NBA Draft Lottery: LeBron James and the Best Lottery Pick in Each Team's History

John Friel@@JohnFtheheatgodAnalyst IMay 16, 2011

NBA Draft Lottery: LeBron James and the Best Lottery Pick in Each Team's History

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    It's where championships are made.

    The NBA draft is an outlet for teams to pick up and sign young, talented players out of college as an attempt to either begin building their team from the ground up or to fill in a missing piece that was critical to a title run. Any team that has gone deep into the playoffs recently has had the draft to thank in some way for their success.

    There's no better chance to start building your franchise from the ground up then selecting a player as a lottery pick, which is one of the first picks that comes from a team that didn't make the post season the year before. It gives those teams the first chance to start building their team so that they remain competitive with the better teams of the league.

    Every team in the league has relied on the draft in one way or another to help out the future success of their franchise. Whether it was decades ago or just recently, a franchise's best pick in the draft could bring immediate success. Take for instance when the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted LeBron James when they won 17 games the year before he was taken and then made the NBA Finals only four seasons later.

    With the right player being taken, a franchise could turn around as soon as a years time. If that player can fit into that system or find a way to lead the team to bring immediate success, it saves the team a lot of time and money trading or signing a player in free agency as an attempt to turn the franchise around.

    Each franchise has found that player one time or another with their lottery pick. Here is each teams top pick in the history of their franchise and just how they positively affected the team with their leadership.

Atlanta Hawks: Bob Pettit

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    Years spent with team: 1954-1965

    Stats with team: 26.4 ppg, 16.2 rpg, and 3 apg.

    Pick number: 2

    To think that the Atlanta Hawks could have had the very first NBA dynasty.

    In the 1950's, they drafted Bob Cousy, Bob Pettit, and Bill Russell only to sell Cousy and to trade Russell away for Cliff Hagan and Ed Macauley.

    They did manage to keep Pettit, who turned out to be one of the league's best post players. He led the St. Louis Hawks to the 1958 championship, won two MVP's, and made it to 11 consecutive All-Star games.

    Pettit also led the league in scoring twice.

Boston Celtics: Larry Bird

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    Years spent with team: 1978-1992

    Stats with team: 24.3 ppg, 10 rpg, and 6.3 apg.  

    Pick number: 6

    The only player of the 1978 NBA draft to make it to the Hall of Fame, the Boston Celtics were able to prolong their stranglehold over the league for another decade by selecting Larry Bird out of little known Indiana State university.

    Bird's feathery touch from anywhere on the court and allowed him to lead his team to become one of the league's greatest dynasties. Bird led the Celtics to three titles between 1981 and 1986, won three MVP awards, two Finals MVP's, and made it to 12 All-Star games.

Charlotte Bobcats: Emeka Okafor

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    Years spent with team: 2004-2009

    Stats with team: 13.9 ppg, 10.6 rpg, and 1.9 bpg.

    Pick number: 2

    The Charlotte Bobcats have only been a member of the NBA since 2004 and they've already have five selections come in the top ten. They have found a number of talented players in Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin, but have also struck out with Brendan Wright and Adam Morrison.

    Their best selection came in their first draft when they took University of Connecticut center Emeka Okafor with the second pick. He was consistent in every season averaging at least a double-double and being one of the league's top shot blockers.

    He never found too much success with the team however and failed to make the post season in five seasons with the Bobcats.

Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan

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    Years spent with team: 1984-1998

    Stats with team: 30.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, and 5.5 apg.

    Pick number: 3 

    The obvious greatest lottery pick in Chicago Bulls, and NBA, history came when they took Michael Jordan with the third pick in the 1984 draft.

    Taken behind Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie, Jordan won Rookie of the Year after averaging 29 points per game. He went on to lead the Bulls to six championships, while also taking home MVP honors five times, NBA Finals MVP for each championship, He also made it on to 12 All-Star teams as a member of Chicago.

Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James

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    Years spent with team: 2003-2010

    Stats with team: 28 ppg, 7 rpg, and 7 apg.

    Pick number: 1

    Not the lottery pick that Cleveland Cavaliers fan want to see, but LeBron James is an obvious choice for being the Cavs best draft pick in franchise history.

    The Cavs had plenty of other quality picks, but none that they didn't trade away on draft night or within a few seasons.

    LeBron converted Cleveland from a 17 win cellar dweller into an NBA Finals contender within a few seasons. He won Rookie of the Year in 2004, would win two MVP's, and make it on to six All-Star teams before taking his talents to South Beach.

