Eastern Ranges vs. Geelong Falcons
PHOTO: Ashleigh Wong

Trading future picks is a terrific idea, but only if it is implemented properly.

The AFL has approved trading one year into the future, and although the details are yet to be ironed out, it’s clear that it’s going to be great for footy fans, clubs and the league in general.

The biggest issue over trading future picks is for the ability to go all in on a trade, only to lose big time and then suffer well into the future.

This is a reality in the NBA. This year, the Miami Heat traded two future first round picks (2017 and 2021 respectively) for the talented Goran Dragic. NBA teams are not allowed to trade away first rounders in consecutive years.

Dragic is a very good player, don’t get me wrong. But the Heat have an ageing list, with injury prone stars.

The Heat’s draft pick situation for the next six years looks like this:
2016: No first round picks, one second round pick
2017: One first round pick, no second round picks
2018: No first round picks, one second round pick
2019: One first round pick, one second round pick
2020: One first round pick, no second round picks
2021: No first round picks, one second round pick

Unless Dragic can make the Heat a drastically better team, then they will look seriously silly for trading away their future all the way into 2021.

The AFL has decided that teams can only trade their current picks and first, second or third round picks from the following year’s draft and no further.

Teams can also only trade either their first pick in the next draft, or their second and/or third round selections. This ensures that no club can trade away all three of their first picks.

The AFL will also look at a pick protection system, like in the NBA.

For example, let’s say the New York Knicks trade a 2016 top-10 protected first round pick to the Houston Rockets, the Rockets will receive that pick if the Knicks pick ends up being anywhere from pick 11 to 30. However, if that Knicks pick lands inside the top 10, the Knicks hang onto it, and the Rockets may receive the pick next year, under less protection (for example, it may only be top three protected in 2017).

This rule ensures a team can back themselves incase they are unexpectedly terrible the next year, a la Port Adelaide’s fall from grace.

Why it’s good for fans

The trade period seems to go for so long now. Even with free agent movement, there’s still not that many moves, so by mid-week it can become quite dull.

The introduction of future pick trading will help get more deals across the line. It also makes for great fan debate, as trades become multi-dimensional.

Why it’s good for recruiting teams

Any way to help bring stars into clubs is a good thing. It means clubs can be more aggressive at the trade table.

List management strategies are already so advanced and looking at least four years into the future at most clubs. With most clubs having a clear understanding of where they will be next year and also what the next draft will be like, it just makes sense to be able to make these moves.

Clubs who lack serious trade chips have an alternative to get deals done. It also doesn’t give them so much power as to absolutely destroy the club for years to come if a club does have an unexpected fall down the ladder.

Why it’s good for the league

It’ll help smaller clubs bring in established players, which should help equalisation.

The proposed details will not only ensure academy players and father-sons are no longer steals, but fair. It also keeps all the clubs happy by being able to work into the future.

And thank the lord it’ll keep a certain demographic off the talk back lines, talking about how ‘Carlton has put their club back by ten years again‘.

*DOWNSIDE* As a Bombers fan and a Knicks fan, there is absolutely nothing more depressing than watching your team be atrocious for a year and then realise at the end of the day, you don’t have an incoming first-round pick. It will be a reality many supporters have to face.