History's 5 best at the 8th pick

Sam looks back at the NBA's best selections at the 8th pick
by Sam Smith

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Eight would be too much for the Bulls in the May 14 NBA lottery. And too bad because it's been one of the worst places to be in the NBA lottery in recent years. The lowest the Bulls could be in this year's draft lottery would be eighth, though it is only about a two percent chance. Their chances for the No. 1 pick are 12.5 percent compared with 14 percent for the teams with the three poorest records. In this year's drawing, four teams could move up. Once the top four teams are decided, then the teams are placed in order of finish with poorest record first. Only if four teams—none of whom would be the teams with the three poorest records—jump ahead of all four of those teams can the Bulls fall to No. 8. So it is highly unlikely. It's also been a product of poor scouting because many players drafted below No. 8 have become top players and All-Stars. But in the last decade, the No. 8 pick has barely produced one veteran starter, the closest regular being Portland role player Al-Farouq Aminu. Collin Sexton last year for Cleveland also has been a starter, though on a rebuilding team.

The history of the No. 8 pick also hasn't been exceptional. It was more so early in the NBA when, for example, Willis Reed was taken No. 8, which that season was a second round pick. Similarly with fellow Hall of Famer Jack Twyman. Sam Jones as No. 8 was the last pick in the first round in the era of territorial draft picks to local teams. Here's a look at the best No. 8 selections in the modern NBA era since the merger of the leagues in 1976.

1.

Robert Parish, Centenary, Golden State Warriors, 1976. He went on to a Hall of Fame career as the center of the Boston Big Three with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. His acquisition by Red Auerbach in 1980 for the No. 1 overall pick (which Golden State used for Joe Barry Carroll) and a swap of first rounders which the Celtics used for Kevin McHale proved one of the great trades in NBA history and set up another Boston dynasty.

Robert Parish #00 of the Boston Celtics rebounds against Bob McAdoo #11 and Norm Nixon #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a game played in 1982 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

2.

Jack Sikma, Illinois Wesleyan, Seattle Supersonics, 1977. He was the precursor of the modern big man, a 6-11 center proficient shooting outside who was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame this year. He helped Seattle win its only title in 1979. He played in seven consecutive All-Star games, was an all-defensive team player and finished his career in Milwaukee.

Jack Sikma #43 of the Milwaukeee Bucks shoots a jump shot against Danny Ainge #44 of the Boston Celtics during a game played in 1987 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

3.

Rudy Gay, Connecticut, Houston Rockets, 2006. He was one of those best players never to be an All-Star, a career 18-point scorer and an extraordinary athlete who played on two gold medal winning USA teams. He was traded on draft day for Shane Battier and played with Memphis, Toronto, Sacramento and now San Antonio after recovering from a serious Achilles tendon rupture.

Rudy Gay #22 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots the ball against the Denver Nuggets during Game Seven of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 27, 2019 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.

4.

Andrew Toney, Southern Louisiana, Philadelphia 76ers, 1980. He falls to fourth based on longevity. He was something of a guard version of Bill Walton, who flashed across the NBA landscape like a comet and flamed out too quickly from injury. He was twice an All-Star in basically his three full seasons of an injury-shortened career. He was the premier two-way player of his era in the early 1980s in memorable series with Boston and the 76ers' 1983 championship. But chronic foot problems ended a career that had just three full seasons.

Andrew Toney #22 of the Philadelphia 76ers drives the ball up court against Charles Bradley #35 of the Boston Celtics during a game played in 1982 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

5.

Jamal Crawford, Michigan, Cleveland Cavaliers, 2000. Perhaps the next best player, though he never was an All-Star and from perhaps the worst draft ever. Unfortunately, the Bulls used six picks in that draft, the best one being when they swapped picks on draft night with the Cavaliers for Crawford. Crawford has gone on to playing for eight teams and becoming arguably the best career sixth man ever with 50-point games for four franchises, the first three-time winner of the Sixth Man award, the oldest player to have a 50-point game and the most points in a game off the bench. Others from this era who had successful careers drafted No. 8 include Detlef Schrempf, Vin Baker and Andre Miller.

Jamal Crawford #11 of the Phoenix Suns drives to the basket during the game against the Houston Rockets on April 7, 2019 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

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