Michael Jordan and the Lords of the Rings: NBA Draft Picks That Didn't Miss

Rich FernandesCorrespondent IJuly 7, 2011

Michael Jordan and the Lords of the Rings: NBA Draft Picks That Didn't Miss

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    NBA dynasties have had one common characteristic:  They all had one major player that a franchise built a championship team around. 

    The same can also be said for the mini-dynasty—a team that has won two NBA championships within a period of three or four years.

    One way of acquiring such a player is through the NBA draft and the other is through free agency.

    The selection criteria used to filter this list is simple:  Only franchise type players that have been part of a dynasty or a mini-dynasty AND who were acquired through the draft were considered.  This includes new draft picks that were traded to the future dynasty or mini-dynasty before playing a single game in the NBA.

    Shaquille O’Neal, for example, does not make this list because he did not win any titles for the Orlando Magic.   

    All of these stars are now considered amongst the greatest players of all time.

    Every NBA fan can name a few of these franchise dynasty/mini-dynasty players off the top of their heads and the title player (Michael Jordan) is an obvious one, but how many of you can pick them all without looking?

    Article Notes: 

    1. Article idea was provided by B/R commentator, Oshomha Obemeata.  It’s amazing how far and wide Bleacher Reports’ tentacles reach, where this idea originated (across the Atlantic Ocean) from the continent of Africa.
    2. I decided not to include the Minneapolis Lakers dynasty in the list because the NBA color barrier prevented African American integration into the league until 1950, at which time they had already won two championships.  I further decided to discount Minneapolis’ post integration championships (1952-1954) because the number of African American players in the NBA was still quite low.  My argument is that the teams in those years did not have the best overall players available because of the color barrier.
    3. All research information and statistics were taken from the Wikipedia page of each respective player.

No. 10: New York Knicks: The 2 Rings of Walt Frasier

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    Championship Years:  (1970-1973)

    NBA Draft:  1967, fifth overall (New York Knicks)

    The Knicks are an original NBA team and their fans suffered for more than two decades before Walt Frazier helped bring them to the promise land.

    Frasier was astute at stealing the ball away from players by pretending not to pay attention, just before pouncing on a surprised opponent.

    The core group of the Knicks for both championships included Frasier, Willis Reed and Phil Jackson (all acquired through the draft).

    Achievements and Awards

No. 9: Boston Celtics: The 2 Rings of Dave Cowens

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    Championship Years:  1974, 1976

    NBA Draft:  1970, fourth overall (Boston Celtics)

    After Bill Russell retired, the Boston Celtics went into rebuilding mode and lucked out with an immediate impact type player in Dave Cowens. 

    At 6-ft-9, Cowens was short for a center, but that didn’t stop him from dominating by averaging 17.6 PPG and 13.6 RPG.  And he quickly quieted his critics by winning the ROY by scoring 17 PPG and grabbing 15 RPG.

    Cowens was clearly the two way player the Celtics needed with great defensive abilities. 

    The core group of players included Cowens, John Havlicek, Paul Silas, and Jo Jo White (all but Silas were acquired through the draft).

    Cowens was full of surprises, once quitting basketball to drive a cab “to clear his head” before again resuming his career with the Celtics.

    Achievements and Awards

No. 8: Detroit Pistons: The 2 Rings of Isiah Thomas

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    Championship Years:  (1989, 1990)

    NBA Draft:  1981, second overall (Detroit Pistons)

    Thomas was a superstar that could do everything well and is considered to be one of the greatest pure point guards in the history of the game and one of only two in this list.

    It’s the pure point guard that helps make his teammates better by having an insane ability to create off the dribble or in almost any other situation and Thomas averaged 9.3 APG for his career. 

    Thomas exhibited an unmatched ambidextrous skill with the ball and his excellent court vision enabled him to react to opposing defenses in the blink of an eye by getting his teammates involved.

    Isiah was surrounded by a talented core of players that were original Pistons’ draft picks including Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman.  The other two of Zeke’s notable teammates and integral parts of the “bad boy” Pistons included Bill Lambeer and Mark Aguirre.

    It’s quite possible that Isiah could have helped the Pistons win more than two titles had his supporting cast not grown old on him.

    Achievements and Awards

No. 7: Houston Rockets: The 2 Rings of Hakeem Olajuwon

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    Championship Years:  (1994, 1995)

    NBA Draft:  1984, first overall (Houston Rockets)

    The Dream would be an awesome number one pick in any year except the very same one in which Michael Jordan went number three—Sam Bowie (who?!) was the infamous second pick by the Portland Trail Blazers that came before Jordan.

    The African import first made a huge splash at the college level for the same city (Houston) that he would help win two NBA titles for.

    Hakeem was the only home grown core piece of both Houston’s championships.  He was joined (via trade) by a former university teammate and NBA superstar, Clyde Drexler, for the second title.  

    The 7-footer had incredible finesse for such a big man that complemented both his extraordinary offensive and defensive games. 

    Hakeem would simply outduel other dominant big men including Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and Shaquille O'Neal on his way to helping Houston win two straight championships.

    He is also considered one of the top ten greatest players to ever play the game.

    Achievements and Awards

No. 6: Boston Celtics: The 3 Rings of Larry Bird

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    Championship Years:  1981, 1984, 1986

    NBA Draft:  1978, sixth overall (Boston Celtics)

    Larry Bird is considered one of the top five players to ever play the game and for good reason—he finished an extraordinary career averaging 24.3 PPG, 6.3 APG and 10 RPG.

    He was not athletic and exciting like Michael Jordan and he was without the charismatic personality of Magic Johnson, but when Larry Legend was on the court, he made things happen.

