NBA Trade Value by the Numbers

Elias Stein

When Grantland’s editors decided they wanted to compile 15 years of NBA Trade Value rankings — 13 lists’ worth — into one convenient spreadsheet, they turned to me, a humble intern, to tackle the intimidating task. The joke, though, is on them: I love spreadsheets. And if you love them as much as I do, click here to check out all the data — hundreds of rows’ and columns’ worth. You can track the rise and fall of top players’ careers, as judged by Bill Simmons, and see other trends and anomalies.

I’ll understand if you don’t feel like sifting through it all. In that case, here are the points that I found most interesting while I was organizing the data:

  • Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki are the only two players to make it onto all 13 lists. Duncan has been a notch better than his Texas neighbor, however, peaking at no. 1 in 2001, 2003, and 2005, and earning top-three finishes in every year from 2001 to 2007. Dirk has come on strong late in his career, finishing higher than Duncan in every year since 2010.
  • But it’s not Dirk or Duncan who have the most top-10 finishes. That honor is split between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, who have 10 each. My guess is that LeBron will pass the Black Mamba to become the sole owner of that honor next year, but you never know.
  • LeBron also comes in with the highest median ranking (shocker!) with a no. 1 overall. He took the no. 1 overall spot seven out of 10 times, including six times in a row.
  • The biggest single-season jump belongs to Deron Williams, who was unranked in 2006 but jumped all the way up to no. 5 the next year. He’s cracked the top 10 only once since then though, with a no. 10 finish in 2010.
  • Yao Ming had the steepest drop-off. He fell out of the rankings completely in 2010 after being no. 7 in 2009. Kobe and Derrick Rose are the only other two players to fall out of the rankings completely after pulling a top-10 spot the previous year. This makes sense — those three players experienced major injuries and had (or still have) daunting contracts that essentially extinguished their ability to be traded.
  • Lamar Odom and Nene are tied for the longest gap between rankings. Both were ranked in 2004 and then didn’t show up again until 2011.
  • And if you want the weirdest career (at least in terms of these rankings), it belongs to Carlos Boozer. He’s been ranked three times, but never twice in a row, and peaked at no. 11 in 2007. No, that’s not a typo.

Below is a snippet of the data. It includes the 21 players who have appeared on the rankings seven or more times. To see the complete spreadsheet, click here.

Riley McAtee (@Riley_McAtee) is a Grantland intern.

Filed Under: NBA, NBA Trade Value, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, spreadsheets, Numbers

Riley McAtee is an assistant editor at Grantland.

Archive @ Riley_McAtee