Every NBA General Manager's Draft Track Record
When Adam Silver steps up to the podium at the 2014 NBA draft and is ready to announce the selection for your favorite team, how much confidence should you have?
Well, it all depends on the track record of your franchise's general manager.
The NBA draft is largely a crapshoot once you get past the uber-elite prospects, but some GMs have still managed to distinguish themselves when predicting which collegiate and international players will have the most success in the Association. It's an inexact science, but it's a science nonetheless.
That said, don't worry.
I won't make you go back through the draft history of your team's GM, since I've already done that for you in an attempt to identify how much confidence you should have in the man in charge.
Cross your fingers and hope it's a lot. And if it isn't, keep them crossed and hope you get lucky instead.
Danny Ferry, Atlanta Hawks
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 15, No. 43
Though Danny Ferry didn't have too much draft success while he was serving as the Cleveland Cavaliers GM, he's fared a bit better since taking over for the Atlanta Hawks just a few days prior to the 2012 NBA draft.
Though John Jenkins, the Hawks' No. 23 pick in 2012, hasn't made any sort of impact at the professional level, the same can't be said about Mike Scott. Coming out of Virginia, the young forward has broken into the rotation, thanks to his offensive abilities. He's by no means a star, but the shooting and floor-spacing has been valuable for Atlanta.
Ferry also likes his international prospects, if the 2013 class is any indication. Dennis Schroder, a German point guard, didn't do much as a rookie, falling behind Shelvin Mack in the rotation, but his future is still bright. So too is that of Lucas Nogueira, the Brazilian big man who should be joining the team this next year after spending the 2013-14 season in Spain.
Confidence Level: Decent, but potentially better.
Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 6, No. 17
If it seems like Danny Ainge has been the GM for the Boston Celtics throughout all of eternity, it's for good reason. The former shooting guard now has over a decade of experience in the Beantown front office, and he's made his share of moves, both good and bad.
While Ainge has hit on many draft picks—most notably Rajon Rondo, who was selected at No. 21 by the Phoenix Suns and immediately traded for in 2006—he hasn't found too much success lately.
In 2010, Avery Bradley was selected at No. 19, but he's largely failed to live up to the expectations. Though his defensive work is excellent, his offense has lagged well behind and prevented him from becoming a high-quality starter at either guard position.
Since then, the C's have gone for JaJuan Johnson, Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kelly Olynyk in the first round. It's too early to pass judgment on Sully and Olynyk, though it looks like the former will be a solid rotation member for a long time.
Still, is it any wonder Boston hasn't been able to experience success without the Big Three? Kudos to Ainge for his non-draft work, but the selection process gives him trouble.
Confidence Level: Very shaky.
Billy King, Brooklyn Nets
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: None
Though Billy King has technically been in his current position since 2010, he was actually hired shortly after the 2010 NBA draft, which means we only have three drafts to look at. They aren't pretty.
The 2011 NBA draft saw the Brooklyn Nets—then the New Jersey Nets—end up with MarShon Brooks and Jordan Williams, neither of whom made much of an impact during their respective tenures with the team. Brooks flashed upside, but the team was never particularly patient with him and parted ways too soon.
In the next two years, King has picked up Ilkan Karaman, who has yet to play a minute in the NBA, and Mason Plumlee. The Duke product looked like a serviceable big man during his rookie season, but he's not exactly the type of gem that King wants to boast about.
Confidence Level: Not much at all.
Rich Cho, Charlotte Hornets
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 9, No. 24, No. 45
When former GM Rod Higgins was promoted to president of basketball operations, Rich Cho took over for the Charlotte Bobcats, who are now known as the Hornets. That was back in 2011, when Cho was still recovering from an unsuccessful one-year stint with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Since then, the Charlotte franchise has had mixed results with the former engineer at the helm.
Kemba Walker, selected at No. 9 in 2011, proved to be a great pick, and Jeffery Taylor (No. 31 in 2012) seems like he'd be joining Kemba in that category if he could stay healthy. But Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a poor follow-up to Anthony Davis in 2012, and Cody Zeller's rookie season was rather lackluster.
