Updated: Jun 29
The 2023 NBA Draft is just a few hours away. This draft class is one of the most anticipated in recent history, hosting generational talents like Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson along with several other players with all-star potential. With the NBA Draft comes the trading of draft picks and current NBA players. We've already seen blockbuster moves between several teams; with Bradley Beal headed to the Suns, Kristaps Porzingis headed to the Celtics in a trade that also sent former DPOY Marcus Smart to the Grizzlies, and most recently the Warriors acquiring Chris Paul in a deal that will send Jordan Poole to the Wizards. Several other NBA stars are rumored to be available via trade in what has already been a wild offseason. With the Draft beginning shortly, here are a few players who could be traded during, or because of the results of the NBA Draft.
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
There’s been a lot of smoke coming out of New Orleans surrounding the organization and the potential of them moving on from their former number-one pick. Williamson has struggled to stay healthy in his career thus far, although he’s only been in the league for a few seasons. In his three years with the Pelicans, Williamson has played over 30 games in a season just once and has only appeared in 114 games during that time. On top of his injury troubles, reports from league insiders have suggested that Williamson doesn’t have a great relationship with the front office–or one at all–in New Orleans. Furthermore, the former Duke star has had his fair share of controversy off the court in the early portion of the off-season. The feeling around the NBA currently is that Williamson’s price is relatively cheap at the moment for a former top pick and player of his potential. There’s also been a lot of buzz around the league surrounding the Pelicans’ desire to move up from the 14th overall pick. Rumors have stated that the Pelicans would like to move into the top three of the Draft and select a prospect that they believe is of “star caliber.” This opens the door for a possible trade with the Hornets or the Trailblazers who hold the second and third picks in the Draft. However, the Hornets reportedly would prefer Brandon Ingram in a trade with the Pelicans rather than Zion Williamson. As of right now, Portland seems like the most realistic option.
O.G. Anunoby, Toronto Raptors
Toronto has been receiving tons of interest and trade offers for Anunoby dating back to before the 2023 trade deadline. But, the Raptors haven’t shown much interest in moving on from Anunoby and that sentiment seems to still be true as of now. Reports from the league and insider Marc Stein have said that Toronto has received a lot of trade interest based around Anunoby, but the franchise is reluctant to trade him. Teams all around the NBA are in search of a wing player of Anunoby’s caliber who can defend at a high level and score the ball. However, the upcoming free-agent class is rather weak at the small forward position and doesn’t contain much talent comparable to that of Anunoby. Hence why multiple teams have been–and still are–aggressively pursuing the former Indiana Hoosier. It was reported by ESPN in February that teams like Indiana and Memphis offered Toronto three first-round picks in potential deals for OG Anunoby, which the Raptors declined. If Masai Ujiri and the front office decide to change their mind though, the Pacers and Grizzlies are expected to once again be interested in acquiring Anunoby. The Sacramento Kings are another team that has shown interest and could be in play as well.
De’Andre Hunter Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are viewed as one of the more “active” teams in trade talks and potential roster changes ahead of the Draft. Atlanta has reportedly made several starters available in trade negotiations including former top-five pick De’Andre Hunter and last off-season’s acquisition, Dejounte Murray. Starting forward John Collins is also available and has been involved in trade rumors dating back to last summer. Hunter could be in high demand as many teams across the association are in search of young and talented wing players. According to several other reports, the Hawks and Pacers were close to agreeing to a deal that would’ve sent Hunter to the Pacers, but the deal apparently fell apart. The Hawks have also been aggressively looking to move up from their first-round selection which is currently the fifteenth pick. Atlanta is searching to move into the top ten and sources around the NBA believe they have a strong interest in Duke big-man, Dereck Lively II. There have also been murmurs around the league that the Hawks would like to give rookie AJ Griffin a larger role, and further develop him. Hunter has started 200 games in his four-year career with the Hawks including 67 games a season ago. Last season the former Virginia Cavalier averaged a career-high in points per game with 15.4; he also averaged around four rebounds and an assist and a half per game. Hunter’s biggest contributions come on the defensive end of the floor though, as he’s arguably been Atlanta’s best defensive asset since joining the team. The Pacers and Mavericks are the most realistic destinations for Hunter as of now
Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers
It feels like Damian Lillard is considered a prime trade candidate every offseason, but especially during the last few summers. The Blazers have struggled to remain competitive or build a roster that can contend for a championship after the departure of Lillard’s long-time running mate, CJ McCollum. As a result, teams have been inquiring about Lillard’s availability frequently. With the Trailblazers holding the number three pick in the Draft, the chances of trading Lillard sounds more possible than ever before. Portland could elect to trade the seven-time All-Star for draft capital and use their top-three pick to begin rebuilding their roster alongside former first-rounder Anfernee Simons and 2022 lottery selection, Shaedon Sharpe. Lillard has often shut down any idea of him leaving the organization and has expressed his desire to win a championship in Portland. This has been the case again this offseason as well with NBA insiders reporting that Dame has once again stated that he wants to remain with the team. However, with no deals set in stone for Portland to trade their pick for a star to play alongside Lillard, other teams are preparing trade packages for the superstar Point Guard according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. The belief is that Lillard could become available based on how he and the franchise react to how the number three pick is used. If Lillard is dealt, the Heat and Nets are considered the top two destinations.
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
The Bulls appear to be ready to move on from the trio of DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, and Zach LaVine after the team has failed to make a deep run in the playoffs since forming their big three. The Bulls were just minutes away from securing the eighth seed a few months ago before squandering a late lead against the Miami Heat. Another season without a playoff appearance seems to have the Bulls focused on blowing the team up and starting a rebuild. Both LaVine and Vucevic have been involved in trade rumors for some time, but the organization would likely get more in return for LaVine than the former. LaVine is still only 28 years old and has at least three years remaining on his contract and a player option for the 2026-2027 season; LaVine averaged 24.8 points per game a season ago to go along with just over four rebounds and assists. LaVine’s versatility as a wing player would undoubtedly entice teams around the NBA, especially with the former lottery pick playing the best basketball of his career right now. The Knicks appear to be the top suitor for LaVine as of now, with the Heat and Warriors also in the mix.
*All stats were received from ESPN Stats & Info. Department