The 2023-24 NBA season begins October 25th, and an abundance of franchises have a reasonable chance of winning the championship. Check out below for three logical mock NBA trades that boost championship equity for the involved contenders, including the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, and Miami Heat.
New York Knicks Add Offensive Firepower
New York Knicks receive:
- Bojan Bogdanovic
Detroit Pistons receive:
- Evan Fournier
- 2024 1st via Knicks
- 2025 2nd via Nets
Why New York Accepts: The Knicks ranked 19th in three-point percentage and 20th in true shooting percentage last season. Mitchell Robinson is a complete non-shooter, while RJ Barrett and Julius Randle are incredibly streaky from the perimeter. New York also lacked on-ball creators, as Jalen Brunson (5th) and Randle (12th) were among the league leaders in double teams faced. Their recent playoff run captures their woes; they achieved a 107.7 Offensive Rating across 11 games – this mark would have been dead last during the regular season.
Enter Bojan Bogdanovic, who perfectly fills their needs. Across the past five seasons, he has averaged 18.8 points on 40.4 percent from three. Per Basketball Index, Bogdanovic ranked 6th in off-ball gravity, 26th in self-created shot making, and 28th in three-point shot making last year, which adjusts efficiency with degree of difficulty. The veteran scorer is efficiency itself and owns the tools to create off the dribble, which elevates New York’s offense to another level. Bogdanovic can provide a massive spark off the bench and potentially breach the closing lineup.
New York’s playoff ten would be the following:
- Jalen Brunson, Quentin Grimes, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson
- Immanuel Quickley, Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Hart, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Hartenstein
That’s one of the deepest depth charts in the NBA. Losing their 2024 first stings, but the fact that it’s projected to be late massively reduces the risk of forfeiting a top prospect.
Why Detroit Accepts: The rebuilding Pistons possess a tantalizing young core featuring Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson, and Jalen Duren. Cunningham is the oldest of the bunch at 22-years-old, so it’s a complete youth movement in Detroit at the moment. The Pistons are focusing on identifying franchise cornerstones and experimenting with unique combinations rather than the playoffs. Therefore, Detroit has no immediate use for 34-year-old Bojan Bogdanovic outside of flipping him for assets.
Detroit’s front office has clearly stated their intentions to only move Bogdanovic in a deal that includes an unprotected first round pick, and New York obliges. The Pistons can get out of Fournier’s contract next season by declining his team option, so it’s effectively an expiring contract. Plus, Detroit also picks up a 2025 2nd for their troubles. Overall, the Pistons clear playing time and add two assets to the roster.
Los Angeles Clippers Trade For Point Guard
Los Angeles Clippers receive:
- Malcolm Brogdon
Portland Trail Blazers receive:
- Marcus Morris
- Amir Coffey
- Kobe Brown
- 2028 1st via Clippers
- 2024 2nd via Raptors
Why Los Angeles Accepts: The Clippers are riddled with wings and off-ball shooters, but their offense needs a passing boost. Per Basketball Index, they were 25th in the all-encompassing playmaking talent metric, which factors in numerous categories like creation quality, creation quantity, turnovers, passing versatility, gravity, etc. Russell Westbrook provided a strong injection, but the Clippers need more.
Of the 51 players with 300 pick-and-roll ball handler possessions last season, Malcolm Brogdon was 9th in both pick-and-roll points per possession and pick-and-roll turnover percentage. As an orchestrator, he consistently generated quality looks without losing control. Los Angeles often had stretches of offensive chaos that allowed opponents to claw their way back, so Brogdon’s addition helps limit these occurrences.
He also produced a 44.2 three-point percentage on catch-and-shoot threes, so he enhances the offense without dominating the ball. That’s a crucial skill that allows him to thrive next to Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Westbrook.
In addition, Brogdon remains an effective point of attack defender and off-ball chaser. Brogdon won’t sniff an All-Defensive team, but opponents cannot hunt him off the court in the slightest.
With this trade, Los Angeles’ playoff ten would be the following:
- Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Terance Mann, Kawhi Leonard, Ivica Zubac
- Malcolm Brogdon, Norman Powell, Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, Mason Plumlee
The Clippers would arguably be the deepest team in the NBA while boasting an exceptional one-two punch. In summation, Brogdon shores up their weaknesses, and he costs a fraction of the haul that Daryl Morey desires for James Harden. Brogdon isn’t on Harden’s level as a playmaker, but he’s a superior shooter and defender. The lost unprotected first hurts, but the Clippers are in win-now mode. They have sunk too many assets to come away from the Leonard-George era without a championship, and Brogdon definitely increases their chances.
Malcolm Brogdon is exactly what every team needs pic.twitter.com/dPgsmWaQ4q
— Braxton Reynolds (@BReynolds200) October 20, 2023
Why Portland Accepts: The Blazers finally initiated a complete teardown by trading Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks. They will now build around young guards Scoot Henderson, Anfernee Simons, and Shaedon Sharpe, as well as centers Deandre Ayton and Robert Williams III. Portland is far from the playoffs and solely focused on player development, so flipping Brogdon for even more assets greatly behooves them.
Marcus Morris is on an expiring contract, and he will be a popular trade deadline target for contenders. The Blazers can snag a few second rounders via a Morris trade. Amir Coffey provides solid wing depth, and he’s still just 26-years-old. Meanwhile, 30th overall pick Kobe Brown gives Portland a building block at forward, which is a strong need. The 6’8” combo forward possesses intriguing playmaking and three-point shooting potential, so he could be a future starter.