    He also led Cleveland to their first Finals appearance in franchise history in 2007.

Dallas Mavericks: Mark Aguirre

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    Years spent with team: 1981-1989

    Stats with team: 24.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, and 4.3 apg.

    Pick number: 1

    A close contest between Mark Aguirre and Jason Kidd, but Aguirre comes out on top for actually sticking with the team longer rather than being traded away and then returning over a decade later.

    Aguirre spent his first seven seasons in the league with Dallas before being traded halfway through the 1988-'89 season to Detroit. He also had his best years with the Mavericks and nearly averaged 30 points per game in only his third season in the league. He would go on to average over 25 points per game three more times.

    Mark led the league in field goals made in 1983-'84 and made it to three All-Star games.

Denver Nuggets: Carmelo Anthony

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    Years spent with team: 2003-2011

    Stats with team: 24.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, and 3.1 apg

    Pick number: 3

    A close contest between Dikembe Mutombo and Carmelo Anthony comes out with Anthony on the top for the fact that none of Mutombo's teams made it as deep into the post season as 'Melo's. In the 2008-'09 season, Anthony led the Nuggets to only their second Conference Finals appearance in franchise history.

    Anthony was the teams best scorer since Alex English was lighting it up in the 1980's, but Carmelo brought plenty more post season success in his time. He averaged over 25 points per game for four seasons and averaged a career high of 29 in the 2006-'07 season.

    He made it on to four All-Star teams.

Detroit Pistons: Isiah Thomas

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    Years spent with team: 1981-1994

    Stats with team: 19.2 ppg, 9.3 apg, and 3.6 rpg

    Pick number: 2

    The Detroit Pistons are notorious for picking possibly the biggest draft bust in NBA history when they took Darko Milicic with the second pick in 2003. However, they have had storied draft picks in their history with none having more of an impact than their 1981 pick in Isiah Thomas.

    Taken out of Indiana University, Thomas was a pivotal member of the Pistons teams that won back-to-back championships in late-1980's. He won a Finals MVP on the second team to bring home the title.

    Thomas was a perennial All-Star and made it on to the team for 12 consecutive seasons. He also led the league in assists when he averaged 14 per game in the 1984-'85 season.

Golden State Warriors: Wilt Chamberlain

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    Years spent with team: 1959-1965

    Stats with team: 47 ppg, 25 rpg, and 3 apg

    Pick number: Territorial selection

    Probably not the brightest of trades for the Golden State Warriors to trade for Connie Dierking, Paul Neumann, Lee Shaffer, and cash while also sending out their dominant big man in Wilt Chamberlain in the process.

    The Warriors did get Wilt in his prime however and it showed in his third season in the league when he averaged 50 points per game and also scoring 100 points in an individual game. He led the NBA in scoring for his first six seasons in the league, led the league in rebounding for his first four years in the NBA, and also leading the league in field goal percentage on three separate occasions.

    Chamberlain made it on to six All-Star teams when a member of the Warriors, won a Rookie of the Year award, and won four MVP's.

Houston Rockets

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    Years spent with team: 1984-2001

    Stats with team: 22 ppg, 11.3 rpg, and 2.7 apg

    Pick number: 1

    The Houston Rockets might have missed out on Michael Jordan, but they did get a consolation prize in Hakeem Olajuwon out of the University of Houston.

    Olajuwon had Rookie of the Year numbers averaging 21 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks per game, but was overshadowed by Michael Jordan. Olajuwon would continue to progress as the NBA's best post players and would be one of the league's best scoring big men. The Nigerian product would also lead the league in rebounding for two seasons and in blocks for three seasons.

    Hakeem led the Rockets to two consecutive championships, won the 1994 NBA MVP, and made it to 12 All-Star teams.

Indiana Pacers

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    Years spent with team: 1987-2005

    Stats with team: 18.2 ppg, 3 rpg, and 3 apg

    Pick number: 11

    A late lottery pick steal by the Indiana Pacers, three-point specialist Reggie Miller was a staple to those hard-nosed teams of the 1990's that constantly threatened to be a championship contender.

    Taken out of UCLA by the Pacers, Reggie was mostly known for the exploits of his sister Cheryl Miller who was one of the worlds best womans basketball players. Miller was constantly overshadowed by her achievements, but made a name for himself in only his third year after averaging 25 points and shooting 41% from deep.

    Miller would spent his entire playing career with the Pacers and would make five All-Star games. He finished his career as a 40% shooter from beyond the arc.



