The History of the 15th Overall Pick

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While some have lobbied for the idea of "tanking" as a strategy to get a top prospect in the draft, it doesn't always work out that way.  There are many examples of why tanking is a bad strategy, but look no further than the 2013-14 season, when the Rookie of the Year (Michael Carter-Williams) was selected eleventh overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.  

That's right - the best player in last year's draft was not a Top 10 pick.

The Atlanta Hawks have the fifteenth pick in the first round, and history shows there is still plenty of talent left at that point.

Steve Nash was drafted fifteenth overall by the Phoenix Suns in 1996.  He's won two MVPs and is third all time in assists with more than 10,000.

Dell Curry went fifteenth to Utah in 1986.  Though he didn't play there long, he found a career in Charlotte where he led the franchise in scoring with more than 9,000 points, shot a career 40% from three and won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 1994.

The year before Nash, Brent Barry was drafted in the fifteenth spot.  One of four Rick Barry sons to play in the league, Brent won the 1996 Slam Dunk Contest, shot better than 40 percent from three-point range and won NBA Championships with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005 and 2007.

The Boston Celtics took Al Jefferson fifteenth in 2004.  Though he has battled injuries throughout his career, he has shown he can be a consistent 20-point/10-rebound player when healthy, as he was this season.  He's turned into one of the best centers in the NBA and is widely regarded as having the best footwork.

Other active players drafted fifteenth overall who play significant roles for their various teams now include Rodney Stuckey (2007), Robin Lopez (2008), Austin Daye (2009), Larry Sanders (2010), Kawhi Leonard (2011) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (2013).

General Manager Danny Ferry said during his end of season interview that he's optimistic about finding a talented piece at #15.  Hopefully the Hawks can take advantage of a deep draft class and get someone who can help them.

Story by Jaryd Wilson


Jason Collier was drafted fifteenth overall in 2000.  He died tragically while a member of the Atlanta Hawks in 2008, and the organization now awards one player every season with the Jason Collier Memorial Trophy for dedication to community service.