Entering an NBA Draft, teams have to decide what type of skill set they need out of a player to fit within their current roster. Whether is be a scorer, shot blocker, passer, three-point or defense specialist, General Managers and team staffs have a lot of work to do in the pre-draft process. Making the right or wrong pick could determine the future of the franchise for the upcoming season and years to follow.
In 2003, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected LeBron James first overall, obviously making the right decision. The 2nd overall pick was Darko Milicic, drafted by the Detroit Pistons. Imagine if the Cavs had selected Milicic instead of James? Both franchises would have been totally different. The next four picks after Milicic were Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Kaman, showing how pivotal one pick could be to a franchise. While Milicic struggled to make a name for himself, the next four players after are current or former All-Stars, with Wade and Bosh also winning multiple NBA Championships.
Teams in the draft with the first two overall picks have a strong advantage over other teams because they can potentially draft the two best players available in the world, without worrying about other teams getting first shot at them. Although certain teams have this golden opportunity, sometimes they drop the ball and make the wrong pick like the Pistons in 2003. Then there are teams that make the right decision, like the Cavs in 2003 with the pick of James.
Throughout the '90s, the NBA Draft would provided many players selected 1st or 2nd overall that changed their franchises around. Some for the better and some for the worst.
20 Michael Olowokandi - 1st Overall by Los Angeles Clippers in 1998
Prior to the 1998 NBA Draft, the Clippers had made the playoffs once in five seasons. The Clippers earned a first overall pick after going 17-65 the previous season, giving them a chance to draft a franchise player to turn their team around. Unfortunately for the Clippers, Olowokandi was not the answer.
19 Shawn Bradley - 2nd Overall by Philadelphia 76ers in 1993
18 Joe Smith - 1st Overall by Golden State Warriors in 1995
Although the Golden State Warriors #1 overall pick in 1995 was a good individual player, he could not help make the team better In Joe Smith's rookie season, he put up 15.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, and 1.6 bpg, but the Warriors had a team record of 36-46 and missed the playoffs. The next season, Smith was even better averaging 18.7 ppg (career high) and 8.5 rpg, but the Warriors were worst going 30-52. Smith's third season, the Warriors traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers halfway through. Smith only played 2.5 seasons with the Warriors, but they did not make the playoffs for 11 straight seasons.
17 Mike Bibby - 2nd Overall by Vancouver Grizzlies in 1998
The Vancouver Grizzlies started their franchise in 1995 and missed the playoffs the first three seasons, not winning over 20 games during each season. In 1998 they a chance to do a 360 with their franchise, grabbing the 2nd overall pick in the draft. Bibby was not the player the Grizzlies expected and they went a franchise worst 8-42. After just 3 seasons with the Grizzlies and not reaching the postseason each year, Bibby was shipped to the Sacramento Kings where he excelled.
In his first year with the Kings, Bibby helped them to the Western Conference Finals where they lost in 7 games to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Kings made the playoffs the next four seasons and have not been back to the playoffs since 2006 when Bibby was on the roster.
16 Keith Van Horn - 2nd Overall by Philadelphia 76ers in 1997 (rights traded to New Jersey Nets)
The New Jersey Nets rookie Keith Van Horn came out the gates in 1997, averaging 19.7 ppg, and 6.6 rpg, earning him a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team and Nets a trip to the playoffs for the first time in 3 seasons. In his 5th and last season with the Nets, Van Horn helped them to their first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history, although they got swept by the Lakers.
15 Kenny Anderson - 2nd Overall by New Jersey Nets in 1991
Although Kenny Anderson was the New Jersey Nets 2nd overall pick in the draft, he only started in 13 games his rookie season, averaging 7 ppg, 3.2 apg, and 1.0 spg. The following season, Anderson started in all 55 of his games, and put 16.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 8.2 ap,g and 1.7 spg. In his 3rd season, Anderson put up 18.8 ppg, 9.6 apg, and 1.9 spg, earning him his first All-Star game appearance and the Nets third straight playoff appearance. Prior to Anderson, the Nets missed the playoffs for 5 straight seasons.
