We’re nearing the end of the trade value rankings and here we find out which young players and veteran stars have the edge.
To reiterate: 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 5: These Kids are Special
24. Deandre Ayton
Disclaimer: We all know who should have been the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, but Ayton has been a productive rookie thus far in his NBA tenure. Ayton’s counting stats are quite impressive, but most shocking of all his numbers is his +4 net rating given he plays on the Phoenix Freakin’ Suns, a team with a net rating of -10.4. Like the other young bigs on this list, defensive improvement and effort will determine Ayton’s place amongst the league’s upper echelon, but he still has tremendous upside.
22. De’Aaron Fox
The speedy Kentucky product has propelled the league’s biggest surprise team this year with his infectious energy and blurring speed. Drafted fifth in 2017, Fox still has three years remaining on his rookie deal which makes him immensely valuable. Fox could end up being John Wall with a less cancerous aura.
21. Jaren Jackson Jr.
I knew Jaren Jackson Jr. would be special when I saw the rookie “pull the chair” out from under the 6’11 Greek Freak having him fall flat on his behind and grabbing the rock from his defeated hands. This play, along with another steal and a myriad of Al Horford-esque defensive subtleties such as close-outs forcing errant shots and turnovers and denying entry passes to the post illustrated how advanced Jackson is at such a young age. We have seen rookie big men make an immediate impact offensively, but to see the second youngest player in the league guard the man Shaquille O’Neal dubbed the new “Superman” at a level that only a handful of elite defenders could match is what makes this rookie so special. Not to mention, Jackson is no slouch on the offensive end as he has already proven to be a capable shooter and a savvy passer. Maybe more rebuilding teams should have bitten the bullet on Chandler Parsons’ contract to snag the pick used to take JJJ from Memphis when it was reportedly available.
Tier 4: Great Value All-Stars
20.. Klay Thompson
The major question surrounding Klay Thompson is how being part of the greatest offensive juggernaut in NBA history impacts his value and status in the league. On one hand, you could argue that playing alongside the likes of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green allows Klay to run around at will and take way more open shots than he would if he was the focal point of a team’s offense. On the hand, one could argue that Thompson is being held back from realizing his full potential as more than an elite “3-and-D” player. Regardless, Klay is someone any team in the league would want \as he fits every scheme imaginable.
19. Damian Lillard
One of the league’s best point guards able to score at will and run a team’s offense, Lillard is the quintessential one-guard in the modern NBA. Dame is on a very reasonable contract which increases his value, but he would probably be better-suited 1b rather than the hero of a lackluster team with virtually no depth
18. Rudy Gobert
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is in the second year of a a bargain four year extension he signed in 2016. The 26-year-old Frenchman is the NBA’s premier rim protector and one of the few big men who has been able to thrive without drastically altering his offensive game.
Tier 3: Superstars and Elite Young Players
16. Kristaps Porzingis
12 months ago, before a devastating ACL injury sidelined the 7’4 Latvian Unicorn, Porzingis likely would find himself in the top five of this list. While Porzingis is only 23 and has exhibited all the requisite skills to be a foundational piece in the modern NBA, lower-extremity injuries to abnormally large humans are always a cause for concern. His restricted free agency will also be fascinating as he and the Knicks failed to reach an extension before the 2018 season.
15. Victor Oladipo
It’s June 2017, you’re cursing at the TV because Kevin Prichard traded Paul George for the Serge Ibaka package from a year ago, seemingly ignoring all other offers. *Cough*, *cough*, Boston. In the alternate universe that is the NBA in 2018, Victor Oladipo is a consensus top 20 player and his albatross of a contract is now a bargain. Oh, and Domantas Sabonis is averaging 15-10-3 on 62% shooting in just 25 minutes per game, but we’ll get to him in another part of the series.
14. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie is one of the most polarizing players in the league. Arguably the best ballhandler and below-the-rim finisher in league history, a competent defender when engaged, and an all-around unique character who is finding his voice as a leader, makes Irving one of the best building blocks at just age 26. Significant injury history and an inevitable max contract are reasons to be wary of Kyrie, but his talent and growth as a player make him one of the NBA’s premier assets.
13. Karl-Anthony Towns
Just 18 months ago, the majority of general managers said they would start their franchise with KAT. Fast forward to today, he is locked into a 5 year, $190 million extension and the Wolves have not looked like a playoff-caliber team without Jimmy Butler. Towns possesses the offensive game to be a surefire Hall of Famer, but a lack of defense, effort, and flat-out dog has made the perception of him much less bullish. He has also never missed a game which is valuable to a certain coach we all know. Get him away from Tibs before he’s run into the ground.
12. Nikola Jokic
Denver took no risks and maxed Jokic as soon as they could, and he has rewarded them as being arguably the best offensive big man in the game. Defensive limitations and a lack of athleticism lowers his ceiling relative to the fellow “unicorns” in the league, but he will be a top 15 player in the NBA for the next decade-plus.
11. Kawhi Leonard
Like Kevin Durant, Leonard is a top 3-5 player depending on who you’re debating, but he is an impending free agent with an uncertain future. He’s also is in line for a max contract, which is still excellent value as long he’s committed.
10. Donovan Mitchell
Given he’s older than most in his draft class and his efficiency/playmaking have regressed dampens his value a little, but Mitchell is still one of the most electric young players making pennies for years to come.
9. Steph Curry
Everyone in the NBA who is not on a rookie contract is overpaid. Paying him the supermax and nagging injuries are scary, but the man is the greatest at the most important skill in the NBA today.