Originally written on Pass The Pill  |  Last updated 11/17/14

Every year as the NBA regular season comes to a close, the teams who, to put in a nice way,  underperform can take solace in the fact that while they may not be competing for a title, they will be competing for a top lottery pick. But is having the number one or number two pick always a good thing? Sure you could get a superstar like LeBron James or Kevin Durant who will give your team a valuable boost and help turn your franchise around. Or, you could get stuck with Greg Oden or Darko Milicic who just plain don’t work out. Well that’s not fair to say because Greg Oden still has a little gas left in the tank, if he can stay healthy.

As much as teams covet those first few picks, if you look back over the last decade, one of those players isn’t going to work out.  Obviously there’s no such thing as a sure thing, but you would guess that once in a while two teams would make the right picks. Now some of the mistakes could fall on teams that decided to go for players that fit in their roster rather than the best overall players (I’ll explain later).

Looking at this year’s draft, you have two college teammates, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Davis was a lock at the number one spot as he was clearly above everyone else this past season and the Hornets are hoping that will translate into the NBA. For Kidd-Gilchrist, his stock has been rising since his tremendous postseason play. He has a versatile game that looks like it’s just beginning to be tapped. Out of the two, obviously Davis is the favorite for the Rookie of the Year award but is Kidd-Gilchrist going to be that far behind him. He may actually fit in perfectly in Mike Dunlaps’ style of play. If the summer league’s any indication, then Kidd-Gilchrist was the better choice over Thomas Robinson.  Robinson, who many thought would go number two, flat out didn’t get it done and looked nothing like the player he was at Kansas last year.

For now, it looks like as if New Orleans and Charlotte made the right choices. I can’t say the same about any drafts before this though.

Before I show you the draft classes of the 00′s let’s take a look at arguably the top two draft classes of all time. 1984′s draft class was stacked and produced four hall of famers. The Rockets took Hakeem Olajuwon as the first pick. Two championships later, it’s obvious this was a great pick at number one. I can’t say about the Portland Trail Blazers for the next pick. Cue announcer voice… “The number two pick in 1984 draft, chosen over “His Royal Airness”… SAM BOWIE!” That is certainly not a household name. Why? Because he was a bust, perhaps the biggest of all time.

Forget Ryan Leaf, forget Oden, this guy went ahead of the Michael Jordan, considered the best basketball player ever. Granted we didn’t know that at the time. Bowie became the prime example of a player who’s college game never translated to the pros.

Moving ahead to the ’96 draft, which by all accounts was more loaded than a sausage from a street vendor outside of Fenway Park.  With the likes of Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash and more, the ’96ers made a huge impact into the league and some still are today.  With Iverson going first to Philadelphia the Toronto Raptors had a list of people they could choose from. However, they decided to go with the center who helped take a little known UMass team to the Final Four (later vacated by the NCAA), Marcus Camby.

By all accounts Camby has had a solid career as a rebounder and shot blocker, but if you try and tell me that this wasn’t a bust of a big compared to who they could have gotten then you must be out of your mind.  Camby may be number 40 and number 12 on NBA’s all-time rebounding and blocks list respectively, if you take another glance at that list Ben Wallace, who went undrafted that year, is ahead of him in rebounds and right behind him in blocks.

If you’re a second pick and you went ahead of the all-time three point leader and perhaps one of the top 10 greatest players of all time then to be considered a good pick you have to do a little something better than that.

So without further adieu, let’s check out some of the more recent drafts and draft busts:

’01 Draft: 1. Kwame Brown, Washington Wizards

2. Tyson Chandler, Los Angeles Clippers

Look up the word bust in the dictionary and it will say see Kwame Brown for full definition. As for Tyson Chandler, his playing style is similar to Camby’s except he’s got a ring and every team he plays for he is THE focal point on defense.  Just ask the Knicks, virtually going from last to 11th in overall defense in one year.

’02 draft: 1. Yao Ming, Houston Rockets

2. Jay Williams, Chicago Bulls

Well… As far as long-term success goes I’d say both failed. Ming was just another 7’6 guy that didn’t work out in the league.  However, he opened the door for Asian players in the NBA and had several successful seasons in Houston. He even looked like he was going to be a legitimate center before his career was cut short due to injury. Speaking of cut short, Williams career was over before it really started thanks to a motorcycle accident.

’03 draft: 1. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

2. Darko Milicic, Detroit Pistons

I already mentioned this earlier and to beat a dead horse one more time, Melo, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh were all available for the picking in that draft, but hey that’s all hindsight now right?

’05 draft:

 

 

**** ’04 draft: 1. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

2. Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats

’06 draft: 1. Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors

2. LeMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers

’10 draft: 1. John Wall, Washington Wizards

2. Evan Turner, Philadelphia 76ers

 

****These three draft classes are pretty much the exception to the rule. While the only legitimate stars are Howard, Wall and Alridge, when he’s not hurt,  these class just don’t have any other players that have outperformed these guys to prove that they weren’t the right picks for 1 and 2.  Especially the ’10 draft, there just isn’t really anyone there that the 76ers could have even considered. It was a lock that it was going Wall and Turner.

 

This year’s draft was definitely deeper than any draft we’ve seen for a few years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the talent is there. Regardless, it looks like these two players may actually beat the odds and prove that the first two picks can both bring success to the teams who pick them.

The post appeared first on Pass The Pill.

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