5 min read

A look back at the last 10 NBA Drafts

As we all know so well, right now OKC sits with an 11.9 percent chance of picking first in the 2009 draft and has about a 25 percent chance of picking either first or second. And with this appearing to be a no-doubt two man draft, that could be a little scary if you don’t land in one of the top spots. Past No. 1 and 2, it looks like you’ll be taking a bit of chance on someone. Hasheem Thabeet? James Harden? Brandon Jennings? The reality is that there’s going to be good players in this supposed “weak draft.” Maybe they’re taken at No. 25 or maybe in the top five. The key is properly scouting your needs and taking the player that fits. Just because you don’t land No. 1 or 2 doesn’t mean it’s over. There’s always good players to be taken. So what does history tell us? Let’s look back at the last 10 drafts:

1. Michael Olowokandi
2. Mike Bibby
3. Raef LaFrentz
4. Antwan Jamison
5. Vince Carter

A perfect example of what can be found further down the line. Not only were the two best players in the top five taken at No. 4 and 5, but maybe the two best players were taken at No. 9 and 10 – Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce. And Rashard Lewis was taken at No. 32. Anybody see think “Hasheem Thabeet” when they see Michael Olowokandi?

1. Elton Brand
2. Steve Francis
3. Baron Davis
4. Lamar Odom
5. Jonathan Bender

Amazing how upside-down this draft was. While Brand was productive when healthy and Francis had some nice years, really Odom and Davis were the class of the top five, seeing as there hasn’t been a Jonathan Bender sighting in years. But see here: Richard Hamilton was taken at No. 7, Jason Terry at 10, Ron Artest at 16, Andrei Kirilenko at 24 and maybe the best player in the whole thing, Manu Ginobili at 59.

1. Kenyon Martin
2. Stromile Swift
3. Darius Miles
4. Marcus Fizer
5. Mike Miller

Here’s how bad the 2000 Draft was: Desmond Mason (taken at 17) is probably one of the five best players out of this draft. And I mean that with no disrespect to Dez. The best player was taken at No. 43 (Michael Redd) and Hedo Turkoglu was picked at 16. The funny thing about that draft was how much of a sure thing guys like Marcus Fizer, Kenyon Martin and Darius Miles supposedly were. Goes to show that in the end, we all really know nothing.

1. Kwame Brown
2. Tyson Chandler
3. Pau Gasol
4. Eddy Curry
5. Jason Richardson

If only you could go back and do it over. Joe Johnson went at No. 10. Troy Murphy at 14. Tony Parker at 28 (woo Sam Presti!). Gilbert Arenas was in the second round at No. 31. All-Star Mehmet Okur went at 38. And Eddy Curry was picked fourth. Another perfect example (in a list of many great ones) that the guy isn’t as good (or bad) as the spot he was taken in.

1. Yao Ming
2. Jay Williams
3. Mike Dunleavy Jr.
4. Drew Gooden
5. Nikoloz Tskitishvili

Finally, a legit No. 1 overall pick. Yao has definitely solidified himself as a quality, well-deserved top pick. But the guys that followed him, not so much. Especially when Amare Stoudemire went ninth, Caron Butler at 10, Carlos Boozer 34th, Rasual Butler at 52 and Luis Scola at 55. Anybody know what Nikoloz Tskitishvili is doing these days? Seriously, anyone?

1. LeBron James
2. Darko Milicic
3. Carmelo Anthony
4. Chris Bosh
5. Dwyane Wade

All hail the 2003 Draft. So good. So, so good. Four the top five picks are absolute superstars and there’s good ones down the line. David West picked 18th, Josh Howard 29th, Matt Bonner at 45 and Mo Williams at 47. But again, Darko kind of taints it because he was actually picked above Melo, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Crazy huh? Is there any chance in six years we could be saying, “Can you BELIEVE Ricky Rubio was picked above DeMar DeRozen?” Is there any chance that happens?

1. Dwight Howard
2. Emeka Okafor
3. Ben Gordon
4. Shaun Livingston
5. Devin Harris

Had Shaun Livingston not exploded his leg, this draft really was pretty quality in the top five. Emeka Okafor was the no-doubt top pick all year until this burly high-schooler came along and took the top spot. Ben Gordon at three struck me as high, but it’s not like he’s a flop. Al Jefferson went at 15, Jameer Nelson at 20, Kevin Martin 26th and Anderson Varejao 30th.

1. Andrew Bogut
2. Marvin Williams
3. Deron Williams
4. Chris Paul
5. Raymond Felton

Anybody want a do-over? Add in the fact Andrew Bynum went 10th, Danny Granger 17th, David Lee at 30 and Monta Ellis at 40, its got to sting that you took Andrew Bogut No. 1.

1. Andrea Bargnani
2. LaMarcus Aldridge
3. Adam Morrison
4. Tyrus Thomas
5. Sheldon Williams

Ahem – Brandon Roy went sixth. Rajon Rondo all the way down at 21. Daniel Gibson 42nd. Paul Millsap 47th. Leon Powe 49th. But Sheldon Williams went fifth! Adam Morrison third! The NBA Draft – Where Stupid Happens.

1. Greg Oden
2. Kevin Durant
3. Al Horford
4. Mike Conley
5. Jeff Green

Anybody starting to get the feeling after looking at these last 10 that this draft has the look of having some flops? Obviously Greg Oden needs some time but is he better than Andrew Bogut? Or Andrea Bargnani? Sure he could be a darn fine player and the Blazers could be perfectly satisfied, but when you start looking down the list at what you gave up, it kind of starts to sting. Most obviously, the guy taken directly behind Oden. Just for clerical purposes: Rodney Stuckey went 15th, Wilson Chandler 23rd, Aaron Brooks 26th, Glen Davis 35th and Marc Gasol 48th. So honestly Portland – Marc Gasol or Greg Oden?

1. Derrick Rose
2. Michael Beasley
3. O.J. Mayo
4. Russell Westbrook
5. Kevin Love

Obviously these guys need a little more than just a rookie year to be judged, but there’s already some guys down the list that probably should have been taken ahead of say, Danilo Gallinari. Like Anthony Randolph (14th), Courtney Lee (22nd), Nicolas Batum (25th) or Mario Chalmers (34th).

This look-back isn’t to say that Blake Griffin or Rubio is going to fall on their face. This could be a 2004 type draft where No. 1 and 2 are both incredibly productive. But it’s also not to say that anything is a sure thing. It’s kind of shocking to look back at some of these drafts and see how low some All-Stars went and how high some bench warmers did. OKC has a pick in the late first round, and it should be cherished. Maybe the next David West or Gilbert Arenas or Michael Redd is down there. You can never be sure. I’ve got players that will be in that territory I definitely like (post coming soon), but it’s really hit and miss. Really more than anything, this was just a fun look back at where some of these guys went. But it’s also to say, just because you’re picking sixth doesn’t mean it’s all over. Maybe another Brandon Roy is just waiting to be picked (James Harden?). But then again, maybe not.

Of course, let’s just get No. 1 and forget about everything else. Let Toronto weight stuff like “Mullens or Curry? Who to take… who to take…”