NBA Draft – Lottery Teams’ Pipe Dreams


Ahh, the NBA Draft, where teams go from poor to posh.

Every year during the NBA playoffs, teams wait for ping pong balls to determine their future dominance or futility, or do they?

We’re led to believe the first (or second or third) pick will save the franchise and be one step closer to bringing a title to the franchise. Every few years, we hear of can’t-miss prospects, e.g. Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, etc.

But, in the last 30 drafts how many first overall picks won a championship with their original teams?


James Worthy, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Tim Duncan. Of the four, they account for six of the 30 Finals MVPs.

It could be argued that had Michael Jordan not retired after the 1993 season, the list might have only three players and four MVPs.

And let’s be honest, “Big Game” James had it pretty easy joining a team with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Earvin “Magic” Johnson. On a similar note, it seemed like Robinson’s career would end without a title until the Spurs won the lottery again and nabbed Duncan. And Duncan probably wouldn’t have won that first one without Robinson, nor the latter ones without a few international standouts. Even Hakeem got help from Clyde Drexler during his second title.

Now, have other top picks won titles? Sure, but they just don’t win them with the team that drafted them.

It’s like the head cheerleader dating the geek because the teacher made them lab partners. Sure, they have coffee, dinner and watch movies (Heck, she might even invite him to a cool kids party.), but most of the time it’s just easier for her to go to the prom with the star guard or quarterback, because her cheerleader friends are going with the forward and center, and .

Don’t get me wrong. The first pick in the draft generally helps a team become competitive (exceptions include Michael Olowkandi, Kwame Brown, Joe Smith, Pervis Ellison, Greg Oden, and the jury’s still out on Andrea Bargnani) but he never assures them of a title.

For a title, a couple other things have to happen. Generally speaking, the superstar needs another hall of famer or perennial all star. For the Lakers, Magic joined Kareem, and “Big Game James” came along a few years later. (Wow, three first  picks who made the 50th anniversary team? Talk about not having help, Magic.) The Spurs’ Duncan had Robinson and later found Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Even Olajuwon needed 10 years for things to work out just right for him (See: Jordan’s Retirement).

And I think I just talked myself into a 2012 Finals with Oklahoma City versus Miami.


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