Simple draft day trade idea to amplify the Hornets' rebuild

2023 NBA Draft
2023 NBA Draft / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

On the latest episode of the Game Theory podcast, Sam Vecenie and Bryce Symon went in-depth on a number of topics, including the upcoming NBA draft. They also dug in deep on several mailbag questions.

One interesting topic they tackled was the idea of a team like the Jazz, Thunder, or Raptors who may have multiple first-round picks, trading both picks to move up into the top 5 or so. They specifically mentioned the Hornets as a team that could be an interesting trade partner for a deal of this model.

In the specific framework they used as an example, the Hornets were trading the 4th or 5th pick to move down and snag picks 10 and 11. Obviously, the actual draft order won’t be determined until the lottery in May, and there is no guarantee that any team will hold multiple picks in the top 15-20.

But nevertheless, it’s a very realistic possibility, and it creates a compelling hypothetical scenario, especially in a draft with so much uncertainty. Draft experts have prognosticated that the 2024 draft is a relatively weak one, especially at the top.

Why would the Hornets do it?

So there’s a case to be made that a young, rebuilding team like the Hornets would be better suited to take two swings than one. There is no clear star prize like last year with Victor Wembanyama, and there isn’t even a general consensus with the top few picks.

If the Hornets aren’t sold on any prospect, they could think about trading down and adding two young prospects to the mix instead of just one. With all of the inconsistencies in the mock draft process, there is even a chance that the player the Hornets want at 5th overall could still be there at the end of the lottery.

The Hornets could pick up an extra first-round pick - possibly even an extra lottery pick - while sacrificing very little, and maybe even nothing at all. These are the kind of low-risk, high-reward moves that smart, forward-thinking teams go for and the Hornets find themselves in a position to take this chance.

Why would another team do it?

It also makes sense for a team like the Thunder. They have more picks and young players than they can possibly use and give minutes to. They’d be wise to start consolidating at some point, and trading two picks to jump into the top 5 would be a hard opportunity for them to pass up.