The 2019 NBA Draft is upon us.

On Thursday, 60 of the best basketball prospects from around the world will realize their NBA dreams in front of thousands of hoops fans at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Zion Williamson, Ja Morrant, RJ Barrett, Darius Garland, Jarrett Culver, and Cam Reddish are the names expected to be called first in a draft many analysts view as top-heavy.

Sure, the NBA draft is meant to usher in good fortunes for hapless teams, but Thursday’ affair isn’t just about selecting the best college or international talents available straight-up.

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Sometimes, the draft provides an opportunity for aggressive teams to swing for game-changing trades, either acquiring an established star or trading up for a once-in-a-generation talent.

Over the years, the draft has produced quite a number of trades that left marks in NBA lore.

Who could forget Danny Ainge’s gamble on Ray Allen in the 2007 NBA Draft? The Celtics GM traded Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, and the draft rights to the 5th pick, Jeff Green for the sweet-shooting guard, who played an integral part of the team’s 2008 championship run.

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Then, there’s the 1996 NBA trade that sent Kobe Bryant to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Charlotte Hornets selected Bryant with the No.13 pick, but Lakers GM Jerry West pulled a draft day gambit by trading veteran Vlade Divac to the Hornets in exchange for the Lower Marion HS star. Everybody knew who won the trade. Bryant became a perennial All-Star, a league MVP, and most importantly, a five-time NBA champion.

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So, we’ve seen how the draft can make such a huge impact on the league. That’s why it isn’t surprising to see numerous trade rumors popping out from everywhere, creating more drama and intrigue in the hours leading up to the draft.

Here are the five trade rumors fans should closely watch out.

Bradley Beal trade

The 25-year-old shooting guard out of Florida just became the hottest commodity in the trade market after Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers) and Mike Conley Jr.

(Utah Jazz) got shipped to their new teams.

Beal, who is coming off his best statistical year (25.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists), is entering the fourth year of a five-year, $127 million contract he signed in 2016. Although the Washington Wizards ownership asserted that they want to keep their All-NBA shooting guard long term, that’s no deterring teams from inquiring about Beal’s availability.

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According to Shams Charania of the Athletic, the New Orleans Pelicans are monitoring Beal’s situation in Washington with the belief that the No.4 pick acquired from the Anthony Davis trade to the Lakers could be used in a trade to acquire the shooting guard.

Hawks moving up in the draft

The Atlanta Hawks have expressed the desire to move up to the top-5 of the draft, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Apparently, the Hawks front-office is targeting the Lakers’ No.4 pick now owned by the Pelicans. By trading up, Atlanta would be in a position to select dynamic guard Darius Garland, who they view a perfect backcourt partner to budding star Trae Young. They can provide the Pelicans a plethora of first-round picks (eighth, 10th and 17th selections.) and perhaps another serviceable veteran.

Kevin Love to the Hornets

The Charlotte Hornets are in crucial situation heading into the draft and free agency. There’s a strong possibility they could lose All-Star player Kemba Walker to any team with max slots, leaving a gaping hole in Michael Jordan-owned franchise.

Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak must be creative and aggressive at the same time to save the Hornets ship from imminent regression. The No.12 pick isn’t a valuable asset in a draft in which only four stars are locked to be stars, but he sure can pack it along with other veterans for a star.

Bleacher Report suggests Cleveland Cavaliers star forward Kevin Love would be an ideal target for Hornets. Charlotte would trade Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams, Malik Monk, No. 12 pick to Cleveland in exchange for Love and high-scoring sixth man Jordan Clarkson.

The trade would give Charlotte a legit star to pair with Walker (If he retains him) and a dynamic scorer off the bench. As for Cleveland, getting the expiring contract of Biyombo, Williams and an intriguing prospect in Monk along with a future asset would be a win-win move going forward.

Timberwolves gunning for No.4 pick

With Jeff Teague entering the final year of his contract and Derrick Rose becoming a free agent this July, the Timberwolves are seriously considering moving up to No.4 for the chance to select Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland.

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reported that Minnesota is in talks with the Pelicans front-office. He assumes the T-Wolves are willing to package the No. 11 pick with either Josh Okogie or Robert Covington. There’s a possibility former No.1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins could also be used as trade bait, though his lofty contract (29MM per year) has been the biggest roadblock in any potential deal.

Detroit Pistons moving from Andre Drummond

This is a long shot trade scenario, but it’s certainly possible.

The Pistons already made a pre-draft move by trading Jon Leuer to the Milwaukee Bucks for Tony Snell and the 30th overall pick. The trade helped the Bucks save around $2 million in cap space, which can be used to re-sign Brook Lopez.

The next question now is what’s next for the Pistons?

According to ESPN, Detroit must think hard if they want to continue with Blake Griffin and Drummond manning the frontcourt. With traditional centers being marginalized by today’s style of play, Drummond is coming out as the biggest hinder in the Pistons’ success going forward. Trading the big man would be tough given his $25 million per year contract. Nevertheless, he’s worth a shot for teams looking for an excellent rebounder and more cap flexibility in 2021 – the year Drummond’s contract expires.

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