Bismack Biyombo was another miss, as the Congolese big man has completely failed to justify being a top-10 pick during Cho's first offseason in charge.
Sure, this franchise is on the rise. But that's largely due to coaching hires and free-agent signings; had Cho done a better job identifying pre-NBA talent, Charlotte might already be even more competitive. Still, it's too soon to judge some of the young players on this roster.
Confidence Level: Middling, but dependent on development.
Gar Forman, Chicago Bulls
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 16, No. 19, No. 49
The years he spent as a scout prior to landing the Chicago Bulls GM gig in 2009 have served Gar Forman well. He's been one of the better men at identifying collegiate talent and adding it to the roster over the last few years, which has kept Chicago competitive even as it suffers through injury after injury.
Though he's had his share of misses—who hasn't?—Forman has consistently managed to find quality talent late in the first round.
In 2009, he added Taj Gibson with the No. 29 pick. Two years later, Jimmy Butler was drafted out of Marquette right at the end of the first round, and Tony Snell was picked at No. 20 in 2013. The first two of the aforementioned players are already locked into the rotation and are experiencing various levels of success, while Snell appears to be on a trajectory that leaves him joining them in the same category.
Forman hasn't had the luxury of using a single lottery pick since taking over, but it hasn't mattered. And if Nikola Mirotic, a 2011 pick who has made a name for himself in Europe with Real Madrid rather than suiting up in the NBA, joins the team this year and looks as good as expected, his resume only gets stronger.
Confidence Level: Sky high.
David Griffin, Cleveland Cavaliers
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 1, No. 33
The Cleveland Cavaliers have had trouble in the draft recently, though David Griffin wasn't the general manager.
He was promoted as the interim GM after Chris Grant, the man responsible for Tristan Thompson, Sergey Karasev, Anthony Bennett and others, was fired during the middle of the 2013-14 campaign. And after his half season in charge, he was allowed to remove the "interim" tag, becoming the team's official GM.
This is his first offseason in charge, and it's hard to imagine him doing anything negative during the draft process. After all, he'll get to pick between Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker at No. 1, none of whom are bad options.
Griffin has a chance to reverse the Cavs' draft luck, but his resume is still completely blank as the man in charge.
Confidence Level: Unknown, but optimistic.
Donnie Nelson, Dallas Mavericks
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 34, No. 51
Donnie Nelson has been working for the Dallas Mavericks ever since 2005, though the team experimented with Gerrson Rosas this past offseason. He didn't work, and now Nelson is back in the GM role he's occupied for so long.
That means it's hard for Dallas fans to be confident during the draft. After all, these are the players he's drafted since 2006, which was his first year picking for the franchise:
- 2006: Maurice Ager (No. 28)
- 2007: Nick Fazekas (No. 34)
- 2009: Rodrigue Beaubois (No. 25), Nick Calathes (No. 45)
- 2010: Dominique Jones (No. 25)
- 2012: Jared Cunningham (No. 24), Bernard James (No. 33), Jae Crowder (No. 34)
- 2013: Shane Larkin (No. 18)
Nelson tends to make a lot of draft-day trades. Nearly every year, in fact.
But few moves have actually panned out.
Crowder is the lone exception, though Larkin could soon join him in that class. There's a reason that the Dallas fanbase reacted so positively to the initial news about Rosas's hiring, seeing as he achieved lots of success while working with the Houston Rockets.
Josh Bowe, writing for MavsMoneyball.com, basically summed that up:
The draft. Wow. Houston has MURDERED the draft in the last three years. Completely nailed it. Meanwhile, the Mavericks have been the opposite. This move can only mean better things for the Mavs draft.
Well, the Rosas hiring didn't work, as he resigned after three months with Dallas. And now, Nelson is back in charge.
Confidence Level: Very shaky.
Tim Connelly, Denver Nuggets
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 11, No. 41, No. 56
Tim Connelly is another blank slate.
He selected two second-round prospects in the 2013 NBA draft, which took place just 10 days after he was hired. Those two—Erick Green and Joffrey Lauvergne—have yet to play in the NBA, though a certain HBO television show might make it more difficult for the general public to root for the latter prospect.
