Posted on: June 1, 2012 5:52 pm
With the 2012 NBA draft looming and with it widely assumed that Anthony Davis will be the newest addition to the list of number one draft picks in NBA history, I figured I would rank the top number one draft picks of the lottery era; which happens to be where the Hornets are selecting. The lottery was put into place in 1985 to prevent teams from intentionally tanking a season just so that they could get the number one draft pick. Once put into place, the team with the worst record in the league has gotten the number one draft pick only four times. It's hard to rank these players as some are very young in their careers and others still have years to tack on the achievements. A lot of the last few draft picks will be ranked by potential and performance in their young careers so don't get upset if they're too far down or high on the list. This is a list I've tried to tackle before that I've been able to adjust due to being a little bit wiser and with stuff going down between the players over the last few years. So here it goes: ranking the top No. 1 Draft picks of the lottery era.
27) Michael Olowokandi, C, Los Angeles Clippers out of University of the Pacific in 1998 NBA Draft (500 Games, 393 Starts, 8.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 59.7 FT Pctg., 43.5 FG Pctg., 10.7 PER, 88 Offensive Rating, 104 Defensive Rating) - The Kandi Man receives the dubious honor of being ranked the worst No. 1 Draft Pick of the Draft Lottery Era. Viewed as one of many abysmal Clippers draft picks, Olowokandi was drafted first overall after a fantastic senior season at the University of the Pacific. Seen as a highly skilled 7-foot athlete, the Clippers drafted Olowokandi to be the anchor in the paint for the routinely unsuccessfull franchise. Instead, Olowokandi mixed flashes of brilliance with long droughts and fought injuries in Los Angeles before eating up the Timberwolves salary cap. He spent his final few years with the Boston Celtics before quietly leaving the league in 2007.
26) Kwame Brown, C, Washington Wizards out of Glynn Academy High School in 2001 NBA Draft (585 Games, 270 Starts, 6.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 57.3 FT Pctg., 49.2 FG Pctg., 12.6 PER, 102 Offensive Rating, 106 Defensive Rating) - While not being the worst number one draft pick of the draft lottery era, Kwame Brown does hold the distinction of being the first high school player to ever be selected first overall in an NBA draft. Highlighted as the first of many bad executive moves made by basketball legend Michael Jordan, Brown struggled to display any production or maturity in his first few years as a Wizard. In his third season he showed real signs of a breakthrough, but injuries and problems with his teammates cost him his job in Washington. He had one good year with the Lakers before famously being traded to the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol. Since then, Kwame has bounced around the league as a serviceable reserve big man and that looks to be his future for as long as he's in the league.
25) Greg Oden, C, Portland Trail Blazers out of Ohio State University in 2007 NBA Draft (82 Games, 60 Starts, 9.4 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 66.6 FT Pctg., 57.7 FG Pctg., 19.5 PER, 117 Offensive Rating, 103 Defensive Rating) - A huge seven footer with a personality that reminded some of Shaquille O'Neal, Oden had high expectations going as far back as high school. Because of the NBA's age limit, Oden played one season with Ohio State before declaring for the NBA Draft. He was met with high fanfare in Portland but struggled to stay on the court at all and has now had three microfracture knee surgeries since 2007. The jury's still out on him as he still wants to play, but 82 games in five years is no great start. It also doesn't help that Kevin Durant went to the Seattle Supersonics with the second overall pick directly after Oden. He was productive on the court when he was on it but it looks like Oden's body will let him down.
24) Pervis Ellison, PF, Sacramento Kings out of University of Louisville in 1989 NBA Draft (474 Games, 245 Starts, 9.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 1.5 APG, 68.9 FT Pctg., 51.0 FG Pctg., 15.2 PER, 105 Offensive Rating, 106 Defensive Rating) - "Never Nervous" Pervis Ellison was a fantastic colleigate player at the University of Louisville before entering the NBA with humongous expectations. However, after being named the number one draft pick, Ellison immediately underwent surgery to remove bone Spurs from his foot and ankle in what would be a sign of things to follow. Ellison didn't last long with the Kings before being traded to the Washington Bullets, where he showed signs of his lofty selection by winning the 1992 NBA Most Improved Player of the Year award. However, knee problems resurfaced for Pervis and he spent the last years of his career as a reserve for the Boston Celtics.
23) John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards out of University of Kentucky in 2010 NBA Draft (135 Games, 130 Starts, 16.3 PPG, 8.2 APG, 4.6 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 77.7 FT Pctg., 41.6 FG Pctg., 16.7 PER, 100 Offensive Rating, 108 Defensive Rating) - John Wall came out of the University of Kentucky having grabbed every one of college basketball's big individual awards and as part of a team that produced five first round draft picks. Wall has been known for his dance more so than his game in his two years in Washington as he's had to deal with a coaching change, ownership transfer and a true lack of talent in his two years in Washington. The raw talent is there for him to be a very good point guard in this league and he's dealt with some unfair criticism in his time in the league, but the jury's still out on him.
22) Andrea Bargnani, PF, Toronto Raptors out of Benetton Treviso in Italy in 2006 NBA Draft (398 Games, 291 Starts, 15.4 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.3 APG, 82.4 FT Pctg., 36.5 3PT FG Pctg., 44.0 FG Pctg., 14.6 PER, 104 Offensive Rating, 111 Defensive Rating) - As a seven footer with fantastic range on his jump shot, Bargnani drew many comparisons to Dallas Mavericks great Dirk Nowitzki and was drafted first overall by Toronto in 2006 to couple with fellow big man Chris Bosh. Bargnani, though, had seemed to be so infatuated with the three point shot that he didn't focus on any other aspect of his game. For someone his size, his rebounding numbers remain poor and his defense has always been spotty. After suffering a severe sophomore slump, Bargnani bounced back to have a solid third season with Toronto and eventually seemed to put it all together this past season. He may never become an elite player but Bargnani looks like he'll have a really good career for the rest of his time in the NBA.
21) Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers out of Duke University in 2011 NBA Draft (51 Games, 51 Starts, 18.5 PPG, 5.4 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 87.2 FT Pctg., 39.9 3PT FG Pctg., 46.9 FG Pctg., 21.4 PER, 109 Offensive Rating, 110 Defensive Rating) - Irving was drafted in another conspiracy fueled draft that followed the departure of LeBron James from Cleveland. Irving stepped in and immediately had one of the better rookie seasons in recent memory; essentially running away with every individual accolade. Coming into the draft following a freak injury at Duke that limited his freshman season, there were concerns about Irving and his durability (to be fair, he did miss 15 games this season as well) but the potential is there for Irving to be a very, very special player in Cleveland.
20) Andrew Bogut, C, Milwaukee Bucks out of University of Utah in 2005 NBA Draft (408 Games, 400 Starts, 12.7 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.6 BPG, 57.4 FT Pctg., 52.2 FG Pctg., 17.0 PER, 106 Offensive Rating, 104 Defensive Rating) - Bogut, being a seven footer with a fantastic skill set and equipped with a nice post game while being a very adept passing big man was a lock as the number one draft pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. After playing for Australia in the 2004 Olympics, he got lots of praise from the Olympic Games and the expectations were huge for him in his sophomore season with the Utah Utes. Bogut did not disappoint and then declared for the NBA Draft. So far, Bogut has had difficulty staying on the court but his production has been solid when he is on the court. He was the starting center for the Bucks during his entire stay there and has shown flashes of being a very good, pure center. He was recently traded to the Golden State Warriors at the trade deadline and time will tell if he'll ever reach his full potential.
19) Joe Smith, PF, Golden State Warriors out of University of Maryland, College Park in 1995 NBA Draft (1,030 Games, 619 Starts, 10.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.0 APG, 79.0 FT Pctg., 45.5 FG Pctg., 15.4 PER, 107 Offensive Rating, 106 Defensive Rating) - Joe Smith turned two great seasons manning down the middle for the Maryland Terrapins into the number one draft pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. After being selected by Golden State, he was solid for the Warriors for his first two seasons in the league but once it was evident he would never be great, he was shipped off in the middle of his third season. Smith then spent time with just about every team in the NBA, nearly challenging Jim Jackson's record of teams played with in his career (for the record, he played with twelve). Even though he's been a solid contributor and role player to playoff teams for the duration of his career, Smith will most likely always be remembered for costing the Minnesota Timberwolves five first round draft picks after being promised a multi-year deal in the future if he were to sign for below market value at the time so that the team could add more players.
18) Danny Manning, PF, Los Angeles Clippers out of University of Kansas in 1988 NBA Draft (883 Games, 398 Starts, 14.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 72.9 FT Pctg., 51.1 FG Pctg., 16.9 PER, 106 Offensive Rating, 106 Defensive Rating) - A legend for the Kansas Jayhawks, Manning seemed to be a slam dunk as the first overall draft pick in 1988 by the Los Angeles Clippers. Manning, though, suffered a knee injury in his rookie season that would haunt him for the remainder of his career. After a few disappointing seasons, Manning emerged as an elite scorer for the Clippers, even making the 1993 All Star Game. However, injuries caught back up to Manning as he finished his career at the end of benches for his last few years in the league. Manning did, however, win the 1998 Sixth Man of the Year award with the Phoenix Suns.
17) Glenn Robinson, SF, Milwaukee Bucks out of Purdue University in 1994 NBA Draft (688 Games, 668 Starts, 20.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 82.0 FT Pctg., 34.0 3PT FG Pctg., 45.9 FG Pctg., 17.5 PER, 102 Offensive Rating, 107 Defensive Rating) - Billed as a fantastic scorer, Robinson won two Big Ten scoring titles in his two years of eligibility for the Purdue Boilermakers before entering the 1994 NBA Draft. Although he put up fantastic numbers throughout his career, Robinson largely went unnoticed in Milwaukee. He achieved success during the early turn of the century when he, Sam Cassell and Ray Allen helped the Bucks make it to the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals but Robinson eventually fizzled out in Milwaukee. He was traded to Atlanta and then to Philadelphia and his contract was once property of the New Orleans Hornets before finishing his career in San Antonio. Robinson did win a championship as a reserve for the Spurs in 2005.
16) Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers out of University of Oklahoma in 2009 NBA Draft (148 Games, 148 Starts, 21.7 PPG,11.5 RPG, 3.5 APG, 59.3 FT Pctg., 52.4 FG Pctg., 22.5 PER, 112 Offensive Rating, 106 Defensive Rating) - Blake is certainly not the most popular player in the league anymore but let's not forget how insanely productive he has been on the offensive boards in just two seasons. He joined a porous Clippers team and had to miss the entirety of his rookie season after an injury to his kneecap during a preseason game against this Hornets squad but bounced back just fine after that: winning the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year award and then helping lead his team to the Conference Semifinals for only the second time in franchise history this season. He still has room to improve defensively and in his overall game but Griffin has been insanely productive in his first couple of years in the league.
15) Kenyon Martin, PF, New Jersey Nets out of University of Cincinnati in 2000 NBA Draft (696 Games, 641 Starts, 13.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 63.3 FT Pctg., 48.1 FG Pctg.,15.2 PER, 101 Offensive Rating, 101 Defensive Rating) - Figured to be the best prospect in a very weak 2000 NBA Draft, Martin was taken by the New Jersey Nets after a successful senior season for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Viewed as an injury risk when he was selected, Martin turned in four great seasons with the Nets, routinely picking up his performance in the postseason and being a part of two Nets teams that won Eastern Conference Championships. However, when Martin signed with the Denver Nuggets, his injuries caught up to him and he was forced to undergo the dreaded microfracture knee surgery. He's since played in China during the lockout before returning to play for the Clippers this past season. His explosiveness that was his trademark has been limited but he still remains a formidable player in this league and a spectacular defensive power forward.
14) Larry Johnson, PF, Charlotte Hornets out of University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1991 NBA Draft (707 Games, 699 Starts,16.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 76.6 FT Pctg., 33.2 3PT FG Pctg., 48.4 FG Pctg., 16.3 PER, 112 Offensive Rating, 107 Defensive Rating) - Johnson was a dynamic player at the collegiate level for the Runnin' Rebels before entering the 1991 NBA Draft. Selected by the upstart Charlotte Hornets, the 1992 NBA Rookie of the Year would team with Muggsy Bogues and Alonzo Mourning to bring the Hornets out of mediocrity at the beginning of his career. After signing an unprecedented ten year deal with the Hornets, frustrations grew between Johnson and Mourning which led to "Grandmama" and Big Zo being immediately shipped away from Charlotte. Johnson went on to start for a New York Knicks team that made the 1999 NBA Finals, but was a shell of his former self in New York due to severe back injuries. He's probably best known for an epic four point play during a crucial game 3 of the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals with the Knicks.
13) Derrick Coleman, PF, New Jersey Nets out of Syracuse University in 1990 NBA Draft (781 Games, 672 Starts, 16.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 BPG, 76.9 FT Pctg., 29.5 3PT FG Pctg., 44.7 FG Pctg., 18.0 PER, 105 Offensive Rating, 103 Defensive Rating) - Coleman was a fantastic player for the Syracuse Orange in college and was viewed, by many, as one of the best prospects in recent NBA History when selected in the 1990 NBA Draft. Coleman would win the 1991 NBA Rookie of the Year award and many expectations were given to the bulky power forward. Coleman was solid during his time in the league but never broke into that "great player" status that many envisioned he would. Coleman had many problems with his weight over the span of his career and left on bad terms with all of the teams he participated on. He's gone on to be a makeshift humanitarian of sorts since his retirement but had to recently file for bankruptcy. His career will be looked at with an asterisk as he never was as great as he should have been.