    Larry was part of a lethal core that included Kevin McHale, Larry Parrish, Gerald Henderson, Cedric Maxwell and Danny Ainge (all acquired through the draft with the exception of Parrish).

    The 6-ft-9 Bird would go on to help the Boston Celtics win three championships.

    Achievements and Awards

No. 5: San Antonio Spurs: The 4 Rings of Tim Duncan

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    Championship Years:  1999, 2003, 2005, 2007

    NBA Draft:  1997, first overall pick (San Antonio Spurs)

    The cornerstone of the Spurs dynasty has been Tim Duncan who was the only core piece of all four of their championships.   

    Nicknamed the Big Fundamental by Shaquille O’Neal for his fundamentally sound skills and approach to the game, it’s surprising that Duncan didn’t take up the sport until the ninth grade. 

    Duncan and David Robinson (another great player) helped the Spurs win their first two championships before Robinson retired. 

    For the second two championships, he was joined by Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker to form yet another awesome core of players—all taken from the draft by the Spurs.

    It’s most admirable that Duncan fulfilled his mother’s dying wish to obtain a university degree and did not enter the NBA draft early until he made good on that promise.

    Duncan is nothing short of a class act in a league full of egotistical stars that rewards individual heroics over team synergy.

    Achievements and Awards

No. 4: LA Lakers: The 5 Rings of Kobe Bryant

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    Championship Years:  2000-2002, 2009, 2010

    NBA Draft:  1996, 13th overall pick (Charlotte Hornets)

    Bryant refused to play for the Hornets and was traded to the L.A. Lakers for center, Vlade Divac, where he has played his entire career.

    He is widely considered to be one of the top 10 greatest players to ever play the game, despite still being active after 15 seasons. 

    Bryant played the Robin role to a dominant Shaquille O’Neal during L.A.’s Millennium Dynasty (2000-2002).  

    Again, the only reason Shaq does not make this list for the three championships he brought to L.A. is because of the original stipulation from the first slide—He played as an Orlando Magic player before winning in L.A.

    The Black Mamba assumed the Batman role in the Lakers’ two latest titles (2009, 2010) by relinquishing the Robin role to an extremely capable Pau Gasol. 

    Bryant and Derek Fisher were the only home grown core pieces of all five of L.A.’s NBA Championships of the 2000’s. 

    L.A fans will always wonder how many more championships the Lakers could have won if it were not for the feud between Bryant and Shaq that ended in a much publicized divorce after the first 3-peat. 

    Bryant is considered to be one of the most clutch players of all time and the closest thing to Michael Jordan.

    Achievements and Awards

No. 3: L.A. Lakers: The 5 Rings of Magic Johnson

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    Championship Years:  1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988 

    NBA Draft:  1979, first overall (L.A. Lakers)

    Magic Johnson was an outstanding pure point guard that revolutionized the position.  At 6-ft-9, he was a giant playing a position reserved for the league’s shorter players. 

    Aside from the height advantage that gave Johnson better down court vision than his peers, he did everything well and often dominated the game by scoring, passing and rebounding.

    He averaged an astounding 11.2 APG over his career and in doing so, made everyone of his teammates better. 

    The sensational core that started with Magic and included the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott and Michael Cooper (all except Kareem were acquired through the draft) was nothing short of dominating.

    Magic helped the Lakers win the NBA Championship in his rookie season and amazingly also won the NBA Finals MVP in the process.

    Over a stellar career that included multiple championships and multiple MVP awards, he took the Showtime Lakers to nine NBA Finals, helping them win five.

    Achievements and Awards

No. 2: Chicago Bulls: The 6 Rings of Michael Jordan

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    Championship Years:  (1991-1993, 1996-1998)

    NBA Draft:  1984, picked third overall (Chicago Bulls)

    No player has made as much of an impact on the game of basketball from both a marketing and star player perspective as Air Jordan.  But none of that would have been possible without his sheer talent, determination and unbridled focus.

    So good was Jordan, that he cast a tremendous shadow on other stars that included Bernard King, Dominique Wilkins, Clyde Drexler and numerous others whose legacies would have all been much greater had Jordan taken up baseball from the beginning, instead of basketball.

    The core of the Chicago Bulls included Jordan and Scottie Pippen—both home grown Bulls that played a major part in all six of the Windy City’s championships.  It’s a fair statement to say that nobody sat under Jordan’s massive shadow more than the extremely underrated Scottie Pippen.  Pippen was so versatile on both ends of the floor and should certainly get more recognition for the Bulls’ dynasty as a top 15 player of all time—at least.   

    Fans will always wonder if the Bulls could have won eight straight championships had Jordan not retired after the first three to play baseball.

    Jordan was simply the most explosively exciting player the game has ever seen, and that combined with all his accolades has made him the current G.O.A.T. with distinction. 

    Achievements and Awards

No. 1: Boston Celtics: The 11 Rings of Bill Russell

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    Championship Years:  1957, 1959-66, 1968, 1969

    NBA Draft: 1956, second overall (St. Lewis Hawks)

    Bill Russell is remembered as the most dominant player of the NBA’s greatest dynasty that won the Boston Celtics 11 championships over Russell’s 13 seasons—all with the Celtics.

    He was a defensive force in a game where defense wins championships and how can you argue with 11 titles?

    For the most part, Russell was a gentleman, but on one occasion he punched New York Knicks center Ray Felix unconscious with one punch for antagonizing him during a game—a foul that cost Russell a whole $25 at the time.

    Russell was always surrounded by an amazing core group of players that included Bob Cousy (six titles), John Havlicek (eight titles), K.C. Jones (eight titles) and Tommy Heinsohn (eight titles). 

    As dominating as Russell was, he also had the best collection of teammates (compared to the competition at the time) of any team in the history of the NBA.

    Achievements and Awards


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