The NBA Draft Lottery is upon us, with each of the 14 lottery teams holding out hope that they will secure the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. The No. 1 pick isn’t always a sure thing, of course, as Greg Oden most recently showed us. Let’s take a look at 10 random facts to get you primed for the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery.
Even When The Washington Wizards Win, They Lose
The 2009 draft wasn’t remarkably deep, but there were a few really good players that came out. James Harden, Stephen Curry, Ty Lawson, Ricky Rubio and Brandon Jennings were among the guard-heavy gems in the draft. However, the No. 1 overall pick was the prize, and that man was Blake Griffin.
We all know that Griffin was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers. What you may not remember is the Clippers and Wizards had identical records. The Wizards won a coin toss that resulted in an extra chance. However, the Clippers were the ones who ended up winning the lottery.
Instead Of Luck, Perhaps Use Some Magic
There are teams who routinely stink it up in the draft (cough Minnesota Timberwolves cough), because of poor drafting and because of simple dumb luck. The Wolves haven’t secured the top pick in any draft and have only earned the No. 2 spot once (Derrick Williams in 2012).
The Magic on the other hand, have been extraordinarily lucky in the NBA Draft. They’ve selected No. 1 overall three different times and have struck gold with Shaquille O’Neal (1992), Dwight Howard (2004) and litany of assets for Chris Webber (1993). They have the best chance of striking gold again in the 2013 draft (25 percent), but they’ve shown they don’t need luck.
Maybe The No. 1 Pick IS All It’s Cracked Up To Be
Being drafted No. 1 overall is a blessing and a curse. Often, a player drafted first is going to a terrible team and won’t have much help (see: Irving, Kyrie). Even when the player is going into a better situation, the expectations are so high that it’s difficult to meet them (see: Bogut, Andrew).
But, the No. 1 pick has been really good over the span of the lottery era and especially the last few seasons. The last five top picks have been Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis. Yes, they’ve all missed significant time with injuries, but when they’ve been in there, they’ve performed at a high level.
The career leader in win shares per 48 minutes is David Robinson (.250), who was No. 1 in 1987. The career leader in points per game (27.6) is LeBron James, who was No. 1 in 2003. No. 1 picks make up four of the top-five rebounding totals (with Dennis Rodman being the other).
There’s Value Late In The Draft, Too
Speaking of Rodman (drafted No. 27 overall in 1986), there have been quite a few gems found late in drafts. Similar to how the NFL’s New England Patriots seem to do a great job finding values in later rounds, NBA teams are always on the lookout for those under-the-radar players that can make an impact.
Jeff Hornacek was drafted No. 46 in the 1986 draft and ended up playing 1,077 games in the league. Manu Ginobili went No. 57 in 1999 and will be a Hall of Famer when his career is over. Clifford Robinson put together a 17-year career from the No. 36 spot in 1989. The value is there, teams just have to be willing to take a chance (and hope they don’t get into trouble, like No. 30 in 2001, Gilbert Arenas).
If There’s A Center In The Top-5, Buyer Beware
The top-five selections in a draft are prime spots. For the most part, you’re going to get a quality player that will put together a long career, barring any injuries. In the late 1980′s to early 2000′s, there were some terrific big men drafted in the top-five. In fact, the eight best career win shares per 48 minutes of those drafted No. 5 or better who are now retired all belong to centers (Robinson, O’Neal, Ming, Oden, Mourning, Daugherty, Mutombo and Ewing).
With the exception of Oden, notice how there haven’t been any dominant big men more recently? Take a look at the previous centers drafted in the top-five:
That’s not exactly a murderer’s row of centers there. The game is changing towards the more athletic power forwards and a smaller lineup. Beware drafting a big man too high!