12) Brad Daugherty, C, Cleveland Cavaliers out of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1986 NBA Draft (548 Games, 546 Starts, 19.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 3.7 APG, 74.7 FT Pctg., 53.2 FG Pctg., 18.9 PER, 114 Offensive Rating, 105 Defensive Rating) - A collegiate great for the North Carolina Tar Heels, Daugherty was selected by the Cavaliers in the 1986 NBA Draft and turned out a fantastic career with Cleveland. As part of a draft class that also brought in Mark Price and Ron Harper, the Cavaliers experienced years of above average success, even making the 1992 Eastern Conference Finals. However, as is the case with a lot of players on this list, Daugherty suffered drastic injuries to his back at the end of his career and was forced to retire at the age of 28 in 1994. He's since joined ESPN's crew as a commentator for NASCAR.
11) Yao Ming, C, Houston Rockets out of Shanghai Sharks in China in 2002 NBA Draft (486 Games, 476 Starts, 19.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 1.6 APG, 83.3 FT Pctg., 52.4 FG Pctg., 23.0 PER, 112 Offensive Rating, 99 Defensive Rating) - Towering over competition at 7'6", Ming was a lock at the top of the 2002 NBA Draft when the Rockets won the draft lottery. Coming into the league with much fan fare and expectations, Ming rarely disappointed when he had been on the court. Skilled with fantastic shooting touch for a player of his size, Ming was one of the best centers in the league for the duration of his career but had many leg problems that prohibited him from achieving "great" status. After continuously battling with his legs and feet, he retired last off season.
10) Elton Brand, PF, Chicago Bulls out of Duke University in 1999 NBA Draft (860 Games, 830 Starts, 18.3 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.9 BPG, 1.0 SPG, 73.9 FT Pctg., 50.1 FG Pctg., 21.3 PER, 111 Offensive Rating, 104 Defensive Rating) - A quiet but very effective low post scorer for the Duke Blue Devils, Brand declared for the 1999 NBA Draft after his sophomore season and won the co-Rookie of the Year Award with Chicago, an award he shared with Houston Rockets guard Steve Francis. Brand was inexplicably traded after two seasons with the Bulls, and continued his stellar play with the Los Angeles Clippers. A very talented and loyal competitor, Brand's career has been void of much success. He made the conference semifinals in 2006 and with the 76ers this season but, aside from that, hasn't won a first round series in his career. Over a two year stretch from 2007 to 2009, Brand only played in 37 games due to an achilles injury and it's limited him as a player. Brand will probably never reach the elite level that he once was at but his career is still with great individual success.
9) Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago Bulls out of University of Memphis in 2008 NBA Draft (279 Games, 278 Starts, 21.0 PPG, 6.8 APG, 3.8 RPG, 81.5 FT Pctg., 31.0 3PT FG Pctg., 46.4 FG Pctg., 19.9 PER, 110 Offensive Rating, 107 Defensive Rating) - Drafted in 2008, Rose was a hometown boy who took Chicago by storm when he won the Rookie of the Year award and brought the team to the postseason in his rookie year. Since then he's become the youngest player to ever win the NBA MVP Award in 2011, took his team to the Eastern Conference Finals last year and been the key player for a Bulls team that's had the best record in the league the last two seasons. He suffered a tough ACL injury in the postseason and the efficiency in his individual numbers has decreased before then with his high usage rate (due to Coach Tom Thibodeau's poor offensive schemes) and it remains to be seen what kind of player Rose will be when he gets back.
8) Dwight Howard, C, Orlando Magic out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy High School in 2004 NBA Draft (621 Games, 620 Starts, 18.4 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 2.2 BPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 SPG, 58.8 FT Pctg., 57.7 FG Pctg., 22.5 PER, 111 Offensive Rating, 98 Defensive Rating) - A fantastic athlete for a player of his size, Howard was a high school prodigy and was a surprise at the first overall selection in 2004. After the Magic passed on the proven Emeka Okafor to select Howard, he immediately rewarded the Magic with flashes of brilliance in his rookie season with Orlando. Howard has led the Magic to the playoffs the last six years of his career, saw the team make it to the NBA Finals in 2009 and has won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award three times. He's rubbed people the wrong way with his antics off the court towards the Orlando Magic franchise the last couple of years, but there's no denying that the sky is still the limit for this big man.
7) Chris Webber, PF, Orlando Magic out of University of Michigan in 1993 NBA Draft (831 Games, 827 Starts, 20.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.4 BPG, 1.4 SPG, 20.9 PER, 104 Offensive Rating, 101 Defensive Rating) - A highly skilled member of the famed Fab Five Michigan Wolverines days, Webber seemed to be a lock for the number one overall selection after declaring for the 1993 NBA Draft following his sophomore season. Originally drafted by the Magic, Webber was immediately traded to the Golden State Warriors for Penny Hardaway and won the 1994 Rookie of the Year Award with the Warriors. However, Webber battled with Warriors coach Don Nelson during his rookie season and was shockingly shipped to the Washington Bullets after his rookie season. Although he put up good numbers with the Bullets (then ultimately the Wizards), Webber's best years came when he was traded to the Sacramento Kings for Mitch Richmond. Webber led the Kings to the most successful stretch in franchise history, even reaching the 2002 Western Conference Finals as a member of the squad. Webber never did win a championship, though, and spent his last years with the Kings and 76ers battling through knee injuries before finishing his career with a brief return to Golden State.
6) Patrick Ewing, C, New York Knicks out of Georgetown University in 1985 NBA Draft (1,183 Games, 1,122 Starts, 21.0 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 2.4 BPG, 1.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 74.0 FT Pctg., 50.4 FG Pctg., 21.0 PER, 106 Offensive Rating, 99 Defensive Rating) - Viewed as a can't miss player out of Georgetown, Ewing was the prize of the first ever draft lottery in 1985. The New York Knicks would win that draft lottery and would immediately announce their intentions to select Ewing. Ewing was a fantastic low post presence for the Knicks throughout his career. For all of his success, Ewing's reputation changes based on who you talk to. Being a tough interview his entire career in New York, he was often the subject of criticism at the hands of the New York Media for being unable to win a championship, although he made the 1994 NBA Finals. Currently becoming recognized as a top assistant coach in the league (currently with the Magic), Ewing never did win a championship but continued to produce after winning the 1986 Rookie of the Year award, even being named one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players in history in 1997 and being enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.
5) Allen Iverson, PG, Philadelphia 76ers out of Georgetown University in 1996 NBA Draft (914 Games, 901 Starts, 26.7 PPG, 6.2 APG, 3.7 RPG, 2.2 SPG, 78.0 FT Pctg., 31.3 3PT FG Pctg., 42.5 FG Pctg., 20.9 PER, 105 Offensive Rating, 106 Defensive Rating) - An explosive scorer during his entire tenture in basketball, Iverson was the first overall selection in the famed 1996 NBA draft. Iverson went on to take the league by storm, winning the 1997 Rookie of the Year award and successfully pulling off a cross over on the league's best player: Michael Jordan. Iverson would take Philadelphia to unprecedented success, even making the 2001 NBA Finals with the 76ers. Iverson, though, had a reputation of being a selfish and immature player and clashed with many coaches and teammates in Philadelphia. After finally demanding a trade in 2006, Iverson was shipped to the Denver Nuggets where his reputation proceeded to take huge blows. While in Denver and Detroit (and later in his return to Philadelphia), Iverson continued to show a huge problem playing with has not yet officially retired (although he's been out of the league the last two seasons with no offers to return) but his past success cannot be denied.
4) David Robinson, C, San Antonio Spurs out of United States Naval Academy in 1987 NBA Draft (987 Games, 985 Starts, 21.1 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 3.0 BPG, 2.5 APG, 1.4 SPG, 73.6 FT Pctg., 51.8 FG Pctg., 26.2 PER, 116 Offensive Rating, 96 Defensive Rating) - A fantastic athlete that came to national prominence with the Midshipmen, former gymnast David Robinson was a risky selection by the Spurs in the 1987 NBA Draft by account of his having to serve two years with the United States Navy after his graduation. Because of this, there were rumors that he may sign with another team when eligible to play in the NBA. However, Robinson joined the Spurs in the 1989 NBA off season. A fantastic athlete, Robinson racked up many awards during his tenure with San Antonio: the 1990 NBA Rookie of the Year winner, 1992 Defensive Player of the Year award, an NBA Sportmanship Award, Citizenship Award, 1995 Most Valuable Player of the Year and two time Olympic Gold Medalist with the United States of America. Robinson's career was overshadowed by a difficulty winning big games and a perceived lack of toughness. After the arrival of Tim Duncan, though, in 1997, Robinson would win two championships with the San Antonio Spurs and play his entire fourteen year career with San Antonio, be named one of the NBA's 50 greatest players in league history in 1997 and also being elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
3) LeBron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in 2003 NBA Draft (689 Games, 688 Starts, 27.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 6.9 APG, 1.7 SPG, 74.6 FT Pctg., 33.1 3PT FG Pctg., 48.3 FG Pctg., 27.2 PER, 115 Offensive Rating, 102 Defensive Rating) - A local Akron, Ohio, prodigy, LeBron James was met with ridiculous expectations during his high school days at St. Vincent - St. Mary's and eventually surpassed all of those expectations after entering the NBA. As a raw eighteen year old prospect, LeBron won the 2004 NBA Rookie of the Yer award and in his third season in the league led the perennial doormat Cavaliers to the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons. Over time, LeBron James eventually led the Cavaliers to their first NBA Finals Appearance in franchise history in 2007, has racked up three NBA MVP Awards (in 2009, 2010 and 2012) and shaken the NBA to its core when he decided to form the first super-team when he left Cleveland to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Still seeking that ever elusive championship ring, people can critique LeBron's game all they want (and, trust me, they will) but there's no denying how great he is and how great he still will be.
2) Shaquille O'Neal, C, Orlando Magic out of Louisiana State University in 1992 NBA Draft (1,207 Games, 1,197 Starts, 23.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, 2.3 BPG, 52.7 FT Pctg., 58.2 FG Pctg., 26.4 PER, 113 Offensive Rating, 101 Defensive Rating) - O'Neal was an athletic seven footer entering the league with an abundance of personality, a skill set unmatched by anyone in recent memory and with high expectations. O'Neal was a lock for the first overall selection in the 1992 NBA Draft and took the league by storm in his first season with Orlando, winning the 1993 NBA Rookie of the Year award. O'Neal led the Magic to the 1995 NBA Finals in only his third season in the league before signing with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1996 NBA Off season. The rest, as they say, is history. O'Neal would team with coach Phil Jackson and a young Kobe Bryant to win three NBA Championships, three NBA Finals MVPs and the 2000 NBA Most Valuable Player award all with the Lakers. Following a very public dispute with Kobe Bryant, Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat in 2005 where he teamed with a young Dwyane Wade to win the 2006 NBA Championship with the Heat. O'Neal would eventually become a bit of a "ring chaster" near the end of his career, flailing in stops in Phoenix, Cleveland and Boston before finally retiring last off season. Although he's achieved fantastic success in his career - winning on the court, selling platinum records and starring in major motion picture films - O'Neal's career is overshadowed by his squabbles with teammates and coaches and has left on bad terms with all of the teams with which he's played. But don't let it distort your view of O'Neal as a player. On the court, there's few who were as great as O'Neal.
1) Tim Duncan, PF, San Antonio Spurs out of Wake Forest University in 1997 NBA Draft (1,111 Games, 1,109 Starts, 20.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 3.1 APG, 2.2 BPG, 68.8 FT Pctg., 50.7 FG Pctg., 24.7 PER, 110 Offensive Rating, 95 Defensive Rating) - A quiet, yet talented big man at Wake Forest, the former aspiring Olympic Swimmer from the Virgin Islands took the world by storm in college and was a lock as the number one draft pick once he graduated from Wake Forest in 1997. One of the four four year collegians on this list, Duncan joined another number one draft pick in David Robinson and turned the Spurs into a championship team in only his second year. Long viewed as a small market team seemingly always incapable of winning big games, Duncan went to San Antonio and has won four championships, three NBA Finals MVPs, two regular season Most Valuable Player of the Year awards, the 1998 Rookie of the Year award and has been the staple in the middle for the Spurs for all of their championship teams in franchise history. Turning a historically underachieving team into a mini dynasty of sorts, The Big Fundamental, as he is called, is one of the most notorious players in the league due to his huge levels of success while being largely a quiet and private person. But the fact that Duncan went to a franchise that had never won a championship and was able to be the centerpiece for four (and potentially five) NBA Championships during his run there is quite remarkable. And it's led to him, arguably, being the best Number One draft pick of the draft lottery era.
