Picks In The NBA Draft: 9 Interesting Facts I Bet You Never Knew

Each year, picks in the NBA Draft comes around and allows teams to add a player to help their franchise. Sometimes they might have a pick in the lottery or perhaps later in the night. Regardless of when they pick, a pick in the NBA draft could be a great asset to the team. The cool thing about the NBA Draft is that it’s often a game in itself.

You evaluate players and hope they will be as good as advertised. Meanwhile, just like in other drafts, you could find a ton of great players at nearly every stage of the two rounds available. Sometimes, you can even find gems that are undrafted like Ben Wallace. He’s a multi-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, All- Star, and NBA Champion. Therefore, guys like Wallace are out there.

Therefore, at times, the draft is meaningless for some. It is all in who you ask. However, there’s a lot of cool stuff that has happened with picks in the NBA draft and several great players coming out of it. Some stuff you might have never thought about or even knew. Here are a few of those facts.

1) The NBA Draft Lottery Almost Never Favors The Team With The Worst Record

Although the sense of the draft is to always favor the worst team, this can vary a little in reality, since not always the worst record is the one who ends up having the 1st pick. The NBA Draft lottery was implemented 35 years ago, and as contradictory as it sounds, the team with the worst record has only obtained the 1st pick on 8 occasions.

2) High School Players Were Better Top Picks In The NBA Draft Than Division-1 Athletes In The 1990s & 2000s

It might be surprising to hear, especially with the NBA stopping high school players from entering the draft. However, based on all the high school players taken in the top 15; most turned out to be great players. The average of those taken from Division-1 schools saw a higher total of flops in the 1990s and 2000s by comparison.

High School players who came out in that timeframe include Tracy McGrady, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Amar’e Stoudemire, Kevin Garnett, Josh Smith, Al Jefferson, Monta Ellis, Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler, Jermaine O’Neal, Rashard Lewis, Al Harrington, Andrew Bynum, Louis Williams, and Eddy Curry.

There were some that didn’t live up to the expectations like Kwame Brown, Gerald Green, and C.J. Miles. However, others usually had long- term careers in the NBA even if they did not make an all-star game. From the 1990s to 2000s, there were a total of around 39 or 40 high school players taken. 16 turned out to be All-Stars, All-NBA team, or just good players while about 14 others were relatively good journeymen.

This equates to near 30 players that had careers useful to the NBA or an NBA team. That is an extremely high ratio compared to Division-1 Athletes. It’s good that the NBA will be allowing high school players to be drafted once again very soon, as this could increase this ratio.


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3) The 2000 NBA Draft Is Very Similar To The 1983 NBA Draft For All The Wrong Reasons

Everyone who knows basketball will tell you that the 1984 & 2003 NBA Draft classes are arguably the best overall classes in draft history. 1984 saw the drafting of John Stockton, Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and Otis Thorpe. 1985 saw Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Chris Mullin, Karl Malone, and Joe Dumars drafted. 1983, however, pretty much just saw the arrival of Ralph Sampson, Clyde Drexler, Dale Ellis, Jeff Malone and Doc Rivers.

Like 1983, overall the 2000 NBA Draft class was notably weak. Yet saw numerous era-defining or NBA-defining players arrive directly after. The 2001 NBA Draft saw the arrival of Tony Parker, Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Gilbert Arenas, Joe Johnson, and Zach Randolph. 2002 saw the arrival of Yao Ming, Amar’e Stoudemire, Caron Butler, and Carlos Boozer. Meanwhile, 2003 saw the drafting of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. 2000 saw the arrival of Kenyon Martin, Michael Redd, Jamaal Magloire and Mike Miller.

At the end of the day, it seems to be a proven fact that once there is a pretty bad draft…there is a good chance that it is followed up by a few pretty great ones.

4) #2 Overall Picks Have Been Really Unreliable In The Lottery-Era (Gift and the Curse)

While the #1 Overall Pick has usually turned out to be a pretty good picks in the NBA Draft most of the time it is used, there have been some notable errors. Yet the #2 overall pick has led to far more flops overall between the two in the NBA draft lottery- era.

There are some notable exceptions to this rule, as some #2 overall picks have become studs in the NBA like Kevin Durant, Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning, Kenny Anderson, Victor Oladipo and Ja Morant just to name a few. Yet this is a true hit or miss pick, as the #1 overall is usually considered a no-brainer at the time. Therefore, the next team in line is left with whatever the second-best pick will be.

Sometimes, as mentioned, it can result in some good pick-ups. Other times, eh, not so much. Such as the case of players like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Stromile Swift, Derrick Williams, Danny Ferry, Darko Milicic, Jay Williams, Hasheem Thabeet, and Len Bias.

