Lottery teams look to repeat (or avoid) NBA Draft history

NBA.com Global on Jun 19, 2018 08:28 AM
Lotto teams look to repeat (or avoid) NBA Draft history
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15: NBA Deputy Commissioner, Mark Tatum awards the Sacramento Kings the number two pick in the 2018 NBA Draft during the NBA Draft Lottery on May 15, 2018 at The Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Matt Petersen, NBA.com

While repeating history is often considered a mistake, it can also be a blessing in the sports world. Several lottery teams of the 2018 NBA Draft have been on the clock at the exact same spot they now find themselves. Sometimes, they made the right call. On other occasions, the pick didn’t pay out nearly as well as they hoped.

Here’s a look at the lottery teams who have picked at their respective slots earlier in their franchise histories. Excluded are teams that have not held these picks before (Phoenix, Dallas, Denver) as well as teams whose only experience with their pick is too recent to judge (Orlando).

Sacramento Kings

No. 2 overall picks: Archie Dees (1958), Maurice Stokes (1955), Otis Birdsong (1977), Phil Ford (1978)

Success: The Kings haven’t picked second overall since their Kansas City days. Overall, they’ve had four cracks at No. 2, with three of them yielding game-changing talent.

Their most dominant selection was also the franchise’s most heartbreaking. Maurice Stokes appeared destined to give Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain all they could handle, averaging 16.4 points, 17.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per contest in his first three seasons. Tragically, his career was cut short after a head injury that ultimately left him paralyzed. His stellar college career, combined with three NBA All-Star nods, three All-NBA honors, a rebounding title and Rookie of the Year award were still enough to earn him a place in the Hall of Fame.

Do-Over: Dees was the only No. 2 overall pick in franchise history to not pan out, playing just one season with the then-Cincinnati Royals before bouncing to three other teams in his four-year career.

Atlanta Hawks

No. 3 overall picks: Zelmo Beaty (1962), Pete Maravich (1970), Marvin Webster (1975), Pau Gasol (2001), Al Horford (2007)

Success: Third overall has been kind to the Hawks for the most part. Four of the five players they’ve taken at that spot wound up being All-Stars, including two already in the Hall of Fame (Beaty and Maravich).

Beaty was the enforcer behind one of the Hawks’ consistently contending teams of the 1960s. He averaged 17.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per contest in seven seasons with the franchise, numbers which earned him two All-Star nods and the Hawks their first division title in the post-Bob-Pettit era.

Beaty’s Hawks reached the Western Division Finals five times, with three of those series going the full seven games. His best game on that stage: a 36-point, 14-rebound gem against the Jerry West-led Lakers in Game 2 of the 1966 division final.

Do-Over: By 2001, the end of the Mutombo-Smith-Blaylock era produced back-to-back lottery seasons, a blow to the once perennial playoff participants. Atlanta decided to jumpstart its rebuild by trading the rights to Gasol to Memphis in exchange for All-Star and Olympian forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim. The move didn’t pan out for the Hawks, who missed the postseason in both of Abdur-Rahim’s full seasons in Atlanta before trading him in 2004.

Gasol, meanwhile, went on to become the league’s Rookie of the Year, earn six All-Star appearances and win two championship rings.

Memphis Grizzlies

No. 4 overall picks: Antonio Daniels (1997), Drew Gooden (2002), Mike Conley (2007)

Success: Entering the 2007 NBA Draft, Conley was considered the riskier of the two Ohio State products vying to be selected among the first few picks. In the end, Conley’s career wound up being far more productive than No. 1 overall pick and college teammate Greg Oden. The 6-foot-1 point guard has played his entire career in Memphis, helping lead the franchise to its most successful and beloved “Grit and Grind” era. Conley’s name dots the Grizzlies’ recordbooks, where he is No. 1 in all-time games played, 3-pointers made, assists and steals.

Do-Over: The 2002 NBA Draft was chock-full of power forward talent. And while Gooden wound up producing solidly over the course of his career, he never quite made the impact of an Amar’e Stoudemire or Nene Hilario.

Chicago Bulls

No. 7 overall picks: Quintin Dailey (1982), Chris Mihm (2000), Kirk Hinrich (2003)

Success: Forgotten between the MVP eras of Michael Jordan and Derrick Rose is the fact that Hinrich was the floor leader of the first post-Jordan playoff teams in Chicago. The Bulls accurately pinpointed him as a talent worth snagging outside the top five and came away with one of the grittier point guards of the mid-to-late 2000s. Hinrich averaged 11.4 points, 5.1 assists and 1.1 steals in 11 seasons with Chicago, a stretch which included an All-Defensive Second Team nod and a roster spot on the 2006 USA Men’s Basketball team.

