The Trade Value Power Ranking Idea

Bill Simmons used to do an NBA wide Trade Value Power Ranking on his Grantland website. Rather than ranking the 50 best players he’d make a power ranking based on trade value.

There’s a couple of differences between a player’s trade value and their on court value.

One difference would be that youth and perceived future potential plays a large role.

Another would be a player’s contract value. How long is the deal? Is the player over-paid or under-paid? If the player is a great player, and is under-paid, a long contract will increase their trade value. If the player is over-paid each year will decrease his trade value accordingly.

Another factor is the position the player plays. A player at a position that is in demand, because quality players are scarce, will have more trade value. However, if the NBA has 28 star quality point-guards, and there are only 30 teams a star point-guard might not have as much trade value as a star center.

Flotsam and Jetsam

This category is similar to the next category, Young Filler. Yet these players no longer have the appeal of youth or potential.

These players are basically older players with established ceilings as role players. A player in this category doesn’t have negative value, they just have close to zero value.

15. Gerald Green – Guard/Forward

Las Vegas, UNITED STATES: Gerald Green of the Boston Celtics jumps to win the slam dunk contest of the NBA All Star Game, 17 February 2007, in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS / GETTY IMAGES

Green isn’t a player that is going to attract a lot of attention on the trade market.

There’s a reason the Celtics were able to sign him for a veteran minimum contract.

But, in case of injury, or to a team that needs serviceable veteran wing-depth, he could potentially be moved within a larger deal. His contract is, at the very least, not a hindrance at all.

The fact that he is an average to above average three-point shooter and in the past had shown some scoring capability helps his value some. But the mediocre season he had last year, and his lack of emergence this year, limit his trade value severely.

Young Filler/Fringe Players on Rookie Contracts

The second category of players are, well, guys that aren’t worth very much to other teams.

Maybe it’s because they haven’t played enough minutes yet. They haven’t put together a body of work, or demonstrated their value.

However, even these guys have some value provided two things are true.

Provided they haven’t proved they are not NBA quality players yet.

And provided they aren’t on expensive long-term contracts.

14. James Young – Guard/Forward

13. Demetrius Jackson – Guard

12. Jordan Mickey – Forward/Center

A potential trade partner would probably rely more on pre-draft information than their pro scouting when considering these players. A young rebuilding team, especially one lacking depth in their respective position, may have some interest in one of these players. (Or a team that had considerable interest before their draft. )

Young may not have much time left in this category. But he is still so young, and that combined with some flashes of respectable play keep him here for the time being.

Jackson and Mickey have both shown flashes of role player potential in pre-season or summer league. Mickey has a long wingspan and in college was an excellent shot blocker.

Jackson was expected to go in the late first round according to mock draft projections and prognosticators but ended up falling in the draft. Still he has shown some potential as a back-up point-guard.

Contract Value and Salary Filler

These players are guys with limited on court value. They aren’t necessarily bad players, but they have role player type ceilings or worse.

However, these players have value because of their contracts. They are either underpaid, or expiring contracts.

In the NBA trades have to have matching in-coming and out-going salaries. So any team that trades a star player, who is paid up to his value, will have to accept a lot of in-coming salary in return. These are the types of players that would be used to make up that salary.

11. Tyler Zeller

10. Amir Johnson

9. Jonas Jerebko

Zeller is a guy with at least one season under his belt as a serviceable starting center. While he is best utilized off the bench, he can at least hang with big men in the NBA. Zeller signed a 2 year $16 million contract with the Celtics last off-season. That may be a bit much for a player of his caliber, however the second season is non-guaranteed. Meaning a team can decide to basically let him expire this coming off-season.

Amir is a solid defensive Power Forward or Center. He earned a good reputation as a great teammate and role player in Toronto. Johnson signed a similar contract to Zeller, but one off-season prior, and one for 2 years and $24 million with a non-guaranteed second season. He is an expiring contract, as he is now playing under the second year of that deal, and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Jonas Jerebko is a solid and versatile player. He can help a team that is looking for some three-point shooting and defensive versatility out of a big man off the bench. The Swedish Larry Bird provided the Celtics a good spark in a couple of playoff games last season, and is only making $5 million this season. He is also an expiring contract, and a free-agent-to-be.

Photo from the Celtics 2015-2016 season from

Rotation Players

This group is players on the good side of 30 who have shown they belong in the NBA and can eat minutes and perform a role at this level.

Players in this tier could fluctuate greatly in value depending on a number of factors, or even which General Manager you’re talking to.

If this player is a starter, or reliable rotation player, and they’re still on a rookie contract or under-paid it will add to his value. Or if he’s thought of as having star potential, that will add to his value. If he has an elite skill that is in high demand it will add to his value. Think 23 year old 3 D wing. Or 21 year old stretch-forward. Or 26 year old 5th starter.

This is where it starts to get difficult ranking the remaining celtics.All of the remaining players have real on-court value to the team. As well as real value to a potential future team, that doesn’t involve being salary filler or an expiring contract.

