Thorns FC: Draft Day Update – Trading Places!

Less than a week after drafting her, Thorns FC has traded UConn forward Rachel Hill to the Orlando Pride for two 2018 draft picks.

I suspect this may well have been in the works since Draft Day.  It would certainly go a long ways towards explaining Coach Parsons’ otherwise-somewhat-inexplicable-pursuit of forwards at the time.  What happened?  My theory is below the fold…

Last Thursday Parsons was reported talking to someone or someones at the Orlando table during the pause before the Tyler Lussi pick in the third round.  Orlando needs attacking options.  Portland needs…well, not three forwards.

So it’s hard not to see how this works.  Portland had to burn two 2018 picks to get Chicago’s #21 pick last week to take Tyler Lussi.  This gets those picks back and lands the Thorns a guaranteed spot in the 2018 first round (the fourth round pick is kind of a makeweight…) and it gets Orlando a good young forward to spot in for Alex Morgan.  Parsons goes over to Sermanni, talks about his next pick, and…

That said, I’d argue strongly against Gavin Wilkinson’s statement (in the linked announcement):

“Immediately after drafting Rachel we were presented with a trade option, and with this in mind, we were able to draft a similar quality player in Tyler Lussi,”

Based on their statistics the only “similar quality” Hill shares with Lussi are their ability to put shots on goal; both put 50% of their shots on frame. Otherwise there’s no real comparison. Hill scores at nearly half again the rate per shot (0.190 to 0.123) that Lussi does. She played for a bigger program and played against bigger and tougher opponents – the only ranked opponent Princeton faced last season was #2 ranked West Virginia – and most of Lussi’s scoring came against the softer teams on the Tigers’ 2016 schedule.

Yes, Top Drawer had them at #22 and #23. But Chris Henderson had them much differently – Hill at #6 overall, Lussi at #43 – so IMO there’s reason to question how similar those two were. Jennifer Gordon at The Equalizer had Hill as one of her top five forwards in this year’s draft. Dan Lauletta considered her likely to go within the first round. Neither writer even remotely considered Lussi in their draft writeups.

Now…I’m not saying that Gavin is smarter than all those other people. But, as the saying goes, if you look around the table and don’t see the chump…

Now.  I’m not saying that Portland has been chumped here.  It’s VERY much early days yet.  Lussi may turn out to be a gem.  Hill may turn out to be a bust.  Having a first round pick in 2018 may turn out to be critical.  There’s a lot of what that Vero Boquete of geopolitical cunning, Donnie Rumsfeld, would call “unknown unknowns” about this trade.

But that’s always the risk with trades.  To quote another celebrity; could be lunchmeat, could be peaches.