Los Angeles Clippers: Bob McAdoo

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    Years spent with team: 1972-1977

    Stats with team: 27.6 ppg, 12.8 rpg, and 3.3 apg

    Pick number: 2

    The Los Angeles Clippers never saw too much luck from the draft. In fact, their best lottery pick selection came when they were still the Buffalo Braves when they selected Bob McAdoo out of the University of North Carolina.

    McAdoo would only spend four seasons with the Braves before being traded to New York, but his best years did come in those four seasons. From his second to fourth year in the league, he led the NBA in scoring averaging as much as 35 points per game in only his third season. He also averaged his career high in rebounds at 15 in his sophomore season.

    He would win Rookie of the Year after averaging 18 points and nine rebounds and would then win MVP two seasons later. McAdoo also made it to four of his five All-Star games as a member of the Braves.


Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson

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    Years spent with team: 1979-1991; 1995-1996

    Stats with team: 19.5 ppg, 11.2 apg, and 7.2 rpg

    Pick number: 1

    A tough choice between Jerry West and Magic Johnson, but it would be the man out of Michigan State University that would be the Los Angeles Lakers number one lottery pick.

    Johnson was prolific in his time with Los Angeles as led the league in assists four times and in steals twice. However, it would be the flash and entertaintment that Johnson would bring to every game that put fans in the seats. At 6'9", Johnson's height gave him an advantage over every other point guard in the league as he could see the court like no other player could before.

    Magic would lead the Lakers to five championships in the 1980's, winning Finals MVP in three of those. He would also win three MVP awards and make it on to 12 All-Star teams.

Memphis Grizzlies: Shareef Abdur-Rahim

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    Years spent with team: 1996-2001

    Stats with team: 20.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, and 2.9 apg

    Pick number: 3

    The Memphis Grizzlies have been in the league since 1995 and have yet to draft a franchise player. The closest they came was obtaining Steve Francis and he flat out refused to play for the team when they were located in Vancouver.

    So, Shareef Abdur-Rahim takes this one pretty much by default. He was taken out of the University of California and spent five seasons with Vancouver before being traded to Atlanta. He would be productive in the short time he spent in the Northern frontier and would average a double-double once. All six times that he averaged over 20 points per game came in his time with the Grizzlies.

    Abdur-Rahim also made it to the 2002 All-Star game.

Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade

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    Years spent with team: 2003-2011

    Stats with team: 25.4 ppg, 6.3 apg, and 5.1 rpg

    Pick number: 5

    An obvious choice for the best lottery pick in Miami Heat's history would be Dwyane Wade with Glen Rice as his only competition.

    Wade has led the Heat to the post season for all but one year he has been with the team and that only came when he was depleted with injuries. Paired with Shaquille O'Neal, he would make it to consecutive Eastern Conference Finals and would win the 2006 NBA championship and the Finals MVP. His Finals performance would rank as one of the top individual feats of all time.

    Dwyane would lead the league in scoring once and has made it to seven All-Star games.

Milwaukee Bucks: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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    Years spent with team: 1969-1975

    Stats with team: 30.4 ppg, 15.3 rpg, and 4.3 apg

    Pick number: 1

    The Milwaukee Bucks only had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for six seasons, but they made sure to get the best out of him before trading him to the Los Angeles Lakers for Junior Bridgeman, Dave Meyers, Elmore Smith, and Brian Winters.

    The NBA's leading scorer would help lead the Bucks to a 1971 title victory and would lead the league in scoring in only his second and third year in the league after averaging 32 and 35 points per game respectively. Abdul-Jabbar would go on to average 30 points per game two more times in his career, both times with Milwaukee.

    He would win Rookie of the Year, three out of his five MVP awards coming with the Bucks, and would also make it on to six All-Star games while as a member of Milwaukee.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Garnett

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    Years spent with team: 1995-2007

    Stats with team: 21 ppg, 12 rpg, and 4.5 apg

    Pick number: 5

    It was difficult for Kevin Garnett to win with the team he had while also contending against the likes of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, and Karl Malone. Instead, Garnett did the next best thing by joining up with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in Boston to secure his first and only title.

    Garnett's best years however came as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves where he would lead the team to a number of deep post season runs. He would only average 10 points and six rebounds in his rookie year, but would progressively get better until he won the MVP award for the 2003-'04 season after averaging a career high of 24 points and 14 rebounds.

    He would win the rebounding title for his final four seasons with Minnesota and would make it on to ten All-Star teams as a member of the Wolves.

