trade deadline was to put the Washington Wizards in the same category with the Pacers and Kings. But after watching them win two of their last three, it's possible they've actually improved by trading away Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood. Those three are better players than the guys replacing them -- however, they lacked motivation and something to play for. The new group, headed by Josh Howard and Al Thornton, has motivation to play well now.

The Detroit Pistons are the other team that may end up being better than their record shows. They battled early injuries to Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. But now that they are both healthy, the team is playing .500 ball.

4. A number of draft picks did change hands last week. However, only a few will have an impact on this year's draft

The Cavs agreed to send their first-round pick to the Wizards in the Jamison trade. More likely than not, this will be the 30th pick in the draft.

The Bucks received the right to swap first-round picks with the Bulls as long as the Bulls pick falls out of the top 10. If Milwaukee ends up ousting the Bulls for the last spot in the playoffs, the Bucks could still end up drafting in the lottery.

5. Future draft picks were an even bigger deal at the deadline. The Houston Rockets received the right to swap first-round picks with the Knicks in 2011, as long as the Knicks' pick isn't No. 1 overall. They also agreed to get the Knicks' 2012 pick as long as it doesn't fall within the top five. If the Knicks don't get LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or a couple of other superstars, those could be very valuable picks for the Rockets.

The Memphis Grizzlies also agreed to send a mid-lottery-protected 2011 pick to the Jazz as part of the Ronnie Brewer trade.

The Bobcats agreed to send the Bulls a lottery-protected pick in 2012 as part of the Tyrus Thomas trade.

The Midrange Game

  • For those of you waiting for Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors to have his breakout game, that finally happened against Maryland on Saturday. Favors had 21 points and 18 rebounds (both career highs) in a disappointing loss.

    A few more games like that and Favors could move himself quickly back up to the No. 2 spot on our Big Board.

  • Texas may be a mess on the court, but more and more GMs are touting Avery Bradley as a potential lottery pick this year. Bradley got off to a tough start at Texas and is still inconsistent, but he's having more big games of late.

    GMs believe he may be the best guard defender in the country and they feel he has the potential to be an explosive scorer. But can he be a point guard? Most feel he won't be a lead guard, but given all the other things he does well, they're not sure it matters.

  • VCU's Larry Sanders has really hit his stride in conference play of late. This week, Sanders had a 29-point, 13-rebound, 5-block performance against Drexel. He then followed it up with a 15-point, 9-rebound performance against Akron in just 20 minutes of play.

    Sanders has stayed in virtually the exact same ranking all season; he's fluctuated between 16 and 22 on our Big Board.

  • Oklahoma's Willie Warren continues to free-fall down the Big Board. He's currently struggling with a case of mono, though that's not why he continues to slide. As more details emerge about Warren and how difficult he's been this year, the more NBA teams are running away. It's one thing to have a bad season. But Warren's season has been catastrophic.

    Still, given his poor relationship with coach Jeff Capel, NBA scouts expect him to declare for this year's draft. When he does, teams are likely to warm up to him a bit. In a draft that's very weak on talent at the 1, Warren is one of the few players capable of playing that position in the pros.

  • Don't sleep on BYU's Jimmer Fredette as a potential draft candidate this year. If he were playing at Duke, he'd be mentioned as a potential player of the year candidate. Much like Duke's own Jon Scheyer, he's not the greatest athlete in the world, but he's tough, can really see the floor and he shoots the lights out.

    "He's really tough and he's a fearless kid," one GM said. "He's going to lead a team. I wish he was a little bit better athlete, but I can't name five better point guards in this draft. He'll find a way to do it at the next level."