8. Terry Rozier

7. Kelly Olynyk

Rozier skies for a dunk against the Nets

(Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Terry Rozier might have a lot of value to the right club. A team that lacks point-guard depth. Or a team that liked him a lot before the draft. Maybe a team that wants speed and the ability to penetrate in their point-guards. Some Celtics fans might argue he should be higher, as some see star potential in him. However, he hasn’t exactly built up a large body of work as a rotation player in this league yet. Rozier is a player that would’ve been in the same category as Mickey or Young last season, and may very well be higher on this list next season.

Kelly Olynyk has shown he is capable of being one of, if not the best, three-point shooting bigs in the league. He’s largely this low because he is soon to be a restricted free-agent. While a team trading for him would receive his restricted rights, and would be able to match any offer for him, they’ll only get this partial season under his rookie deal. If traded, he would soon cost a future team a lot more money than he costs the Celtics right now.

Starter Quality Talents

The top 6 Celtics in trade value are guys who can start in this league. Whether they start on the Celtics is irrelevant. They’re all desirable players in their own ways from this point up. All may vary tremendously from each other in value, despite being close to each other on the list. And again which team is calling could certainly move these names around. Position, age, potential, and contract situation could all make a player appeal greatly to one team, or not as appealing to another.

6. Marcus Smart

5. Jaylen Brown

4. Jae Crowder

3. Avery Bradley

Smart handling the ball. Photo Courtesy of

Smart is a guy that makes a lot of sense where he is in this ranking. He was the 6th pick in the draft. Marcus Smart has great size and a long wingspan for his position. He has great defensive versatility, a skill in high demand. If he could potentially develop a great offensive game he would undoubtedly be a great player. He is still very young, and still on his rookie deal.

Jaylen Brown could arguably be in the top three of this list. If the team the Celtics trade with happened to be a team looking to rebuild, and a team that desired a young player with star potential he’d be that guy. However, he hasn’t yet had the opportunity to show much at the NBA level. One could also argue he’s too high on this list. Sometimes once a draft has passed the player taken doesn’t have the same value that the pick had before. At least, until the player shows some type of flashes at the NBA level. One could argue he has to show flashes of his potential to reclaim that value. He does have 3 seasons remaining on a rookie contract, and excellent athleticism and size for his position.

Jae Crowder would have been higher on this list last season. Crowder can hang with starting caliber small forwards. He can play the four in small-ball lineups. He is a solid defensive player and a complementary offensive player. A starter on a cheap long-term deal, who is under 30, is valuable.

Avery Bradley has grown his game each season he has been in the league and is still only 25 years old. He, too, is on a cheap deal for the next few seasons. His ability to shoot from range, combined with his all-defensive first team quality play on that end, make him a tremendous value. He has upped his scoring production this season, and shown off an improved ability to create offense for himself and others. His ability to defend point-guards, shooting-guards, and small forwards would be very valuable to many teams.

All Star Quality Players

This category is pretty self-explanatory. Though, depending on the situation, these guys could have less value to a potential trade partner than a Jaylen Brown. However, if we’re not specifying on the type of trade or trade partner than these guys have the most value to the Celtics, or to most other teams.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Photo by: B. Babineau

2. Isaiah Thomas

1. Al Horford

Isaiah is a great offensive weapon, and is on an excellent contract. He would be insanely valuable, except for the fact that his contract expires after next season. Most people would think the Celtics would be crazy if they traded Thomas. You don’t usually trade 26 point per game scorers that love playing for you, that you’re paying less than 7 million dollars per year. There’s a good chance the Celtics will use his bird rights after he expires, and sign him up long-term.

Mandatory Credit: AP Photo/Jim Mone

Horford is number one, and while some could argue that his $28 million dollar salary figure should move him down a bit, his 3 years remaining on his contract after this season keep him in the top spot. That, and the fact that he plays an important position lacking talent around the league. Also, Horford has tremendous versatility on both ends of the floor. His all-around game and impressive skill-set would be very useful to a large variety of teams.


Trade value is a very subjective thing. This list is by no means set in stone. And in fact, as frequently mentioned above, it could drastically change depending on the type of trade you’re making, or who you’re making it with.

However, all things considered, this is as good a Celtics trade value guideline as you will find.

One thing you’ll notice is the Celtics are largely a team without a bad contract. No one on this list that deserves to be considered a negative value item on the trade market. Some might require the right set of circumstances to even garner a second round pick, like a rash of injuries at a certain position. Some may only be considered as part of a larger package. But most players on the Celtics are either very young, or are rotation quality players. And most, if not all players not on rookie contracts are either under-paid or expiring.

This is a team that might have been built to facilitate a larger trade. Many have speculated that Danny Ainge is actually hunting for that big trade around the clock. However, they’ve been writing that for a couple of seasons now.

It might be nice for Celtics fans if a rim protecting big man were added, or the surplus of guard depth was moved for a very good return. But sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make. We’ll have to wait and see what, if anything, happens before this season’s trade deadline.