Friday, June 29, 2007

NBA Draft

I've never paid much attention to the NBA Draft before. I watched it a little closer this year because I'm still all buzzed about the Spurs winning their fourth championship and because I had the odd happenstance of running into Greg Oden in a McDonalds here in San Antonio during the NCAA Playoffs.
It will be interesting to see if Oden's star rises in the NBA or if he will be overshadowed by Kevin Durant or some other player who went lower down in the draft.
Looking back on the draft history going back to 1960 I can pick out about a dozen No. 1 picks who went on to become certified superstars:
1960: Oscar Robertson
1969: Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabar)
1974: Bill Walton
1979: Earvin (Magic) Johnson
1984: Akeem Olajuwon
1985: Patrick Ewing
1987: David Robinson
1992: Shaqille O'Neal
1996: Allen Iverson
1997: Tim Duncan
2002: Yao Ming
2003: LeBron James

There have been many examples over the years of superstar players who weren't the top picks in the draft. Looking back now with perfect hindsight the teams that passed on these players look pretty foolish:

1972: Julius "Dr. J" Erving: No. 12
1978: Larry Byrd: No. 6
1987: Scottie Pippen: No. 5
1996: Kobe Bryant: No. 13
1998: Dirk Nowitzki: No. 9
2001: Tony Parker: No. 28

1984 was an especially intersting year for the draft. Some have called the greatest draft year in NBA history. That was the year that Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest player to ever step on the court, entered the draft. And he went at No. 3.
Nobody can really blame the Houston Rockets for selecting Akeem Olajuwon with their No. 1 pick that year. Olajuwon went on to be one the greatest basketball players of all time (if not THE greatest) and led the Rockets to back-to-back championship titles. But the Portland Trailblazers have to still be kicking themselves for taking Sam Bowie as the No. 2 pick that year and leaving Jordan to go to the Chicago Bulls.
1984 was also the year that Charles Barkley was drafted (No. 5) and John Stockton (No. 16).

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