Connelly was quite active during his first season as a GM, swinging an Andre Iguodala sign-and-trade during the offseason, then making multiple deals while the campaign was in progress. He dealt Andre Miller away and managed to pick up Aaron Brooks when the Denver Nuggets desperately needed a point guard.
He does have experience working with scouts for the New Orleans Hornets and the Washington Wizards, though, so optimism is acceptable. And encouraged, for that matter.
Confidence Level: Unknown, but optimism prevails.
Jeff Bower, Detroit Pistons
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 38
Hired in early June, Jeff Bower has literally done nothing as the Detroit Pistons GM. Well, nothing in terms of player and personnel movement, as I'm sure he's been working hard behind the scenes.
However, it's not as though Stan Van Gundy is working with a complete novice. Bower served as the GM for the New Orleans Hornets from 2005 through 2010, giving him a decent amount of draft experience.
That said, experience doesn't equal success. He wasn't an integral part of landing Chris Paul or David West, who arrived before his tenure, and his biggest draft hit as a GM is Marcus Thornton. That's not really the type of player you want to view as the feather in your proverbial cap.
Bower has plenty of intelligent basketball minds around him. Now he just needs draft picks to work with.
Unlike other first-year GMs—at least, first-year GMs in a new role—Bower doesn't inspire an abundance of optimism, seeing as he has a rather shaky track record during the early-summer selection process.
Confidence Level: Rather questionable.
Bob Myers, Golden State Warriors
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: None
Since he was promoted from assistant GM to the man in charge back in 2012, Bob Myers has nailed his draft picks.
During his first draft, Myers led the Golden State Warriors to Harrison Barnes (No. 7), Festus Ezeli (No. 30) and Draymond Green (No. 35), then he followed that up in 2013 by making a draft-day trade to acquire Nemanja Nedovic, who was originally picked by the Phoenix Suns with the last pick of the first round.
So, that's a four-player sample. And while it's admittedly not enough to form a strong opinion, the early indications on Myers' draft leadership are largely positive.
Barnes has been a disappointment, sure, but he's also performed admirably during his rookie playoff run and had to deal with the arrival of Andre Iguodala, which hindered his development. Ezeli has been fairly effective when healthy, and Green has been a huge second-round steal, morphing into a key rotation member who is always willing to do the little things.
As for Nedovic, it's hard to judge a rookie who played only 142 minutes throughout his first season.
Confidence Level: Quite high.
Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 25, No. 42
Daryl Morey might have gained quite the reputation for chasing stars in free agency over his seven years as GM of the Houston Rockets, but it's overshadowed a remarkable knack for just completely dominating the NBA draft.
Take a gander at some of the steals Morey has identified over the years.
Aaron Brooks was selected at No. 27 in the 2007 NBA draft, and he'd go on to win Most Improved Player during a somewhat underrated career. And he pales in comparison to landing Chandler Parsons in the second round a few years later. Finding Terrence Jones outside the lottery in 2012 was nice as well.
Morey tends to take a lot of risks during the draft, but it typically manages to work out nicely for him, especially because he's so prone to trading selections while trying to upgrade his roster with established talent.
Confidence Level: Grows as the selection number rises.
Kevin Pritchard, Indiana Pacers
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 57
Larry Bird might get all the credit, but he's not technically the GM of the Indiana Pacers. Larry Legend's role is president of basketball operations, and it's Kevin Pritchard—the same Pritchard who used to run the show for the Portland Trail Blazers—who owns the GM tag.
Pritchard replaced David Morway in 2012, and he's worked to make up for his poor record with Rip City ever since. Remember, he's the man who got unlucky during the Greg Oden/Kevin Durant draft back in 2007, though he started to redeem himself by finding Omer Asik in the second round one year later.
Unfortunately, he hasn't really redeemed himself completely. Not if you look at his tenure with Indiana, at least.
Miles Plumlee and Orlando Johnson were the team's picks in 2012, and it wasn't until he was traded to the Phoenix Suns that the former broke out. In 2013, Solomon Hill was the selection, and he, much like Johnson, hasn't done much at the professional level.
