The top overall pick in the NBA Draft has been traded only once on Draft night in the Lottery era. the Magic, a year after selecting Shaquille O'Neal with the top overall pick and lucking into the top pick after a 41-41 season that saw them tied for the final Playoff spot in the East, shipped Chris Webber to Golden State for a point guard named Anfernee Hardaway (and three first round picks).
There have been other trades — Philadelphia traded the top overall pick before the draft to Cleveland in 1986, allowing the Cavaliers to select Brad Daugherty — however, trading the top pick in the Draft is extremely rare. This is supposed to be the ultimate prize. A reward for losing and a booster shot for franchises that need the most help.
These are where your franchise players are supposed to come from.
What to do in a weak draft then?
With hardly anyone showing any excitement for top Draft prospects like Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore and Victor Oladipo as a franchise game-changer, it should be no surprise that talk of trading the No. 1 overall pick would emerge. Even if it is two weeks before the actual NBA Draft Lottery will take place and the order for the 2013 NBA Draft will become set.
Joe Kotoch of Sheridan Hoops reports the Magic and the Pelicans are seriously considering trading the top overall pick if they were to get it to whoever can offer the most for Nerlens Noel, the current presumptive number one pick.
For both teams, center is not the biggest need. The Hornets have a simiarly defensive-minded Anthony Davis from last year's draft. The Magic have second-year center Nikola Vucevic who finished in the top five in the league in rebounds per game. The Magic seemed focused on drafting Kansas guard Ben McLemore.
Whether either team will be able to actually trade the top pick is another matter. This is a center-heavy draft, but there really are none that can match the impact from Noel. Of course, Noel is coming off a torn ACL in February and that is a concern for whoever decides to pick him in this year's Draft.
Are teams going to trade up for him? Will any team trade up at all for anyone in this Draft?
Now is not the time to be making deals with draft picks. The order has not been set yet. But teams will be weighing their options and running the scenarios. Maybe once workouts begin, it will become clearer which teams would like to move up or down.