Do-Over: Character matters, and the Bulls may have undervalued that characteristic with Dailey in 1982. The former University of San Francisco standout entered the NBA fresh off an arrest and charges of attempted assault, leading to Chicagoans picketing and protesting his presence on the Bulls roster. His off-court issues were compounded with drug addiction, which ultimately led to Chicago letting him walk just four years after being drafted. Dailey was taken four picks before Fat Lever and six selections before Sleepy Floyd.

Cleveland Cavaliers

No. 8 overall picks: Campy Russell (1974), Ron Harper (1986), Andre Miller (1999), Jamal Crawford (2000), DeSagana Diop (2001)

Success: Four years into their existence, the Cavaliers were still searching for their first playoff berth. Enter Russell, a dominant scoring forward out of Michigan who tiptoed into NBA waters before making a full-blown splash in his second season. The 6-foot-8 youngster was second on the team in scoring during what became known as The Miracle of Richfield season, when the well-balanced Cavs won the Central Division and advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals before before bowing out to Boston in six games.

Russell played seven seasons for Cleveland and earned an All-Star berth while averaging 21.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.3 steals per contest in the 1978-79 campaign.

Do-Over: If the Cavs select a big man this week, it will hopefully work out better than Diop or Chris Mihm, whom they acquired in exchange for Crawford (a three-time Sixth Man Award winner) and cash. Diop, meanwhile, was taken two spots before seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson.

New York Knicks

No. 9 overall picks: John Rudometkin (1962), Jerry Harkness (1963), Gene Short (1975), Larry Demic (1979), Mike Sweetney (2003)

Do-Over: None of the five players taken by the Knicks at No. 9 panned out, but the most egregious of them might be Sweetney in 2003. Not only was he taken immediately before several capable role players (Mickael Pietrus, Nick Collison and Luke Ridnour), but also lumped him into one of their worst trades of the century. Sweetney was dealt to Chicago along with Jermaine Jackson, Tim Thomas and two first-round picks (which became LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah) in exchange for Eddy Curry, Antonio Davis and a first-round pick.

Philadelphia 76ers

No. 10 overall picks: Leon Wood (1984), Elfrid Payton (2014)

Success: The Process was built on patience, and Philadelphia laid down a huge cornerstone by drafting Payton and then trading him to Orlando for 12th overall selection Dario Saric, a first-round pick and a second-round pick. Despite not coming over from Europe until 2016, Saric has since become a key point of attack for the rapidly rising 76ers, averaging 13.7 points and 6.5 rebounds over his first two seasons with the franchise.

Do-Over: Though Wood has since become one of the most respected officials in recent NBA history, the former college All-American wound up playing less than 5,000 career minutes for six different teams. The 76ers, who were looking for backcourt help after taking Charles Barkley just six picks earlier, might have been better served taking Jay Humphries (13th) or John Stockton (16th).

LA Clippers

No. 12 overall picks: Melvin Ely (2002), Yaroslav Korolev (2005)

Do-over: Not much to choose from, but it’s hard to fault the Clippers for taking a stab at Ely in when the next pick to make a significant impact was No. 23 (Tayshaun Prince)

Korolev, however, was a 17-year-old project who played all of 168 NBA minutes; third-fewest among first-round picks that year. Though the Clippers did improve to a playoff team the following season, that leap might have been even greater had they taken Danny Granger (No. 17) instead.

LA Clippers

No. 13 overall picks: Joe Wolf (1987), Loy Vaught (1990), Terry Dehere (1993)

Success: Considering where they were picking and the options available, Vaught was a win. The former Michigan standout developed steadily before rounding into one of the more reliable power forwards in the league for a four-year stretch (1993-97). He was also part of the franchise’s only three playoff appearances between 1977 and 2005. Injuries cut Vaught’s career short, but that didn’t stop him from twice finishing among the league’s top 10 rebounders.

Do-Over: Though neither Wolf nor Dehere were taken immediately before superior talents, their overall careers paled in comparison to players taken much later in the first round of their respective drafts. Wolf went five picks ahead of Rookie of the Year Mark Jackson, while Dehere was taken before Chris Mills, Ervin Johnson and Sam Cassell went off the board at 22, 23 and 24, respectively.

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