Tags: 76ers, Allen Iverson, Alonzo Mourning, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Blake Griffin, Bucks, Bulls, Cavaliers, Celtics, Clippers, Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Elton Brand, Emeka Okafor, Grizzlies, Heat, Hornets, Joe Smith, John Wall, Kenyon Martin, Kevin Durant, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Kwame Brown, Kyrie Irving, Lakers, LeBron James, Magic, Nets, Nuggets, Pau Gasol, Raptors, Ray Allen, Rockets, Spurs, Suns, Tim Duncan, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Wizards
Posted on: May 30, 2010 10:23 pm
Now that we've sat through, what seems like, a 13 month sabattical to finally get to the NBA Finals, it's here. After series sweeps and poor basketball, the conference finals finally brought some life that had been missing to the NBA Postseason. And, honestly, I don't think any basketball fan can be upset with this matchup. Even though the Lakers and Celtics are matching up for what seems, to us small market teams fans, like the 6,000th time in the NBA Finals, they are genuinely the two best teams at this point and two of the best franchises in the NBA (as evident by their 6,000 matchups). Both teams have faced adversity, have won with defense, have won with offense, have coaches who have been there and have players who have been there. This matchup was physical and contested back in 2008 and we can expect the same here. But how did both teams arrive to this point?
The Boston Celtics entered the 2010 postseason on a really sour note. As has been documented, the Celtics were 23-5 after Christmas but then went 27-27 over the next 54 games to stumble into the postseason as the 4th seed. Everything ranging from Doc River's interest in coaching the team to injuries to age had been used as reasons for the Celtics ailments. But a confrontation between Kevin Garnett and Quentin Richardson in Game 1 of the Heat vs. Celtics series highlighted what was a terrific comeback in Game 1 for Boston and they rode that momentum to a very convincing five game series victory over the Heat. Next up, the Celtics were matched up against the team that finished with the best record in the NBA and the team that had the two time defending MVP in LeBron James. Using the same tenacious defense and physical style of play that swarmed fellow NBA great Dwyane Wade, the Celtics contained LeBron as best as any team could possibly do and saw Rajon Rondo step up as the team advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for a rematch with the team that knocked them out of the postseason last year: the Orlando Magic. Like Wade and LeBron, Orlando had its own superstar in Dwight Howard that posted a huge threat to Boston's quest for a championship. But showing the stuff that champions are made of, Boston won both Games 1 and 2 in Orlando and held on to eventually eleminate the Magic on the Parquet in Game 6. The Celtics now enter this postseason looking for their second championship in three years with the starting lineup that Doc Rivers will tell you has never lost a postseason series.
Coming off two Western Conference Championships and after winning their 15th NBA Championship in Franchise History (second only to Boston's 17), the Lakers entered this season as the resounding favorites to repeat; at the very least in the Western Conference. They seemed to coast through the season on talent alone but still managed to establish home court advantage in the Western Conference. Being one of the most decorated teams in NBA history, the Lakers faced a polar opposite in the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder, who were the youngest team, collectively, in the NBA. The Thunder gave the Lakers fits with their athleticism, youthful energy and fantastic home court. The Lakers faced a challenge many didn't think would come so early, but fought it off and eleminated the Thunder in six games. Up next was a familiar postseason foe: the Utah Jazz. The Jazz and Lakers always seem to face eachother in the postseason, and this season the big bodies and matchup advantages that the Lakers possesed helped history repeat itself, as the Lakers managed to sweep Utah in four games and rest comfortably before a matchup with the rival Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals. Even in a tough matchup with a motivated, game Phoenix Suns team, the Lakers looked like champions throughout the series; winning convincingly in Games 1 and 2 and playing a great game of basketball to close out Game 6 in Phoenix. The Lakers look to close the gap between them and Boston in terms of the NBA's greatest franchise (17 championships for Boston to 15 for Los Angeles), and Kobe Bryant looks to add a 5th Championship to his storied career and allow for Phil Jackson to collect his 11th.
How do these teams match up and who has the advantage in what area? That will now be addressed.
Western Conference Champion: (1) Los Angeles Lakers (57-25; 12-4) vs. Eastern Conference Champion: (4) Boston Celtics (50-32; 12-5)
Why The Lakers Will Win: First and foremost, the Lakers enter this series with the Home Court after finishing the season with a better record than Boston. Both teams won on the other's court this season and it's well known how the Celtics were able to take that historic Game 4 at Staples back in 2008, but at the end of the day you'd still rather be the team playing its pivotal games at home as opposed to being on the road. They will still have the best player on the court for the entire series as well in Kobe Bryant. Bryant has shown as the postseason has continued that he's still, arguably, the best player in the Game. In a late game situation, there's no better player to give the ball to. Also, the Lakers have brought in Ron Artest for matchups like this, where they can throw him at Paul Pierce or Ray Allen defensively. Also, this Lakers team is better equipped to match up with a physical Boston team than the 2008 version of the Lakers. Now having won a championship as a team and having been battle tested as a team, there won't be any deer in the headlights looks that the Lakers had in 2008. Also, this is the first series Boston will have where they have to stay in the paint and guard every one of the Lakers big men. Teams like Cleveland and Miami didn't have the front court depth to give Boston's defense fits whereas the Lakers have the size to cause Boston problems.
Why The Celtics Will Win: Every bit of experience that the Lakers bring to the table, the Celtics bring as well. It could be argued that the only reason these teams aren't matching up for a third consecutive Finals is because of the injury to Kevin Garnett last season. The Celtics have shown the last two rounds that home court can be taken with just one victory on the road and they've shown the ability to do that. Even though Kobe Bryant is the best closer in the game, the Celtics have a player in Paul Pierce who is very adept in those late game situations as well: as highlighted in his Game 6 performance against Orlando. Furthermore, this Celtics team is still relatively healthy. They have problems with Rasheed Wallace's back, but everyone else has managed to stay hungry, motivated and on the court for the entire postseason whereas the Lakers have issues with Andrew Bynum that could hinder one of their on court advantages. Also, this Celtics team looks motivated and after knocking out three legitimate superstars in Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Dwight Howard, there's nothing that Kobe Bryant can do that would intimidate the Boston Celtics team.
Key Player for the Lakers: Derek Fisher has managed to step it up offensively when the Lakers have needed him to this postseason, and opposing point guards haven't trashed the Lakers as they did last postseason and all of this season. However, Rajon Rondo is the most difficult matchup in the series. Fisher will either have to guard Rondo or Ray Allen (if Phil decides to put Kobe on Rondo), which are both disadvantages for the Lakers. However, Fisher brings championship intangibles that most teams just can't find and, even just last postseason, Fisher showed that when needed he can still nail the crucial three pointer that can change a series. If his defense is going to be a problem this series, which looks likely, his offense will be needed to offset whatever disadvantage his guarding Rondo or Ray Allen may create.
Key Player for the Celtics: Rasheed Wallace's back should be better by June 3rd and hopefully that shows in his play. He looked really bad in Game 6 against Orlando, but if he's able to go for Boston then he makes all the difference in this Finals matchup. Lamar Odom is one of the toughest matchups in the NBA, but Rasheed Wallace is a player that can keep up with him and guard Odom. Criticized for his play all year long, Wallace has emerged into an absolutely terrific bench contributor this postseason for Boston and has been extremely important to Boston's ultimate success. If Bynum, Pau Gasol or Odom have to guard Wallace out on the perimeter, it opens up the door for players like Pierce and Rondo to get to the basket. If Wallace consistently hits that jump shot, it makes even more of a difference. All in all, Wallace brings the offensive and defensive intangibles off the bench that can offset whatever bench production the Lakers may or may not get on a nightly basis.
Prediction: Celtics in six
Key As To Why They Will Win: Honestly, I'm just a believer. I've picked against Boston all postseason long and, for that reason, Crotch and other Celtics fans probably don't want me to pick them here. But they've really emerged as the best team in the postseason so far. They've faced off against the best players in the league and knocked out two terrific, game Cleveland and Orlando teams. And they did so without home court advantage. Even though I think the subraction of James Posey this postseason from the 2008 NBA Finals matchup is something that some fans may forget, I truly believe Wallace is going to be a huge difference maker off the bench to combat Lamar Odom and, when it comes down to it, the Celtics have shown that they can win pivotal games in hostile territory. And they only need to win one in this series.
Conclusion: This series is a toss up and could really go either way. The two most storied franchises in the league meeting up once again creates for financial interest and also interest from a basketball perspective. There aren't two teams playing better ball at the moment and that's why they're here. After seeing Boston guard Dwyane Wade and LeBron James the way they did, you have to imagine there's going to be plans in place as to how to guard Kobe Bryant. Also, they were able to do it in 2008 and that put a lot of onus on his teammates who just weren't ready for that moment. They may be ready now, but I'm not sure that they're capable of overcomign what Boston does. Paul Pierce, in that 2008 matchup, was the first player I've seen in a long time take it at Kobe and dominate him as easily as Kobe can do to other players. That speaks volumes to his importance in this matchup. It should be a fun series and I wouldn't be surprised if I'm wrong, but I'm a believer. Your 2010 NBA Champions will be the Boston Celtics.
Posted on: May 20, 2010 3:22 pm
I figured since I didn't do a playoff preview this season for each team as I did last year, I'll do a fun little countdown to this year's draft, since that's where my team is going to be instead of the postseason. This is, easily, the hardest time I've had trying to decide where to put a draft. There were three or four drafts I could have considered here for the #7 spot but, after a careful 3 minute deliberation, I feel that I've made the right choice to put here. What choice was that? Well here is the number 7 draft on our countdown, the 2001 NBA Draft which features some monumental busts, a lot of high school players (coincidence?), and quite a few really talented foreign players. Let's see how it all went down.
Top Ten Drafts of the Last Ten Years
Tags: 76ers, Andrei Kirilenko, Andres Nocioni, Bobby Simmons, Bobcats, Brendan Haywood, Brian Scalabrine, Bucks, Bulls, Carlos Arroyo, Cavaliers, Celtics, Charlie Bell, Clippers, DeSagana Diop, Earl Watson, Eddy Curry, Elton Brand, Gerald Wallace, Gilbert Arenas, Grizzlies, Hawks, Hornets, Jamaal Tinsley, Jamario Moon, Jarron Collins, Jason Collins, Jason Richardson, Jazz, Joe Johnson, Joe Smith, Kings, Knicks, Kwame Brown, Lakers, Magic, Maurice Evans, Mehmet Okur, Nets, Pacers, Pau Gasol, Pistons, Raptors, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Battier, Spurs, Steven Hunter, Suns, Timberwolves, Tony Parker, Trail Blazers, Trenton Hassell, Troy Murphy, Tyson Chandler, Vladimir Radmanovic, Warriors, Wizards, Zach Randolph
Posted on: March 5, 2010 2:57 am
Wow I actually miss doing these. I used to do it every week last year and it really was a joy to put them out because they got so much attention on here. Now with teams having made their moves at the deadline and now that they've been able to incorporate those new players to a certain degree, this serves as an ideal time to return with the power rankings. We'll now evaluate who stands where at this point in time and who is prime to make a run, who's running out of gas and who is flying under the radar. So here's this season's first incarnation of GoHornets21's NBA Power Rankings.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (48-14) - LeBron James has been absolutely terrific this season in every way and there's nobody playing better in the league at this point in time. The injuries to Shaquille O'Neal and the "risky trade" of Zydrunas Ilgauskas really have hurt the frontcourt, and it's going to be difficult trying to get all of those players used to the rotation and back into the flow of things right at the postseason, but the Cavs have the best player in the league to help these players come along. Mo Williams has found his shot as of late and if he can get consistent at all this season, the Cavs will be even better. Antawn Jamison still looks like an odd fit, but he's putting up numbers and the Cavs could really use some scoring from the frontcourt positions so he has to be a welcome addition for Cleveland.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (46-16) - The team is still coming along slowly since Kobe Bryant's return to the lineup. That's not to say this team is better without him. If they're going to win a championship this season, they need Kobe in top form for the entire postseason. He is the player that puts them over the top. But players like Jordan Farmar, Pau Gasol and Shannon Brown were getting all kinds of touches and opportunities to create for themselves and others, that they're now having to regress back to earlier this season and allow Kobe to get his touches again. I think the confidence built up for Brown in Kobe's absence may have already gone to waste at this moment, but there's still time to build it back up. Lamar Odom continues to play some really solid basketball of late as well.
3. Denver Nuggets (40-21) - The Nuggets continue to be a mixed bag for me. Sometimes I think they look terrific and other times I think they don't have the mental toughness to be a championship team. But they've played some really inspired basketball since George Karl's cancer announcement and they continue to stand out, to me, as the Lakers' biggest threat in the Western Conference. But Dallas is hard on their heels and the Nuggets have to continue to bring it every single night.
4. Dallas Mavericks (41-21) - Currently the hottest team in the league, the Dallas Mavericks have been a completely different team since Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood entered the starting lineup. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd both have just played some really great basketball since the trade and the Mavericks look as good as they have since the year after their NBA Finals apperance. As we know, that team lost in the first round of the playoffs, though. I don't expect that to happen this season but the Mavericks still have to distance themselves from the postseason stink that surrounds that franchise. Is a clutter of assorted individual talents going to be enough to finally get Dallas over the hump? Only time will tell. But I think this group of players is a good enough fit for this team to make some kind of run. Getting that second seed is more important to them than it is to any other team in the Western Conference in my opinion so I don't see them letting up at any point the rest of this year. This is Dirk's new best chance to get that elusive championship ring. He's playing like it.
