What Does a Draft Pick Get You? Part V: Ranking the Draft Classes — The 10 Worst

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Today is the 2010 NBA Draft.

So it’s time to start back into our series on NBA Draft History. As a quick reminder, I’ve looked at every draft class since 1977 (the year the Pacers made their first NBA draft pick) to help understand the Draft better.  For more detail, please see the first four parts of this series:

In Parts V, VI and VII, I’m going to be ranking the 33 draft classes, from “worst” to first, using a the following point system based on the 5-Star ratings and the Peak Award levels:

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Because the “Peak Points” give some to the older classes, I’m going to treat the three drafts that have not yet completed their rookie contracts (2007, 2008 and 2009) as incomplete.  These classes have made their first impressions, but it may be a just a touch too early to render a (semi-)permanent grade. Thus, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and separate them from the others. But here’s a run-down of how they would have fared. (Note: For a complete list of players in any given class, simply click on the “Class of” link.)

Class of 2009: 3 Points (3 Star Points, 0 Peak Points)

#1 Draft Pick: Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers – 0.00 (Did Not Play due to injury)
Highest-Rated Player:
Stephen Curry (#7 Golden State Warriors) – 18.41
Rookie of the Year: Tyreke Evans (#4 Sacramento Kings)
Awards (Non-Rookie): None

We’ll begin at the end.  The most recent class only earned three points, which would be 30th out of 33.  However, this is far from a finished product.  In fact, there was a lot of production and promise from this draft class.  The Class of 2009 is only the seventh class out of the last 33 to have positive points after just one year, with only three classes having better opening campaigns.

Tyreke Evans was fantastic wire-to-wire, while Brandon Jennings dazzled early, and Steph Curry came on strong late.  Last year’s draft, expected to be weak, churned out a surprising amount of productive players.  Darren Collison, Taj Gibson, and Omri Casspi all made big contributions as late 1st Round picks, and Marcus Thornton, DeJuan Blair, and Jonas Jerebko made a nice splash as second rounders.

As we’ll see later, great production from a class during it’s rookie year is no guarantee of long-term success, but it certainly is a good sign.

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Class of 2007: 6 Points (1 Star Point, 5 Peak Points)

#1 Draft Pick: Greg Oden – Portland TrailBlazers – 5.32
Highest-Rated Player:
Kevin Durant (#2 Seattle SuperSonics) – 22.58
Rookie of the Year: Kevin Durant (#2 Seattle SuperSonics)
Awards (Non-Rookie): 1 All NBA First Team, 2 All Star Appearances (2 Players)

The anticipation for the 2007 Draft rivaled that of the LeBron draft of 2003, but unfortunately, it appears that the sizzle was more exciting than the steak.  It did provide perhaps the most exciting young player in the league in Kevin Durant, but injuries to #1 pick Greg Oden have robbed the class of some star power.

Oden has missed two out of every three games the Blazers have played since draft day.  This is unfortunate, since he’s been very productive when he actually played — posting an unadjusted 15.97 PR100, which would put him right on the cusp of being a 4-Star player.  Hindsight says Oden was a bad pick, but the prevailing opinion at the time was to take the Big Guy.  There were people touting Durant over Oden, but not nearly as many as some might have you believe. (Ed note: Durant was clearly waaaaaaaaay better even back then. Twas obvious he was uber-special. – JW)

Al Horford earned his first All Star appearance this year, and he’s blossomed into a very nice player.  After that, there’s a pretty big drop off to solid, but unspectacular guys like Jeff Green and Joakim Noah.  Going down the list, you find some nice contributors like Marc Gasol and Carl Landry.  However, outside of Durant, it’s difficult to see any other players from this class becoming difference makers.

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Class of 2008: 11 Points (10 Star Points, 1 Peak Points)

#1 Draft Pick: Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls – 18.69
Highest-Rated Player:
Brook Lopez (#10 New Jersey Nets) – 21.47
Rookie of the Year: Derrick Rose (#1 Chicago Bulls)
Awards (Non-Rookie): 1 All Star Appearance

The players from 2008 haven’t been given a lot of accolades, but teams have gotten some very nice production from this group.  Brook Lopez and #1 Draft Pick Derrick Rose lead a group that includes Russell Westbrook, O.J. Mayo, and Kevin Love as big producers for their teams.  Later draft picks like George Hill, Courtney Lee, and Luc Mbah a Moute have been significant contributors to playoff teams.

The Pacers took two players from this draft — Brandon Rush (#13) and Roy Hibbert (#17) — with mixed results.  Rush looks OK for a #13, but probably no more than a fringe player on a good team.  Hibbert shows pretty nice promise, and could be a starting 5 for a long time in this league, but still needs to make some strides.