14 Steve Francis - 2nd Overall by Vancouver Grizzlies in 1999
Although Steve Francis was drafted by the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1999, he did not want to play there and was involved in a 11-player trade that sent him to the Houston Rockets prior to his rookie season. Francis showed the Rockets they did not make a mistake, averaging 18 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 6.6. apg, and 1.5 spg, earning him the Rookie of the Year Award. However, in 5 seasons with Rockets, Francis only led them to the postseason once, despite being a 3-time All-Star, causing the Rockets to send him to the Orlando Magic.
When Francis arrived in Orlando he had great individual numbers, but could not help the Magic to the playoffs either, causing them to send him to the New York Knicks where his career basically declined.
13 Antonio McDyess - 2nd Overall by Los Angeles Clippers in 1995
Before his rookie season even started, Antonio McDyess was traded to the Denver Nuggets. McDyess was a solid player by himself, but could not help the Nuggets to the playoffs. Even in 2001 when McDyess averaged 20.8 ppg, 12.1 rpg ,and 1.5 bpg and was selected to his only All-Star game in his career. The Nuggets went 40-42, but still managed to miss the playoffs.
12 Elton Brand - 1st Overall by Chicago Bulls in 1999
After Michael Jordan's retirement and Scottie Pippen's departure in 1998, the Chicago Bulls went into rebuilding mode. In 1999 that process started with selecting Elton Brand 1st overall in the draft. His rookie year, Brand averaged 20.1 ppg, 10 rpg, and 1.6 spg, earning him the C0-Rookie of the Year Award. Despite his play, the Bulls went 17-65, which was the 2nd worst regular season record in franchise history. After two seasons with the Bulls, they traded Brand to the Los Angeles Clippers, where he continued to shine.
11 Marcus Camby - 2nd overall by Toronto Raptors in 1996
Marcus Camby came into the league as a defensive presence and stayed that way throughout his career. Camby started his career with the Raptors and New York Knicks, but started to gain serious recognition when he went to the Denver Nuggets in 2002.
While with the Nuggets for 6 seasons, Camby won the NBA Defensive Play of the Year award in 2007, made 4 All-Defenisve teams and led the league in blocks 3 times. While there, Camby helped the Nuggets to 5 straight playoff appearances, despite them losing in the first round every time. Prior to that, they had missed the playoffs 8 straight seasons.
10 Glenn Robinson, Jr. - 1st Overall by Milwaukee Bucks in 1994
Glenn Robinson, Jr. was praised for his scoring, averaging double digits in points his whole career. Before Robinson was drafted, the Milwaukee Bucks had not made the playoffs three straight seasons. In 1999, Robinson led the Bucks to the postseason for the 1st time in 7 years. They were knocked out in the first round, but made it back the following two seasons, including the Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in a hard fought 7 games.
9 Larry Johnson - 1st Overall by Charlotte Hornets in 1991
In just his 2nd season, Larry Johnson led the Charlotte Hornets to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history by averaging 22.1 ppg, 10.5 rpg, and 4.3 apg, earning him his first All-Star appearance and a place on the All-NBA Second Team. The Hornets made it to the second round but lost to the New York Knicks in 5 games. Johnson carried the Hornets to the playoffs again in 1995, earning him another All-Star appearance. However, the Hornets were knocked out in the first round.
8 Derrick Coleman - 1st Overall Pick by New Jersey Nets in 1990
Prior to the 1990 NBA Draft, the New Jersey Nets had missed out on the playoffs four straight seasons. They knew a change needed to be made and with the 1st overall pick in 1990, this was their opportunity to make some changes. The #1 overall pick Derrick Coleman averaged 18.4 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1 spg, and 1.3 bpg, earning him the Rookie of the Year honor. However, the Nets went 26-56 and failed to make the playoffs.
7 Chris Webber -1st Overall by Orlando Magic in 1993(traded to the Golden State Warriors)
In his rookie season, Chris Webber averaged 17.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.2 spg, and 2.2 bpg, making the Orlando Magic regret trading him on draft day. Webber led the Warriors to a 50-32 record and the playoffs, earning him Rookie of the Year. Despite his success, the Warriors traded Webber to the Washington Wizards for Tom Gugliotta and three first-round draft picks. Due to this trade, the Warriors did not make the playoffs for the next 12 seasons. During his 4 seasons with the Wizards, Webber led them to the playoffs one time. Webber was then traded to the Sacramento Kings where he flourished.
