Have you ever wondered if the salary cap was turned off for a day, and there were no trade restriction, who each team would covet most? Well, here is your answer to who has the most trade value in the NBA.
Inspired by the old Grantland blogs by Bill Simmons ranking players based on trade value, I am bringing it back in 2018-19 NBA to see who has the most value in the league. (Side note: This was written before Simmons wrote his trade value column on The Ringer.) The criteria centers around talent, age, contract status, and ability to put asses in seats.
Again, this is NOT a ranking of the best players, it is a ranking based on who I believe the majority of teams would prefer if they could choose to acquire a player for their team along with their contract. Another thing to consider is that there are more rebuilding teams than legit contenders, so young players have more value to a larger amount of the teams in the league boosting their ranking.
The list is structured by categorizing players into tiers, which has similar players based on age, skill, and contract status. However, not all players in the same tier have the same value, so their actual ranking in the overall trade value list will be beside each player’s name.. When the series is over I will publish the whole list in order. Lastly, why did I rank the top 83 players? Because I wanted to.
Tier 15: We Had No Choice but to Pay Him, But He’s Still Young
71. Aaron Gordon
68. Myles Turner
59. Steven Adams
Here is the group of players who are on their second contracts at decent values. For the most part, we know who each of these guys are and what their respective places in the league will be for the next 5-10 years, but there still could be surprises. I like to think of this as the: Who is the next Oladipo? Two years ago, Victor Oladipo signed an extension that looked a little pricey based on his performance in his first four seasons. However, many teams are forced to hand out larger contract than they’d like because they’re betting on future performance instead of past success. Adams is the best player in this group, while Turner and Gordon have the most breakout potential with a more versatile offensive skillset than Adams. Turner and Gordon both signed lucrative deals that will pay them north of $70 million each over the next four seasons. Turner is having another solid season that is nearly identical to his previous three, but he hasn’t made the leap most people expected following his impressive sophomore season in 2016-17. Gordon has similarly yet to break out as many expected; however, I will cut him more slack as the Magic have a loaded front-court and haven’t let Gordon play as a small-ball five who can shoot and facilitate at an elite level.
83. Andre Roberson
82. Marcus Smart
Smart and Roberson are very frustrating players, both to their opponents who they harass on defense, as well as Celtics and Thunder fans who wish these two guys could hit a jumper with semi-consistency. Roberson would have been higher if it weren’t for a knee injury that has sidelined him for longer than expected, and Smart is continuing to do Marcus Smart things as he’s transitioned to the Celtics starting lineup. The Thunder’s defense has thrived without Roberson to start the 2018 season, so I believe Sam Presti would love to see how adding Roberson back would stifle opponents. As we saw in restricted free agency, Smart didn’t have a bevy of buyers, but the Celtics still took care of him with a $52 million contract. Smart and Roberson definitely have more value to their teams than to buyers in the trade market.
Tier 14: High-Value Role Player
81. Marcus Morris
79. Terry Rozier
76. Montrezl Harrell
69. Malcolm Brogdon
65. Lou Williams
51. Josh Richardson
Because NBA contracts are only four years or fewer, players are constantly hitting the open market, and that means they eventually become overpaid. That’s why decent role players come in 4 categories: Guys on rookie deals-Brogdon/Anunoby, Surprising late draft picks who took their first real offer-Richardson/Harrell, Guys who signed in 2016-Evan Turner, and Guys who wish they signed in 2016-Marcus Morris. This tier has all kinds and unfortunately for teams like Celtics, Rozier and Morris will not be making a combined $8 million after this season. That is why they, along with Brogdon, aren’t higher because we all know some stupid team will give out an absurd amount of money that will leave us shaking our heads. Richardson, Harrell, and Williams are all past their rookie deals and are locked in at team-friendly numbers for multiple seasons.
77. Robert Covington
66. Dario Saric
The Butler Boys! I still think most executives would prefer Saric, but not Tibs. Saric has only played 24 minutes per night since joining Minnesota which is Tom Thibideau’s version of a DNP Coach’s decision. Covington, however, has turned into Thibideau’s new version of what Jimmy Butler was before he became a diva. Covington has helped transform the Wolves defense and make them more like look a Tibs-coached team, for better or for worse.
61. Bogdan Bogdanovic
He’s somewhere between Luka Doncic and Tomas Satoransky, but I’d want him on my team no matter what. Also, he is the lone surviving piece of the 2016 Draft Day mega trade between Phoenix and Sacramento involving Marquese Chriss, Georgios Papagiannis, and Skal Labissiere. Who would’ve thought the draft-and-stash kid from Serbia would be the best player by far? The Kings and Suns need better scouting, but what else is new?
Photo: Boston Herald