Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wizards Get #1 Pick. Does It Even Matter?

The NBA held its annual “lottery” for the upcoming draft Tuesday night, with Washington grabbing the #1 pick. Some are questioning whether the NBA’s current system of assigning a certain number of ping-pong balls to teams based on their record, and using a lottery style selection is the best way to see who gets the top pick. In the NFL, the worst team automatically gets the #1 spot. Ditto for Major League Baseball. But if the last 25 years are any indication, getting the #1 pick rarely guarantees championships in the NBA. Since 1985, only 4 players that were drafted number one eventually captured titles (David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Glenn Robinson, Tim Duncan), and only two of those four were with their original team—Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Not only does having the top pick not guarantee success for your team, it doesn’t even mean that player will attain elite status. Of the past 5 NBA drafts, only one player (Derrick Rose) has made an NBA All-Star Game. In the past 25 years, 15 of those top picks have played in 2 All Star Games or less. Of course, not all #1 picks have been busts; here’s a list of my top 10 number one picks in the last 25 years:

1. Shaquille O’Neal (1992)—Orlando Magic—4 NBA Titles; 15 Time All Star; 1 MVP
2. Tim Duncan (1997)—San Antonio Spurs—4 NBA Titles; 12 Time All Star; 2 MVP’s
3. David Robinson (1987)—San Antonio Spurs—2 NBA Titles; 10 Time All Star; 1 MVP
4. LeBron James (2003)—Cleveland Cavaliers—6 Time All Star; 2 MVP’s
5. Allen Iverson (1996)—Philadelphia 76ers—11 Time All Star; 1 MVP
6. Dwight Howard (2004)—Orlando Magic—4 Time All Star
7. Patrick Ewing (1985)—New York Knicks—11 Time All Star
8. Yao Ming (2002)—Houston Rockets—7 Time All Star
9. Derrick Rose (2008)—Chicago Bulls—1 Time All Star
10. Chris Webber (1993)—Golden State—5 Time All Star

And my top five #1 busts in the last 25 years:

1. Michael Olowokandi (1998)—Los Angeles Clippers
2. Kwame Brown (2001)—Washington Wizards
3. Greg Oden (2007)—Portland Trail Blazers
4. Pervis Ellison (1989)—Sacramento Kings
5. Andrew Bogut (2006)—Milwaukee Bucks

Here’s the rest of the list by year that don’t fall into either category:

1. Brad Daugherty (1986)—Cleveland Cavaliers—5 Time All Star
2. Danny Manning (1988)—Los Angeles Clippers—2 Time All Star
3. Derrick Coleman (1990)—New Jersey Nets—1 Time All Star
4. Larry Johnson (1991)—Charlotte Hornets—2 Time All Star
5. Glenn Robinson (1994)—Milwaukee Bucks—1 NBA Title; 2 Time All Star
6. Joe Smith (1995)—Golden State
7. Elton Brand (1999)—Chicago Bulls—2 Time All Star
8. Kenyon Martin (2000)—New Jersey Nets—1 Time All Star
9. Andrea Bargnani (2006)—Toronto Raptors
10. Blake Griffin (2009)—Los Angeles Clippers

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