The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and obviously, people are already starting to analyze all the deals that went down. Everyone is already talking about who won this trade, and who won the trade. While it’s way too early to know for sure who the winner of each deal is, it’s definitely worth talking about the reasons that each time decided to make a move.
As an NBA Draft Analyst, I’m always thinking about how a given trade will impact the draft. The two deals that I want to focus on today are the Clint Capela and Andre Drummond deals.
In a wild four-team deal, the Hawks gave up a mid-first round pick and Evan Turner to bring in former Rockets’ Center Clint Capela. Capela is an outstanding pick-and-roll big man who has established himself as one of the NBA’s best rebounders and rim protectors.
A few days later, the Cavaliers gave up only Brandon Knight, John Henson, and a second-round pick to acquire two-time All-Star Andre Drummond from the Pistons. Drummond is leading the league in rebounding right now.
The Cavs and the Hawks were able to bring in two of the NBA’s best Centers, and neither team had to give up any major assets.
Still, doesn’t it seem strange that the two worst teams in the East both decided to trade for centers in their primes? These are two teams that should be clearing cap space and acquiring youth.
However, in this situation, I understand why the Hawks and the Cavs made these two deals. The question is, why did Cleveland and Atlanta feel the need to make these deals? The answer to this question relates directly to the 2020 NBA Draft.
James Wiseman was his class’s top recruit out of High School, and the 7’1” big man committed to play at Memphis. After complications with the NCAA regarding his college eligibility, Wiseman decided to leave Memphis after just three games.
In these few games, Wiseman stood out on the stat sheet. He averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. According to most news outlets, these numbers combined with his physical makeup propel him to top-three status in this class. However, I haven’t been a huge fan of Wiseman.
On my Instagram page, (@precisionscouting, you should follow it by the way) I posted about James Wiseman a few days before the trade deadline. In this post, I challenge the notion that Wiseman should be considered a top-three pick.
I have a few reasons why I’m not too high on Wiseman. Firstly, I question his defensive awareness and pick-and-roll coverage. The NBA is a heavy pick-and-roll league, and Wiseman will be exposed for his defensive deficiencies. Offensively, I don’t think he has any translatable skill besides his rim running. I can’t get behind the idea that Wiseman will be an elite NBA player. To me, he seems more like a solid rim-protector and rim-runner at best. Regardless, NBADraft.net still has him mocked at second overall, while ESPN has him at three on their big board.
Don’t worry everyone. That random James Wiseman spiel is not really so random. This all connects back to the Capela and Drummond trades. To me, these two trades show that NBA teams don’t trust James Wiseman.
It’s no secret that before they traded for Capela, the Hawks’ biggest need was a center. They have their franchise point guard in Trae Young, and they’ve used three first-round picks on De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, and Cameron Reddish in the last two years. They needed a big man. The Cavs needed a center as well. They’ve invested two top ten picks on their backcourt tandem of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, and we all know Tristan Thompson wasn’t their 5-man of the future.
But both of these teams are rebuilding, and I wouldn’t have expected them to trade for two established centers. My hypothesis is that Cavs and the Hawks decided to bring in two veteran centers because they didn’t trust any of the big men projected to be taken in the early lottery. In other words, neither team trusts James Wiseman.
Each front office will likely have the opportunity to take Wiseman in June, considering their projected final standing. I’d be shocked if either team drafts him because they already have excellent centers on their rosters.
Consider this a warning. Two NBA teams have already shown us that they are scared of selecting James Wiseman. The media needs to stop hyping him up as an early lottery selection.