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2006 NBA DRAFT PROFILE

NBA Draft | NBA Mock Draft | 2006 Draft Profiles | Message Board

By Jeff Fox

foxyjj@sympatico.ca

May 22nd, 2006

 

NBA Draft: #1 Isn't Always Best

 

This time of year all GMs of lottery bound NBA teams dream that sweet dream of winning the #1 slot in the draft lottery.  However, as history has proven, getting the #1 pick doesn’t guarantee you a franchise player – or even guarantees you getting the best player in the draft.

 

Since the NBA instituted the draft lottery in 1985, a number of the game’s greatest players have gone #1 overall.  The Knicks started things off in that very first lottery year, drafting the face of their franchise, Patrick Ewing, out of Georgetown.  The Spurs have fared the best in the #1 slot, drafting Navy’s David Robinson in 1987 and Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan in 1997.

 

On the flip side, in my opinion, 38% of the time (8 out of 21 years) the eventual best player in the draft did NOT get picked first overall.  This number seems staggeringly high considering all the preparation teams take in scouting potential draft picks.  And yes, hindsight does help in second-guessing these picks.  But as revealed below, teams very often fall in love with height and/or “upside” and ignore the most talented player in the draft because of it.

 

1986

 

Who Went #1: Cleveland - Brad Daugherty – North Carolina

 

Who Should Have Gone #1: #27 – Detroit – Dennis Rodman – Southeastern Oklahoma State

 

Daugherty was by no means a bust – he was a 5-time All-Star and a 3rd Team All-NBA performer in 1992 – but his career was limited to only 8 seasons due to injury.  After slipping into the second round of the draft, The Worm was one of the NBA’s greatest rebounders and hardnosed defenders.  In his 11 seasons he was an All-Star twice, Defensive Player of the Year twice, 8 times voted onto the All-Defensive Team and twice onto the All-NBA team.  In addition he won 7 straight rebounding titles and 5 NBA championship rings.  (Another possible choice here is 4 time All-Star Mark Price.)

 

1989

 

Who Went #1: Sacramento – Pervis Ellison – Louisville

 

Who Should Have Gone #1:  #14 – Golden State – Tim Hardaway - UTEP

 

Never Nervous Pervis was another player who injuries got the better of – he did play 11 years in the League but only averaged 43 games played a season over his career.  UTEP grad Hardaway went on to have a stellar 13-year NBA career; earning All-Star and All-NBA honors 5 times each.  He averaged over 20 points and 10 assists in back-to-back seasons for the Warriors (1992 and 1993) and was renowned for his “killer crossover” move.

 

1990

 

Who Went #1: New Jersey – Derrick Coleman – Syracuse

 

Who Should Have Gone #1:  #2 – Seattle – Gary Payton – Oregon State

 

D.C. had a very solid, yet injury plagued, 15-year run in the League.  He won the 1991 Rookie of the Year award, was an All-Star once and made the All-NBA team twice in his career.  Yet, due to his immense talent and great size, his career was a bit of a disappointment.  The Glove, however, never disappointed and will be remembered as one the great guards to ever play the game.  A sure bet Hall of Famer, Payton is still going strong after 16 seasons in the show.  From 1995 to 2003, Payton dominated the guard position at both ends of the floor – he is a 9-time All-Star, 1996 Defensive Player of the Year, 9-time First Team All-Defensive Team honoree and a 9-time selection to the All-NBA team.

 

1994

 

Who Went #1:  Milwaukee – Glenn Robinson – Purdue

 

Who Should Have Gone #1:  #2 – Dallas – Jason Kidd – California

 

The Big Dog had a solid 11-year run in the NBA, finishing with career averages of over 20ppg and 6rpg.  He also was an NBA All-Star twice.  Kidd, however, is one of the all-time greats to play the game and will definitely end up in the Hall of Fame.  A 7-time All-Star, 1995 Rookie of the Year, 7-time All-Defensive Team honoree and a 6-time All-NBA performer, Kidd is still performing at a very high level.  He has also led the league in assists 5 times.

 

1995

 

Who Went #1:  Golden State – Joe Smith – Maryland

 

Who Should Have Gone #1:  #5 – Minnesota – Kevin Garnett – High School

 

1995 was the draft year that the GMs should have gone with “upside” and height but four of them passed on “The Kid”.  While Smith is a solid NBA pro, Garnett has blossomed into a franchise player and future Hall of Famer.  The 2004 NBA MVP, KG is also a 9-time All-Star, has made the All-NBA team for the past 7 years and the All-Defensive Team the past 6.  He has also led the league in rebounding for the past 3 seasons.  All this accomplished and he is only 30 years old.

 

1998

 

Who Went #1:  Clippers – Michael Olowokandi – Pacific

 

Who Should Have Gone #1:  #9 – Milwaukee – Dirk Nowitzki – Germany

 

The Candy Man could be the biggest #1 bust in the lottery era.  Sure he is still a seven-footer, but that “upside” thing didn’t really pan out for him.  Meanwhile, the seven foot Nowitzki got the “upside” thing all figured out.  The only question is which team messed up the most on draft night – the Clippers picking Olowokandi or the Bucks trading the draft rights to Nowitzki along with Pat Garrity to Dallas for Robert Traylor.  Dirk has blossomed into an all-time great in Dallas, making the All-Star team the past 5 seasons and the All-NBA team the past 6. 

 

2001

 

Who Went #1:  Washington – Kwame Brown – High School

 

Who Should Have Gone #1:  #30 – Golden State – Gilbert Arenas – Arizona

 

Height and “upside” bites another NBA team (this time Michael Jordan got bit).  While it probably isn’t fair writing off Brown considering he is only 24 years old, it appears his game will never justify his #1 selection.  Meanwhile, the second round selection Arenas has turned into one of the Leagues best guards.  He poured in over 29ppg this season for Washington, and is already a two-time All-Star, a two-time All-NBA recipient and won the 2003 Most Improved Player Award.

 

2005

 

Who Went #1:  Milwaukee – Andrew Bogut – Australia

 

Who Should Have Gone #1:  #4 – New Orleans – Chris Paul – Wake Forest

 

Bogut appears that he is going to be an above average NBA big man, so he definitely doesn’t fall into the bust category.  However, Paul has shown that he is on the fast track to All-Star and All-NBA honors.  After a fantastic rookie year Paul ran away with the Rookie of the Year award and the best is yet to come.

 

 

 

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