Q&A: Bobby Marks Talks NBA Draft, Expects Flurry of Trades

Bobby Marks worked in the NBA for 20 years — his final five years as an assistant GM for the Brooklyn Nets. Now, he’s ESPN’s NBA Front Office Insider. He stopped by to chat about what to expect in tonight’s draft, scouting, names to watch, and some insight on the Raptors and Nets.

The Association: I’ve heard this might be one of the most active drafts (re: trades) in quite a while. What are your expectations heading into tonight?

Bobby Marks: I don’t see much movement in the top four, as far as teams trading out. However, once the draft starts at No. 5 with Orlando, expect plenty of movement. This is a loaded draft, and teams not only in the top four but throughout the first and early second could have valuable rotational players on their roster for the future. I am also expecting this year’s draft to top the 24 trades that were made in 2019. With such limited cap flexibility this offseason to spend in free agency, the logical way to acquire a player is on the trade market.

TA: There’s talent coming from all different places now. How are scouts/front offices valuing these players? (i.e. G League Ignite vs. college star)

BM: Every player drafted on Thursday night has been heavily scouted before they entered high school. Mike Schmitz of ESPN has said that he has been evaluating this draft class when these kids are 12 and 13 years old. Because of the G-League Ignite team, this year’s draft class is expected to be the most heavily scouted group of players. The players on the G-League Ignite have a unique advantage since they competed against NBA-level competition in the Orlando Bubble. 

TA: Any names we should keep an eye out for, that haven’t been mentioned much?

BM: There are two names to keep an eye on that could crack the top 20: Trey Murphy and Cam Thomas. Murphy is a unique story since he was recruited by only Rider, West Point, and Rice. He would eventually transfer to Virginia and now is likely to go in the top 20. Thomas, out of LSU, is probably the best shooter in the draft and could fill a Jordan Clarkson-type role for a team that needs scoring off the bench.

TA: Put yourself in Masai Ujiri’s shoes. Would you consider trading the pick to show commitment to winning, or do what the Warriors did with Wiseman and let things play out?

BM: I believe they can draft a player like Jalen Suggs, and that would still show a commitment to winning. The Gonzaga guard is a starter from day one, and although there will be a learning curve in the beginning, the Raptors are a playoff team with him in the lineup. The big question of course is what happens to Kyle Lowry and whether the Raptors can parlay him into bench depth and additional draft assets in a sign-and-trade.

TA: What route do you think the Brooklyn Nets will take? Conservative with the luxury tax, looking for more win-now pieces — Any chance they can attach a pick with DeAndre Jordan to get his money off the books?

BM: I just don’t see No. 27 having enough value for a team to take back the $20 million owed to DeAndre Jordan. That could change, of course, if Brooklyn adds a player like Landry Shamet. Brooklyn needs to be careful diminishing their bench depth just to save money. They will likely lose Spencer Dinwiddie to free agency and key free agents in Bruce Brown and Blake Griffin. The Nets luxury tax bill might be high, but that is the cost of trying to win a championship. 

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You can follow Bobby Marks on Twitter for all the latest on the draft and offseason reports here.