Best NBA Draft Decisions

By Josh Cohen

The NBA Draft is the event most teams must rely on to develop their franchises and build their squads into hopeful championship contenders. Some teams can utilize free agency (if they are under the salary cap) and trades (if they have enough attractive pieces), but most are forced to depend on their drafting luck.

Sometimes, draft selections are obvious. For instance, in 2003, when the Cleveland Cavaliers had the No. 1 pick, picking LeBron James was essentially a no-brainer. James was a hometown kid and arguably the most marketable phenom in sports history out of high school.

On other occasions, however, making the “correct” draft choice can be very intricate. There may be as many as four or five different options to choose from, and it is up to each organization to select appropriately.

Here were the best decisions (not necessarily the best player among all the prospects selected at that choice) since 1990 based on performance over the years. Obviously, James and Shaquille O'Neal are two of the best players of all time, but they were no-brainers at the time of the draft.

On the other hand, when the Houston Rockets selected Yao Ming over Jay Williams (a standout for three years at Duke), some weren’t sure if that was the best decision at the time. But ultimately, despite injuries, taking Yao over Williams was a brilliant choice.

After reading through each of the picks and which player they were chosen over at the time of the draft (player in parenthesis indicates a player the team was considering drafting), vote on which player at each selection was the best decision.

No. 1 picks:
1996: Allen Iverson (chosen over Marcus Camby)
2002: Yao Ming (chosen over Jay Williams)
2004: Dwight Howard (chosen over Emeka Okafor)
2008: Derrick Rose (chosen over Michael Beasley)

No 2 picks:
1992: Alonzo Mourning (chosen over Christian Laettner)
1998 Grizzlies: Mike Bibby (chosen over Raef LaFrentz)
2006 Bulls (traded to Blazers): LaMarcus Aldridge (chosen over Adam Morrison)

No. 3 picks:
1997: Chauncey Billups (chosen over Antonio Daniels)
2001: Pau Gasol (chosen over Eddy Curry)
2004: Ben Gordon (chosen over Shaun Livingston)
2007: Al Horford (chosen over Mike Conley Jr.)

No. 4 picks:
1991: Dikembe Mutombo (chosen over Luc Longley)
1999: Lamar Odom (chosen over Jonathan Bender)
2005: Chris Paul (chosen over Raymond Felton)
2008: Russell Westbrook (chosen over D.J. Augustin)

No. 5 picks:
1991: Steve Smith (chosen over Doug Smith)
1995: Kevin Garnett (chosen over Bryant Reeves)
1996: Ray Allen (chosen over Kerry Kittles)
2000: Mike Miller (chosen over DerMarr Johnson)










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