Confidence Level: Very low.
Dave Wohl, Los Angeles Clippers
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 28
The NBA's newest GM is Dave Wohl, who was hired on June 16, according to Yahoo Sports' Marc J Spears. Though Doc Rivers will have some say in any personnel decisions and Gary Sacks was demoted to assistant GM, not fired, it's still Wohl who has the preeminent title.
Rivers, quoted in the official news release by the Associated Press, via USA Today, had nothing but positive things to say:
I am extremely excited to work closely with Kevin, Dave and Gary in their new roles as we continue to move the culture of the Clippers forward. Our goals are not only to become a championship team, but a championship organization as well. I feel with the new structure of the Basketball Operations Department, we have taken a positive step in that direction.
It's Wohl, the proud owner of four decades of NBA experience, who will be in charge of the drafting process, though he'll certainly consult the other men in the front office. Despite the experience, he's never served as a GM, so he has no track record whatsoever.
His resume begins now.
Confidence Level: Uncertain.
Mitch Kupchak, Los Angeles Lakers
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 7
The Los Angeles Lakers don't really make draft picks.
Mitch Kupchak has run the show in L.A. ever since August, 2000, but he hasn't actually made that many selections. Here's the full history of the last 14 years:
- 2002: Chris Jefferies (No. 27)
- 2003: Brian Cook (No. 24), Luke Walton (No. 32)
- 2004: Shasha Vujacic (No. 27)
- 2005: Andrew Bynum (No. 10), Ronny Turiaf (No. 27), Von Wafer (No. 39)
- 2006: Jordan Farmar (No. 26), Cheikh Samb (No. 51)
- 2007: Javaris Crittenton (No. 19), Sun Yue (No. 40), Marc Gasol (No. 48)
- 2008: Joe Crawford (No. 58)
- 2010: Devin Ebanks (No. 43), Derrick Caracter (No. 58)
- 2011: Darius Morris (No. 41), Andrew Goudelock (No. 46)
- 2012: Robert Sacre (No. 60)
- 2013: Ryan Kelly (No. 48)
That's a strange history, one filled with 19 picks in 14 years.
In his time at the helm, Kupchak has made seven first-round picks, only one of which was in the lottery. Sure, he hasn't landed many excellent players, but he also hasn't had too many opportunities to draft a quality prospect. The one lottery pick—Bynum—was actually a success while he was a member of the Purple and Gold.
Strange as this may be for a man who's served as a GM since 2000, Kupchak's drafting ability is still unknown.
Confidence Level: Having a single-digit pick is uncharted territory.
Chris Wallace, Memphis Grizzlies
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 22
Even though Chris Wallace's tenure with the Memphis Grizzlies began in shaky fashion when he traded away Pau Gasol, he's rebuilt the team to the point that the Grizz are now considered fringe contenders while still keeping their core together.
It should say something that Wallace still has his job despite the ridiculous amount of turmoil and turnover the Memphis front office has undergone in recent years. Why? The draft is a reason, albeit a relatively minor one.
Wallace began his Memphis tenure by selecting Mike Conley at No. 4 in the 2007 NBA draft, and that obviously worked out rather nicely. Since then, he's also added O.J. Mayo (less successful, especially since the rights to Kevin Love were traded for him), DeMarre Carroll, Greivis Vasquez and Jamaal Franklin, among others.
He hasn't had too many massive misses, but the hits aren't off the franchise-changing variety. Those moves have generally come in other manners.
Confidence Level: Slightly more than moderate.
Pat Riley, Miami Heat
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 26, No. 55
Since stepping in as the Miami Heat GM right before the 2009-10 season, Pat Riley really hadn't done too much drafting. He'd served as the de facto general manager and the official head coach at various points before September, 2009, but the slick-haired NBA veteran has only held his current title for a few seasons.
In the last couple drafts, Riley has selected Dexter Pittman (No. 32 in 2010), Jarvis Varnado (No. 41 in 2010), Norris Cole (No. 28 in 2011) and Justin Hamilton (No. 45 in 2012). Acquiring Cole was certainly a positive, but it's not like Riley has had too many chances to make his mark in June.
