Houston Rockets trading Victor Oladipo Pro #1: It won’t hurt or help in the draft
When the Rockets traded for Russell Westbrook in the summer of 2019 they gave the Thunder the right to swap their 2021 first-round picks. Adding another wrinkle to the equation is that the Thunder can swap their pick with the Miami Heat along with the Rockets and receive the two best picks of the three.
What this means for the Rockets is that between them, the Heat, and Thunder they will end up with the worst of those picks. This gives them little incentive to be as bad as possible and the fate of their first-round pick is largely out of their hands.
The Thunder are off to a 10-12 start to the season and the Heat are 8-14. As it currently stands, the Rockets are in a position where they would hold onto their first-round pick with Miami’s pick heading to the Thunder.
If the Rockets end up falling behind the Heat in the standings and by virtue ahead in the draft then they’ll end up with Miami’s first-round pick. What this means for the Rockets is if they have an excellent season then they’ll keep their less valuable pick, but if they fall apart they’ll end up with whatever pick is worse between the Thunder and the Heat.
The Rockets trading Victor Oladipo will do little to change the pick they get this season because winning or losing does them little good. If they win and keep their pick then it’ll be a low selection. If they lose and send it out then they’ll end up with Miami’s pick, who will likely finish in a similar location in the standings.
The difference between the 18th and 24th pick is slim and the return an Oladipo trade would necessitate would offset this loss in draft pick value. At the end of the day, the Rockets 2021 first-round pick won’t change much regardless of where they finish in the standings which means moving Oladipo has next to no downside in the draft.
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