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Of the three classes as-yet-undetermined classes, 2008 looks to be the deepest — but all three represent a good influx of talent to the league.

Now it’s time to start passing out grades to the actually terrible draft classes

#30. Class of 2000: -8 Points (-12 Star Points, 4 Peak Points)

#1 Draft Pick: Kenyon Martin – New Jersey Nets – 12.91
Highest-Rated Player:
Mike Miller (#5 Orlando Magic) – 13.52
Rookie of the Year: Mike Miller (#5 Orlando Magic)
Awards (Non-Rookie): 1 All NBA Third Team, 3 All Star Appearances (3 Players)

Gaaaack!

Let’s just run down the first 10 picks, shall we?

1. Kenyon Martin; 2. Stromile Swift; 3. Darius Miles; 4. Marcus Fizer; 5. Mike Miller; 6. DerMarr Johnson; 7. Chris Mihm; 8. Jamal Crawford; 9. Joel Pryzbilla; 10. Keyon Dooling

This was right after the Pacers had played in the 2000 Finals, so the Draft was far from a major concern for me, but does anybody remember if people were actually excited about this draft?  Did teams tank down the stretch in the Kenyon Martin sweepstakes?  I don’t remember, but I’m guessing that if (when) NBA TV replays this broadcast around draft time this year, we’d hear many of the same breathless superlatives that will be hurled at this year’s crop of players.

It’s something to keep in mind as Draft Fever strikes:  There was an NBA draft held where the argument about who the best player out of the class is between Kenyon Martin, Mike Miller, Michael Redd and Hedo Turkoglu.

(shudder)  It’s all this ugly.

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#29. Class of 1980: -4 Points (-15 Star Points, 11 Peak Points)

#1 Draft Pick: Joe Barry Carroll – Golden State Warriors – 15.00
Highest-Rated Player:
Kevin McHale (#3 Boston Celtics) – 18.73
Rookie of the Year: Darrell Griffith (#2 Utah Jazz)
Awards (Non-Rookie): 1 All NBA First Team, 3 All Defense First Team (1 Player), 5 All Defense Second Team (3 Players),  14 All Star Appearances (5 Players)
Hall of Fame: Kevin McHale

Bizarrely, this draft helped build one of the great dynasties of the ’80s.  The Boston Celtics traded the #1 & #13 picks in the Draft (acquired from Detroit for Bob McAdoo) to Golden State in exchange for Robert Parish and the #3 pick, which they used to draft Kevin McHale.  McHale ended up the best player in the draft, and he and Parish helped Larry Bird win three titles. Carroll went on to earn the monicker “Joe Barely Cares.”

From a strictly production perspective, this is arguably the worst draft class in the 33 years studied.  The -15 Star Points is dead last, and only 3 of the 60 players reviewed for this class were rated as 3-Stars or higher.  Still, there were some fun players taken here.

Darrell Griffith captured my 14-year old imagination as Dr. Dunkenstein.  Bill Hanzlik was a tenacious defender with a porn mustache.  The original Bruise Brothers — Jeff Ruland and Rick Mahorn — were from this class.  Andrew Toney was a badass scorer – referred to as the “Boston Strangler” by the Boston media – who might have been a Hall of Famer if not for the injuries that robbed him – and the NBA – of a longer career.

It’s just that once you get past those guys, there’s just not much more.  Thirty Six of the 60 players included either never played or finished as a 0-Star, and only 7 earned any of the accolades tracked in this study.  Kevin McHale is in the Hall of Fame, but there are no other serious candidate for a class whose last game played was played by Rick Mahorn in 1999.

#28. Class of 2006: -4 Points (-9 Star Points, 4 Peak Points)

#1 Draft Pick: Andrea Bargnani – Toronto Raptors – 12.49
Highest-Rated Player:
Brandon Roy (#6 Portland TrailBlazers) – 18.72
Rookie of the Year: Brandon Roy (#6 Portland TrailBlazers)
Awards (Non-Rookie): 1 All NBA Second Team, 1 All NBA Third Team, 1 All Defense First Team, 2 All Defense Second Team (2 Players),  3 All Star Appearances (2 Players)

Yeah, this draft sucked.  OK.  Let me re-state:  Pacer fans think this draft sucked.  Entering the evening the Pacers had apparent need for a point guard, which pretty much describes every draft night since 2000.  When the #17 pick came around, they passed on the two top PG candidates – Marcus Williams and Rajon Rondo – and selected Shawne Williams from Memphis.  Later in the evening, they traded Alexander Johnson (the 45th pick) and two future Second Round draft picks to Portland for the rights to James “Flight” White.  White, in an amazing display of foreshadowing, chose the #0 – the number of games he would play as a Pacer in his career.