5. Orlando Magic (42-20) - I don't know what's happened in Orlando, but Dwight Howard has really came on as of late. After that dissapointing loss in New Orleans last week, the Magic have really looked focused out there and it shows in their play on the court. Rashard Lewis is slowly starting to come along this season (finally) and if he gets a consistent shot like he had last season, this team will again challenge Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. But they need Lewis to play better than he has this season. Jameer Nelson continues to be an enigma of sorts in Orlando but when he's on this team really gels. They need him to regain some kind of consistant form and when he and Lewis do, watch out.
6. Utah Jazz (39-22) - The Jazz have been flying under the radar all season but they're playing great basketball this season. They've finally learned how to win on the road this season and we all know how tough of a team they are when they're in Salt Lake City. Deron Williams really has to enter into some MVP talks with the way he's kept this team together, and Carlos Boozer is using this contract year to really step out and he is really playing hard to get paid this summer. I still think they lack the interior toughness that championship teams possess, but the Jazz shouldn't be underestimated.
7. Atlanta Hawks (39-21) - After these first six teams, it gets a little jumbled up to me. Atlanta stands out just because they have a terrific starting 5, a solid coach (I don't care what you Hawks fans say to the contrary) and a great 6th man. Also, they've beaten the only other team I would consider for this spot (Boston) four times this season, so I believe Atlanta deserves to be here. I usually roll my eyes when people say Joe Johnson is always an underrated superstar in this league, but this year is the first time I would really say that. He's been huge for the Hawks when they need it and he's had to handle a lot with Mike Bibby's struggles this year and with Jamal Crawford not really being a true point guard. But he's handled it well. Marvin Williams has played well the next couple of games, and if they can get him to play hard they'll be just fine in the playoffs. I don't know why he's been so bland this season. But this team has the starting five, they just need to start putting it together for the stretch run.
8. Boston Celtics (38-21) - The Celtics are trying to get fully healthy for the first time this season, and if they can do so the league better watch out. The Celtics really don't need home court advantage in the postseason. They've been there and done that when it comes to winning in the playoffs and all they need is a fully healthy roster. Neither Rasheed Wallace or Marquis Daniels turned out like they wanted this offseason in Boston, but picking up Nate Robinson at the deadline looks to be a good move. What happened to Glen Davis this season? After last year's run in the playoffs, I thought he was going to emerge as a great player off of Boston's bench this season. He's only had a couple good games that I can remember all season long. I guess some of it may be injury, but how much of it is possibly because he got paid this summer?
9. Oklahoma City Thunder (36-24) - Russell Westbrook continues to be in Kevin Durant's shadow this season but continues to play some of the most unheralded basketball in the league. However, there's still no equaling what Durant's doing this season. He's been the catalyst for this surprising team all season long and has absolutely no offensive weakness to his game. If you want someone to score a point for you down the stretch, I'd put him right up there with Kobe as someone who I would want to have the ball for that possession. And I whole heartedly mean that. He's been great. Jeff Green's stats have fallen off this year as opposed to last year, but I still think he's important as a glue guy for this team. He's really gotten lost in the praise shuffle in Oklahoma City, and I think his salary may be neglected this offseason and that may hurt the Thunder's progression. But there's no reason why this team can't win at least one playoff series this year.
10. Phoenix Suns (39-25) - The surprising resurgence in Phoenix continues even after a horrible month of January. Steve Nash is still playing good basketball, Amar'e Stoudemire has been terrific since the trade deadline (someone else looking to get paid this summer) and they've gotten great contributions from Grant Hill, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye and Goran Dragic all season long. Robin Lopez had about a week where he was putting up some terrific numbers but he's regressed a bit these past few games. The Suns will need him to consistently contribute on both sides of the court if they're going to make any noise in the postseason. He's shown that he's capable, it's up to him to still find ways to contribute even when teams now make an effort to guard him.
11. Portland Trail Blazers (37-27) - The team with the worst luck in the league is slowly getting back to health and when they do, they're one streak away from convincing me they can contend for a spot in the Western Conference Finals. They're not that far off. They're incredibly deep, they have a fantastic bench, a legit superstar in Brandon Roy and one of the best home courts in the league. Getting Marcus Camby at the deadline will do a lot to soften the blow of not having Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla for the rest of this season. Juwan Howard played admirably in their absence, but no legitimately good team is going to start him at center. He probably shouldn't even be getting the heavy minutes that he is, but Nate McMillan really has no other options. They have to find a way to get healthy this year if they want to make a run, but they can do it. I like their chances.
12. San Antonio Spurs (34-24) - The Spurs continue to impress you one night, make you sick the next when they take the court. I think a lot of the inconsistency across the board is Greg Popovich's fault. All things considered, and I think Pop is the second best coach in the league to Phil Jackon, this has been Pop's worst season as a head coach at San Antonio. The main reason for the Spurs inconsistency is Pop's inability to have any stable, set rotation this season. He's given big minutes to George Hill, and that seems to be the only player outside of the big three that Pop knows what he wants to do with them. He's started Richard Jefferson and brought him off the bench; done the same to Antonio McDyess, DeJuan Blair and Keith Bogans as well. He needs to set a rotation, know who he wants in the game and go with that already. He's hurting this team's chance to get in any rhythym before the playoffs.
13. Milwaukee Bucks (31-29) - I've really been driving the Milwaukee bandwagon as of late. Andrew Bogut has come down to Earth a little bit after a terrific stretch of basketball, but Scott Skiles and company just find ways to win basketball games. John Salmons has been indescribably huge for them since coming over at the trade deadline, and let's not forget the contributions Jerry Stackhouse has made for them off the bench since coming on board midway through the season. You look at their bench, they have Luke Ridnour, Stackhouse and Kurt Thomas, those are players that can contribute for you on a nightly basis. They're more talented than people give them credit for. If Brandon Jennings finds his jump shot again at any point the rest of the season, watch out for this team in the playoffs.
14. Toronto Raptors (31-28) - The Raptors started off playing some good basketball after Chris Bosh initially got injured, but have tailed off since; losing their last four games. I thought Hedo Turkoglu would be an ideal fit for this team and the way they play basketball, but he's just been so unreliable all season long. Andrea Bargnani really hasn't taken that step forward this season that I thought he would either. There's a lot of players who have dissapointed up North, but the team still finds itself above .500 and they're still a solid team with Chrsi Bosh in the lineup. I had bigger hopes for them, though. Now, I can't see them winning a playoff series. Then again, I was wrong with them once.
15. Memphis Grizzlies (32-30) - The Grizzlies started off slow, played great basketball, tailed off, and are now starting to play great again. The team really goes as Zach Randolph goes. When he plays great, the team is unstoppable. When he's simply going through the motions and is just putting up decent numbers, it reflects in everyone else's contributions. The bench is still horrendously thin and that's probably going to keep them out of the postseason. But the Grizzlies have taken a step forward this season and the franchise at least has a pulse now.
16. New Orleans Hornets (31-31) - This was a crucial week for New Orleans and any hopes they had of making the postseason and the team didn't respond very well. Losses at home to San Antonio and Memphis have great deteriorated the Hornets' playoff opportunity. Chris Paul is said to be coming back in roughly a week, and his presence will be welcomed back among Hornets players, coaches and fans alike. Darren Collison has been terrific in his absence, but his turnovers have cost the Hornets just as many games as he's won for them. Marcus Thornton continues to be a terrific find in the 2nd round for Interim Head Coach/General Manager Jeff Bower, and the Hornets are doing the right thing by developing their young talent. This offseason is going to be critical for the direction the Hornets take as a franchise.
17. Chicago Bulls (31-30) - I'm done trying to figure out what kind of team the Bulls are going to be this year. Outside of Derrick Rose, you don't know what you're getting out of anybody on any given night. Luol Deng has rebounded very nicely this season and is the clear cut second option, but is that necessarily a good thing? Joakim Noah's injury also is holding the team back a bit, since he was playing so well at the beginning of the season. Looking at Ronald Murray, Devin Brown and Jannero Pargo, the Bulls are probably wishing they had held on to John Salmons. Hakim Warrick has always put up good numbers on bad teams, but is now being asked to contribute for a team with postseason aspirations. He needs to deliver for Chicago.
18. Miami Heat (31-31) - The Heat's decision to not pursue a second option for Dwyane Wade may have been the right move financially, but it's really hurt the team on the court. Michael Beasley showed glimpses of being able to put it all together earlier this season but started bickering at reporters and has regressed ever since. Maybe a lot of you were right when you told me he didn't have the mental toughness to survive in this league. Outside of Beasley, who of these guys do you really want contributing nightly for your team? It's such a bad roster that I'm surprised Wade has them at .500. I know they have the money for him and another superstar, but does this team have the brass to really put a decent team together? Even if you add another great player, that's still a horrible group of players and now two good players. It won't make them a championship team.
19. Houston Rockets (30-30) - After the very publicized trade in Houston, Kevin Martin has come around to finding his shot for the Rockets. They've been without Kyle Lowry for about 9 games now (I think) and that's really been a big reason why the team has struggled as of late. They were playing so well at the beginning of the year, and with all the injury problems you kind of pulled for them to make some noise but they just don't have the talent to keep up. It doesn't seem likely, but hopefully Yao Ming returns healthy next season (long shot) and this team can make some kind of sustained run together. It's not a bad, little group of players.
20. Charlotte Bobcats (28-31) - For awhile there this team looked like a lock to make the postseason and was playing great basketball. As of late, they've really looked bad. Larry Brown hasn't been able to get a handle on this team in the two years he's been with Charlotte, and he doesn't look like he's enjoying the job either. Michael Jordan buying the team pumps some life into them, but this roster doesn't have any kind of cohesive feel to it. It's a great assortment of individual talent, but none of them look good together on the court. I still like the move to acquire Tyrus Thomas at the deadline and he can be huge off the bench for the Bobcats if he plays up to his potential. Miami is catchable, but their margin for error is slim and the team needs to get an identity and they need to do so quickly.
21. Sacramento Kings (21-40) - Even though the record isn't there, the effort, the hustle, the coaching and the potential is there to create some kind of excitement around Sacramento. The move to acquire Carl Landry while getting rid of Kevin Martin's contract was just ingenious. Tyreke Evans should run away with rookie of the year honors and overall this team has a fun feel to it. Paul Westphal is the perfect balance of discipline and structure that a group of unproven players needs, and this team can really make strides these next two seasons and be back in the playoffs by 2012.
22. Los Angeles Clippers (25-36) - The curious resigning of Mike Dunleavy and subsequent trades for cap space have once again made the Clippers a barely relevant basketball team, although their record says that they're now awful this season. This team continues to riddle even the most brilliant of basketball fans, as there's no reason for a team with that kind of talent to be as mediocre as they are. They have a good point guard, a good center, and good contributors at every position out there. But they just never can put it together. Hopefully, Blake Griffin comes back next season fully healthy and this team makes some kind of stride going forward. There's really no excuse anymore to not succeed.
23. Philadelphia 76ers (22-38) - Nobody's been able to figure out what's going on in Philadelphia all season long. Eddie Jordan just hasn't given this team any kind of identity or style and the play has been indicative of that. The Allen Iverson saga has become bigger than the franchise as of late (something that most teams wanted to avoid, which is why Iverson was so available for Philadelphia). They didn't make any moves at the deadline and I'm curious as to why they didn't, because they either need to get into rebuilding mode or spend ridiculous amounts of cash to be a playoff regular. Because there isn't a more stale team in the league than this 76ers squad.
24. New York Knicks (21-39) - The Knicks can put up numbers in bunches but still look like garbage some times on the court. That effort against the Cavaliers was pathetic but at least they rebounded to beat up on Detroit last night. David Lee has been one of the most consistent players on the court league wide and if not for him the Knicks would probably be in worst shape than they currently are. Bill Walker looks to be a great find off of Boston's bench (after hearing their interest in Michael Finley, you think they're regretting letting Walker go?) but then again, everyone looks to be a great find when they get in D'Antoni's gimmicked system. They have a bad team, but that's mainly because they've freed up the space to go after who they want this offseason. For the sake of their fans, they better get them, because if not this franchise is going to be in really bad shape.
25. Washington Wizards (21-37) - Moving Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler has been so great for this Washington franchise. It's not that those were bad players, they're really good players. In fact, their new teams are both in the top four of these power rankings. And their additions are a big reason why. But Washington needed a change in identity, and disassociating themselves from anybody involved with the team's playoff runs was a good thing for the future. Now without the constraints of commitments to veterans, Flip Saunders has taken the handcuffs off this team and their play has been indicative of such. Andray Blatche, especially, has been huge since the trade deadline and looks fantastic out on the court. They're still not a good team, but at least they're a team Wizards fans can be prouder of.
26. Detroit Pistons (21-40) - The Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva signings officially look awful. In fact, they look like some of the worst moves league wide in a long, long time. It's not as if this team has the cap space to improve, the coaching that gives me confidence things can turn around, or even the young talent that you know they can build around. Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko, Austin Daye, Will Bynum, these are all nice players for good teams but they're not players you want to hitch the future of a franchise to. When you look at the paychecks that Gordon, Villanueva and Jason Maxiell are getting in Detroit, it's no wonder why this team is so average. They've invested in the wrong types of players and this franchise is in dire needs of a makeover.