This is also a pick that has 2 notable men in Williams and Bias who either had a shortened career or died before playing. These picks in the NBA Draft can be both a gift and a curse, but it’s a solid 50% chance of success when it should be a much higher ratio. To equate this, there are only a few true #1 overall picks that flopped. Yet there are far more than 5 to 10 that have been All-Stars, All-NBA Team Members, and Hall of Famers in the lottery-era.

5) Olympic Champion, Caitlyn Formerly Known As Bruce Jenner Was An NBA Draft Pick

After Bruce Jenner became an Olympic decathlon champion in Montreal, the press ranked him as one of the best athletes of the time and this helped him to be chosen by the Kansas City Kings during the 1977 Draft with the 139th selection of the 7th round. Jenner hadn’t stepped foot on a basketball court since his high school days. Nor would he do it with the Kansas City Kings. But it turned out to be a sharp marketing strategy by the financially strapped Kings.

6) Being Drafted By Your Home Team Is As Rare As Literally Winning The Lottery

You might love hearing the stories of how a homegrown NBA star is picked by the team in his state. Heck, we’ve seen how some have played for their home club over the years and it has been nice to see. However, being drafted by your home team is pretty special. The sad part is that it’s incredibly rare to see.

There are some notable players to experience this like LeBron James for Cleveland, Lonzo Ball with Los Angeles (on a technicality), and Derrick Rose for Chicago. However, others had to jump to their home team later in career like Dwyane Wade with Chicago and Carmelo Anthony with New York.

It is such a rarity to be drafted by your home team in the draft that it’s equivalent to essentially winning the lottery. This could mean it is a 1 in a million chance to see or 1 in a billion. It all depends on how many people are playing that particular lottery. In some minds, it might be a 1 in 30 chance you will see this in the NBA, but this is a misnomer.

For in sports, there’s a lot of other stuff to consider. Even if a good player is available for their home team, needs might not dictate that they need to take the home player. It could also be that they are picked before they reach the home team.

Therefore, it is not a case of a team just picking them. This removes the idea of 1 in 30, otherwise, every player could technically end up with their home club.

Rather, the odds are much higher because you never know the odds of the lottery picks, nor everyone’s record initially. You won’t know of initial needs, if the player gets hurt ahead of time, etc.

7) All But Four #1 Overall Picks Were From The United States Before 2000, More Than Double Since

It might surprise you to know that basketball is generally considered to be an American sport. Yet to some this is complete BS because there are basketball leagues all over the world, with some notable teams in Europe alone. There are even places like Australia producing some great basketball players. So it should come as a shock to you that basketball had nearly ignored players outside the United States in the Top 5 picks before 2000.

In particular, the #1 overall pick has only gone to a foreign player four times from 1947 to 2000. Those four men were Mychal Thompson, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Michael Olowokandi. In fact, two of those men were from Nigeria originally.

Since 2000, however, almost double the amount of #1 overall picks have gone to foreign players. A grand total of 7 men have gone #1. Two of them were from the same country as basketball’s inventor, Canada. The others were from China, Australia, Italy, and the Bahamas.

In fact, from 2013 to 2016 the #1 overall pick went to a Non-U.S. born citizen in three out of four of those drafts!!!

To equate this, the last two Non-U.S. players picked before 2000 were separated by more than a decade, 1984 to 1998.

8) The 1st pick of 2005 NFL and NBA Draft Came From The Same University

The NBA and NFL drafts are the most popular and followed in the USA and the world. And although there are a lot of very high-level college sports programs, a phenomenon like this is very rare and has happened only once.

The University of Utah without being known as one of the best universities in terms of sports programs had the first picks in both 2005 drafts. Being the #1 pick of the NFL draft, Alex Smith chosen by the 49ers and Andrew Bogut the NBA’s first pick in the draft by the Milwaukee Bucks.

9) The #1 Pick In The 1987 NBA Draft Didn’t Make His Debut Until 1989

David Robinson is a special and unique case in the history of the NBA draft. The Admiral was selected with the first pick in 1987 but did not make his professional debut until 1989. After graduation, Robinson had to fulfill his obligation to the Navy for two years of active duty.

Despite the Admiral’s obligation to the Navy, the San Antonio Spurs decide to roll the dice and select him despite their need for immediate help. The Spurs finished the previous season with a 28-54 record. Luckily for the Spurs their two year gamble paid off many times over.

The NBA Draft always brings with it many moves that change year after year the course of the league and all the teams. Keeping the excitement of seeing new, and young talent fighting for a place in the league. Every year the draft leaves us with a lot of curiosities and very interesting cases to study like the ones mentioned above. It’s easy to see why in the eyes of many it’s perceived as a real lottery!


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