It has never been more clear that the NBA is a copycat league than when clubs compete with one another to amass the largest hauls of future draft picks.
Fringe playoff candidates who were trapped in the middle started dealing elite players for packages that included several future picks as well as young prospects in recent years, sometimes gaining control of an entire team’s draft destiny.
While the notorious Philadelphia 76ers Process started in 2013, it wasn’t until 2019 that the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder both made moves that changed their franchises. Anthony Davis was given to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for two first-round picks that were not protected and one pick swap (plus a cache of players including the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 draft). In exchange for five first-round picks (three from the LA Clippers and two from the Miami Heat) plus two pick swaps, the Thunder shipped Paul George to the LA Clippers.
Since then, the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, and Utah Jazz have all joined the race among the league’s poorest clubs to amass first-round picks.
Davis, George, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Jrue Holiday, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Malcolm Brogdon, Rudy Gobert, and Donovan Mitchell have all been moved in the last three years.