27. Indiana Pacers (20-41) - They've really taken a step back this season and injuries have been a big part of it. Danny Granger, Mike Dunleavy and even the likes of Jeff Foster and Tyler Hansbrough have all missed substantial time this season. It's not as if this team was stacked with talent to begin with, so the injuries just make things worse. Jim O'Brien looks as good as gone, and this is another team that really needs some kind of makeover. I look at the players Larry Bird has brought in and the players he's drafted, and I don't think he's done a bad job in Indiana. I just don't look at the roster as a whole and say "there's something to like here." Danny Granger hasn't been able to duplicate the success he had last season and neither has Troy Murphy for the most part. Those are probably the biggets reasons why Indiana has taken such a drastic step back.
28. Golden State Warriors (17-43) - Stephen Curry has really been a feel good story in the Bay City and has done a lot to lessen the blow that is how awful this team is out on the court. He's played all year and has done a fine job in his starting role, but Monta Ellis' recent injury problems have only added on to the long list of injured Warriors on the roster. This is now becoming a recurring theme every year for Golden State, and it confuses me as an observer from the outside. Why is it that all these players are getting hurt in Golden State every single year, regardless if the player has any kind of injury history or is even getting any substantial minutes to where this injury can occur. There's some kind of bad aura surrounding Golden State right now and it doesn't look bright for the Warriors.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (14-48) - Finally Corey Brewer has come around to being a servicable player in this league. Maybe still not worthy of the lottery pick the Timberwolves used on him, but a good player nonethless. Outside of him and Kevin Love, everybody that was on the team last season just has dissapeared this season. This bootleg triangle that Kurt Rambis is trying to opperate just is not working. Al Jefferson is nowhere near the player he was the last two seasons. Ryan Gomes would at least show glimpses of being a good player last year and he's been virtually non-existent this season. Jonny Flynn has put up good numbers but has done nothing to stand out in Minnesota as well. This is another team that's still a bit puzzling because you don't know when the true rebuilding stage is going to kick in. They're obviously not anywhere near playoff contention yet, but what gives you any indication they will be in the near future?
30. New Jersey Nets (6-54) - For awhile there I bought into the hype that the Nets could set the NBA record for futility and surpass the 76ers 9-63 record. After last week's win at Boston, I'm convinced this team will at least go 4- 19 over their last 23 games to get that elusive tenth victory. This team has no business being this bad, and for that reason I kind of feel as if they deserve to carry that loser label around with them. They don't try, they don't perform, they're undisciplined and they don't seem to care that they're so awful of a team. Poor Kiki Vandeweghe was told to firesale the roster with the hopes of acquiring LeBron James this offseason, but he's going to be blamed for how bad this roster is. Even with all this cap space, there's no reason for a player to want to go to New Jersey, the impending move to Brooklyn is still pending, and that Russian billionare who was going to buy the team still has yet to buy them. Even still, they shouldn't be anywhere near 9-63.
Tags: 76ers, Al Jefferson, Allen Iverson, Amar'e Stoudemire, Andray Blatche, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Antawn Jamison, Antonio McDyess, Austin Daye, Ben Gordon, Bill Walker, Blake Griffin, Bobcats, Brandon Jennings, Brandon Roy, Brendan Haywood, Bucks, Bulls, Carl Landry, Carlos Boozer, Caron Butler, Cavaliers, Celtics, Channing Frye, Charlie Villanueva, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Clippers, Corey Brewer, Danny Granger, Darren Collison, David Lee, DeJuan Blair, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Devin Brorwn, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, George Hill, Glen Davis, Goran Dragic, Grant Hill, Greg Oden, Grizzlies, Hakim Warrick, Hawks, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, Hornets, Jamal Crawford, Jameer Nelson, Jannero Pargo, Jared Dudley, Jason Kidd, Jason Maxiell, Jazz, Jeff Foster, Jeff Green, Jerry Stackhouse, Joakim Noah, Joe Johnson, Joel Przybilla, John Salmons, Jonas Jerebko, Jonny Flynn, Jordan Farmar, Juwan Howard, Keith Bogans, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Kurt Thomas, Kyle Lowry, Lakers, Lamar Odom, LeBron James, Luke Ridnour, Luol Deng, Magic, Marcus Camby, Marcus Thornton, Marquis Daniels, Marvin Williams, Mavericks, Michael Beasley, Mike Bibby, Mike Dunleavy, Mo Williams, Monta Ellis, Nate Robinson, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pau Gasol, Pistons, Raptors, Rashard Lewis, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Jefferson, Robin Lopez, Rockets, Rodney Stuckey, Ronald Murray, Russell Westbrook, Ryan Gomes, Shannon Brown, Shaquille O'Neal, Spurs, Stephen Curry, Steve Nash, Suns, Thunder, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Troy Murphy, Tyler Hansbrough, Tyreke Evans, Tyrus Thomas, Warriors, Will Bynum, Wizards, Yao Ming, Zach Randolph
Posted on: January 5, 2010 5:00 pm
It all started with us running to wal mart to buy tuna fish and bottled water. It ended with us cursing the Lakers and Cavaliers and those darn puppets. The years 2000 to 2010 were full of exciting basketball, break through players and broken hearts. Scandal erupted when it was discovered that an NBA official was found gambling on games that he was officiating. Fans were dazzled for Michael Jordan's return to the NBA when he donned the Washington Wizards jersey. A city was revived in 2008 when the Boston Celtics landed Kevin Garnett and returned to the NBA's elite. With so much happening, it was pretty difficult to narrow down what awards I was going to give and who or what I would give them to. But all in all, I'm pleased with it so here goes: GoHornets21's NBA End of the Decade Awards.
Team of the Decade - Los Angeles Lakers - Let's face facts, the first champions of this decade were the 2000 Los Angeles Lakers. The last champions of the decade? The 2009 Los Angeles Lakers. A lot happened in Lakerland this decade, from the initial three peat, to Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant's continued spats, to O'Neal being traded to Miami, to Phil Jackson retiring, to the tough losing season, to Phil returning, to the two consecutive first round exits, to Kobe pubicly demanding to be traded, to Pau Gasol winding up in their laps and culminating in last year's title. It was a fantastic voyage for Los Angeles, who won four championships this decade in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2009, and the made the finals two other seasons in 2004 and 2008. They routinely defeated the closest challenger for team of the decade, the San Antonio Spurs, when the team's would square off in the postseason, with Duncan and company only beating the Lakers in the 2003 semifinals. Through it all, Kobe Bryant was celebrated, jeered, villifed and eventually dignified when he won a championship in 2009. Through it all, the Lakers were always either the team you loved to hate, or the team that everybody was hitchin' their bandwagon to. And that's why they win the team of the decade.
Team of the Decade (in a season) - the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics - Entering the 2007 offseason, the Celtics were a team with a very storied past but with a rocky recent few seasons. Coming off a ridiculously bad 2006-2007 season, Paul Pierce openly accepted the possibility of being traded from the only team he's ever played for, and Doc Rivers was viewed across the board as someone who just couldn't coach. Looking at it now, those would stand as blasphemous statements now. But that's was widely accepted percepetion then. Then the team tried to pry Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were looking to trade their superstar to begin their rebuilding process. Garnett initiall refused to go to Boston and the deal looked dead. But when the Celtics pulled off a draft day trade to land Ray Allen in a Boston uniform, Garnett changed his mind, and Boston still had enough pieces to convince Minnesota to trade Garnett and the Big Three became the hysteria of the league. Coming into the season with all kinds of expectations, the Celtics would fill their roster with unwanted veterans like James Posey, P.J. Brown, Sam Cassell and Eddie House and would start young, unproven players such as Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins at point guard and center to stand alongside the Big Three. What happened was some of the best basketball of the decade. The Celtics accepted all expectations and soon exceeded them. They would start off the season hot and never look back. With Garnett winning the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year award, the Celtics would be transformed into a defensive juggernaut, almost impossible to score against and extremely efficient on the offensive end. They would survive a scare from the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the postseason and then survive an equally scary Cleveland Cavaliers team in the semifinals, before convincingly defeating their arch rivals all season long, the Detroit Pistons in the Conference finals and then the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
Rivalry of the Decade - Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings - If you were alive during and thriving in basketball during the early portion of this decade, you were enthralled by the Lakers and Kings rivalry. They had an Southern California vs. Northern California hatred for one another. They were both finesse teams that could really play some exciting basketball. They both had terrific coaches in Phil Jackson and Rick Adelman, and one team always beat the other. The early Sacramento Kings, espcially the 2002 Sacramento Kings, are easily the best teams I've ever seen that didn't win a championship. Led by Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic and Mike Bibby, there would be on court fights, off court ridicule and constant playoff matchups with the Lakers for the Kings that would eventually force Sacramento's hand in dismantling the team. Whether it be the classic seven game 2002 Western Conference Semifinals, the classic slugfest between Doug Christie and Rick Fox or Shaq's classic boast that "Los Angeles is the new capital of California", this rivalry had everything you could ever want. Not only was it two teams that detested eachother, it was two wonderfully talented teams that hated eachother and would routinely put on some of the best basketball of the decade.
Fans of the Deace - the Portland Trail Blazers - The Rose Garden has always been an exciting place to watch an NBA Basketball game. The fans in Portland truly embrace and love their franchise and have for a very long time. When the Trail Blazers suffered early success in the beginning part of this decade, they truly were a fantastic group of fans who supported their team. When things got rough with off court problems, the fans let their frustrations be known, and the Trail Blazers were eventually forced to follow public desire and shed the "Jail Blazers" monicker. Through it all, the Rose Garden was routinely sold out and finally became the place to watch basketball again in 2007, when the new Brandon Roy led Blazers burst onto the scene.
Upset of the Decade - the Detroit Pistons over the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals - Coming into the 2003-2004 season, the Lakers were a team that already had won three championships and had Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal manning down the roster. In the offseason, the team added veterans Karl Malone and Gary Payton, both eager to win a championship and both future hall of famers as well. A lot was made of the Lakers four eventual Hall of Famers on one roster, and the team overcame injuries and Kobe's sexual assault allegations to peak in the postseason and take their rightful spot in the NBA Finals. Over in the Eastern Conference, a solid team with a coach who never could win the big one played solid basketball all season long, acquired Rasheed Wallace at midseason and looked poised to make a nice run in the postseason as well. When they eventually made the NBA Finals, not a snowball's chance in the Devil's residence was given to Detroit to beat the Los Angeles Lakers. What followed was one of the most convincing five game victories in NBA postseason history. After taking game 1 in convincing fashion, the Lakers would need late game heroics by Kobe Bryant to steal game 2 away from the Pistons. But when the series shifted to Detroit for the next three games, the fantastic Detroit fans and the cohesive Pistons unit routinely thumped the Lakers and would win all three games in Detroit to take the NBA Finals in five games.
Playoff Series of the Decade - Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings in the 2002 Western Conference Finals - As documented earlier, the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings hated eachother. Largely, the Kings were viewed as a soft team incapable of beating Los Angeles. But they acquired Mike Bibby in the 2001 offseason and won home court advantage throughout the postseason and looked as poised as ever to finally defeat their arch nemisis. After the Lakers shocked the Kings in game 1 at Arco Arena, all of the ghosts and skeltons came out of Sacramento's closets and things looked bad for the Kings. But then the Kings would take back game 2 and then win game 3 at Staples Center in convincing fashion. With a 2-1 lead, the Kings entered the pivotal game 4 focused and ready to take full advantage of the series. With the lead late, the Lakers through up a myriad of attempts to take the lead but were unable to, when the ball was tipped out to Robert Horry who hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history at the buzzer to give the Lakers the win and to tie the series at 2-2. Even with their spirits hurting, the Kings were resilient in winning game 5. Game 6 will be forever covered in mystery over whether or not the referees intentionally gave the Lakers the victory as was hinted by Tim Donaghy, but the Lakers used those free throws to their advantage and took game 6 at home. This set up the fantastic game 7 in Arco Arena, where the Kings had every opportunity to win the game but uncharacteristically missed free throw after free throw, allowing the game to go into overtime where the Lakers eventually won. The Kings never reached the conference finals again that decade and eventually jettisoned Chris Webber, then Peja Stojakovic, then Mike Bibby before entering the rebuilding stage that they're in now.
Tags: Al Jefferson, Allen Iverson, Andrew Bynum, Ben Wallace, Brandon Roy, Bulls, Cavaliers, Celtics, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Eddie House, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, James Posey, Jason Kidd, Javaris Crittenton, Jazz, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Kwame Brown, Lakers, LaMarcus Aldridge, LeBron James, Marc Gasol, Mavericks, Mike Bibby, Pacers, Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce, Peja Stojakovic, Pistons, Rajon Rondo, Randy Foye, Rasheed Wallace, Ray Allen, Ron Artest, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Shaqille O'Neal, Spurs, Steve Nash, Suns, Theo Ratliff, Tim Duncan, Timberwolves, Tracy McGrady, Trail Blazers, Tyrus Thomas, Warriors, Wizards, Yao Ming
Posted on: June 17, 2009 7:37 pm
Now that the season is over and the draft is underway, the time is here and now to revisit my draft observations and start to look back at the biggest draft busts of all time. There are quite a few go through, actually, and I know some people are going to point out that I left some out, but I'm taking into account the player, the players drafted after them, and the player's performance and attitude. So here it goes: the biggest draft busts of the NBA Draft Lottery Era.