New Jersey Nets: Derrick Coleman

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    Years spent with team: 1990-1995

    Stats with team: 19.9 ppg, 10.6 rpg, and 3.1 apg

    Pick number: 1

    What? You were expecting Yinka Dare?

    The New Jersey Nets have yet to see too much production come out of their lottery picks aside from drafting Syracuse University product Derrick Coleman. He would win Rookie of the Year after averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds and would progressively improve from there averaging as much as 21 points and 11 rebounds in only his third season.

    However, the Nets would trade Coleman to the Philadelphia 76ers after only five seasons and one All-Star game appearance in 1994.


New Orleans Hornets: Chris Paul

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    Years spent with team: 2005-2011

    Stats with team: 18.7 ppg, 9.9 apg, and 4.6 rpg

    Pick number: 4

    There wasn't too much competition for Chris Paul. Maybe if the Hornets stuck with Kobe Bryant rather than Vlade Divac, we would be telling a different story.

    Paul has led the New Orleans Hornets to some of their best seasons, including their first Southwest Division championship when they won a franchise best 56 games. Paul has been the reason behind those seasons with his unbelievable play as a point guard. He has led the league in assists twice and in steals for three seasons.

    CP3 won the Rookie of the Year award after averaging 16 points, eight assists, and five rebounds and has also made it on to four All-Star teams. He also came up a few percentage points short of winning his first MVP in the 2007-'08 season when he finished second.

New York Knicks

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    Years spent with team: 1967-1977

    Stats with team: 19.5 ppg, 6.5 apg, and 4.8 rpg

    Pick number: 5

    A tough pick between Patrick Ewing and Walt Frazier, but when it came down to it, you have to select the player that had the most post season success and that player was Frazier.

    Frazier didn't have the greatest stats and only had career highs of 23 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds per game, but he was excellent at doing everything on the floor. He averaged at least 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists for five consecutive seasons. He also helped lead the Knicks to two titles in the 1970's.

    Walt made it on to seven All-Star teams.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Gary Payton

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    Years spent with team: 1990-2003

    Stats with team: 18.5 ppg, 7.8 apg, and 4.4 rpg

    Pick number: 2

    A close one between the Glove and Kevin Durant, but it's Payton coming out on top for leading the team formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics to a title game.

    Payton was never a prolific assist man, his career high was only nine, but it was his defense that instilled fear in the hearts of the Sonics opponents. In 1996, Payton became one of the few guards in NBA history to take home the Defensive Player of the Year award after leading the league in steals per game at three. He was also a terrific offensive player and average as much as 24 points per game as a 31 year old.

    Gary made it on to nine All-Star teams and led the Sonics to the 1996 championships.

Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard

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    Years spent with team: 2004-2011

    Stats with team: 18.2 ppg, 12.9 rpg, and 2.2 bpg

    Pick number: 1

    It was either Dwight Howard or Shaquille O'Neal, but I decided to go with the player that actually may have a longer tenure with the Orlando Magic.

    Howard has brought basketball back to Orlando since arriving as the number one pick as a high school product in the 2004 draft. He has emerged as one of the most dominant forces to ever play the game of basketball and has begun to improve his offensive game after mostly relying on his athleticism more than anything. It showed this season after he averaged a career high 23 points per game.

    Dwight has won three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards, has made it on to five All-Star teams, has led the league in rebounding for three seasons, and in blocks for two. He also helped lead the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals.

Philadelphia 76ers: Allen Iverson

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    Years spent with team: 1996-2007; 2009-2010

    Stats with team: 29 ppg, 6.7 apg, and 3.5 rpg

    Pick number: 1

    One of the best scorers to play the game despite only being 6', Allen Iverson used his diminiutive stature to his advantage by utilizing his agility and ability to fit in places where no other players could.

    Taken out of Georgetown, the Philadelphia 76ers found immediate success after drafting Iverson. It only took them five seasons for Iverson to lead the team to the NBA Finals and for A.I. to take home the MVP after averaging 31 points per game. Iverson would lead the league in scoring for four seasons and would also lead in steals for three consecutive years.

    Allen would make it to six All-Star games as a member of the Sixers.

Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash

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    Years spent with team: 1996-1998; 2004-2011

    Stats with team: 14.3 ppg, 9.1 apg, and 3 rpg

    Pick number: 15

    Easily the best 15th pick in NBA draft history, the Phoenix Suns actually traded Nash away after only two seasons with Phoenix.

