The Top 5 Lottery Era Drafts
With the 2009 draft only hours away, I thought, "What better way to celebrate the best part of the NBA Off-Season then with a list!?"
My first idea was to do my top ten players for this draft. Then I remembered that 11,000 people beat me to the idea.
I considered doing my bust of the draft. Then I remember I already did my article on Blake Griffin. Sorry Clippers fans. You are unable to make the best pick in the draft. Dunleavy is completely against winning.
I was two clicks away from a "50 best draft steals ever" until I remembered Jon Sally and The Best Damn Sports Show already have a monopoly on crappy 50s lists.
Doing a best draft ever would have been pointless; seeing as how the 1984 draft joins Zelda: Ocarina of Time and the number three pick from the 1984 draft as the topper of any and all "greatest of all time" lists.
Then it hit me: The best draft of the now famous or infamous—hello rigged 1985 draft—Lottery Era.
Ladies and Gentlemen, hold on to your New Era fitted caps!
1985-Kings Without a Crown.
This draft will be infamous for Patrick Ewing and Karl Malone; two of the twelve greatest players of all-time, over 50,000 points and 20,000 rebounds between them, less titles combined then Joe Dumars selected 18th.
Both men made it to the NBA Finals twice.
Both times they were stifled by the best players of the time:
Ewing ran into Hakeem and Duncan. Malone ran into Jesu—I mean Jordan twice.
Even without the rings both men are Hall of Famers and legends of the game. But the monkey on their backs will forever be whispering and their crowns of roses shall always have a few thorns.
-With the No. 3 pick, the Clippers select Benoit Benjamin over Karl Malone.
In every great draft the Clippers pick wrong. This trend continues throughout this list and it would be wrong for me NOT to add to their agony. They see the right pick and always make the wrong one. Reason No. 57 why Blake Griffin will be a bust.
1998-North Carolina Highs and Baylor Lows.
1998 will forever be known for three things:
1.North Carolina providing us with two of the most exciting superstars of the past 10 years. Ironically, these men went on two separate yet intertwining career paths.
In the 2-3 years following the Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter swap, the world was calling it the worst draft day moves since Bowie over Jordan.
Vince Carter was winning dunk contests and making attempts at scoring titles. He was being heralded as the next Jordan. Jamison was averaging solid numbers but nothing to the level of "Vinsanity" putting on the greatest dunk contest performance of all time.
Now a days, Antawn Jamison is one of the league's 10 best players and Vince Carter is trying to resurrect his career in New Jersey.
2.Dirk Nowitzki's stellar rookie and follow up season kicked off a train that only recently lost its tracks. The foreign explosion took off with the 7 foot German as its conductor.
3.Elgin Baylor, the worst GM of the worst sports franchise ever, makes his worst pick ever by selecting Michael Olowakandi over five sure fire all stars in Mike Bibby, Paul Pierce, Antwan Jamison, Vince Carter, and Dirk.
-Rashard Lewis secretly snuck into the 2nd round of this draft. Perhaps the greatest 2nd round steal of all time. Just ask Cleveland.
1999-The Morgan Freeman
For anyone who has recently watched Dark Knight or Shawshank Redemption and thought, "Holy crap, Morgan Freeman is so damn great, he should star in his own movies", trust me when I say you're not alone.
Then you watch the Bucket List and fall asleep.
That's what this draft was filled with; good supporting actors but no stars.
This draft features the most semi-phenomonal action since the Genie: Manu Ginobili, Lamar Odom, Baron Davis, Elton Brand, Shawn Marion,Steve Francis, Wally Sczerbiak, Richard Hamilton, Ron Artest, and Andrei Kirilenko.
That's ten all stars!
But all of them are second to third fiddle guys. Guys who could never lead a team to the title but could help guide the way. Hamilton guided the way for the 2004 Pistons while Billups and Rasheed led. Ginobili guided the Spurs while Duncan led. Lamar Odom guided the Lakers through tough patches while Kobe led them.
Elton Brand has tried leading teams. Mike Dunleavy sabotaged one of them. The other one features he and another second fiddle named Andre Igoudala. Two fiddlers does not a good band make!
--While selecting Lamar Odom over Shawn Marion and Ginobili isn't too horrid of a pick, this draft ruined the Clippers for probably a decade.
Lamar Odom bolted ASAP and left them enough cap space to sign Brand, number 1 in this draft, and surround him with talent. They then tried to pair him with Baron Davis, No. 3 in this draft, only for him to get backstabbed by Brand and leave the team barren. I love the Clippers!
1996-Gotta Get Dat
To quote the legendary Riley Freeman of the Boondocks, "So your team sucks? Cool, mo' shine fa me."
The 1996 draft couldn't agree more.
Stephon Marbury, Allen Iverson, Antoine Walker, and Peja Stojakovic are 4 of the NBA's most notorious ballhogs. Shot after shot they put up looking for that "shine".
All 4 of their teams saw some form of success with A.I's Sixers team reaching the Finals. But all 4 of them never reached the promise land and it was for the same reason they became (in)famous: Dat Shine.
The headliner of this draft is the greatest ballhog of them all. Coincidentally, he only led his team to a title by learning how to pass.
Kobe Bryant was the king of ballhogs for a decade and an impressive hog he was. His "shine" was capped off with an 81 point game, a 35 point average for a season, and a playoff exit.
--Kobe Bryant might be the greatest draft steal of all time. Jordan went 3rd. Kobe went 13th AND was traded for Vlade Divac of all people. THAT'S a steal.
---This draft also featured Jermaine O'Neal, Zydrunus Ilgauskas, Ray Allen, Shareef Abdur Rahim, and Steve Nash. One of the deepest drafts ever.
-- The Clippers used the 7th pick on Lorenzen Wright. When I told you the Clippers ALWAYS messed up...I meant it.
2003-Le Morte De Lebron
Young Arthur(Lebron James) was crowned very early.
He pulled Excalibur from the stone and was instantly crowned king(number 1 overall pick).
Joining him are his faithful companions the Knights of the Round Table(Bosh, Carmelo, Howard, West, Hinrich, Kaman, Pietrus, and Leandro Barbosa).
At Arthur's side stays his best man Lancelot(Dwayne Wade) and his wife Guenevere(Mo Williams).
Together, with knights of past generations, they defeated the evil lord Mordred(Spain and the Redeem Team) and led the world to a bright and glorious future(the current and future state of the NBA).
---The L.A Clippers selected Chris Kaman with the No. 6 pick. While David West is a much better player, the humor comes from the outcome. In a draft heralded with 5 superstars the Clippers get pick No. 6. Just great stuff.
Some might criticize my choice of 2003 seeing as how only one of them has a title. I know some will say it's only been six years and we don't know anything yet.
To that I would say false. We know barring injury, Lebron will go down as one of the best players ever. We know Carmelo and Wade will continue to put up fantastic numbers.
Most of us can agree that these three guys are hall of fame bound.
What most people fail to notice is this class' depth. Guys like Hinrich are forgotten about. Dahntay Jones has become a fantastic perimeter defender.
Kendrick Perkins is the league's best interior defender. Travis Outlaw is making Portland a better team.
In frank, the 2003 was front loaded, back loaded, and crammed with key role players everywhere.