Every year in the NBA there are 16 teams that make the playoffs and 14 who are relegated to the NBA Lottery. Those 14 teams hope that their draft pick can be a building block for the future and help their team become one of the 16 in the playoffs the following season. This article evaluates how well this year’s lottery teams have drafted the past five years:
Note: Players who were drafted by one team but their rights were acquired by another on draft night will be counted as picks of the team that acquired them (i.e. For this article’s sake, Kevin Love will be considered a draft pick of the Timberwolves even though he was initially drafted by Memphis).
2011 LOTTERY PICKS: 1 and 4
PICKS LAST 5 YEARS: Daniel Gibson, Ejke Ugboaja, Shannon Brown, J.J. Hickson, Danny Green, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, Emir Preldzic, and Christian Eyenga
Amongst this group of players, the Cavs have found only two players that have worked out for them in Daniel Gibson and J.J. Hickson. Gibson was a perfect complementary player alongside LeBron James, but showed last year he can be a solid contributor for the Cavs even without LeBron creating open shots for him. Hickson has shown flashes of immense talent, but has been wildly inconsistent and has yet to find a true position in Cleveland. The other picks have had minimal or no impact in Cleveland, and Christian Eyenga has not exactly blown anyone away in his first two seasons. (A friend of mine from Cleveland said, “He’s the worst,” about Eyenga). The primary reason the Cavs’ grade is a B- and not lower is because they have had primarily late first rounders and second rounders to deal with the last five years.
2011 LOTTERY PICK: 2
PICKS LAST 5 YEARS: Randy Foye, Craig Smith, Loukas Mavrokefalidis, Corey Brewer, Chris Richard, Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Johnny Flynn, Wayne Ellington, Nick Calathes, Henk Norel, Wesley Johnson, and Lazar Hayward
Unlike the Cavs, the T-Wolves have had a lot of lottery picks over the last five years, and unfortunately don’t have a lot to show for it. They started out this five-year stretch by drafting Brandon Roy, then trading his rights to Portland for the rights to Randy Foye. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly an equal trade. The following year they took Corey Brewer who was a solid contributor for them, but never developed into the cornerstone the Wolves clearly envisioned and is now with the Mavericks. The trade of O.J. Mayo‘s rights for Kevin Love‘s has been the best draft move the Wolves have made because Love has proven to be the best rebounder in the NBA, and a capable scorer in the post. However, the hoarding of point guards in 2009 has proven disastrous for Minnesota. Jonny Flynn has been a total disappointment, Ricky Rubio is still in Europe, and Ty Lawson, the third PG the Wolves took, has proven to be a star in the making in Denver. Wesley Johnson and Lazar Hayward played well at times this year, but look to be nothing more than good role players in their career.
2011 LOTTERY PICKS: 3 and 12
PICKS LAST 5 YEARS: Ronnie Brewer, Dee Brown, Paul Millsap, Morris Almond, Herbert Hill, Kyrylo Fesenko, Kosta Koufos, Ante Tomic, Tadija Dragicevic, Eric Maynor, Goran Suton, Gordon Hayward, and Jeremy Evans
The Jazz got the steal of the last five years by plucking Paul Millsap out of Lousiana Tech in the second round in 2006. He has turned into a superb player for them who rebounds exceptionally and provides energy for the team every night. Utah also got Ronnie Brewer in that draft and he complemented Deron Williams well, but never provided the perimeter scoring the Jazz hoped he would. Morris Almond came to the Jazz with the hope he could be their sharpshooter, but never panned out and ultimately the Jazz brought in Kyle Korver to fill that role. Gordon Hayward looked like a potential bust early on this past season, but came on late and looks like he will turn into a solid NBA player. Another interesting note, the Jazz made a great pick getting Eric Maynor in 2009, and had they not traded him in the middle of the 2009-10 season to Oklahoma City, he would probably be the starter in Salt Lake City right now.
2011 LOTTERY PICK: 5
PICKS LAST 5 YEARS: Andrea Bargnani, P.J. Tucker, Edin Bavcic, Giorgos Printezis, DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, and Solomon Alabi
The Raptors took Andrea Bargnani with the first overall pick in 2006, and he has proven to be a very good NBA player, but not a true franchise player. He is a great scorer who can shoot lights out, but that is about the extent of his game at this point, and as long as he is the Raptors’ best player, they will not be making any trips to the playoffs. DeMar DeRozan averaged 17 points per game this year, and looks to be Toronto’s shooting guard for years to come. Ed Davis had a very good rookie campaign averaging seven points and seven rebounds, while shooting 57 percent from the field. He is another good building block for the team going forward.