Then again, it's hard to have anything less than full confidence in the man who has become the epitome of NBA success. He's won as a player, a coach and an executive, leaving no doubt that he understands exactly what he's doing.
Confidence Level: It's Pat Riley.
John Hammond, Milwaukee Bucks
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 2, No. 31, No. 36, No. 48
John Hammond has been the Milwaukee Bucks GM since April, 2008, and he signed a three-year extension at the beginning of 2013. However, after his team posted a terrible 2013-14 campaign and new owners acquired the franchise from Herb Kohl, his job could be a bit more tenuous.
Essentially, he has to prove himself again, and doing so through the draft could be rather difficult.
Hammond's tenure in Milwaukee has been filled with draft-day misses, especially if you consider Brandon Jennings one. After all, the southpaw point guard was selected at No. 10 in 2009, and he's failed to win much in the NBA, regardless of which team he's playing for.
Larry Sanders (No. 15 in 2010) or Giannis Antetokounmpo (No. 15 in 2013) might end up dethroning Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (No. 37 in 2008) as the best pick of Hammond's career, but the options are still rather limited. Only the Greek Freak has the ability to redeem all the misses in a big way.
Confidence Level: Shaky at best.
Milt Newton, Minnesota Timberwolves
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 13, No. 40, No. 44, No. 53
Though Milt Newton has playing experience, has worked as a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers and has plenty of history evaluating talent in the NBA D-League, his experience as a GM is extremely limited. He was hired into his current role with the Minnesota Timberwolves last September, so this will be the first draft he presides over.
Newton also might not be the most familiar name, seeing as Flip Saunders tended to draw the most headlines while serving as the de facto GM. It was up to Saunders whenever decisions needed to be made, or at least it seemed that way to the general public during the 2013-14 campaign.
Nonetheless, Newton's previous roles tend to cast a positive light for his future in the drift.
Confidence Level: Optimistic, but hesitantly so.
Dell Demps, New Orleans Pelicans
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: None
It didn't really take a genius to draft Anthony Davis at No. 1 in the 2012 NBA draft, but Dell Demps still pulled the trigger and landed one of the premier building blocks the Association has to offer. He deserves a modicum of credit for that, but not an inordinate amount, considering how easy that decision was.
Drafting Austin Rivers in the lottery is decidedly less positive, and Darius Miller—the second-round pick in 2012—hasn't been too much better. Since Josh Harrellson was picked at No. 45 in 2011, those are the only moves Demps has made in the draft, seeing as his picks were handed over to the Philadelphia 76ers last year for Jrue Holiday.
That's it for Demps' tenure at the helm of the NOLA franchise.
Confidence Level: Very low, despite the Davis pick.
Steve Mills, New York Knicks
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: None
Raise your hand if you think Steve Mills controls who the New York Knicks pick in the NBA draft, assuming they ever hold onto another selection.
That's what I thought.
If you're raising your hand, you might have missed the news that the Madison Square Garden-based organization hired this guy named Phil Jackson as the president of basketball operations.
The Zen Master is going to be in charge, even if Mills is technically the GM. And you don't want to doubt the Zen Master.
Confidence Level: Very high by proxy.
Sam Presti, Oklahoma City Thunder
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 21, No. 29
James Harden was taken at No. 3 in 2009. Reggie Jackson was selected at No. 24 in 2011. Perry Jones was taken at No. 28 in 2012. Steven Adams was picked at No. 12 in 2013.
How do you not have confidence in a track record like that?
Sure, Sam Presti has had a few misses for the Oklahoma City Thunder since he took over in the spring of 2007, but it's not like anyone has a 100 percent success rate in the NBA draft. The number of stars and rotation players he's landed is unsurpassed during the time he's been in charge.
Confidence Level: Just about as high as it gets.
Rob Hennigan, Orlando Magic
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 4, No. 12
Rob Hennigan has only presided over the Orlando Magic as GM since June, 2012, but he's already made a significant mark during the two drafts he's led.
