For some weird reason, I want to see a ranking of best NBA draft picks by number. Picks 1-5 would probably be obvious, but who's the best all-time draft pick at #25?
Has anyone made such a list? I probably saw it somewhere years ago, but google didn't help me at all.
I would definitely recommend the first list in this thread since it covers the entire history of the NBA and not just the last 20-plus years.
I wish they had discussed the contenders for their picks. I KNOW Bill Russell is the best No. 2 pick in draft history, but who else is in the mix? I KNOW Michael Jordan is the best No. 3, but who else was picked there?
One addition to the list. In the early days of the NBA, the league allowed "territorial" picks. If a player from your area became a star, you were able to use your first-round draft pick on him regardless of your draft position. That's how the Boston Celtics got Bob Cousy and later Tommy Heinsohn.
The best territorial pick in history would either be Wilt Chamberlain to the Philadelphia Warriors (although he played college ball in Kansas, he was a Philly icon) or Oscar Robertson by the Cincinnati Royals.
I'm sure it's out there, but I would also like to see a list of the worst draft picks per position. And not just the worst player -- but balancing the player picked with what was available. For instance, Portland picking LaRue Martin at No. 1 was a bad pick, make even worse because Bob McAdoo was available. Houston not using their No. 1 pick in 1984 on Michael Jordan was a mistake, not not that terrible because they did get Akeem Olajuwon instead (now Portland taking Sam Bowie at No. 2 ...)
My nomination for the worst pick ever would be the Rochester Royals with the first pick in the 1956 draft. They passed over Bill Russell to take Duquesne guard Sihugo Green. And you can add to that the second-worst draft day trade -- the St. Louis Hawks had the No. 2 pick in the '56 draft and traded the rights to Bill Russell for center Ed McCauley and the draft rights to Cliff Hagan. McCauley was an all-pro center and Hagan became an all-pro, but the Hawks still got snookered.
The worst draft day trade was when the Charlotte Hornets drafted Kobe Bryant as part of a deal that sent him to the Lakers for washed-up big man Vlade Divac. Nice.
My choice for the best draft pick ever is Boston's pick of Larry Bird as the No. 6 pick in the 1978 draft. Yes, that's right -- 1978 ... under the rules of the time, you could draft a player after four years of college, even if he didn't declare or decided to go back and play a fifth year. Under the rules, you had one year to sign such a player -- until the next draft.
Bird, who started at Indiana and became a five-year college player when he had to sit out a season to transfer for Indiana State, was a junior at Indiana State when the Celtics grabbed him. Nobody else thought to draft him or to waste a draft pick on a kid who had another year of college basketball.
Bird, of course, had that spectacular 1979 season, then signed with the Celtics before the draft.The Celtics didn't have a first-round pick in 1979, so without the brilliant move in 1978, Bird would have gone to the Chicago Bulls (which had the No. 2 pick in the '79 draft) unless the Lakers had decided to take Bird over Magic Johnson for the No. 1 pick (tough, tough choice!)
Red Auerbach had pulled this stunt before, drafting Jo Jo White early. But after the Bird pick, the NBA changed the rule to prevent this. They installed the current rules -- players had to either complete their eligibility or make the declartion that they intended to enter the draft.
The first list is terrific. Glad to see Rick Barry get some recognition -- many people forget how fantastic he was his first two years in the league. Then he got involved with the ABA, and rarely played to that level again. Ultimately he returned to the Warriors and won a national championship.
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