NBA fans, front offices and players are extremely elated when the ping pong balls bounce their way in the NBA Draft Lottery and they obtain a high pick. After all, the higher the pick the greater the likelihood a team has in drafting the player they covet most. The first NBA Draft Lottery took place in 1985 and it resulted in the New York Knicks selecting Patrick Ewing with the first overall pick. Ewing became a game changer and the face of the blue and orange franchise for over a decade.
Yet, gems aren’t always found at the top of the lottery and busts aren’t always found toward the end of the first round. The NBA has its fair share of both phenomenal and dismal first round picks in the NBA today. Here, we take a look at the eight best and seven worst first round picks in the NBA today.
15. BEST: Kawhi Leonard
In the 2011 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs made a move that was uncharacteristic for the Spurs front office; the Spurs dealt backup Point Guard George Hill for the Pacers 2011 first round draft pick, Kawhi Leonard. Today, this trade is a no brainer as Leonard has transformed himself in to one of the league’s best two way players. However, when the trade was originally made no one could’ve predicted that Leonard would be the player he is today. Well, with the exception of Gregg Popovich. In 2012, Coach Pop said the following of his swingman, “I think he’s going to be a star. And as time goes on, he’ll be the face of the Spurs, I think. At both ends of the court, he is really a special player”. Leonard is averaging a career high 24.0 PPG in the 2016-2017 season to go along with 5.9 RPG and 1.9 SPG as he serves as the face of the Spurs like Pop predicted in 2012.
14. WORST: Reggie Bullock
The former North Carolina Tar Heel Reggie Bullock was selected twenty-fifth overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2013. Since then, Bullock has seen himself play for the forenamed Clippers and the Phoenix Suns and the Detroit Pistons, where he finds himself today. Bullock has struggled to find minutes in all three locations and is averaging a measly 10.5 MPG for Stan Van Gundy’s bunch this season. Bullock is young as he is twenty-five years of age, but he’s done little to prove he belongs in the league. Bullock’s career high scoring average is 3.3 for a season, while his rebound and assist high is 1.8 and 0.7 respectively. Perhaps Bullock simply needs ample minutes to prove his worth or perhaps he doesn’t get ample minutes because he has shown he isn’t worth much.
13. BEST: Anthony Davis
The biggest problem the 2012 number one overall draft pick Anthony Davis has endured in his four and a half year career is his inability to stay healthy as he has consistently had nagging injury woes; Davis has never played in more than 68 games in a season. However, when Davis is sporting the navy blue, gold, red and white of the New Orleans Pelicans he is a matchup nightmare for any opposition. The Pelicans superstar is a 3x NBA All-Star and was named to the NBA First Team in 2015. Davis is having a career year in 2016-2017 as the former Kentucky Wildcat is averaging 28.6 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 2.5 BPG and 1.4 SPG. The 6’11” Chicago, Illinois native would be at the forefront of the MVP conversation if it weren’t for the lackluster record of the Pelicans.
12. WORST: Mike Miller
In the 2000 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic snagged former Florida Gator Mike Miller with the fifth overall pick. Miller won the Rookie of the Year award for the 2000-2001 NBA season; but, he’s far from the player he was won he wore the black, royal blue, silver and white of the Magic. Miller is at the tail end of his career and at thirty-six years of age he’s one of the last options (if not the last option) off the bench for the Denver Nuggets. In the 2016-2017 NBA season Miller is only averaging 1.8 PPG to go along with a dime and board per game. Miller has already won two rings and there isn’t much he can provide a team at this stage of his career.
11. BEST: Chris Paul
Taken forth overall in 2005 by the then New Orleans Hornets, Chris Paul has remained a mainstay as one of the league’s upper echelon Point Guards from the minute he stepped foot on the NBA hardwood. After spending six successful seasons in “Nawlins”, Paul was traded to the “City of Flowers and Sunshine” stepsister franchise, the Los Angeles Clippers. A change of scenery hasn’t stopped Paul from being one of the league’s most efficient and productive superstars. Now, in his twelfth season, Paul isn’t showing signs of aging as he’s averaging 17.6 PPG, 9.6 APG, 5.3 RPG and 2.3 SPG. The thirty-one year old is a 9x NBA All-Star, has been named to NBA First Team 4x and to the NBA All Defensive First Team 6x. Paul’s dominance on both ends of the ball is the reason why he is one of the NBA’s best players.