Marcus Williams slid from the Lottery to New Jersey at 22, where he fizzled.  Rajon Rondo went 21 (about where he was projected, perhaps a little lower) to Phoenix, who traded his rights to Boston, where he has blossomed into one of the top players in the league.

Though the Pacers booted this draft, some other teams most certainly didn’t.   Rondo is making a push for being the best player in this class, but I’d still rank Brandon Roy ahead of him.  Other quality players include LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland getting a lot of mileage from this draft), Rudy Gay, and Second Rounder Paul Millsap.  Thabo Sefolosha has emerged as one of the best defensive wings in the league, albeit not with the team that drafted him (Chicag0).

Andrea Bargnani has some talent, but still currently rates in the bottom third of all of the #1 picks in this 33-year sample.  As we’ll see later, Andrew Bogut has grown into a player that is an important piece for a good team, but it remains to be seen if that will ever be true with Bargnani.

Continuing the Pacer fans generally cloudy view of 2006 (the draft and the year), I’ll leave you with an image of two things that couldn’t even make it to New Year’s Day – James White and the Spaulding Cross Traxxion Ball.

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#27. Class of 1979: 4 Points (-13 Star Points, 17 Peak Points)

#1 Draft Pick: Magic Johnson – Los Angeles Lakers – 24.56
Highest-Rated Player: Magic Johnson (#1 Los Angeles Lakers) – 24.56
Rookie of the Year: Larry Bird (#6 in 1978 Draft Boston Celtics)
Awards (Non-Rookie): 3 Most Valuable Players (Magic Johnson 3x’s), 10 All NBA First Team (2 Players), 6 All NBA Second Team (3 Players), 2 Defensive Player of the Years (Sidney Moncrief 2x’s), 4 All Defense First Team (1 Player), 2 All Defense Second Team (2 Players),  21 All Star Appearances (5 Players)
Hall of Fame: Magic Johnson

Two rookies from the 1980 season — Magic and Larry — arguably saved the NBA.  Unfortunately, only one was from the Class of ’79 (Magic), and the rest of the class was pretty thin.  Though teams today suffer lottery heartbreak, back then, the number one pick was decided by a coin flip between the teams with the worst record in each conference.  That season was between the New Orleans Jazz (in their last season in the Big Easy) representing the East, and the Chicago Bulls, then in the Western Conference.  The Lakers had gotten the pick from the Jazz as part of a compensation package from New Orleans signing Gail Goodrich in 1976.

The Lakers won the coin toss, Magic Johnson, and 5 NBA Titles.  The Bulls got David Greenwood, and a permanent place in the argument about biggest dropoff between #1 and #2 picks – along side the likes of Wayman Tisdale (Patrick Ewing), Sam Bowie (Hakeem Olajuwon), Keith Van Horn (Tim Duncan), and Darko Milicic (LeBron James).  OK.  Darko does kinda dominate that one.

Sidney Moncrief stands clearly as the second best player in the draft, though only sporting a middling 14.51 AdjPR100 (but an 18.7 Career PER).  He is not in the Hall of Fame at present, probably because he only played 767 regular season games, but that’s really weak tea.  This is a guy with 5 All NBA nods (1 First Team, 4 Second), 5 All Star appearances, and 5 All Defense appearances (4 First, 1 Second).  Top those off with two Defensive Player of the Year awards, and you have to wonder what a guy has to do to get into the Hall.

The most articulate comment on the weakness of this class overall is the fact that the argument for the third best player probably is between Bill Cartwright and Vinnie Johnson.  The 19 players who never played a game was the highest of any of the 33 classes in this series.  Truth be told, this class is probably worse, as a whole, than most others mentioned to this point…but Magic pretty much lifts it up all by himself.

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#26. Class of 1982: 5 Points (-14 Star Points, 19 Peak Points)

#1 Draft Pick: James Worthy – Los Angeles Lakers – 16.95
Highest-Rated Player: Dominique Wilkins (#3 Atlanta Hawks) – 19.66
Rookie of the Year: Terry Cummings (#2 San Diego Clippers)
Awards (Non-Rookie): 1 All NBA First Team, 6 All NBA Second Team (3 Players), 5 All NBA Third Team (3 Players), 2 All Defense First Team (1 Player), 2 All Defense Second Team (2 Players),  21 All Star Appearances (6 Players)
Hall of Fame: James Worthy, Dominique Wilkins

A great class for Forwards, but not a lot else.  In addition to Hall of Famers James Worthy and Dominique Wilkins, others drafted here included Terry Cummings, Clark Kellogg, Ricky Pierce, Cliff Levingston and Paul Pressey.  Fat Lever and Sleepy Floyd were quality point guards, but the class was almost devoid of bigs, with only LaSalle Thompson being of any consequence.

