Ahead of Thursday night’s NBA Draft, there is a lot of activity. The Celtics and 76ers completed a big trade recently, while the Lakers and Nets just made one yesterday and the Hawks sent Dwight Howard packing to Charlotte. Clearly, the homecoming for Howard, once part of a loaded Atlanta Celtics team highlighted by the front line he led with Josh Smith and Randolph Morris, didn’t work out.

Usually, it’s on draft night that a ton of deals happen. In fact, because of that, it’s often hard to keep up with who is going where as the night goes on. Not so this time around, and two big things probably contribute to that:

Everyone is chasing two teams they are far behind. The Warriors and Cavs were clearly head and shoulders above everyone, except perhaps San Antonio. Lest we forget, the Spurs had a big lead in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals before Kawhi Leonard was hurt and missed the rest of the series. That changed the entire series around as the Warriors swept once more en route to the NBA Finals. Everyone is chasing them, and the draft is but one means of doing so. (Some may even believe the Cavs are, like everyone else, chasing the Warriors – with David Griffin’s ouster being indicative of such a belief within the organization.)

This year’s draft is deep – very deep. Last year’s NBA Draft was widely viewed as pretty weak, with a noticeable drop-off after Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram. The early returns seem to bear that out, though it is still early yet. But this year’s draft, while it may not have many, if any, cornerstone future Hall of Famers, has a lot of talent. Quite a few players who could end up going near the end of the lottery could go in the top 5 in many other years. That means there is a lot to be had if a team can maneuver its way into the lottery or move up if they’re already there.

The big question from all of this is: will there be as many deals on draft night as usual? I suspect there will be, that this is not merely a movement of trades from draft night to before it. Reports abound of teams still wheeling and dealing as we speak. There is a lot of talent to try to pick up on Thursday night.

I don’t think this year’s draft will end up in the same class as the one in 2003, but it should be pretty good.

I’ll be busy with coverage of the draft on Hoopville. I’ll be tweeting (@PhilKasiecki) as the night goes on and will have at least one story coming out of it on Friday, just for starters. It’s always a fun night and with no shortage of speculation and drama, and I suspect this year that will be the case even more so than usual.

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