A Look at Lotteries Past

Greg Oden, the No. 1 pick in 2008, having a laugh with Patrick Ewing, 1985's No. 1.

Who went No. 1 in the 2001 NBA Draft? Anybody?

You guessed it: Kwame Brown. The Human Cloud Pillow himself. Sure, Brown has quite nearly played himself into basketball obscurity, but he'll forever hold the distinction of hearing his name called first by David Stern in the most important draft in any of America's sports.

Think about it ... Only 450 players make an NBA roster, of whom around 240 (eight players, 30 teams) actually see significant minutes. Just 10 players occupy the court at once, and only a few take the bulk of the shots. Point being, one player can truly make all the difference in the world (see: LeBron James ... or "Real World Hollywood" Joey). However, NBA Lottery glitter doesn't always develop into NBA gold (see: Kwame, Michael Olowokandi).

First instituted prior to the 1985 draft, the lottery has produced 23 No. 1 picks, from Patrick Ewing to Greg Oden. In 1985 - four years before "Saved by the Bell" came on air - the Knicks landed Ewing in a lottery upset. After the current Orlando Magic coach came a slew of hyped-to-the-max ballers:

No. 1 picks are usually money ... But not always. Right, Michael Olowokandi?
NBA Lottery No. 1 Selections, 1985-2007
Patrick Ewing (1985), Brad Daugherty, David Robinson, Danny Manning, Pervis Ellison (oops), Derrick Coleman (1990), Larry Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Webber, Glenn Robinson, Joe Smith (1995 - meh), Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Michael Olowokandi (yikes!), Elton Brand, Kenyon Martin (2000), Kwame Brown (insert expletive here, Wizards fans), Yao Ming, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bogut (2005), Andrea Bargnani and Greg Oden.

Collectively, these players have lived up to their bidding, though only Robinson, O'Neal and Duncan led their respective team(s) to championships (Yao, LeBron and Howard could get there). But would some of the teams that drafted the aforementioned players No. 1 been better off with that year's No. 2 selection?

You be the judge:

NBA Lottery No. 2 Selections, 1985-2007
Wayman Tisdale (1985), Len Bias, Armon Gilliam, Rik Smits, Danny Ferry (OK, not yet), Gary Payton (1990 - yup), Kenny Anderson, Alonzo Mourning, Shawn Bradley, Jason Kidd (correct), Antonio McDyess (1995), Marcus Camby, Keith Van Horn, Mike Bibby (uh huh), Steve Francis, Stromile Swift (2000), Tyson Chandler (sure), Jay Williams, Darko Milicic, Emeka Okafor, Marvin Williams (2005), LaMarcus Aldridge (still early, but yeah) and Kevin Durant.

You'd take Jason Kidd (No. 2, 1994) over Big Dog Glenn Robinson (No. 1) if you could do it over again, Milwaukee. But would it have brought a ring?
We'll take J-Kidd over Glenn Robinson, Payton over Derrick Coleman, Bibby over Olowokandi, Chandler over Kwame and Aldridge over Bargnani, but do any of those moves result in championships? In other words, does "Michael Clayton" win an Oscar if the producers sign Daniel Day-Lewis? Possibly, but probably not (no offense Dr. Ross, you're still the man).

But wait a second ... Why does this matter to Wolves fans? Well, the prospective 2008 draft class is once again, like last year, being called by some a two-player draft: Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose. Others go as far as to say that the Wolves are doomed like Michael Scott at the high school career fair since they didn't land in the top two.

To be fair, no one here is trying to suggest that Beasley or Rose isn't (insert Trent's voice from "Swingers") the money. If nothing less, those two freshman probably stand the best chance of being successful pros. But so could - and so have - players in every other lottery position.

Look at it like this: A whole slew of All-Stars were selected in the next few lottery spots after No's 1 and 2, even when they weren't labeled as absolute studs. Someone could be this year's Scottie Pippen (taken No. 5 overall in 1987). With exception, many future All-Stars from the last several drafts were regarded no more highly than the current crop ranked between 1-20 or lower on all the expert draft boards.

Really. So you believe us, here's a list of selected All-Stars drafted in the lottery outside the top two.*
*Deron Williams and Andre Iguodala have not yet made an All-Star team, but will next year.

Chris Paul went No. 4 to New Orleans in 2005. How's that working out for you, Hornets fans?
Selected NBA Lottery All-Stars,1995-2006
Rasheed Wallace (No. 4 in '95), Kevin Garnett (No. 5 in '95), Kobe Bryant (No. 13 in '96), Tracy McGrady (No. 9 in '97), Antawn Jamison (No. 4 in '98) Dirk Nowitzki (No. 9 in '98), Paul Pierce (No. 10 in '98), Richard Hamilton (No. 7 in '99), Shawn Marion (No. 9 in '99), Pau Gasol (No. 3 in '01), Joe Johnson (No. 10 in '01), Richard Jefferson (No. 13 in '01), Amare Stoudemire (No. 9 in '02), Caron Butler (No. 10 in '02), Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, (Nos. 3-5 in '03), Andre Iguodala (No. 9 in '04), Deron Williams (No. 3 in '05) and Chris Paul (No. 4 in '05).

Not bad, right? And that's not an all-encompassing list (we left off All-Stars like Jason Richardson, Baron Davis, Vince Carter, Ray Allen and Stephon Marbury) of lottery players who turned into studs, but it'll do for argument's sake.

Just remember ... Pippen ... Kobe ... KG ... Amare ... Dwyane ... CP3 ...