No, the  players in this draft are known more for odd trivia than anything else.  Bill Garnett (#4 – Dallas) testified about what kind of pay a Top 5 NBA pick got in a civil suit concerning former Indiana University Star Landon Turner’s automobile accident.  The rule saying that you cannot catch-and-shoot in less than 0.3 seconds is the “Trent Tucker” rule.  Quintin Dailey’s career at the University of San Francisco resulted in a sexual assault charge and the USF Basketball program being shut down by the school for 4 years.  Also, during a 1985 game against the Spurs, Dailey had a ballboy borrow a fiver from a reporter, go to the concession stand, and buy him a slice of pizza.  Dailey then sat at the end of the bench, eating the pizza.

God, I miss the ’80′s.

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#25. Class of 2002: 8 Points (-3 Star Points, 11 Peak Points)

#1 Draft Pick: Yao Ming – Houston Rockets – 20.86
Highest-Rated Player: Yao Ming (#1 Houston Rockets) – 20.86
Rookie of the Year: Amare Stoudemire (#9 Phoenix Suns)
Awards (Non-Rookie): 1 All NBA First Team, 5 All NBA Second Team (2 Players), 4 All NBA Third Team (2 Players), 4 All Defense Second Team (1 Player),  13 All Star Appearances (4 Players)

The story of the top 5 picks is really quite intriguing here.  Yao has demonstrated his clear worth as a number 1 pick, but missed all of last season.  Jay Williams’ career was ended by a motorcycle accident after a decent, if unspectacular rookie campaign.  Mike Dunleavy, Jr. appeared to have significantly erased charges of “bust” with a great 2008 season, only to miss 79 of his next 164 games.  Drew Gooden has played for eight teams in his eight seasons.  Finally, Nikoloz Tskitishvili (Skita) proved to be the queen mother of all busts at #5, becoming the cautionary tale for undeveloped European players, Summer League wonders, and guys with way too many consonants in their name.

Some good players came later, though, including Amare Stoudemire, Nene Hilario, Caron Butler, Carlos Boozer, Luis Scola, and Tayshaun Prince.

Speaking of Tayshaun Prince, this is the fun draft where Donnie Walsh (and apparently every other basketball mind in the room) wanted to take him with the Pacers’ 14th pick.  Instead, Donnie deferred to Isiah Thomas, who selected Freddie Jones.

Yeah.

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#24. Class of 1990: 9 Points (0 Star Points, 9 Peak Points)

#1 Draft Pick: Derrick Coleman – New Jersey Nets – 13.32
Highest-Rated Player: Gary Payton (#2 Seattle SuperSonics) – 19.52
Rookie of the Year: Derrick Coleman (#1 New Jersey Nets)
Awards (Non-Rookie): 2 All NBA First Team (1 Player), 5 All NBA Second Team (1 Player), 4 All NBA Third Team (2 Players), 1 Defensive Player of the Year (Gary Payton),  9 All Defense First Team (1 Player), 13 All Star Appearances (5 Players)

To some degree, this class is a lot like 1979, where it boils down to one outstanding player plus a lot of other guys.  The Class of ’90 essentially amounts to Gary Payton and everybody else.  Payton accounts for all of the First and Second Team All NBA and All Defense nods, as well as 9 of the 13 All Star appearances.  The former Defensive Player of the Year isn’t eligible yet, but he should be in on the first ballot in 2013.

With this class, however, there isn’t even a Sidney Moncrief-type under-appreciated player.  Derrick Coleman won Rookie of the Year and the other two All NBA Third Team awards, but really didn’t distinguish himself other than as something of a headcase.  The score for this class is basically more about not having as many failures than it is about any wealth of excellence.

The better players in this class include players who played solid but unexciting careers like Antonio Davis or Tyrone Hill, or talented but somewhat one-dimensional guys like Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Dennis Scott.  Payton will be the only Hall of Famer here.