However, the real prize is Los Angeles’ 2028 unprotected first rounder. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook will all be in their late 30s and likely out of the league. The Clippers will find it difficult to add talent too because Oklahoma City owns their 2024 and 2026 firsts, along with 2025 swap rights. It’s extremely reasonable that this pick winds up in the top ten.
Overall, the Blazers add excellent ingredients to their rebuild here for a veteran that doesn’t fit the timeline or even fill a position of need.
Miami Heat Go All-In
Miami Heat receive:
- Zach LaVine
- Alex Caruso
- Andre Drummond
Chicago Bulls receive:
- Tyler Herro
- Duncan Robinson
- Nikola Jovic
- 2027 1st swap via Heat (top 3 protected)
- 2028 1st via Heat
- 2029 1st swap via Heat (top 3 protected)
Why Miami Accepts: The Heat are coming off an NBA Finals appearance, but they face a steep uphill climb this year. Milwaukee poached All-NBA point guard Damian Lillard, while Boston added Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis. Cleveland and New York improved their respective rosters as well. To make matters worse, Miami lost Gabe Vincent and Max Strus during free agency without finding suitable replacements. It’s the worst overall roster of the Jimmy Butler era, who recently turned 34-years-old in September. The Heat need to strike now and maximize his remaining years.
Miami ranked 25th in Offensive Rating, 27th in three-point percentage, and 27th in points per drive. They managed to catch fire from deep during their playoff run, but counting on outlier efficiency from unreliable shooters again isn’t a realistic blueprint. Last season, Zach LaVine averaged 24.8 points and 4.2 assists on excellent 48/37/84 shooting splits. He was one of three players – along with Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving – to rank top 30 in Basketball Index’s rim shot making, three-point shot making, and one on one talent metrics. LaVine’s ability to create off the dribble and score efficiently from anywhere means Jimmy Butler would finally have a go-to scorer alongside him, thus completely transforming Miami’s offense.
Meanwhile, Miami adding Alex Caruso should terrify opponents. He earned All-Defensive First Team honors because of his exceptional point of attack defense. Caruso was 5th across the NBA in deflections, and the advanced stats loved him as well. Per Basketball Index’s metrics, he ranked 10th in perimeter isolation defense, 7th in ball screen navigation, and 3rd in off-ball chaser defense. Caruso also led the NBA in defensive playmaking, which includes deflections, steals, blocks, and drawn offensive fouls. With Caruso, Butler, and Adebayo leading Spoelstra’s defensive schemes, Miami could neutralize even the best offenses. Caleb Martin remains an effective defender too, while Zach LaVine is solid, especially when he locks in mentally.
Finally, Miami has struggled at times to control the glass. Andre Drummond owns the largest rebound percentage in NBA history, so the 6’11” center significantly improves this area. He won’t dominate playoff games, but Drummond provides desirable center depth, especially against teams with massive big men.
The Heat’s playoff ten subsequently becomes the following:
- Alex Caruso, Zach LaVine, Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin, Bam Adebayo
- Kyle Lowry, Josh Richardson, Haywood Highsmith, Kevin Love, Andre Drummond
Thomas Bryant, Jamal Cain and rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr could work their way in as well. Overall, Miami becomes a top contender via this blockbuster move. The surrendered package is similar to the offered Damian Lillard haul, although scaled back. It’s definitely a considerable amount, but Miami transforms their championship equity while ridding themselves of Duncan Robinson’s horrific contract.
Why Chicago Accepts: The Bulls can worm their way into the playoffs with this roster, but a first round exit appears to be their absolute ceiling. Veteran DeMar DeRozan is in the final year of his deal, so Chicago will either lose him for nothing or unwisely extend him if they delay a rebuild decision to the off-season. Given their average depth chart and inability to radically improve, tethering themselves to the expensive 34-year-old scorer decimates their future.
Chicago admirably attempted to win a championship by adding DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic to the roster, but it’s clear that the experiment failed. The Bulls need to hit the reset button, and Miami’s offer provides a considerable head start.
Although Tyler Herro struggles mightily on defense, the former Sixth Man of the Year has averaged twenty points in back-to-back seasons. He’s a crafty combo guard that weaponizes his three-point shot and off-the-dribble quickness. Herro is still just 23-years-old, so Chicago receives a long-term versatile scorer that can anchor the bench at a minimum.
Former first round pick Nikola Jovic offers tantalizing potential as a 6’10” forward with ball handling and self-creation tools. During the FIBA World Cup this past summer, Jovic averaged 10.1 points and 2.6 assists on 56/42/76 shooting splits. The 20-year-old has every chance to be a future NBA starter, and his skill set nicely complements franchise cornerstone Patrick Williams.
Jimmy Butler will be in his late 30s when these picks roll around too, so the Bulls may receive juicy prospects here via the first and swaps. Acquiring Duncan Robinson’s contract stings, but a team can never have enough three-point shooting.
Overall, the Bulls enter a new era and leave behind mediocrity. Once Chicago accepts this trade, DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, Jevon Carter, and Torrey Craig deals will further add to Chicago’s core of Herro, Jovic, Patrick Williams, Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, and Dalen Terry.