Wednesday, June 23, 2010

NBA Draft - Best & Worst Picks This Decade

With the NBA Draft on Thursday night, every site out there is putting together their mock drafts with tons of insight into team needs and best fits based on what the teams have said. Considering the teams are all currently bluffing each other to try and manipulate other teams into taking a guy too early, letting a guy slip, or trading up when it wasn’t needed, it seems like a huge waste of time. Instead, let’s look at who were the best and worst picks at each draft position (Picks 1-10, I don’t have all day. Well, maybe I do, but 1-10 is plenty) over the past 10 years.

#1 Pick

Best - LeBron James (2003 by Cleveland)
Worst – Greg Oden (2007 by Portland)

Really not a tough decision here. While James has a ton of potential to be the next Dominique Wilkins until he finally gets that championship ring, he is still a freak of an athlete. He has size and court vision like Magic Johnson and athleticism like Dominique. Once he learns to be a finisher like Jordan or Kobe, he will be completely unstoppable. And we will find out this summer if he wants to be a champion (signing with the Bulls), a celebrity (signing with the Knicks) or a loyal contender (re-upping with the Cavs). His multiple MVPs, a trip to the Finals and scoring title make this a pretty easy selection as the best #1 pick of the decade – well ahead of Dwight Howard, Yao Ming and Derrick Rose.

It’s unfortunate to list Oden here because injuries have been his downfall more than poor play. Yet the guy has barely seen the floor during his first two seasons, so even though Kwame Brown was mostly ineffective when he played, at least he was on the court. The highlight of Oden’s career has actually been when a picture of his wang was leaked on the internet.

#2 Pick

Best – Kevin Durant (2007 by Oklahoma City)
Worst – Darko Milicic (2003 by Detroit)

Durant has proven to be one of the best scorers in the league in only his second season. He still has to mature and get tougher if he wants to lead his team to championships, but he has a ton of young talent around him in Oklahoma City and based on his short record of success and potential to be among the league’s best players, he ranks as the top #2 of the past 10 years, ahead of a very weak class of second picks – LaMarcus Aldridge, Marvin Williams or Emeka Okafor.

Milicic will basically be seen as the worst #2 pick since Sam Bowie. And much like Bowie, Darko was not a horrible player, but the fact that superstars were taken after them (Bowie before Jordan and Wade, Anthony & Bosh after Milicic) make the picks look even worse than they would on their own. Basically it would be similar to if you had to draft a girl after only watching the pilot of Friends and you chose Phoebe, allowing your buddies to take Rachel and Monica with the next two picks. Phoebe went on to a below average career, getting parts in movies like Analyze This or Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion. While Jenifer Anniston’s movie career has not been great, her photo shoots for GQ most certainly have.

#3 Pick

Best – Pau Gasol (2002 by Memphis)
Worst – Adam Morrison (2006 by Charlotte)

The ironic part is that they both have collected back-to-back championships with the Lakers the past two years. Gasol gets the nod but just barely as the top #3 pick in the past 10 drafts, but just barely ahead of other superstars like Derron Williams and Carmelo Anthony. Gasol is among the top 2-3 big men in the game today as he has matured into a player tough enough to bang around inside and still step back and knock down an outside shot. He also plays tremendous defense and his passing is underrated, which puts him ahead of Carmelo’s selfish game. Gasol’s rings are probably the only thing that separate him from Williams, who is among the top 5 point guards in the game today and still has time to improve even more.

Morrison’s game is about as awful as his mustache. Scoring 7.5 points per game on 37% shooting through your first three years in the league is pretty painful. It also just acts as a reminder to teams never to waste a draft pick on a college player that cries like a teenage girl. Consider that a lesson learned in Charlotte and everywhere else in the NBA. At least I saw that he was auctioning off his game jersey from the Finals this year. Did he even wear a jersey? I thought he was in a suit on the bench the entire series. Does his jersey just have a large “NO” instead of a number on it?

#4 Pick

Best – Chris Paul (2004 by New Orleans)
Worst – Marcus Fizer (2000 by Chicago)

Paul is right there with Derron Williams as the best young point guards in the league. I’m thoroughly confused by the rumors circulating that the Hornets are shopping him, and would consider trading him to the Nets for Devin Harris and the #3 pick in Thursday’s draft. Paul was outstanding in leading the Hornets deep into the playoffs two years ago and was banged up last season, leading to the sinking of the Hornet’s season. His toughest competition for the best #4 spot since 2000 are also point guards, Tyreke Evans and Russell Westbrook, taken during the past two drafts.

Fizer was a bruiser at Iowa State and was part a streak of horrendous picks by the Bulls, including Eddie Curry, Tyson Chandler and Jay Williams. Just over 5 seasons in the league, averaging less than 10 points and 5 rebounds was quite a disappointment from the 4th pick in the draft. Although in his defense, the 2000 draft was extremely weak, so who would the Bulls have been better off taking – Chris Mihm or Joel Pryzbilla?

#5 Pick

Best – Dwyane Wade (2003 by Miami)
Worst – Nikoloz Tskitishvili (2002 by Denver)

Wade has established himself as one of the best players in the game today and he has that elusive championship ring that has eluded all of the other marquee free agents this summer. Will he get the help he needs to stay in Miami? Will he continue to mature and develop his outside shooting so he doesn’t have to subject his body to the abuse of crashing to the rim over and over? He may never win an MVP award because of that LeBron guy, but he has proven to be much more valuable than the next best #5 picks, Jason Richardson or Devin Harris.

