The Best & Worst Picks at No. 7 in NBA History
Sam Smith looks at the biggest hits and misses in NBA draft history at the 7 pick
Seven is a significant number in our culture. We have the seven continents, seven days each week, seven colors of the rainbow, and the seven deadly sins being lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and the lost pride of the Bulls selecting Quintin Dailey No. 7 in the 1982 NBA draft.
The Bulls Thursday select No. 7 in this year’s NBA draft and they hope their No. 7 becomes a natural. The draft can be like a roll of the dice in some respects, so the Bulls also hope not to crap out.
The Bulls actually have done well when they’ve had the No. 7 overall pick in the draft.
Last year after the trade of Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Bulls received Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and the rights to the No. 7 pick. The Bulls used that selection for Lauri Markkanen, who made all-rookie first team and set all-time NBA rookie records for three-point shooting and appears to be emerging as the team’s go to scorer.
The Bulls also used No. 7 overall picks for two of the most productive players in franchise history. Both Kirk Hinrich in 2003 and Luol Deng in 2004 rank among the top 10 scorers in Bulls history. The Bulls also used a No. 7 selection in 2000 for center Chris Mihm and immediately traded him for the draft rights to Jamal Crawford, selected right after Mihm. The Dailey selection in 1982 didn’t go quite as well. Hinrich never did make an All-Star team, but did play for USA Basketball. Deng was a two-time All-Star and an all-defensive team player along with Hinrich. Crawford has become one of the elite sixth man players in NBA history. Crawford is one of four Bulls ever along with Michael Jordan (often), Chet Walker and Jimmy Butler to have scored 50 points in a game as a Bull.
So seven has mostly been a lucky number for the Bulls.
Though it’s hardly a guarantee in the history of the NBA draft. The likelihood is you aren’t going to get a Hall of Fame player, though there have been a few. But can you get a starter? History suggests it’s about a 50-50 chance. In the 2010s, there have been eight drafts. There are four starters from among those eight No. 7 selections: Markkanen, Denver’s Jamal Murray, the Lakers’ Julius Randle and the Mavericks’ Harrison Barnes. The others are rotation players: Emanual Mudiay, Bismack Biyombo, Ben McLemore and Greg Monroe, all with different teams than drafted them.
So a team has to do its work.
There’s only one starter left from a No. 7 selection taken in the 2000s, though he may be the best ever No. 7 selection, the Warriors two-time MVP Stephen Curry. Most of the others are out of the NBA from that decade.
So here’s a look at the best - and the worst --all-time No. 7 picks in the NBA draft.
John Havlicek, 1962. He was one of the best athletes of his era and one of the most talented, a man who also was signed by the NFL Cleveland Browns and the first true two-way player. Havlicek was the running man of the great Boston Celtics dynasty, playing on eight championship teams, a 13-time All-Star, Finals MVP, and eight times all-defense.
Stephen Curry, 2009. He has been one of the premier figures in revolutionizing the game with his amazing, long distance three-point shooting. He won back-to-back league Most Valuable Player awards and after a sputtering start through ankle surgery has made five All-Star teams and been part of three NBA champions while also leading the NBA in scoring and steals.
Bernard King, 1977. The rugged high scoring forward led the NBA in scoring one season at almost 33 per game and bounced around to make four All-Star teams. It also was his strength of will that enabled him to be the first player to recover from a torn ACL knee injury and again become an All-Star and a 20 points per game scorer. He was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2013.
Chris Mullin, 1985. The sweet shooter was a five-time All-Star and member of the 1992 Dream Team. He had a run of five consecutive seasons averaging more than 25 points per game and picked his No. 17 to model himself after his favorite player, Havlicek. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.
Alvin Robertson, 1984. Often forgotten because of off the court legal problems that had him serve jail time, Robertson was one of the best defensive guards ever to play in the NBA. He was Defensive Player of the Year in 1986, the Most Improved Player and a four-time All-Star in addition to six times all-defense and three times leading the NBA in steals. He is one of four players ever who had a quadruple double in a game. His career per game steals average is the most ever.
George Yardley, 1950. The high scoring forward played much of his career before the advent of the 24-second clock in what is generally not regarded as the modern NBA era. Still, Yardley is deserving of a spot on the list of best No. 7 picks as the NBA’s scoring leader in 1957-58 when Bill Russell was playing and the shot clock was in effect. He was the first player to exceed 2,000 points in a season and was a six-time All-Star playing eight NBA seasons. He retired despite averaging 20.2 points his last season to start his own engineering firm. He is in the Hall of Fame.
Others who excelled from the No. 7 spot in the draft were Kevin Johnson, Richard Hamilton, Damon Stoudemire, Vinnie Johnson, Tom Meschery and John Johnson from the Seattle title team. Luc Longley and Pat Riley also were No. 7 picks.
Bismack Biyombo, 2011. After a reasonably productive NBA playoffs with Toronto in 2016, he got himself a huge contract that also probably meant the end for that Orlando Magic administration. He hasn’t played much since. Taken soon after him in the 2011 draft were All-Star Kemba Walker (9), multiple champion and All-Star Klay Thompson (11) and MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard (15). Even the Morris twins selected Nos. 13 and 14 in that draft have become reliable starters. It was an excellent draft with Jimmy Butler 30th to the Bulls, and even numerous productive starters late in the first round, like Nikola Mirotic, Tobias Harris, Reggie Jackson and Kenneth Faried.
Eddie Griffin, 2001. He had a troubled personal life with substance abuse issues almost immediately after being drafted. He missed his third NBA season in rehab and played sparingly in three seasons after that before leaving the NBA and never averaging in double figures. The 6-10 forward died in a car crash in 2007 with a high blood alcohol level. Players taken after Griffin in that draft included Joe Johnson (10), Zach Randolph (19), Tony Parker (28) and Gilbert Arenas (31).
Lorenzen Wright, 1996. He did play 13 seasons in the NBA, so he was hardly a bust, though mostly as a role playing big man with a career average of about eight points. But that proved to be one of the best drafts in NBA history, particularly after the top 10. Taken in that draft were multiple All-Stars and MVPs with Kobe Bryant (13), Peja Stojakovic (14) Steve Nash (15) and Jermaine O’Neal (17). Lakers’ playoffs star Derek Fisher also was a late first round pick.
Quinn Buckner, 1976. Success in college had more influence then with limited scouting and Buckner was one of the winningest prep and college players ever. His Thornridge high school team is often considered the greatest ever in Illinois. He had a modest NBA career as a defensive specialist averaging about eight points in 10 seasons. Selected right after Buckner in that draft at No. 8 was Hall of Famer Robert Parish. Later selections included high scoring Hall of Famer Alex English and Hall of Famer Dennis Johnson. All-Star big man Lonnie Shelton also was in that draft.
George Bon Salle, 1957. It was when discrimination against black players finally began to seriously dawn on NBA owners. Bon Salle was a star at Loyola Academy in Wilmette and the U. of Illinois who never played for Syracuse after they drafted him and then briefly for the Chicago Packers. The next pick in the draft was Hall of Famer Sam Jones by the Celtics. The 76ers, the other progressive team at the time, selected Woody Sauldsbury, who became Rookie of the Year from the eighth round and an All-Star.
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