The NBA Draft is beyond unpredictable. No matter what the “experts” say, most of the picks are gambles at best. Sure, every few years there is a “sure-fire superstar”, but how often does that guy get overshadowed by someone picked 10 slots later?
Some players are famous solely based on who they were picked before in the draft, not what they did on the court. Ever heard of Sam Bowie? The only reason you have is that he was picked in-between Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan.
Will DeAndre Ayton be the next superstar in the NBA? Luka Doncic? Marvin Bagley III? Perhaps. Could it be someone that isn’t on anyone’s radar? Just as likely.
Instead of giving you a lame Mock Draft that everyone just copies from the handful of guys that act like they know what they’re talking about, I’ll go a different route and show you how little those mock drafts really mean.
Sometimes, they’re super accurate at predicting greatness because there’s a guy like LeBron James or Anthony Davis available. Other times, the best you’ve got to choose from is Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo, and Otto Porter Jr. and a team picks Anthony Bennett (worst first pick ever?) instead.
Take this for example. The following is a compilation of players selected first-overall and others that weren’t picked inside the top-10:
Notable No. 1 Overall Picks (Since the NBA/ABA Merger)
Notable Picks Outside the Top-10 (Since the NBA/ABA Merger)
|1983||Clyde Drexler (No. 14)|
|1984||John Stockton (No. 16)|
|1985||Karl Malone (No. 13)|
|1987||Reggie Miller (No. 11)|
|1996||Kobe Bryant (No. 13)|
|1996||Steve Nash (No. 15)|
|1999||Manu Ginobili (No. 57)|
|2001||Tony Parker (No. 28)|
|2007||Marc Gasol (No. 48)|
|2008||DeAndre Jordan (No. 35)|
|2011||Klay Thompson (No. 11)|
|2011||Kawhi Leonard (No. 15)|
|2011||Jimmy Butler (No. 30)|
|2011||Isaiah Thomas (No. 60)|
|2012||Draymond Green (No. 35)|
|2013||Giannis Antetokounmpo (No. 15)|
|2013||Rudy Gobert (No. 27)|
|2014||Nikola Jokic (No. 41)|
|2015||Devin Booker (No. 13)|
|2017||Donovan Mitchell (No. 13)|
|2017||Kyle Kuzma (No. 27)|
Of course, the more recent drafts are still unraveling. We don’t really know who the stars are going to be if they’ve only been in the league a handful of years, so take those from 2014-present with a grain of salt, especially 2016 and 2017.
Are the top-overall picks better than those outside of the top-10? Well of course. They should be. However, notice how many are missing. Only 17 worth mentioning over 42 years? That should be borderline alarming. At the least, it should show that getting the top-pick doesn’t at all equate to getting the best player.
Are most of the consensus top-10 players of all-time no. 1 picks? Quite a few of them. But there are more busts than legends at any draft slot.
I guess the simplest way to say it is:
Draft position does not determine stardom. Top picks are more likely to be stars because they are viewed as the most talented coming into the draft, but that doesn’t mean they’re a sure thing and it also doesn’t mean that guys picked lower can’t become stars.
Don’t buy too much into draft stock. Let the players prove it on the court.
Okay, enough being serious. Here’s something fun I’ve wanted to do for a while. Couldn’t think of a better time to present my “Missed ‘Em by That Much” All-Time Teams!
All of the following are players that teams missed by one pick. I only counted it if the player they passed on is significantly better than the player they picked. For example, in 2003, the Nuggets picked Carmelo Anthony over Dwayne Wade. Was Wade the better pick? Yes, but not by a large enough margin to include on this list since Anthony became a star in his own right.
Going back to the NBA/ABA merger, here are the All-Time teams that could have been, and who they were instead. Which team would you take?
Missed ‘Em by THAT Much
|Team||Who They Missed (By One Pick)||Who They Got (One Spot Above)|
|Trail Blazers||Michael Jordan
|Keith Van Horn
|Pacers||Dennis Rodman||Greg Dreiling|
|Grizzlies||James Harden||Hasheem Thabeet|
|Bucks||Klay Thompson||Jimmer Fredette|
|Rockets||Kawhi Leonard||Marcus Morris|