Basketball: The "Next" Generation
2003, 1996, 1984 and possibly 2008. These are considered among the greatest drafts in NBA history, producing stars of both the past and the present.
The Question is often asked, "Who is the next (insert great player)?"
I think these drafts give us a clue.
The idea that history resets about every 12 years. If only in the NBA.
To prove this point, I will create the "Next Lists.” These will be lists of great players and their “Heirs,” for lack of a better word.
Even Including a player taken in the initial draft of 1947.
Note; Every rule is defined by its exceptions. this one has an allowance of one year either way, based on circumstance.
Three picks must occur within a 25 year period, but no less than 23. there may be certain height discrepancies, with 'Big' players allowed slightly more leniency.
The "NEXT" Bill Russell
Center is deemed by many to be one of the hardest but most important positions in professional basketball.
Who better to start with than the man the finals MVP is named after. Russell was drafted in 1956
This list then moves to 1969, when the 7' 2'' Lewis "Lew" Alcindor was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks. After winning a championship with the Bucks, Lew changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
He went on to many greater things in the NBA and is still its All-Time leading point scorer (38,387)
Then 1980 brings us the least successful of the group. Joe Barry Carroll was the 7'1'' No. 1 pick of the 1980 draft. Barry Carroll only had one All Star berth in 1987.
With the No. 1 pick of the 1992 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select, Shaquille O’Neal. 17 years later, “The Big Constant” is still going strong.
His career history includes; 15 all-star appearances where he was a three time MVP. Five “NBA Finals” series, with four championships, and three “Finals MVP” Awards. Among other things.
Which leads us to the NBA’s current “Superstar” Center. Dwight Howard, is a man well on his way to deservedly join this elite company. He is the youngest player ever to 5000 rebounds, and reigning NBA defensive player of the year.
The "NEXT" Vern Mikkelson
the 1949 draft class produced Hall of Famer Vern Mikkelson. who is considered to be one of the first Power Forwards.
In 1961 the Chicago packers drafted Walt Belamy. This 6’11’’ hall of fame member owns one of the best rookie season’s ever. Along with four all star appearances, Bellamy has the distinct honor of playing 88 games one season, a league record.
Bill Walton was taken with the first pick of the 1974 NBA draft. He went on to win a championship and finals MVP in 1977. His Career history would be more impressive had he not spent so much time battling with injury.
The 1985 NBA draft produced one of the greatest players ever with its number 13 pick. Karl Malone. A two time league MVP. Malone is considered one of the greatest Power forwards of al time.
1997 saw arguably the greatest power forward ever drafted by the San Antonio Spurs. In his career thus far Tim Duncan Four NBA titles, three finals MVP awards, two consecutive regular season MVP honors, and 11 all star appearances.
The next year in this sequence is this one, 2009. Will Blake Griffen live up to the hype? History suggests he will.
The "Next" SF The Evolution of LeBron
Since entering the league in 2003 LeBron James was said to be the next big thing. The newly crowned MVP appears to be well on his way there, as everybody on this site undoubtedly knows.
Twelve years before we were even talking about LeBron, there was Larry Johnson. Drafted first overall by the Hornets, Johnson was initially an explosive power forward who later developed an more complete All Star level game.
Johnson’s career is also noticeable for his media work, being the first ever SLAM magazine cover, making memorable commercials, and being in Space Jam.
Years earlier there was another reasonably successful Johnson. Twelve years to be more precise. He went by the name Magic. Magic Johnson really needs no introduction. Five titles, three finals MVPs and three consecutive regular season ones.
Possibly the greatest point guard of all time. He is on this list because his skills are similar to that of LeBron, and he played small forward when it was required.
Before Magic, the most similar player I can find is Jack Marin. He was a two time all star, in his best season he averaged about 22/7/2.
Note: the 1955 draft produced an all star named Tom Gola. He was a little shorter, at 6'6", but had all the prerequisite skills.
Since the NBA has gotten taller since the 50's he is likely to be the first.
The "NEXT" Jim Pollard
Shooting Guard is definitely the glamor position of the NBA. They are the scorers, the high flyers, the most spectacular players on the court. This List starts with a 6'5 Power forward.
Drafted in the first ever BAA draft(1947), Jim Pollard was known for his explosive leaping ability, including dunking from the free throw line in warm ups.
In 1952 Pollard was voted the best player to ever play in the NBA by his peers. He finished his career with six titles on a successful lakers squad. He also managed to find time in between to play Town Baseball for Jordan Minnesota.
Drafted No. 1in 1960. Oscar Robertson was a 6’5 SG/PG. He is the only player ever to average a triple double for a season.
Before Jordan was the Bulls, Julius Erving was the ABA. Dr. J as he is more commonly known won two championships along with playoff MVP honors. He was also a three time league MVP.
After the ABA and NBA merged, Dr J won another championship, and league MVP award. He is also the man responsible for inventing the slam dunk., Including doing it from the free throw line.
Now we get to Michael Jordan (1984), the greatest shoe salesman of all time. He wasn’t bad at basketball either. His most noticeable accomplishments include. Six NBA championships, six finals MVP awards, five league MVP awards.
MJ also managed to beat the “Monstars” virtually on his own. Bill Murray provided slight assistance along with point guard Bugs Bunny.
In 1996 High school Phenom Kobe Bryant declared for the NBA. Kobe has since gone on to win three championships, and a league MVP in 2008. He also holds the record for the second highest point total in a game. With 81.
So who is next? Its too early to tell, with two candidates standing above the rest. OJ Mayo and Brandon Rush.
Mayo was the third pick of the 2008 draft, the same spot as Jordan. He also managed to score a lot of points, and may have even touched on some of MJ’s records.
Rush was drafted at 13. The same spot as Bryant, and is a full 6’6" as opposed to mayo’s 6’4". Rush was also coming off a championship win, like Bryant and Jordan. Mayo lost in the first round.
So I’m betting on Rush, however with the exception it could be someone in the upcoming draft.
Research and Other Ideas
Hey guys and girls
I was going to put PG here, but I need to do more research on players. I have only been following basketball for about two full years
This list was reasonably easy to put together, because most of them were No. 1 picks, or enough of them were that the others were easier to find.
I will definitely do a follow up soon. Some of my idea’s include.
The Charles Barkley Undersized PF.
The Larry Bird SF
The Prototypical PG.
The Clyde Dexter SG
The Tracy Mc Grady Swingman
The Big Draft Bust.
The Euro PF
Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment and share idea’s about who could be on some of the other “NEXT” lists.