Forty years ago, the Bucks chose Julius Erving with the 12th pick in the 1972 NBA Draft.
That bit of history stands today only as trivia, since he never actually played for the team. Just one year removed from college, Erving was already a star in the ABA when the Bucks drafted him. Knowing that he was still under contract in the ABA, the idea was to simply secure his NBA rights. But the story of Erving’s transition to the NBA was a much delayed and very complex one. In short, he ended up playing three exhibition games for the Atlanta Hawks in 1972 before a legal injunction sent him back to the ABA, where he won two championships and three MVPs. Following the ABA-NBA merger, the New York Nets sold Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers. Erving then starred for the 76ers until retiring in 1987.
In any event, the Bucks are back at number 12 in the 2012 NBA Draft. And that is no surprise, considering the team had a 93.5 % chance of staying right where they were slotted. This marks the third straight time that the Bucks have stayed in their expected spot, as they have now moved up in the draft twice in 14 lotteries.
For an eighth straight year, the team with the worst record did not win the first draft pick. With just a 13.7 percent, the Hornets won the lottery, leaping three teams in the process. Anthony Davis, a forward and defensive dynamo from Kentucky last seen collecting 16 rebounds and blocking six shots in a national championship victory, is the presumed first pick. The Hornets also have the number 10 pick. The tough-luck Bobcats, whose 7-59 record gave them the worst record in NBA history, fell to second.
The consensus holds that the upcoming NBA draft is deep – but not top-heavy. Before the lottery, Michael Rosenberg at SI.com opined that a late lottery pick might suit a team just as well as an early lottery pick in the long run.
"This is a weird draft. It's as deep as any draft in many years, but there is only one sure superstar in it. It's quite possible that the team that picks 12th will be just as happy with its choice as the team that picks third or fourth.
Then again, we hardly ever know which drafts are the good ones or the bad ones or the deep ones until a few years later. What we do know is that there consistently is talent available at 12.
Around this time, scribes often provide a rundown of players previously chosen at the exact draft spot of their team. This provides an accurate picture of the type of player that you might expect. But, if the Bucks are going to change their fortune, they cannot afford to merely make an average draft pick. Rather, they must stay a step ahead and draft one of the best players available. And if history is an indicator, there should be some talent on the board when the Bucks pick.
Excluding second-round draft picks and undrafted players, since they are typically off the radar of all teams at 12, here is a brief list of some of the top players that were available at 12 in the first 10 drafts of the century – as we are still giving some time to review the last couple draft classes.
2000: Hedo Turkoglu (16), Desmond Mason (17), Quentin Richardson (18)
2001: Richard Jefferson (13), Zach Randolph (19), Tony Parker (28)
2002: Tayshaun Prince (23), Nenad Krstic (24), John Salmons (26)
2003: David West (18), Boris Diaw (21), Leandro Barbosa (28)
2004: Al Jefferson (15), Josh Smith (17), Kevin Martin (26)
2005: Danny Granger (17), Jarrett Jack (22), David Lee (30)
2006: Thabo Sefolosha (13), Rajon Rondo (21), Kyle Lowry (24),
2007: Thaddeus Young (12), Rodney Stuckey (15), Nick Young (16)
2008: Roy Hibbert (17), Ryan Anderson (21), Serge Ibaka (24)
2009: Jrue Holiday (17), Ty Lawson (18), Jeff Teague (19)
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