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Evaluating The NBA Draft Success Of This Year’s Lottery Teams

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).

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
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
GRADE: B-

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.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
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
GRADE: D+

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.

UTAH JAZZ
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
GRADE: B

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.

TORONTO RAPTORS
2011 LOTTERY PICK: 5
PICKS LAST 5 YEARS: Andrea Bargnani, P.J. Tucker, Edin Bavcic, Giorgos Printezis, DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, and Solomon Alabi
GRADE: B+

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.

WASHINGTON WIZARDS
2011 LOTTERY PICK: 6
PICKS LAST 5 YEARS: Oleksiy Pecherov, Vladimir Veremeenko, Dominic McGuire, Nick Young, Bill Walker, JaVale McGee, John Wall, Trevor Booker, Hamady N’Diaye
GRADE: B

The Wizards have done a decent job of drafting over the past five years. Oleksiy Pecherov was an enormous bust, never averaging more than 10 minutes in his three seasons with the Wizards. Dominic McGuire showed flashes of being a solid role player for the Wizards in his second season when he started 57 games, but never built on that and is now with the Bobcats. Nick Young was a great pick. He provides instant offense for the Wizards, and while he can be a bit of a gunner, is still a great scorer. JaVale McGee is one of the most athletic big men in the entire League, and if he can develop a semblance of a low post game, could really become an excellent player for the Wizards. The Wizards did take John Wall, but he was an obvious pick who fell into their laps, so they shouldn’t get too much credit for that one. Trevor Booker had a good rookie season, and is a hard-nosed, tough player who brings a good mentality to the team that they desperately need after what they’ve been through the past few seasons.

SACRAMENTO KINGS
2011 LOTTERY PICK: 7
PICKS LAST 5 YEARS: Quincy Douby, Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson, Sean Singletary, Patrick Ewing Jr., Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi, Jon Brockman, DeMarcus Cousins, and Hassan Whiteside
GRADE: A-

The Kings struck out big time on Quincy Douby who had three forgettable years in Sacramento, and is now playing in China. Spencer Hawes was a solid player for them, but not a starting caliber center which is what they thought they were getting when they drafted him. Geoff Petrie and the Maloofs were widely criticized for drafting Jason Thompson out of low mid-major Rider University in 2008, but Thompson has been very solid at the power forward and center spots for the Kings and has validated the Kings’s drafting of him. In 2009, the Kings picked up their face of the franchise in Tyreke Evans who went on to win Rookie of the Year, and is at the center of the Kings’ rebuilding effort. That year they also drafted Omri Casspi who started off the 2009-10 season incredibly well before fading late, and he was put into Paul Westphal‘s doghouse at the end of this season for reasons that are unclear. This past year, the Kings took DeMarcus Cousins, and if he can ever get past his immaturity, he will become a top center in the NBA. His skillset is so diverse, and the talent so obvious, that it is easy to see why the Kings couldn’t resist taking him last year despite his character concerns. Hassan Whiteside had a precipitous drop in 2010, and only played one game for the Kings last season, perhaps justifying the fact that he dropped into the second round.

DETROIT PISTONS
2011 LOTTERY PICK: 8
PICKS LAST 5 YEARS: Will Blaylock, Cheickh Samb, Rodney Stuckey, Arron Afflalo, Sammy Mejia, Deron Washington, Trent Plaisted, Walter Sharpe, Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers, Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe, and Terrico White
GRADE: B+

Over the past five years, the Pistons have gone from trying to find players in the draft to complement their perennial Eastern Conference powerhouse to finding players to lead the team into a new era. Joe Dumars has always been very high on Rodney Stuckey, the player who kicks off this five-year period; and while Stuckey has become a good NBA player, he still has not developed into a true point guard and that has hurt the Pistons in recent years. Arron Afflalo was a great late first-round pick for Dumars, but trading him to the Nuggets in 2009 for a 2011 second-round pick was a bone-headed move. The 2009 Draft brought the Pistons three forwards, who have had their ups and downs in Detroit. They took Austin Daye 13th that year, and he has yet to really separate himself at the NBA level and is too content to play around the three-point line. DaJuan Summers has never really gotten a chance to shine in Detroit, playing only 66 games over his first two seasons. Jonas Jerebko was a steal in the second round and had a very good rookie season before a knee injury wiped out his sophomore campaign. Greg Monroe made the all-rookie second-team this year, and looks to be a staple at the center position for years to come, while Terrico White did not play this year.