16) Adam Morrison, SF, Charlotte Bobcats Drafted 3rd Overall in 2006 NBA Draft out of University of Gonzaga (130 Games, 8.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.6 APG) - I only wanted to include 15 players, but I just want to remind everyone of how big of a draft bust Morrison has turned out to be. While in college, Morrison would score from all angles and was unstoppable while at Gonzaga. After a fantastic junior season in which he and Duk eguard J.J. Redick took the college world by storm, Morrison declared for the 2006 NBA Draft and was looked by many as a second coming of Larry Bird. One of many questionable executive decisions by Michael Jordan, Morrison showed flashes of the dynamic scoring that made him such a high draft pick in his rookie season, but in the preseason of his second year in the league, Morrison suffered an extremely ugly looking ACL tear. He missed all of his second season and then struggled to break into the rotation in this third year with the Bobcats. Morrison was shipped to the Los Angeles Lakers midway through the 2008-2009 NBA Season but is an afterthought in the rotation and did not make the playoff roster for a team that won the NBA Championship. He's a future free agent this offseason and it's questionable whether Morrison will have any kind of future in the NBA.
15) Todd Fuller, PF, Golden State Warriors Drafted 11th Overall in 1996 NBA Draft out of North Carolina State University (225 Games, 3.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG) - One of many awful Warriors draft picks in the Dave Twardzik era, Fuller was never really any good and never showed promise of being much of anything in his career, having a career high of 15 points and lasting only two seasons with the Warriors; four seasons in the league overall. And if you want to look at the players drafted after him, you could have had a productive all star at every position: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Peja Stojakovic, Jermaine O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
14) Los Angeles Clippers - The Clippers gave former general manager Elgin Baylor handfuls of opportunities to get it right in the first round during the draft lottery era, and he flopped almost every time. In 1985, Benoit Benjamin was drafted 3rd overall (807 Games, 11.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.0 BPG, 1.3 APG), Reggie Williams was drafted 4th overall in 1987 (599 Games, 12.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG), Charles Smith was drafted 3rd Overall in 1988 (564 Games, 14.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.4 BPG), Bo Kimble was taken 8th overall in the 1990 NBA Draft (105 Games, 5.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG), LeRon Ellis was taken 22nd Overall in 1991 (91 Games, 3.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG), Randy Woods was taken 16th in 1992 (151 Games, 2.4 PPG, 1.7 APG), Terry Dehere was taken 13th in 1993 NBA Draft (402 Games, 8.0 PPG, 2.6 APG, 1.5 RPG), Lamond Murray was taken 7th in 1994 (736 Games, 11.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.3 APG), Lorenzen Wright was taken 7th overall in the famed 1996 NBA Draft (778 Games, 8.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG), Maurice Taylor was taken 14th in 1997 (534 Games, 11.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.2 APG), Darius Miles was taken 3rd overall in 2000 (446 Games, 10.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 BPG), Melvin Ely 12th overall in 2002 (343 Games, 5.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG), Chris Kaman 6th overall in 2003 (385 Games, 10.4 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 1.2 APG), Shaun Livingston 4th overall in 2004 (157 Games, 7.3 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.1 RPG), and Yaroslav Korolev was taken 12th in 2005 and hasn't played a minute in the NBA. There are a few solid names and numbers, but year after year of opportunities to draft an above average player and the Clippers flopped all of them. In fact, the most respectable players drafted by the Clippers in the draft lottery era are Lamar Odom (1999), Tyson Chandler (2001) and Antonio McDyess (1995). Chandler and McDyess both had their rights traded to other squads before ever suiting up for the Clippers, and Odom didn't make it past four years with the Clippers. One glaringly bad selection is being saved for later in this countdown. God save Blake Griffin.
13) Danny Ferry, F, Los Angeles Clippers Drafted 2nd Overall in 1989 NBA Draft out of Duke University (917 Games, 7.0 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.3 APG) - Taken by the ill fated Clippers, Ferry refused to report to Los Angeles and after playing a year in Italy to protest, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers and given a very lucrative ten year guaranteed contract by Cleveland. The guy he was traded for? Ron Harper. A tremendous colliegate player with size and a shooting touch, Ferry was supposed to be a great player but hardly produced in Cleveland. He did, however, win a championship on the end of the bench for the 2003 San Antonio Spurs.
12) Ed O'Bannon, PF, New Jersey Nets drafted 9th Overall in 1995 NBA Draft out of University of California in Los Angeles (128 Games, 5.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG) - The star and Final Four MVP for the 1995 UCLA Bruins, O'Bannon wasn't big enough for the league and struggled to score when drafted by the New Jersey Nets. Hardly making any kind of niche in this league, O'Bannon lasted a year and a half with New Jersey before being shipped to Dallas. His entire NBA Career was two seasons.
11) Future Michael Jordans - Harold Miner, SG, Miami Heat drafted 12th Overall in 1995 NBA Draft out of University of Southern California (200 Games, 9.0 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.2 APG) and Dennis Hopson, SF, New Jersey Nets drafted 3rd Overall in 1987 NBA Draft out of Ohio State University (334 Games, 10.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.6 APG) - Jordan's dominance in the league prompted many analysts to try and find the "next Michael Jordan" to come in every single draft. A fantastic scorer at Ohio State, Hopson struggled on the court and clashed with his coaches before being shipped to Chicago and quietly exiting the league after five seasons in the league. Miner won two NBA Slam Dunk Contests and his athletic ability prompted the media to christen him "Baby Jordan." Outside of dunking, Miner wasn't very talented in any area of the court and he only lasted four years in the league. The closest either of these players got to Jordan was when Hopson sat on the bench in 1991 and won an NBA Championship with Jordan's Chicago Bulls.
10) William Bedford, C, Phoenix Suns drafted 6th Overall in 1986 NBA Draft out of University of Memphis (238 Games, 4.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG) - Bedford was an imposing presence in college for the Memphis Tigers and was projected to be a huge NBA star. Drafted sixth overall by Phoenix, Bedford only lasted six seasons in the league and struggled with drug addiction the entire time. He was arrested for drug possession twice in 1996 and 1997, accused of transporting 25 pounds of marijuana in 2001 and arrested two more times for marijuana before being given a ten year sentence in 2003. Bedford is currently serving time in Fort Worth, Texas and will be in prison until 2013.
9) Rafael Araujo, C, Toronto Raptors drafted 8th Overall in 2004 NBA Draft out of Bringham Young University (139 Games, 2.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG) - A prime example of what happens when you draft for need instead of by talent, Araujo was taken eigth overall by Toronto in 2004 and lasted only three seasons in the league. His play on the court was abysmal and he's one of many examples of why you should never draft a player simply for his size. He was out of the league by 2007 after he was traded to Utah.
8) Eddie Griffin, F, New Jersey Nets drafted 7th Overall in 2001 NBA Draft out of Seton Hall University (303 Games, 7.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG) - An extremely talented ball player, Griffin had many flashes of brilliance in college at Seton Hall, but had many character problems and even got into a fight with a teammate during a practice that was the beginning of the end for a promising Seton Hall season. Once viewed as a possible selection for the first overall pick, Griffin was drafted by the Nets. Griffin's rights were traded to the Houston Rockets for the rights to Richard Jefferson and Griffin quickly drank himself out of the league. Succumbing to alcohol problems, Griffin rarely played as a result of his problems and his performance didn't show much promise either. He was released in 2003, and missed every game until 2004 as a result of being in a rehabilitation clinic. He came back to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves and was a good story before his off court problems and on court production continued to dissapoint critics until Minnesota released him in 2007. Griffin eventually died in August of 2007 after his car was hit by a train.
7) Jonathan Bender, PF, Toronto Raptors drafted 5th Overall in 1999 NBA Draft out of Picayune High School (237 Games, 5.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG) - Billed as a Kevin Garnett clone, the Indiana Pacers immediately traded established forward Antonio Davis for the rights to Bender and looked to make him a cornerstone for the future of the squad. Davis went on to be an all star in Toronto and Bender never got off of the bench in Indiana. Injuries and inconsistency kept Bender grounded and he quietly exited the league in 2006.
6) Nikoloz Tskitishvili, PF, Denver Nuggets drafted 5th Overall in 2002 NBA Draft out of Georgia [Europe] (172 Games, 2.9 PPG, 1.8 RPG) - Tskitishvili played profesionally in Italy and won the 2002 Italian championship under current Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni. Viewed as an extremely talented player with a ridiculous skill set, Nikoloz was quickly taken by the Denver Nuggets in 2002 and billed as a do-it-all type player who can score in transition, run the floor, score from the outside but was a foreign product who teams had hardly seen play. As a result, he was simply word of mouth when he was drafted by Denver and his performance on the court was awful. A worst case scenario for foreign drafted players, Nikoloz is possibly the worst lottery pick in terms of talent and quickly left the league after the 2007 season.
5) Robert Traylor, PF, Dallas Mavericks drafted 6th Overall in 1998 NBA Draft out of University of Michigan (438 Games, 4.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG) - Note to NBA: don't draft someone in the lottery who is nicknamed Tractor. Standing at 6 foot 8 and generously being billed at 284 pounds, Traylor was an imposing presence in college and bullied around opposition in the paint. When drafted by Dallas, his draft rights were immediately traded for the rights to German prospect Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki is a future hall of famer, and Traylor's production on the court was abysmal. Traylor regularly battled obesity to the point where he was out of the league by 2005.
4) Michael Olowoakandi, C, Los Angeles Clippers drafted 1st Overall in 1998 NBA Draft out of University of Pacific (500 Games, 8.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.4 BPG) - So big a bust that he deserves a slot all his own, seperated from the Clippers, Olowokandi is the worst of all of the draft blunders made by the doomed Los Angeles franchise. After only one solid season for the Pacific Tigers, Olowokandi was drafted to be the man in the middle of the future for the Clippers and rewarded them with mediocre production. He showed flashes of being a solid player, but once he signed to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Olowokandi hardly got off of the bench. Suffering through injuries his entire career, Olowokandi was drafted first overall in a draft that produced six different NBA All Stars in Mike Bibby, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce and Rashard Lewis.
3) Chris Washburn, C, Golden State Warriors drafted 3rd Overall in 1986 NBA Draft out of North Carolina State University (72 Games, 3.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG) - An extremely talented athlete gifted with extremely soft hands and incredible speed for someone his size, Washburn was drafted third overall under much publicity for Golden State. A high school prodigy of sorts, Washburn was inconsistent at North Carolina State and teammates would question his work ethic and criticize his penchant for skipping class. After serving jail time for stealing a stereo while in college, Washburn would have one good season and declare for the NBA Draft. The Warriors lookd to bring him along slowly to cope with his immaturity but it didn't work. Washburn was largely ineffective and rarely got off the bench. After only three seasons in the league, Washburn was banned from the NBA for life after testing positive for cocaine three times in three years.
2) Kwame Brown, C, Washington Wizards drafted 1st Overall in 2001 NBA Draft out of Glynn Academy High School (462 Games, 7.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.0 APG) - Brown holds the distinction of being the first high schooler to ever be selected first overall in an NBA Draft. Highlighted as the first of many bad executive decisions made by basketball legend Michael Jordan, Brown struggled to display any production or maturity in his first few years as a Wizard. In his th ird season he showed real signs of a breakthrough, but injuries and problems with his teammates cost him his job in Washington. He was sent home by the Wizards during the 2005 NBA postseason and was on the negative end of two of the most lopsided trades in recent memory, being traded to the Lakers for Caron Butler and then being traded to the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol. His future looks to be primarily as a backup center in the league.
1) Darko Milicic, F-C, Detroit Pistons drafted 2nd Overall in 2003 NBA Draft out of Serbia (337 Games, 5.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.2 BPG) - There were a lot of great players in the famed 2003 NBA Draft. Going into the draft, it was almost assured to all that Darko Milicic would be the first player selected after LeBron James. The Detroit Pistons, fresh off of a conference finals appearance, were able to land the No. 2 pick after a prior deal with the then Vancouver Grizzlies for Otis Thorpe. Milicic arrived with much fan fare in Detroit but was never able to get off of the bench. Viewed as too young by fans and coach Larry Brown, the 18 year old Milicic sat on the bench for two Pistons teams that went to the finals and Darko won a championship in his rookie season on the 2004 Pistons team. Midway through his third year with the Pistons, still unable to get off of the bench, Milicic was traded to the Magic and showed the promise that people hoped for. However, after landing a solid deal from the Memphis Grizzlies as a result of that promise, Milicic has largely dissapointed and stands out as a ridiculously underachieving talent in a draft that included players such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and even Chris Kaman, Kirk Hinrich, T.J. Ford and David West drafted after Milicic. Even though the Pistons achieved great success at the early part of this century, this pick is largely viewed as "what could have been" as most say the team would have achieved more than one championship if not for this draft blunder.