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#23. Class of 1991: 10 Points (-2 Star Points, 12 Peak Points)

#1 Draft Pick: Larry Johnson – Charlotte Hornets – 17.62
Highest-Rated Player: Larry Johnson (#1 Charlotte Hornets) – 17.62
Rookie of the Year: Larry Johnson (#1 Charlotte Hornets)
Awards (Non-Rookie): 2 All NBA Second Team (2 Players), 2 All NBA Third Team (1 Player), 4 Defensive Player of the Year’s (Dikembe Mutombo 4x’s), 3 All Defense First Team (1 Player), 4 All Defense Second Team (2 Players), 16 All Star Appearances (7 Players)

A slightly more decorated version of the preceding class, it remains largely nondescript.  It’s most famous products are a pair of ridiculously sharp elbows and a nauseating 4-point play.  The Pacers did pick up the second half of their Davis Boys combo (Dale), so that takes a little of the edge off of Jess Kersey’s famous call.

However, more than Dikembe Mutombo and his wagging fingers, what strikes me about this class is what I can remember.  I have absolutely, positively no recollection of the #8 pick in 1991 class: Mark Macon.  None.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.  Seriously.  Do you know this man?

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#22. Class of 1997: 11 Points (-3 Star Points, 14 Peak Points)

#1 Draft Pick: Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs – 27.62
Highest-Rated Player: Tim Duncan (#1 San Antonio Spurs) – 27.62
Rookie of the Year: Tim Duncan (#1 San Antonio Spurs)
Awards (Non-Rookie): 2 Most Valuable Players (Tim Duncan 2x’s), 2 All NBA Second Team (2 Players), 2 All NBA Third Team (1 Player), 3 All Defense First Team (1 Player), 4 All Defense Second Team (2 Players), 16 All Star Appearances (7 Players)

All of the awards at this are concentrated in three players – Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, and Chauncey Billups.  Tim Duncan is the poster child for finding a foundation piece in the draft, as the Spurs built a championship dynasty around him.  McGrady and Billups each attained their highest achievements playing for teams other than the ones that drafted them.  But really, as you’ll find with most of these middling classes, it’s the story of one player, and that player here is Tim Duncan.

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#21. Class of 1994: 12 Points (-1 Star Points, 13 Peak Points)

#1 Draft Pick: Glenn Robinson – Milwaukee Bucks – 15.55
Highest-Rated Player: Jason Kidd (#2 Dallas Mavericks) – 20.97
Rookie of the Year: Jason Kidd (#2 Dallas Mavericks); Grant Hill (#3 Detroit Pistons)
Awards (Non-Rookie): 6 All NBA First Team (2 Players), 5 All NBA Second Team (2 Players), 2 All NBA Third Team (2 Players), 4 All Defense First Team (1 Player), 8 All Defense Second Team (2 Players), 21 All Star Appearances (5 Players)

This draft was held during the brief window of time where the NBA decided to have different teams host it.  As a result, I actually got to watch this draft in person.  Hosted by the Pacers in the Hoosier/RCA Dome, it was a heady time to be a Pacer fan.  The team had just made its first deep playoff run, falling in a heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals.  New Pacer heroes Haywoode Workman and Antonio Davis were there, and local fans watched Purdue product Glenn Robinson go number 1 to Milwaukee.

The Pacers were active that day, at one point or another holding the rights to four different players in the draft, and perhaps setting a record by not getting a single regular season game out of any of them.  With their 15th pick, they selected Eric Piatkowski, but traded him to the Clippers as part of a package for Mark Jackson.  At 41, they took William Njoku, a 6-9 Forward from Ghana by way of Canada, who spent a decade kicking around Europe without ever even sniffing the NBA.  However, Njoku was probably just taken by Donnie Walsh to tweak the IU fans in the house, all anxiously awaiting the selection of IU Star Damon Bailey – who was eventually taken with the Pacers 44th pick.

However, my favorite story was about the 25th pick, Greg Minor, who came to the Pacers along with Mark Jackson in the Clippers deal.  Apparently, the Pacers never bothered to sign him allowing him to become a free agent under league rules at the time.  He signed with Boston and spent five uneventful years with them.

Jason Kidd is clearly the best player from this class, and a lead pipe cinch to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Grant Hill is the tragedy of this draft, a special, versatile player whose career has been irrevocably damaged by injuries.  Some other really nice players were also drafted, including Jalen Rose, Eddie Jones, and Brian Grant.

However, this is also a draft where Sharone Wright was taken with the 6th pick.

And…oh, yeah…Yinka Dare.

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We’ll be back after the draft with the Top 20 draft classes.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AmIbtotgwGeodFhNajdpUE5lc29IdEI3SllCUUxxN1E&hl=en

Topics: NBA Draft, What Does A Draft Pick Get You?

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