6 Alonzo Mourning - 2nd Overall by Charlotte Hornets in 1992
His very first season with the Hornets, Alonzo Mourning averaged 21 ppg, 10.3 rpg, and 3.5 bpg, leading to the Hornets to the playoffs. Mourning led them to the playoffs again in 1995, which was his last season with the team after being traded to the Miami Heat.
With the Heat, Mourning help lead them to 6 straight postseasons, including the Conference Finals where they lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. After leaving the Heat in 2002, he went to the New Jersey Nets for one season but returned back to the Heat, where he won his very first NBA Championship alongside Dwayne Wade and Shaquille O'Neal.
5 Jason Kidd - 2nd Overall by Dallas Mavericks in 1994
Jason Kidd started his career with the Dallas Mavericks but would only spend 2.5 seasons with the team before being shipped to the Phoenix Suns midway through his third year in the league, despite winning Rookie of the Year in 1995. With his 5 seasons with the Suns, Kidd helped lead them to the playoffs every single season, but never got past the second round.
Kidd then came to the New Jersey Nets in 2001, where he helped them reach the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. The following seasons, Kidd helped them go back to NBA Finals although they lost both times. Kidd helped them reach the playoffs 4 straight years after the Finals appearances, despite not getting past the send round all 4 years.
In 2008, Kidd went back to where his career started in Dallas. Kidd helped them make the playoffs every single season and in 2011, helped the Mavericks win their first NBA Championship in franchise history. After winning a ring, Kidd finished his career in New York with the Knicks, where he helped them to regular seasons best record of 54-28.
4 Gary Payton - 2nd Overall by Seattle Supersonics in 1990
In 12 season with the Seattle Supersonics, Payton helped lead them to the playoffs 10 times, including two Conference Finals and an NBA Finals in 1996, in which they lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. While with them, Payton was a 9-time All-Star, 9-time All-NBA team selection and made the All-Defensive first teams 9 times. Payton is currently the Supersonics/Thunder all-time leading scorer.
3 Allen Iverson - 1st Overall by Philadelphia 76ers in 1996
Allen Iverson was one of the most must see- players whenever he stepped on the court. His crossovers were his go-to move that left defenders wondering where they were at and questioning their career of playing basketball. His rookie season, Iverson averaged 23.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 7.5 apg, and 2.1 spg, earning him the Rookie of the Year Award. However, the 76ers did not make the playoffs the first two seasons, making many think Iverson was a selfish player and drafting him was a mistake. Iverson quieted all the haters when he took the 76ers to the playoffs six out of the next seven seasons. In 2001, Iverson proved everybody in the world wrong with a unforgettable season.
2 Shaquille O'Neal - 1st Overall by Orlando Magic in 1992
Picking Shaq 1st overall in the 1992 draft was a no brainer. His rookie year, Shaq averaged 23.4 ppg, 13.9 rpg, and 3.5 bpg, winning him the Rookie of the Year Award. In 1995, Shaq help lead the Magic to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, where they got swept by the Houston Rockets. In 1997, O'Neal made the biggest move in his career joining the Los Angeles Lakers.
O'Neal helped the Lakers to 8 straight playoff appearances, including four NBA Finals appearances. With the help of his sidekick Kobe Bryant, the Lakers won 3 straight NBA Championships. After some beef between O'Neal and Bryant, O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat.
1 Tim Duncan - 1st Overall by San Antonio Spurs in 1997
Tim Duncan came into the league as a threat from the jump. Duncan averaged 21.1 ppg, 11.9 rpg, and 2.5 bpg his rookie season, earning him Rookie of the Year honors. Duncan, a.k.a. "Mr.Fundamental," is arguably the best Power Forward to ever play the game. Since Duncan joined the Spurs in 1997, the Spurs have been to 18 straight playoff appearances and six NBA Finals.
Duncan is still a active player but is a first ballot Hall of Famer. Duncan is a 5-time NBA Champion, 3-time NBA Finals MVP, 2-time NBA MVP, 15-time All-Star, NBA All-Star MVP in 2000, 15-time All-NBA team selection, 15-time All-Defensive team selection, and is currently the Spurs all-time leader in minutes, games, filed goals made, total rebounds, blocks, and points.
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