Writing at New York Times’s Off the Dribble blog, Benjamin Hoffman notes that the Brooklyn Nets will have a look at what might have been today against the Portland Trail Blazers: at last year’s deadline, the Nets traded their first-round pick (top-3 protected), along with Shawne Williams and Mehmet Okur, for Gerald Wallace. The pick, which became the sixth overall pick, turned into point guard Damian Lillard — an early frontrunner along with #1 overall pick Anthony Davis for rookie of the year.
Hoffman said of Lillard, who leads all rookies with averages of 20.2 points and 6 assists, that “it would be hard for Portland to ask for more,” and though Lillard and Williams play the same position, he’d easily have been an enticing player.
Indeed, Lillard represents part of a long-term vision that the Nets eschewed in favor of a win-now mode: they’ve traded each of their first round picks since drafting Brook Lopez in 2008, always for veterans. Though it’s impossible to alter the past, an interesting what-if is to imagine a long-term core of, say, Lillard-Derrick Favors-Brook Lopez.
Either way, I still feel the Nets made the right move.