Nikoloz Tskitishvilil? Yeah, I barely remember him either. But that’s because he averaged 11 minutes a game and less than 3 points per game during his illustrious 4 year career. Ouch. That was a bigger bust than Katy Perry.

#6 Pick

Best – Brandon Roy (2006 by Portland)
Worst – DaJuan Wagner (2002 by Cleveland)

Roy has been an extremely solid leader for the young Trailblazers and looks poised for a Clyde Drexler-type of career. Roy might actually be the best player taken in the first half of the 2006 draft, and he is easily better than the other #6 picks during the decade – Shane Battier or Danillo Galliari.

Wagner was drafted out of Memphis on the coattails of his father, Milt Wagner and expected to be a star point guard for Cleveland. Unfortunately the only thing that Wagner did for the Cavs was assure them of enough ping pong balls in the following year’s lottery to draft the hometown hero, LeBron James in 2003. The worst part for the Cavs is that if their front office had been smarter in 2002, they could have drafted Amare Stoudemire with the Wagner pick, and they wouldn’t have had to trade for Antwan Jamison this year.

#7 Pick

Best – Stephen Curry (2009 by Golden State)
Worst – Eddie Griffin (2001 by New Jersey – traded to Houston)

Despite his lack of size, Curry has continued his assault on nets all over the NBA with his deadly range and quick release. While his sample size is currently small, his upside is huge and that puts him ahead of a group of solid #7 picks – Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Nene Hilario or Randy Foye.

Rest in Peace, Eddie Griffin. The story of Eddie Griffin unfortunately went from sad comedy to just plain sad with his death in 2007 when he was drunk driving and tried unsuccessfully to beat a train across the tracks. However, that unfortunate event doesn’t take away from the events in 2006 when he was still in the league but got busted for drunk driving when he hit a parked car with his SUV because he was watching porn on the DVD player in the car and spanking the monkey. Not exactly the legacy you would hope for from a talented 7th pick in the draft.

#8 pick

Best – Jamal Crawford (2000 by Cleveland - traded to Chicago)
Worst – Joe Alexander (2008 by Milwaukee)

Crawford might be the second best pick behind Kenyon Martin in a pathetic 2000 draft. He has scored over 50 points in a game twice in his career and was a valuable sixth man for the Atlanta Hawks this past season. Despite a career that could be be described as average, it’s the best of a pathetic pool of #8 picks. Which might be bad news for the Clippers, because in addition to having the poor drafting record of being the Clippers, the 8th pick has proven to be one of the most unsuccessful picks in the draft. The next best players after Crawford are Channing Frye and Rudy Gay – not very impressive.

Alexander has been hampered by injuries which has prevented him from living up to the Bucks expectations. Although, it’s still unclear what the expectations were considering that the only attribute that garnered attention for a top pick was his jumping ability. That is like claiming AnnaLynne McCord is the hottest girl in Hollywood because she has a special skill of allowing paparazzi to photograph her constant wardrobe malfunctions.

#9 Pick

Best – Amare Stoudemire (2002 by Phoenix)
Worst – Patrick O’Bryant (2006 by Golden State)

Stoudemire is likely going to opt out of his contract this summer with the Suns because some team is going to overpay for him – hello NY Knicks!! Yet Stoudemire has established himself as a great athlete with the ability to finish around the rim on great passes from Steve Nash. His defense is worse than Lindsay Lohan trying to explain yet another time her SCRAM bracelet went off, but he remains among the top 25 players in the league today.

O’Bryant was able to leverage a sweet 16 run at Bradley into the Warriors overreaching to draft him in the top 10. In his 3 seasons, he has bounced back and forth from the D-League and has averaged less than 5 minutes a game. Him being a disappointment takes the heat off of the Knicks, who drafted Mike Sweetney with the 9th pick and he also has been a huge disappointment.

#10 Pick

Best – Joe Johnson (2001 by Boston)
Worst – Mouhamed Sene (2006 by Seattle)

To give you a sense of the depth in this year’s free agency group, 4 of the guys I picked as the top draft pick at that position this decade are in the market for new teams – Johnson, Stoudemire, Wade & James. Johnson is a tremendous scorer, but there are questions whether he has the drive or fire to be a marquee leader. That was proven during this year’s playoffs when the Hawks rolled over against the Magic. Johnson will need to pair up with another superstar if he wants to win. Yet he is the best #10 pick, ahead of Caron Butler, Andrew Bynum and Brandon Jennings.

Sene was a big man from Senegal who never panned out. As evidenced in this list, picking a guy purely because he is big and hoping that he will develop basketball skills is the exact opposite of drafting an Australian model and hoping she looks good in a bikini.

So enjoy the NBA Draft tomorrow night and hope that your team finds the next Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade or Amare Stoudemire and avoids the Joe Alexander or DuJuan Wagner.

1 comment:

  1. I love seeing people bash Joe Alexander. Always people who have never seen him play healthy. Even against NBA talent, he is incredible. He was at Attack Athletics this past week playing on Gilbert Arenas' team and was just killin.

    " the only attribute that garnered attention for a top pick was his jumping ability." What a joke. You call yourself a professional analyst? Alexander is one of the the most versatile players at his size that I have seen in the league lately. I watched him out rebound bigger guys, bring the ball up the floor against nba guards, and even take them off the dribble to basket. You have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to him.
    But keep hatin, its ok, just dont hurt urself jumping on his bandwagon once he gets starts fryin ppl. I've seen it firsthand.