Tags: Adam Morrison, Antawn Jamison, Antonio McDyess, Bobcats, Bulls, Carmelo Anthony, Caron Butler, Cavaliers, Chris Bosh, Chris Kaman, Clippers, Darius Miles, Darko Milicic, David West, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Grizzlies, Heat, J.J. Redick, Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Kirk Hinrich, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Kwame Brown, Lakers, Lamar Odom, LeBron James, Lorenzen Wright, Magic, Mavericks, Melvin Ely, Mike Bibby, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce, Peja Stojakovic, Pistons, Raptors, Rashard Lewis, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Shaun Livingston, Spurs, Steve Nash, Suns, T.J. Ford, Timberwolves, Tyson Chandler, Vince Carter, Warriors, Wizards, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Posted on: June 1, 2009 1:13 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2010 2:43 am
After correctly predicting the NBA finals in my review of the conference finals, I find it important that I hurry aboard to try and keep up my good name by predicting the NBA Finals. In all honesty, I couldn't be happier with this matchup. Not only did I pick it, these, in my opinion, are the two best teams that the NBA could offer at this point. Both of these teams have faced adversity. Both have taken shots in the media and Stan Van Gundy and Pau Gasol have been the most critiqued figures in the media since the postseason started. But how did they get here?
Key Player for the Magic: Rafer Alston has been really hit or miss this entire postseason, as well, but when he's been on, the Magic have won. Point guards have given the Lakers trouble all postseason and Alston isn't the most talented player at his position, but is a quick and smart player at the point guard position. His shot has been really streaky and sometimes he takes ill advised chances on the offensive side of the basketball, but if can keep his head in the game and knock down open jump shots then he can be a huge difference maker for the Magic. Derek Fisher has had a hard time on defense this postseason and has struggled with his jump shot, so this is a prime opportunity for Alston to take advantage of that and thoroughly outplay Fisher. If he does that, then the Magic will have the advantage to the championship.
Tags: Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bynum, Cavaliers, Celtics, Courtney Lee, Derek Fisher, Dwight Howard, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, Jazz, Jordan Farmar, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Lamar Odom, LeBron James, Luke Walton, Magic, Mickael Pietrus, Nuggets, Pau Gasol, Rafer Alston, Rashard Lewis, Rockets, Sasha Vujacic, Shannon Brown, Shaquille O'Neal, Thaddeus Young, Trevor Ariza, Yao Ming
Posted on: May 29, 2009 11:29 am
Well I volunteered to do a recap and ranking of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd overall draft picks of the draft lottery era and the 1st and 2nd picks are in the book. With the strong first pick and horrid second pick behind us, we now look at a selection that's filled with players ranging from bad, to solid, to really good. There is no great, or franchise, player on this list but you'll be surprised to see how many contributors and talented all stars there are that were selected third overall. This was a tough list for me because it's pretty top heavy. But here we go: Ranking the No. 3 Draft Picks of the Draft Lottery Era.
24) Chris Washburn, C, Golden State Warriors out of North Carolina State University in 1986 NBA Draft (72 Games, 3.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG) - Long viewed as one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history, Washburn was an extremely talented athlete, gifted with extremely soft hands and incredible speed for someone his size. A high school prodigy of sorts, Washburn was extremely inconsistent at North Carolina State under legendary coach Jim Valvano. However, teammates would question his work ethic and criticize the fact that he never went to class. He also served jail time for stealing a stereo while in college. After one good season at NC State including a game where he outplayed eventual number one draft pick Brad Daugherty, Washburn declared for the NBA draft and was snagged third overall by the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors looked to bring him along slowly, to cope with his immaturity. However, it didn't work as Washburn was largely ineffective and rarely got off of the bench in Golden State. After only three seasons in the league, Washburn was suspended from the NBA for life after testing positive for cocaine three times in three years.
23) Dennis Hopson, SF, New Jersey Nets out of Ohio State University in 1987 NBA Draft (334 Games, 10.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.6 APG) - As a dynamic scorer at the colleigate level, Hopson was projected to be a fantastic offensive weapon at the next level, even drawing comparions to Michael Jordan. However, after New Jersey selected Hopson, he struggled on the court and clashed with coaches and only lasted three seasons before being shipped, ironically, to Jordan's Bulls. Although he won a championship in 1991 with the Bulls, Hopson barely got on the court and frequently was dismissed by Jordan. He spent one more year with the Kings but never caught on with another team after only five years in the league.
22) Adam Morrison, SF, Charlotte Bobcats out of Gonzaga University in 2006 NBA Draft (130 Games, 8.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.6 APG) - While in college, Morrison could score from all angles and was unstoppable while with Gonzaga. After a fantastic junior season in which he and J.J. Reddick took the college world by storm, Gonzaga declared for the 2006 NBA Draft and was looked by many as a newer version of Larry Bird. One of many questionable executive decisions by Michael Jordan, Morrison showed flashes of the dynamic scoring that made him such a high draft pick in his rookie season, but in the preseason of his second year in the league, Morrison suffered an extremely ugly looking ACL tear. He missed all of his second season and then struggled to get off of the bench in his third year with the Bobcats before being shipped to the Los Angeles Lakers and being left entirely out of their rotation.
21) Raef LaFrentz, F-C, Denver Nuggets out of University of Kansas in 1998 NBA Draft (563 Games, 10.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 1.1 APG) - As a very steady player at the University of Kansas, racking up many individual accolades as a Jayhawk, LaFrentz graduated from Kansas and was promptly selected third overall in the 1998 NBA Draft. In a sign of things to come, LaFrentz suffered a torn ACL in his rookie season with the Nuggets and would play only 12 games in the lockout shortened 1998-1999 season. However, over the next three years, LaFrentz would emerge as a solid inside presence, routinely averaging among the league leaders in blocked shots before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks in his fourth year, the last year of his rookie contract. LaFrentz benefitted from the spending binge that relatively new owner Marc Cuban was in the middle of in Dallas and received a huge 7 year deal from Dallas and promptly lasted one of those seven seasons as the starting center for Dallas. After being traded to the Boston Celtics, knee problems continued to hamper LaFrentz and he played only two full seasons with the Celtics before being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. LaFrentz does not get into the games in Portland, although he is still contractually a member of the Trail Blazers. Of the seven year deal he signed with Dallas, LaFrentz has played only 314 out of a possible 574 games.
20) Darius Miles, SF, Los Angeles Clippers out of East St. Louis High School in 2000 NBA Draft (446 Games, 10.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 BPG) - Before your Kwame Brown's and LeBron James', Darius Miles was the highest selected high school player in NBA history. Miles immediately took the league by storm in his first few seasons in Los Angeles with his dynamic aerial game and being named to the 2000 All-NBA 1st Rookie Team. After being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who hoped to turn Miles into a superstar, Miles was largely inconsistent and his production took a huge nosedive. Sensing what was on the horizon, Miles was then shipped to the Portland Trail Blazers where he would then contribute to the "Jail Blazers" nickname with continuous antics off the court. Miles would openly clash with Trail Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks, even calling him racial slurs, and was a huge factor in why Cheeks was fired from his position in Portland. Miles was inexplicably given a huge contract by Portland, and after suffering through knee problems Miles was forced to sit out the entire 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 seasons due to recovery from microfracture knee surgery. He's probably best known, though, for a situation this year where if he were to play ten games this season then he would count against the Blazers salary cap for the next two years. After public disputes from the Portland organization, Miles signed on to play 34 games with the Grizzlies this year.
19) Benoit Benjamin, C, Los Angeles Clippers out of Creighton University in 1985 NBA Draft (807 Games, 11.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.0 BPG, 1.3 APG) - An intimidating presence at 7'0" and 250 pounds, Benjamin was drafted to man down the middle for the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1985 NBA Draft. Benjamin would prove to a stellar, if not good, player for the Clippers for the duration of his five and a half year stint with the Clippers. Benjamin would leave the Clippers for the Supersonics in 1991 and that would begin a chain reaction that saw Benjamin play for nine different teams in his fifteen year career.
18) Billy Owens, SF, Sacramento Kings out of Syracuse University in 1991 NBA Draft (600 Games, 11.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.8 APG) - After a smooth colleigate career for the Syracuse Orange, Billy Owens was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the 1991 NBA Draft and refused to go to Sacramento, inciting a hold out. After unsuccesfully attempting to get Owens to sign, the Kings traded his rights to the Golden State Warriors for Mitch Richmond in what is largely regarded a lopsided trade in favor of the Kings. Owens drew many comparions to Larry Bird but rarely showed effort and spent the majority of his career not trying in practice and suffering through problems with his weight. Owens did have a few good seasons in Golden State but he never did develop into a solid player. Ironically enough, he went to play in Sacramento for a few seasons before disappearing from the league after the 2001 season.
17) Al Horford, F-C, Atlanta Hawks out of University of Florida in 2007 NBA Draft (148 Games, 10.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 BPG) - Drafted as one of many lottery picks by the Atlanta Hawks in the early turn of the century, the Domincan born Al Horford would go on to win two national championships for the Florida Gators before going pro after his junior season. Horford would become the first legitimate center in Atlanta's history since the days of Dikembe Mutombo and would become an intregal part on two Hawks playoffs teams, being part of a revival of sorts in Atlanta. Horford has the potential to be a really great player although he's not showed that he can consistently be a great player at this level in the league. The potential is there, though.
16) O.J. Mayo, G, Minnesota Timberwolves out of University of Southern Cal in 2008 NBA Draft (82 Games, 18.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.1 SPG) - An extremely talented offensive weapon, O.J. Mayo is an eccentric character known best for admitting he was only going to school for one season to meet the NBA's age requirement. After choosing Los Angeles to play his only season in college, O.J. Mayo would come under scrutiny after being investigated by the NCAA for possibly hiring an agent while in college. Mayo, though, left it all behind and left after the one season in USC. Mayo would be drafted by Minnesota but immediately be traded to the Memphis Grizzlies where he continued his scoring knack in his rookie season. It's unclear whether he will ever become much more than simply a scorer, but Mayo was a successful rookie and the jury is still out on him.
15) Mike Dunelavy Jr., SF, Golden State Warriors out of Duke University in 2002 NBA Draft (499 Games, 12.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.7 APG) - The son of current Los Angeles Clippers coach Mike Dunelavy Jr., Dunleavy would play three successful colleigate seasons with the Duke Blue Devils, being a key contributor on the 2001 NCAA Championship team. Billed as a versatile player with a fantastic jumpshot, Dunleavy seemed to be a lock at the next level for the Golden State Warriors. Dunleavy would spend all four nad a half of his seasons of his time with Golden State being yanked in and out of the starting lineup and going in and out of shooting slumps. After being routinely criticized and booed by the Golden State fans, Dunleavy was traded to the Indiana Pacers in 2006. While in Indiana, he has shown flashes of the promise that made him the third overall selection in the 2002 NBA Draft. He averaged a career high 19 points a game in the 2007-2008 season before suffering through injuries in the 2008-2009 season. Time will tell if the great 2007-2008 season for Dunleavy was a fluke or a sign of things to come.
14) Charles Smith, PF, Philadelphia 76ers out of University of Pittsburgh in 1988 NBA Draft (564 Games, 14.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.4 BPG) - After being drafted by the 76ers, Charles Smith's rights were immediately traded to the ill-fated Los Angeles Clippers. Smith, an olympian for the United States in 1988, went on to become among the Clippers leaders in points and rebounds among the next few seasons before being traded to the New York Knicks. While with New York, he will probably be best remebered for missing four consecutive layups in a crucial game 5 for the Knicks in the 1993 Eastern Conferece Finals. Smith soon fell out of favor in the Knicks lineup and was shipped off to San Antonio where he finished his career as an unimportant reserve on the 1996-1997 Spurs team.
13) Chris Jackson, SG, Denver Nuggets out of Louisiana State University in 1990 NBA Draft (586 Games, 14.6 PPG, 3.5 APG, 1.9 RPG) - Partnered with Shaquille O'Neal at LSU, Chris Jackson was part of some very successful seasons for the LSU Tigers. A fantastic scorer, gifted with a beautiful looking jump shot, Chris Jackson had a handful of extremely successful seasons with the Denver Nuggets, even winning the 1993 NBA Most Improved Player of the Year award. Jackson continued to routinely average in the 20 points a game range until the end of his career in Denver. After about his fourth season in the league, while being a key contributor to the Denver Nuggets, Jackson became a devoted member of the nation of Islam and would change his name to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Mahmoud would then receive much criticism by refusing to stand for the Star Spangled Banner played before games and would battle with fans as a result of it. Mahmoud was even suspended by the NBA for refusing to stand. After being traded to the Sacramento Kings, Abdul-Rauf would become a shell of his former self and would quietly exit the NBA in 2001.
12) Christian Laettner, PF, Minnesota Timberwolves out of Duke University in 1992 NBA Draft (868 Games, 12.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.0 SPG) - As a college player, there's probably none better than Christian Laettner was in four seasons at Duke. As the starting center for the Duke Blue Devils in a four season stretch where they won two National Championships and made the final four all four seasons Laettner was a player. Laettner used this to win every college player of the year honor, be named the 1991 Most Outstanding Tournament player and then actually winning a gold medal on the extremely famed 1992 USA Olympic Basketball team. In the 1992 NBA Draft, Laettner was drafted behind Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning and became an all star in Minnesota. However, Laettner never developed into the great player that he was in college and after productive, but quiet, seasons in Minnesota, he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks. While in Atlanta, Laettner was a member of some mediocrely successful Hawks squads before floudering on benches in Detroit, Dallas, Washington and Miami. A stellar player throughout his career, Laettner never was great and never delivered on the promise he showed in college.
