10 Draft Day Trades that changed NBA History

By Tyrese Cohen
May. 25, 2017

Now days we see teams trade players and and pick for each other and we wonder how that will work out or how that would've worked out if the picks stayed with the team that drafted them. This is a list, NOT A RANKING, of 10 draft day trades that impacted NBA history.

CHRIS WEBBER-PENNY HARDAWAY TRADE OF THE 1993 DRAFT

A year after taking Shaquille O'Neal first overall in the 1992 NBA Draft the Orlando Magic selected Chris Webber first overall. The Michigan star had just led the Wolverines to back-to-back national championship games and was poised to become an NBA star. The combo of O'Neal and Webber in the front court would have made the Magic very dangerous. Their games meshed very well with Shaq being a dominate post player and Webber being an exceptional passer and a an above average mid-ranger shooter but the Magic decided to trade Webber to the Golden State Warriors for the third overall pick, Penny Hardaway. Shaq and Penny worked well together and even stared together in the 1994 film Blue Chips. The two would lead the Magic to the franchises's first NBA Finals in 1995 but were swept by the Houston Rockets. The veteran leader of that team was Horce Grant who played the same position as Webber and may not have been on the roster if the Magic kept Webber instead of trading him away. Shaq would take that playoff experience to the LA Lakers and Miami Heat en route to winning four NBA Championships. Along the way preventing Webber from ever winning one. Hardaway would suffer multiple injuries that eventually ended his career.

KOBE BRYANT-VLADE DIVAC TRADE OF THE 1996 NBA DRAFT

Kobe Bryant is one of the top 10 players of all-time and spent his entire career with the Los Angles Lakers. But Bryant was the 13th overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to LA for Vlade Divac. Bryant would've been put in a position to carry a franchise from day one if not traded and his career could've played out a lot differently as well as others. Bryant was the second best player on the Lakers championship teams from 00-02 and the best player on their back-to-back championships in 09-10. Taking the back seat and learning how to win from Shaq and Phil Jackson was a lot better than playing for a Hornets franchise that still has never played in a NBA Finals and a young Kobe Bryant wouldn't have put them over the hump. Ironically, Divac would team up with Chris Webber in Sacramento and wouldn't wing a ring because of the Shaq and Kobe led Lakers.

DIRK NOWITZKI-ROBERT TRAYLOR TRADE OF THE 1998 NBA DRAFT

In 1998 Dirk Nowitzki was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 9th pick but was traded to Dallas for the 6th overall pick Robert Traylor. Dirk has spent his entire career in Dallas and led them to their first NBA Finals in 2006 but lost to the Heat led by Dwyane Wade and Shaq. But would win the Finals in 2011 vs a Heat team led by LeBron James and Wade. One of the best international players in NBA history Dirk made the shooting big a staple in the NBA. But in 1998 the Bucks still had the big three of Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, and Glenn Robinson leaving little to no opportunity for Dirk to shine and the group stayed together until 2002. But Dirk took center stage in just his second season starting in 81 games and averaging 17.5 points and 6.5 rebounds and becoming an all-star in 2002 but he would have had to wait his turn in Milwaukee.

PAT GARRITY-STEVE NASH OF THE 1998 NBA DRAFT

Steve Nash spent the first two years of his career sitting behind Kevin Johnson and Jason Kidd in Phoenix. While Johnson was nearing the end of his career Kid was just getting started and Nash was spending more time on the bench than in the game. In 1998 the Mavericks sent the 19th overall pick Pat Garrity to Phoenix in exchange for Nash. Nash would have his breakout season in 2001 averaging 15.6 points and 7.3 assists per game. He would go one to win back-to-back MVPs in 2005 and 2006 with the Suns but if it had not been for this trade he may have had to wait until Phoenix traded away Kidd in 2001 to get an opportunity.

PAU GASOL-SHAREEF ABDUR-RAHIM TRADE OF THE 2001 NBA DRAFT

The Vancouver Grizzlies were established in 1995 as an expansion team and couldn't win more than 23 games during their first six years of existence. Then in 2001 the Grizzlies moved to Memphis and traded away their best player Shareef Abdur-Rahim for the 3rd overall pick of the Atlanta Hawks, Pau Gasol. Gasol would go on to win Rookie of the Year and lead the Grizzlies to their first three playoff appearances from 2004-06. Without the trade the Grizzlies franchise would have continued to struggle. Gasol still wins ROY but a trade to the Lakers in 2008 where he won back-to-back championships may not have happened.

KEVIN LOVE-OJ MAYO TRADE OF THE 2008 NBA DRAFT

In 2008 Kevin Love and OJ Mayo were two of the top prospects and went 5th and 3rd respectively. However, Mayo was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves and Love was selected by the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies at the time still had Pau Gasol and were looking to get back in the playoffs while Minnesota was looking to rebuild after trading away Kevin Garnett. With Gasol, Rudy Gay, and Love in the front court the Grizzlies could've had one of the top front courts in basketball but the backcourt would've only consisted of Mike Conley but they still would've a team with a bright future. If Love is in Memphis and the team is winning do they trade Gasol to the Lakers, and do they eventually trade Love to Cleveland before the 2015 season? This trade help Kobe win two more championships and LeBron win one and possibly more in Cleveland.

KAWHI LEONARD-GEORGE HILL TRADE OF THE 2011 NBA DRAFT

Kawhi Leonard was taken 15th overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 2011 NBA Draft and traded to the Indiana Pacers for George Hill. Hill at the time was a backup with a promising future and Leonard was thought be a defensive specialist but a project offensively. Hill would become the pacers starting PG but the team couldn't get passed the Miami Heat in the playoffs before going to Utah this past season. Leonard is the two time reigning Defensive Player of the Year and is thought to win a third straight. He helped the Spurs reach the Finals in 2013 and 2014 against the Heat, winning in 2014 and being named Finals MVP. All of this is not possible being Paul George's backup in Indiana.

SCOTTIE PIPPEN-OLDEN POLYNICE TRADE OF THE 1987 NBA DRAFT

Scottie Pippen was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History during a ceremony held at the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. But if the 5th overall pick by the Seattle Supersonics wasn't traded to the Bulls for the 8th overall pick Olden Polynice he may have never blossomed. Pippen went on to win 6 NBA Championships with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Pippen need that push from michael and head coach Phil Jackson to develop into the player he became and he didn't become that player Michael Jordan doesn't win those 6 championships.

RAY ALLEN-STEPHON MARBURY TRADE OF THE 1996 NBA DRAFT

Ray Allen won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008 and was apart of the big three with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. But many people don't know that Allen and Garnett could've been teammates in Minnesota. The Timberwolves selected Allen 5th overall and the Milwaukee Bucks selected Marbury 3rd overall in 1996. Allen who many would call a much better teammate than Marbury could have helped Garnett win a title in Minnesota. Many believe Marbury wanted a bigger market than Minnesota so he would have wanted out of Milwaukee just as fast.

ANTAWN JAMISON-VINCE CARTER TRADE OF THE 1998 NBA DRAFT

Teammates at the University of North Carolina Jamison and Carter were selected 4th and 5th respectively in 1998. Jamison by the Toronto Raptors and Carter by the Golden State Warriors. The two would swap teams and hats by the end of the night and Carter would go on to win Rookie of the Year. Carter would lead the Raptors to the playoffs in 3 of his 6 seasons there while Jamison wouldn't make the playoffs until 2004 with the Dallas Mavericks. Could Jamison have had the same success as Carter in Toronto and would Carter have experinced the same failures as Jamison in Oakland? Would their career success been reversed if not for that trade?

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