Prior to the NBA draft, rumors were flying about Brooklyn's desire to trade their way into the first round. They managed to find a partner in the Indiana Pacers, settling on a deal that helps both teams develop their respective futures while also modifying their presumed play styles. Here are the details of the trade:
||#20 pick in 2016 (Caris LeVert)
Protected future second-round pick
Brooklyn Nets B+
Although Brooklyn lost a veteran starter in this trade, the Nets make a significant leap forward in their plans for the future by picking up the 20th pick in this draft. Caris LeVert arguably fills both of Brooklyn's needs, as he has great point guard skills in addition to great shooting guard skills. LeVert had a 3.1 Assist/Turnover ratio in his senior season, which was 8th best in the college ranks and would have been in the Top 20 in the NBA last year. Furthermore, his 3-point shooting was excellent in his last college season, and he will have many opportunities to catch and shoot while spotting up around Brook Lopez post-ups. LeVert needs to work on his off-the-dribble game, and his injury worries are reasonable given his repeated history of left leg and foot problems. However, LeVert publicly stated in the Player's Tribune that his surgeon had given him a clean bill of health. If LeVert can maintain his level of play over his last three college seasons while avoiding injury issues, he will be a key building block for Brooklyn for years to come.
That being said, the loss of Thaddeus Young will definitely hurt this team. The only power forward currently on the Nets roster, after this trade and draft day, is Chris McCullough, who had short stretches of great play but likely isn't quite ready to be thrown into the fire as a starting PF quite yet. Either way, he certainly isn't going to play 48 minutes per game at the 4, so Brooklyn will need to find someone to fill that hole over the off-season. While Thad Young did a good job alongside Brook Lopez, his game doesn't fit perfectly with Brooklyn's best player. Young is a good rebounder for his size, averaging over 9 board per game last year, but is a slightly below-average defender; opponents shot about 1% better against Young than league average. While that number was probably dragged down by the Nets' terrible defense overall, Young is not the kind of defensive stopper and crazed board-crasher that would fit best alongside Brook Lopez. While Thaddeus Young was great for Brooklyn, Caris LeVert fills a stronger need and also helps Brooklyn get younger. Tossing in a protected second-round pick might seem like filler, but any chance at a draft pick in the second round is basically like a lottery ticket--the most likely outcome is not an NBA player, but you might luck into a Draymond Green or Chandler Parsons-like late round star. Overall, Brooklyn will definitely benefit from this trade long-term, barring continued injury trouble for their new combo guard.
Indiana Pacers: B
Under new head coach Nate McMillan, Indiana has repeatedly said that they would like to be able to run the floor, and Thaddeus Young fits that model nearly perfectly. He's much quicker than the average power forward, and will also allow rookie sensation Myles Turner to slide over to the center position full-time. This trade does squeeze out Ian Mahinmi, a free agent this year who helped bolster the team's defense and rebounding last year. Trading for Thad Young allows Indiana to focus on Turner and also lets Paul George stray away from minutes at small-ball PF, something he did not seem happy to do last year. While Mahinmi does have value, maximizing Turner and George is more important than keeping Mahinmi around and forcing the Pacers' star (and probably a future star in Turner) to spend a lot of minutes out of position. Overall, this may be the rare trade that truly helps both teams--Indiana is a playoff team that acquired a veteran that helps with their roster construction, while Brooklyn acquires the guard for the future that they would have had trouble securing without a pick in the first round of the draft.