In 2012, just a few days after he took over, his organization added Andrew Nicholson (No. 19) and Kyle O'Quinn (No. 49). Neither prospect came from a big school, but both have emerged as solid values now that they're rotation members for the Magic.
One year later, Hennigan added Victor Oladipo to the roster, making him 3-for-3 on draft picks thus far in his tenure as the Orlando GM. Now, with Marcus Smart and Dante Exum both likely to be available to him at No. 4 in the upcoming draft, it's hard to see him doing anything but extending that success streak to four picks.
He may only be 32 years old, but Hennigan is proving that age doesn't really matter for a GM's draft-day success.
Confidence Level: No reason for doubt.
Sam Hinkie, Philadelphia 76ers
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 3, No. 10, No. 32, No. 39, No. 47, No. 52, No. 54
Sam Hinkie absolutely rocked the first draft he worked as the Philadelphia 76ers GM.
Not only did he select Michael Carter-Williams, who would go on to win Rookie of the Year and establish himself as the franchise point guard, but he traded Jrue Holiday and a pick that would become Pierre Jackson to the New Orleans Pelicans for the right to acquire Nerlens Noel's rights and pick up a protected first-round pick in 2014.
That's about as perfect as it gets.
Hinkie has done a fantastic job in every facet of his work thus far, acquiring a boatload of picks in the stacked 2014 draft and increasing the level of talent on his roster rather dramatically. The NBA would never reward tanking with an Executive of the Year award, but Hinkie's work deserved consideration for it this past year.
Confidence Level: Extremely high.
Ryan McDonough, Phoenix Suns
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 14, No. 18, No. 27, No. 50
Ryan McDonough engineered a remarkable turnaround for the Phoenix Suns during his first year at the helm, but it wasn't because of his drafting.
If anything, it was in spite of the work he did on June 27, 2013.
McDonough selected Alex Len out of Maryland with the No. 5 pick, but the big man completely failed to pan out. Limited by injuries, he played only 362 minutes during his rookie season and was an absolute afterthought to the Suns' surprising success.
Archie Goodwin, who was acquired after the rights to Nemanja Nedovic were traded, was the other first-round pick, but he didn't do much impressing either.
Optimism prevails in the desert, but not because of McDonough's drafting history. With an abundance of first-round selections this year, he'll at least have a chance to remedy that immediately.
Confidence Level: Moderate, but not because of drafting.
Neil Olshey, Portland Trail Blazers
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: None
Neil Olshey didn't have much success during his brief stay as GM of the Los Angeles Clippers, but he's had more luck during the two drafts in charge of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Taking a chance on the older point guard from Weber State has paid massive dividends, as Lillard won Rookie of the Year then helped LaMarcus Aldridge lead Rip City into the playoffs and past the Houston Rockets, the latter by virtue of his dagger in Game 6.
Have his other picks been great? Not really, unless Meyers Leonard or C.J. McCollum breaks out soon, but Lillard trumps the misses at this point, seeing as there have been so few selections under his supervision.
Confidence Level: Hesitantly high.
Pete D'Alessandro, Sacramento Kings
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 8
Pete D'Alessandro was a trading machine during his first season at the helm of the Sacramento Kings, but he didn't make much of an impact during the draft.
Though it's easy to have confidence because of the time he spent working with and under Masai Ujiri before landing the Sac-Town gig last June, the confidence comes without any backing from the 2013 NBA draft.
After all, D'Alessandro had two picks and used them on Ben McLemore (No. 7) and Ray McCallum (No. 36).
Interestingly enough, the latter had more success as a rookie than the former. He didn't receive quite as much playing time, nor is his ceiling nearly as high, but he was more effective during the time he did spend on the court.
Still, chalk D'Alessandro up as another inexperienced GM who deserves confidence—at least a tiny bit—because of his training, not his work in the role.
Confidence Level: Cautiously optimistic.
R.C. Buford, San Antonio Spurs
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 30, No. 58, No. 60
The reigning Executive of the Year, R.C. Buford is the master of the draft.