11) Ben Gordon, SG, Chicago Bulls out of University of Connecticut in 2004 NBA Draft (392 Games, 18.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.0 APG) - An extremely talented scorer, Gordon teamed with Emeka Okafor to lead some very successful UConn Huskies teams in his colleigate years before declaring for the NBA Draft after his junior season after winning the 2004 NCAA Championship and being named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Viewed as a hybrid guard of sorts, nobody felt as if Gordon had the size to consistently play shooting guard or the ball handling skill to be a point guard, but he continued to be a dynamic scorer at the professional level. After shooting up the draft due to pre draft workouts, Gordon would be drafted third overall by the Chicago Bulls and would go on to become the first rookie in league history to win the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award. Viewed as an extremely clutch player and one who is tough to guard when hot, Gordon has carved a niche in this league as one of the better scorers in the NBA and looks to be a hot commodity in free agency in 2009. Time will tell what the future holds for Ben Gordon.
10) Sean Elliott, SF, San Antonio Spurs out of University of Arizona in 1989 NBA Draft (742 Games, 14.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.6 APG) - A great athlete with fantastic shooting touch, Elliott was brought into San Antonio in 1989 and shared a rookie season with San Antonio great David Robinson. Elliott and Robinson would go on to be staples and key contributors to some successful Spurs squads, spending only one of his 12 seasons outside of San Antonio. Elliott is probably best known for what is dubbed as the "Memorial Day Miracle." With the Spurs up 1-0 in the 1999 Western Conference Finals, still without a championship in the franchise's history, Elliott would get hot in the second half and lead the Spurs to a furious comeback against the Portland Trail Blazers. Down by 18 in the third period against Portland, Elliott would catch an inbounds pass that was almost stolen by Stacy Augmon before standing idly above the out of bounds line and launching an improbable shot that would give the Spurs the 86-85 victory. The Spurs would go on to win the 1999 NBA Championship, and Elliott would admit that he played the entire season with a severe kidney ailment. Elliott would become famed in the NBA as the first player in NBA history to play an NBA game after receiving a kidney transplant from his older brother. A legend in San Antonio, Elliott eventually succumbed to the kidney ailment and retired in 2001.
9) Shareef Abdur-Rahim, PF, Vancouver Grizzlies out of University of California in Berkely in 1996 NBA Draft (830 Games, 18.1 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.0 SPG) - After one successful freshman season at Cal, Shareef Abdur-Rahim would be selected third overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies in the talent loaded 1996 NBA Draft. Statistically speaking, Abdur-Rahim never dissapointed. He routinely put up fantastic numbers for the largely unsuccessful Vancouver Grizzlies franchise and signed an extension to stay on board even though the team routinely was among the worst in the leauge. Abdur-Rahim would also win a Gold Medal with the 2000 USA Olympic Basketball team. After being traded to the Atlanta Hawks, Abdur-Rahim would continue the formula of putting up great numbers on bad teams and would continue to be among the league's best inside scorers even though he never made the postseason. After signing as a free agent with the Sacramento Kings in 2005, Abdur-Rahim finally made the postseason as a reserve player for the Kings in 2006. However, Abdur-Rahim's production would continue to drop while in Sacramento and a knee injury that forced him to fail a physical for the New Jersey Nets in that 2005 NBA Offseason eventually caught up to him in 2008, where the persistent knee injury forced him to retire at the age of 32 after only playing six games in the 2007-2008 season with the Kings.
8) Jerry Stackhouse, SG, Philadelphia 76ers out of University of North Carolina in 1995 NBA Draft (854 Games, 18.4 PPG, 3.7 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.0 SPG) - Following a dynamic career for the North Carolina Tar Heels, Stackhouse was viewed as one of the many "Next Jordan's" and would promptly declare for the 1995 NBA Draft following his sophomore season. After being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, Stackhouse proved that he could become a multi talented player on the offensive side of the basketball. After clashing with 76ers superstar Allen Iverson in his second and third seasons, Stackhouse would be traded to the Detroit Pistons where he put together the greatest stretch of offensive production in his career. Stackhouse would win the 2001 NBA Scoring title and would lead the Pistons to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2002 before being traded to the Washington Wizards. After unsuccessfully partering with Michael Jordan in Washington, Stackhouse would be shipped to the Dallas Mavericks where he became a great leadership figure and bench contributor for the Mavericks. Many various injurise have gotten the best of Stackhouse since his arrival in Dallas and it looks as if they will get the best of him and force him to prematurely end his career.
7) Deron Williams, PG, Utah Jazz out of University of Illinois in 2005 NBA Draft (310 Games, 16.2 PPG, 8.7 APG, 2.0 RPG, 1.0 SPG) - After a successful performance in the 2005 NCAA Tournament with the Fighting Illini that saw Williams lead Illinois to the National Championship Game, Williams would forego his senior season to enter the 2005 NBA Draft and be drafted as the point guard to finally replace John Stockton in Utah three seasons after he retired. After being brought along slowly in his rookie season, Williams would leap onto the scene in his second year in the league and then become an established superstar in the league after leading the Jazz to the Western Conference Finals in 2007. Williams has continued to lead the Jazz to the postseason in the two seasons following and won a gold medal on the 2008 USA Olympic Basketball team. The sky is the limit for Williams, who is already arguably the best point guard in the league.
6) Baron Davis, PG, Charlotte Hornets out of University of California in Los Angeles in 1999 NBA Draft (673 Games, 16.9 PPG, 7.3 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.9 SPG) - Baron Davis would overcome an ACL tear in his freshman season at UCLA to have an extremely successful sophomore season with the UCLA Bruins before declaring for the 1999 NBA Draft. After being drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, Davis would be named the team's starting point guard in only his second year in the league and would then become a huge contributor for two successful postseason runs for the Hornets during their last two years in Charlotte. In 2002, the Hornets moved from Charlotte to New Orleans and Davis would then become a routinely injured player. After missing games in both the regular season and postseason with the Hornets, Davis would be shipped to the Golden State Warriors and would look rejuvenated after being moved to his homestate of California. However, Davis clashed with Warriors coach Mike Montgomery and it would look like more bad luck for Davis. However, Don Nelson's rearrival in Golden State prompted the Warriors run to the 2007 postseason. While in the 2007 postseason, Davis would win over fans and critics alike with a fantastic performance for the eight seeded Warriors, leading a humongous upset over the first seeded Dallas Mavericks. However, Davis would again become a problem for the Warriors when he clashed with coach Don Nelson and then told the team one thing and did another when he opted out of his contract to sign with his hometown Los Angeles Clippers. Proving that he'll probably never overcome his immaturity, Davis battled injuries and his coach in the first year of his five year contract with the Clippers and time will tell how this deal pans out.
5) Penny Hardaway, G, Golden State Warriors out of Memphis State University in 1993 NBA Draft (704 Games, 15.2 PPG, 5.0 APG, 4.5 RPG, 1.6 SPG) - After foregoing his senior season to enter the 1993 NBA Draft, Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway would be selected third overall by the Golden State Warriors and immediately be traded to the Orlando Magic for the draft rights to number one overall pick Chris Webber. Hardaway would then partner with young Magic superstar Shaquille O'Neal to lead the Magic to becoming one of the most popular and successful teams of the late 1990s. Penny and Shaq would lead Orlando to the 1995 NBA Finals and Penny would win a Gold Medal with the 1996 USA Olympic Basketball team before suffering his first of many knee injuries in the 1997 season. Following Shaq's departure and Penny's battles with injuries, the Magic would suffer and trade Hardaway to the Phoenix Suns. While in Phoenix, Hardaway teamed with Jason Kidd to lead the Suns to the Western Conference Semifinals in Hardaway's first season in Phoenix and Penny would be rewarded with a lucrative contract from Phoenix. But shortly after signing that contract, Hardaway would undergo microfracture knee surgery and would then never be the same player that he once was. Hardaway's fall from grace was difficult to watch and the injuries are probably the biggest factor as to why he dropped so hard, but he was undeniable his first few years in the league and was one of the best players the league had to offer for a handful of seasons.
4) Grant Hill, SF, Detroit Pistons out of Duke University in 1994 NBA Draft (787 Games, 18.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.4 SPG) - Destined for greatness almost from the start, a young Grant Hill would win two national championships as a key contributor for the very successful Duke teams of the early 90s. After spending all four seasons and being a posterboy for all things wonderful in college, Hill was available for the Detroit Pistons to select in the 1994 NBA draft and he quickly took the league by storm. Making the "point forward" position in the NBA prominent for the first time since the days of Magic Johnson and Scottie Pippen, Hill would take the league by storm with his dynamic on court style and by routinely posting triple doubles. Hill would win co Rookie of the Year honors in 1995 with Jason Kidd and would go on to be a great player in Detroit for six seasons. However, after injuring his ankle in the 2000 postseason, his last with the Pistons, Hill would sign a lucrative seven year deal with the Orlando Magic and immediately succumb to the ankle injuries. The Magic envisioned teaming him with young star Tracy McGrady but Hill struggled to get on the court in Orlando, playing only 47 of a 328 possible games the first four years of his contract with Orlando. Hill would eventually return to the league, although not as the same player he once was, and has played in 82 games both of the last two seasons with the Phoenix Suns.
3) Carmelo Anthony, SF, Denver Nuggets out of Syracuse University in 2003 NBA Draft (445 Games, 24.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.1 SPG) - A fantastic offensive forward with one of the best inside-outside games in basketball, Anthony would lead the Syracuse Orange to the 2003 National Championship in his freshman season and be named the tournament's most outstanding player, leaping onto the scene and then deciding to join the famed 2003 NBA Draft. After being selected by the Denver Nuggets, Anthony battled throughout his rookie season with LeBron James over competition with the 2004 NBA Rookie of the Year award. James would eventually win the award and then go on to stardom while Anthony went through the motions, having productive but relatively quiet seasons in Denver. However, after the arrival of George Karl, Anthony would finally blossom into a fantastic offensive weapon. Although Anthony would win a Bronze Medal and a Gold Medal with the 2004 and 2008 USA Olympic Basketball teams, respectively, postseason success would avoid Anthony for the duration of his career with Denver, culminating in a sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 NBA Postseason, but Anthony would finally get out of the first round in 2009 and is currently in a battle with the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. The sky is still the limit for Anthony.
2) Pau Gasol, F-C, Atlanta Hawks out of Spain in 2001 NBA Draft (584 Games, 18.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.7 BPG) - After being drafted by the Atlanta Hawks and then immediately being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Gasol would take the league by storm in 2001. Largely unknown when drafted, Gasol would go on to win the 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year award and would eventually be a part of the most successful stretch in Grizzlies franchise history when they made the postseason three straight seasons. The Grizzlies would soon, though, return to their losing ways and Gasol would demand a trade on more than one occasion. After being traded midway through the 2008 NBA season to the Los Angeles Lakers, Gasol would be a key contributor on the revitalizing of one of the most successful, storied and popular franchises in the league. Routinely criticized for his soft demanor in the paint, Gasol has still been productive his entire career and posseses fantastic range on his jump shot and amazingly soft hands for a player his size. If he ever develops a killer instinct, Gasol could become one of the better players in the league.
1) Chauncey Billups, PG, Boston Celtics out of University of Colorado in 1997 NBA Draft (837 Games, 15.1 PPG, 5.6 APG, 2.9 RPG, 1.0 SPG) - After being drafted by the Boston Celtics after two stellar seasons for the Colorado Buffalos, Billups would experience something midway through his rookie season that would become a staple for the next few years of his career. At the trade deadline, Billups would be traded to the Toronto Raptors. After his rookie season ended, Billups was traded to the hometown Denver Nuggets where he spent one and a half seasons before being traded to the Orlando Magic. After playing two successful seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Detroit Pistons would give Chauncey Billups a chance and he would reward them handsomely. In his six years with Detroit, Billups, or "Mr. Big Shots" would be the catalyst of a team that went to six straight Eastern Conference Finals from 2003 until 2008. Billups would make two NBA Finals apperances with Detroit in 2004 and in 2005, and after winning a championship in 2004 with Detroit, Billups would be named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. After playing under the radar the remaining years in Detroit, Billups would again be traded to the Denver Nuggets where he led the Nuggets out of mediocrity and turned them into one of the better teams in the league. His performance earned him votes in the 2009 NBA Most Valuable Player voting. Largely recognized as a player capable of playing big in crucial moments, Billups has continued that trend this season where he now has Denver in the Western Conference Finals, the seventh straight time in his career he has made the conference finals.
Tags: 76ers, Adam Morrison, Al Horford, Allen Iverson, Baron Davis, Ben Gordon, Bobcats, Bulls, Carmelo Anthony, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Clippers, Darius Miles, Deron Williams, Dikembe Mutombo, Emeka Okafor, Grant HIll, Grizzlies, Hawks, Hornets, Jason Kidd, Jazz, Jerry Stackhouse, Kings, Knicks, Kwame Brown, Lakers, LeBron James, Magic, Mavericks, Nets, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Pacers, Pau Gasol, Pistons, Raef LaFrentz, Raptors, Shaquille O'Neal, Timberwolves, Tracy McGrady, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Wizards