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3 Best and worst Draft day trades in NBA history

2018 NBA Draft
2018 NBA Draft
Modified 03 Nov 2018
Top 5 / Top 10

While not all draft picks are as obvious as the Cleveland Cavaliers taking LeBron James with the number one pick, most are just picks of hope that you're franchise has taken someone who has the potential quality to help your team in some way to win a title.

The potential for changing the future of your franchise is incredibly high come late July. Not only do you have the opportunity to draft the next future Hall Of Famer to add to your roster, but draft day trades are constant every year for teams who swap picks, trade a star or are just trying to clear cap room to secure a big fish in free agency.

Most draft day trades often go unnoticed at the time, due to young players barely having a name for themselves yet many don't pay attention to these trades till years later when they ask the question "what if."

Few fans of the NBA would even be able to tell you some of the most reason draft day trades like Kevin Love originally being drafted by the Memphis Grizzlers, of Rajon Rondo taken by the Phoenix Suns before being traded to the Wolves and Celtics respectively.

Today we look back to find the top three worst, or best depending on what team you support, draft day trades which changed the shape of the NBA for years to come.

#3 Kobe Bryant - Hornets to Lakers, 1996

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers
Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers

Technically, this trade wasn't official until a few days after draft day, although it was well and truly set in motion and agreed upon before then.

While most people would put this as the biggest draft day trade mistake in history by the Hornets, some credit must be given to the franchise. Kobe Bryant had made it very clear that he did not want to play for them and wanted to play for a big market where he would be able to grow his skills and his brand, thus the Los Angeles Lakers came calling.


Reportedly, the Hornets were never interested in drafting Kobe with the 13th pick of the draft until the Lakers came to them with a deal involving sending Vlade Divack to the Hornets, which at the time is what they needed.

The 20 season career of Kobe Bryant would have no doubt been drastically different, as would the NBA as a whole if he had stayed with the Hornets. The Shaq-Kobe partnership would most likely never had formed and who knows how many rings Kobe would've achieved, most likely fewer than the five he earned with the Lakers.

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Published 03 Nov 2018, 09:28 IST
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