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS
2011 LOTTERY PICK: 9
PICKS LAST 5 YEARS: Adam Morrison, Ryan Hollins, Jared Dudley, Jermareo Davidson, D.J. Augustin, Alexis Ajinca, Kyle Weaver, Gerald Henderson, Derrick Brown, and Robert Vaden
GRADE: D

The Bobcats have one of the poorest drafting record of any team over the last five years. It all starts with Adam Morrison, who is one of the biggest busts in recent memory, yet somehow has a championship ring with the Lakers. Guys like Ryan Hollins, Jared Dudley and Derrick Brown have turned into good NBA players, but Charlotte never gave them a chance to develop there. D.J. Augustin is a good point guard, but the Bobcats passed on Brook Lopez to get him which in hindsight was a mistake. Alexis Ajinca never averaged more than five points in Europe and his play was no different in America where he has been a big disappointment, and is now with the Raptors. Gerald Henderson had a disappointing rookie year, but that had a lot to do with Larry Brown. Henderson thrived under Paul Silas, so Bobcats fans hope he can continue that level of play into this year.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS
2011 LOTTERY PICK: 10
PICKS LAST 5 YEARS: David Noel, Damir Markota, Yi Jianlian, Ramon Sessions, Joe Alexander, Luc Mbah a Moute, Brandon Jennings, Jodie Meeks, Larry Sanders, Darrington Hobson, and Tiny Gallon
GRADE: C+

Milwaukee has been a mixed bag when it comes to their drafting success over the past five years. In 2009, they found a player in Brandon Jennings who is a franchise point guard and re-energized the team and the fan base. On the other hand, they have taken two of the bigger busts over the past five years in Yi Jianlian and Joe Alexander. Yi only lasted one year in Milwaukee before being traded for Richard Jefferson, and the Bucks aren’t regretting that move given Yi’s meager output over the past two seasons. Alexander is one of the few lottery picks ever not have his third-year team option picked up, and is currently in the D-League. In between those two extremes just mentioned, the Bucks have found some solid role players in Luc Mbah a Moute, Ramon Sessions (who is now in Cleveland), and Larry Sanders, who has incredible athletic ability but is still very raw.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
2011 LOTTERY PICK: 11
PICKS LAST 5 YEARS: Patrick O’Bryant, Kosta Perovic, Marco Bellinelli, Brandan Wright, Anthony Randolph, Richard Hendrix, Stephen Curry, and Ekpe Udoh
GRADE: D-

The only thing preventing the Warriors from getting an F in this category is Stephen Curry, who is one of the best young players in the NBA. Every other player taken in the last five years has been a major disappointment. Patrick O’Bryant clashed with Don Nelson as soon as he got to Oakland and never really got out of Nelson’s doghouse, and has since been kicked off a team in China and now plays for the Reno Bighorns of the D-League. Marco Belinelli never had a chance to play in Golden State, but had a solid season in New Orleans this year. Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph were injured throughout their Golden State tenures, and when they played were underachievers. The jury is still out on Ekpe Udoh, who missed a lot of time with a wrist injury this season.

PHOENIX SUNS
2011 LOTTERY PICK: 13
PICKS LAST 5 YEARS: Alando Tucker, D.J. Strawberry, Robin Lopez, Goran Dragic, Earl Clark, Taylor Griffin, Gani Lawal, and Dwyane Collins
GRADE: D

Phoenix gets a D primarily because of the fact that over the last five years they have drafted Rajon Rondo, Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez but traded their rights on Draft Night, and the guys they decided to keep have not been very good. Alando Tucker and D.J. Strawberry both played a little bit in Phoenix but neither stuck around. Goran Dragic is the best of this bunch with his 10 minutes of fame in last year’s Conference Finals before being traded to Houston this season. Robin Lopez has been injured and nowhere near as good as his twin brother. Earl Clark was a bust in the desert before being traded to Orlando where he played a little better than he had in his first two seasons.

HOUSTON ROCKETS
2011 LOTTERY PICK: 14
PICKS LAST 5 YEARS: Steve Novak, Lior Eliyahu, Aaron Brooks, Brad Newley, Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey, Marty Leunen, Donte Green, Chase Budinger, Sergio Llull, Jermaine Taylor, and Patrick Patterson
GRADE: A-

Daryl Morey and the Rockets’ staff has found value in every part of the draft over the last five years. In the late first round he found Aaron Brooks who was a very good player in Houston for the first three and a half years of his career before falling out of favor with the team and being traded to Phoenix. Morey bought Carl Landry’s rights in 2007, and Landry was an excellent sixth man for two and a half years in Houston. Chase Budinger was taken in the second round in 2009 and played well this year off the bench for the Rockets. Additionally, Patrick Patterson and Jermaine Taylor both seem ready to break out this season. So considering the team’s ability to fill in needs no matter where they pick, that is why Houston gets such a high grade.

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