Cohen: Assessing Best Draft Selections

By Josh Cohen
May 19, 2011


Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal were both first overall draft picks of the Orlando Magic.
ORLANDO -- There is plenty to analyze when trying to assess the best draft selections in NBA history.

Aside from selecting a player based on their potential or previous achievements, it’s generally imperative for franchises to choose prospects that fit their needs and expectations.

When examining the last 20 years or so of the NBA Draft, it’s remarkable the kinds of trends that have transpired.

For instance, since 1991 when Larry Johnson was selected first overall by the Charlotte Hornets, not one No. 1 pick since then had won an NCAA championship (In five of those years, a player directly out of high school or from overseas was chosen).

Also, it’s astounding the number of players who were chosen second overall that did not evolve into All-Star level performers at the professional level. Examine these names: Hasheem Thabeet, Michael Beasley, Marvin Williams, Emeka Okafor, Darko Milicic, Jay Williams, Stromile Swift, Keith Van Horn and Shawn Bradley. Ouch!

The NBA Draft is all about foresight and luck. Some franchises – for example the Spurs who landed lottery luck in 1997 to draft Tim Duncan and made daring decisions to select Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili later in the draft – seem to have it figured out better than others.

For the most part, however, there is no such thing as a “sure thing” when making a draft selection. Everyone seemed to believe Greg Oden, for instance, would transform into a perennial All-Star and championship-caliber center when the Blazers passed on Kevin Durant and made the former Ohio State standout the No. 1 overall pick in 2007. That has not worked out so well.

Attempting to determine the best selections at each draft spot takes a lot of dissecting. Sure, it’s not too difficult to suggest that Joe Johnson is a greater “talent” than Andrew Bynum considering Johnson is a No. 1 option and five-time All-Star on an above average team. But when analyzing it further, was the Lakers’ decision to pick a very unrefined Bynum with the 10th selection in the 2005 NBA Draft a more "rewarding" choice than when Johnson was taken at the same draft spot in 2001?


Josh Cohen
It’s time for you to weigh in on which draft choices among active players who were taken in the top 10 deserve to be considered the best selection at their respective spot.

In some cases – like it is for No. 1 overall draft picks -- there are a plethora of options to choose from. In other cases, on the other hand, there may not be as many.

Vote on the player that you think from each draft slot deserves to be classified as the best choice in retrospect. The winners from Round One will advance.




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