By Colin Maher, Salary Cap Specialist and contributor to No Trade Clause


As every NBA fan knows, with pick protections it becomes rocket science trying to track a team’s actual draft picks. Not only do you not know where in the draft your team will be drafting, but you also don’t know if your team will gain or lose picks. That is, until the final standings and the lottery picks are set for the current year’s draft.

We all know the Spurs won the Wemby sweepstakes. But we also now know, based on draft order, what pick protections resulted in the conveying of draft picks.

We break them down here.

The Biggest Winner – Indiana Pacers 

The Pacers were in line for two protected First Rounders, and both conveyed. One from the Celtics (protected 1 to 12) and one from the Cavaliers (protected 1 to 14), respectively. Not surprisingly, both teams performed well enough in the regular season for the picks to convey.

Indiana also got lucky landing a top-end Second Round pick. They were only to receive Houston’s Second Round pick if it landed as the 31 or 32 pick. If it landed anywhere else (33 to 60) then Indiana would drop all the way to 50. Luckily for the Pacers, Houston landed at 32, and it became their pick.

The Biggest LoserNew York Knicks

The Knicks had the rights to four protected First Round picks including their own, and none conveyed to the Knicks. Most of the protections seem predictable and, as a Knicks fan, you wanted the Knicks pick to convey. Retaining the pick meant the Knicks didn’t make the playoffs. No one is surprised Detroit (protected 1 to 18) and the Wizards (protected 1 to 14) landed in the lottery and therefore retained their pick. The one that stings for Knicks fans is the Dallas pick (protected 1 to 10). Even the biggest pessimist would not think, after trading for Kyrie, Dallas would become one of the 10th worst teams in the League. It did take tanking the final game of the season (resulting in a $750,000) to get there, but they did.

Close Calls

A bit more on Dallas. Even though Dallas tanked for the 10th worst record in the League to keep their pick, a lottery team could have leap-frogged them, giving Dallas #11, thus conveying the pick to the Knicks. The tanking still succeeded, and they were able to retain their First-Round pick.

In addition to Dallas and Indiana winning big on close calls, Atlanta also hit on one as well. New Orleans had the misfortune of landing at the #46 slot in the Second Round. Their pick was protected 31 to 45, so it was conveyed to the Hawks. 

Before anyone says Second Round picks don’t matter, let’s not forget Western Conference Champion and back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic was drafted #41, and the Heat are running deep into the playoffs with undrafted players. The more chances a team has, the better.

League Wide Results 

Below is a chart tracking whether the draft order caused the team to either gain or lose draft rights this year based on the pick protections.  Note if they “lost” the pick, they still may have rights to future draft picks (e.g. the Knicks lost the Dallas pick, but they can still receive a First from them through 2025). Check the No Trade Clause Draft Capital Page to find out.


Draft Pick Conveyance Tracker 2023