    They managed to get him back for the 2004-'05 season and found immediate success as they emerged as perennial favorites for the NBA title. Nash's ability of finding open players and making his teammates better led the Suns to some of their best seasons in franchise history. Nash led the league in assists for five seasons and has led it for the past two years.

    Nash won consecutive MVP's and has made it to five All-Star games as a member of Phoenix.

Portland Trail Blazers: Bill Walton

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    Years spent with team: 1974-1978

    Stats with team: 16.6 ppg, 13.4 rpg, and 4.8 apg

    Pick number: 1

    It was tough picking Bill Walton as the Portland Trail Blazers best lottery pick since he only spent four seasons there, but he did however bring home a title in 1977 and that's more than what any other Trail Blazer draft pick can say.

    Despite being injured for most of his career, Walton was extremely effective in the time that he did play. In the year he won MVP, he only played 58 games but still averaged 19 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks per game. He averaged a double-double in every season he played with Portland and never did anywhere else.

    Walton led the league in rebound and blocked shots per game in the 1976-'77 season and made it on to two All-Star games.

Sacramento Kings: Oscar Robertson

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    Years spent with team: 1960-1970

    Stats with team: 29.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg, and 10.3 apg

    Pick number: 1

    You know your organization isn't too well at drafting when their best lottery pick came in 1960.

    However, that pick was Oscar Robertson and he had his best individual seasons as a member of the team formerly known as the Cincinnati Royals. Robertson averaged a triple-double in only his second season in the league and came a few percentage points short of doing it in his rookie season and in three other seasons. The true triple double he posted came when he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists.

    Robertson led the league in assists for seven seasons and in scoring for one. He took home the 1964 MVP award and was on ten All-Star teams with Cincinnati before heading to Milwaukee.

San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan

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    Years spent with team: 1997-2011

    Stats with team: 20.6 ppg, 11.4 rpg, and 3.1 apg

    Pick number: 1

    The San Antonio Spurs have been a dynasty over nearly the past two decades because of just how effective they are at drafting the right players. Following the David Robinson era, their top draft pick came when they selected Tim Duncan to play alongside him to secure their first titles.

    Duncan won the 1998 Rookie of the Year award after averaging 21 points and 12 rebounds and went on to average a double-double in every season until this past year. He has led the team to four championships and took home three Finals MVP awards. Duncan's post play is recognized as some of the most consistent and effective work that any one player has ever brought.

    Timmy has spent his entire career with the Spurs, has won two MVP's and has made it to 13 All-Star games.

Toronto Raptors: Chris Bosh

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    Years spent with team: 2003-2010

    Stats with team: 20.2 ppg, 9.5 rpg, and 2.1 apg

    Pick number: 4

    As you can see, the Toronto Raptors have not had too storied a tradition of drafting the best players.

    However, Chris Bosh did bring the Raptors some of their best seasons in franchise history. He led them to their first division title after winning 47 games in the 2006-'07 season. Bosh was the teams best post player in franchise history and averaged as much as 24 points and 11 rebounds per game in his final season as a member of the Toronto Raptors.

    Bosh made it on to five All-Star teams as a member of the Raptors.


Utah Jazz: Karl Malone

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    Years spent with team: 1985-2003

    Stats with team: 25.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg, and 3.7 apg

    Pick number: 13

     One of the best scorers and post players in NBA history, Karl Malone did all he could for the Utah Jazz except to bring home a title despite having consecutive championship appearances.

    Taken out of little known Louisiana Tech University, Malone only averaged 15 points in his first season with the Jazz. He then didn't average less than 20 points per game until his final season in the league nearly two decades later. Malone averaged as much as 31 points and as much as 12 rebounds per contest. He led the Jazz to two consecutive title appearances, but couldn't best Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

    Karl won two MVP awards and made it on to 14 All-Star teams.


Washington Wizards: Wes Unseld

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    Years spent with team: 1968-1981\

    Stats with team: 10.8 ppg, 14 rpg, and 3.9 apg

    Pick number: 2

    An up and down career for the University of Louisville product, Wes Unseld averaged under 10 points a game for seven of his final eight seasons in the league, but still managed to make his impact fell on the boards.

    Unseld is the only player to ever win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season after averaging 14 points and 18 rebounds. Wes would then hit his career high in points per game the next season after posting up 16 to go along with 17 rebounds per game. He was never a prolific scorer, but he was easily one of the best rebounders in league history and he only averaged less than 10 per game in an injury-shortened season.

    Wes also won the 1978 championship for his Washington Bullets and took home the Finals MVP in the process. He also made it on to five All-Star teams.