Ever since coming on board during July of 2002, Buford has done almost nothing but find steal after steal, despite never having an opportunity to make lottery selections for the always-competitive San Antonio Spurs.
Here's his full draft history:
- 2004: Beno Udrih (No. 28)
- 2005: Ian Mahinmi (No. 28)
- 2007: Tiago Splitter (No. 28), Marcus Williams (No. 33)
- 2008: George Hill (No. 26), Malik Hairston (No. 48)
- 2009: DeJuan Blair (No. 37), Nando De Colo (No. 53)
- 2010: James Anderson (No. 20)
- 2011: Kawhi Leonard (No. 15), Cory Joseph (No. 29)
- 2013: Livio Jean-Charles (No. 28)
Though Jean-Charles hasn't made it to the NBA yet, it wouldn't be even remotely surprising for him to turn into the next San Antonio star. Why not? It's Buford drafting him, after all.
Even though his predecessor, Gregg Popovich (you might have heard of him), was the man who selected Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, Buford still deserves all the confidence in the world.
There's a reason we just accept San Antonio picks as quality ones when he makes them.
Confidence Level: As high as possible.
Masai Ujiri, Toronto Raptors
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 20, No. 37, No. 59
Even though Masai Ujiri's name has become nearly synonymous with GMing success, he doesn't have a lengthy track record. After all, the Nigerian-born executive took over for the Denver Nuggets in 2010 and has only served as the Toronto Raptors head for a bit over a calendar year.
During his Denver tenure, he took a chance on Kenneth Faried, then just a rebounding machine coming out of Morehead State, and found value in Evan Fournier. With Toronto, he hasn't yet had a chance to make a single pick.
The information here is quite limited, but everything else Ujiri has done works marvelously. He's a trading mastermind who might eventually scare other GMs from swinging deals with him, solely out of fear of being fleeced. His free-agent signings have worked as well, and Toronto is now on the rise, just as Denver was when he was there.
Once he has picks, it's hard to see his success failing to include that portion of his job description.
Confidence Level: Reasonably high.
Dennis Lindsey, Utah Jazz
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 5, No. 23, No. 35
Dennis Lindsey has quite the pedigree.
Before he was hired as the Utah Jazz GM, he was an assistant general manager with the Houston Rockets (though before Daryl Morey was there) and the San Antonio Spurs. But now, he's on his own with the Jazz, just as he's been since he was hired during the 2012 offseason.
That said, his hiring came after the draft, so he's only had one to show off what he can do. And as Ben Golliver explained for CBS Sports, much was expected of him:
In Lindsey, they seem to have identified a candidate who fits the organization's all-business, no-drama approach, and they nearly did the impossible here, conducting a thorough GM search without word leaking out until less than one day before they officially announced Lindsey's hire. No agents grandstanding, no distracting speculation, nothing. Just a clean transition of power to one of the NBA's most respected management minds.
So, how'd he do in draft No. 1?
Utah landed Trey Burke, who appears to be the franchise point guard even if his rookie season was hindered by an offseason injury. Rudy Gobert was also picked late in the first round, though he didn't receive enough playing time for anyone to get a good feel for his development.
Lindsey's name is still surrounded by question marks when it comes to the draft, even though both first-year picks have the potential to be good ones.
Confidence Level: Uncertain
Ernie Grunfeld, Washington Wizards
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 46
Ernie Grunfeld has worked in NBA front offices forever.
He served as the New York Knicks GM throughout the 1990s, then transitioned to the Milwaukee Bucks shortly before the turn of the century. After working there for nearly four years, he moved to the Washington Wizards, earning the same GM job he still holds to this day. With well over two decades of experience making draft selections, he's obviously had his share of good and bad picks.
But what has he done recently?
Washington hasn't had an abundance of picks in the last few years, but Grunfeld has managed to acquire John Wall and Bradley Beal nonetheless. Unfortunately, picks like Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, JaVale McGee and Otto Porter (maybe) haven't worked out so well.
Just as has been the case throughout his career as an executive, the ups and downs have basically canceled each other out when it comes to the draft. Signings and trades remain where Grunfeld improves his teams.
Confidence Level: Moderate.