NBA Draft Wacky Bracket
By Dan Shanoff
Page 2 columnist

Looking back at the NBA's lottery-team draft picks since 1985 is an eye-opening exercise. Some picks were brilliant, sure, but most revealed themselves to be of the "What the hell were they smoking?" variety.

NBA Draft Wacky Bracket
Round One Matchups
No. 1 vs. Bye
No. 8 vs. No. 9
No. 5 vs. No. 12
No. 4 vs. No. 13
No. 3 vs. Non-Lott. 1st-Rounders
No. 6 vs. No. 11
No. 7 vs. No. 10
No. 2 vs. 2nd-Rounders

Page 2 matched up each of the lottery-pick draft slots since '85 in a winner-take-all bracket, at each spot using the "Best 3," "Worst 3" and "Mixed Bag" leftovers to determine which draft position has yielded the best crop of players. Taking into serious consideration the disadvantages of drafting as the position gets worse, our most revealing discovery is how mediocre most of these picks turned out to be. Judge for yourself:

No. 1 vs. Bye
No. 1
Best 3: Shaquille O'Neal ('92), Tim Duncan ('98), Allen Iverson ('96)
Worst 3: Kwame Brown ('01), Pervis Ellison ('90), Joe Smith ('95)
Mixed-Bag Remainders:Yao Ming ('02); Kenyon Martin ('00); Elton Brand ('99); Mike Olowokandi ('98); Glenn Robinson ('94); Chris Webber ('93); Larry Johnson ('91); Derrick Coleman ('90); Danny Manning ('88); David Robinson ('87); Brad Daugherty ('86); Patrick Ewing ('85)
Analysis: When Ewing, C-Webb and the Admiral can't even crack the Top 3, that's depth. But shouldn't No. 1 flops be given greater weight?

The Pick: No. 1 Group automatically advances to the quarterfinals, but no gimme from there.

No. 8 vs. No. 9
No. 8
Best 3: Detlef Schrempf ('85); Ron Harper ('86); Brian Grant ('94)
Worst 3: Randy White ('89); Bo Kimble ('90); Mark Macon ('91)
Mixed-Bag Remainders:Chris Wilcox ('02); DeSagana Diop ('01); Jamal Crawford ('00); Andre Miller ('99); Larry Hughes ('98); Adonal Foyle ('97); Kerry Kittles ('96); Shawn Respert ('95); Vin Baker ('93); Todd Day ('92); Rex Chapman ('88); Olden Polynice ('87)
Analysis: Remember when people said Randy White was the next Karl Malone? Each of the teams that made these across-the-board mediocre-to-terrible picks could go back and find at least three players they passed up who would have been more effective.

No. 9
Best 3: Tracy McGrady ('97); Dirk Nowitzki ('98); Amare Stoudemire ('02)
Worst 3: Brad Sellers ('86); Rodney White ('01); Tom Hammonds ('89)
Mixed-Bag Remainders:Joel Przybilla ('00); Shawn Marion ('99); Samaki Walker ('96); Ed O'Bannon ('95); Eric Montross ('94); Rodney Rogers ('93); Clarence Weatherspoon ('92); Stacey Augmon ('91); Willie Burton ('90); Rony Seikaly ('88); Derrick McKey ('87); Charles Oakley ('85)
Analysis: Here's the test: If every player in the last six drafts was put back into one big draft, this group's "Best 3" would likely be in the Top 5 (along with Duncan and Yao). That helps make up for a group of overall sketchy value (but at No. 9, what do you want?)

The Pick: No. 9

No. 5 vs. No. 12
No. 5
Best 3: Kevin Garnett ('95); Scottie Pippen ('87); Mitch Richmond ('88)
Worst 3: Isaiah Rider ('93); JR Reid ('89); Jon Koncak ('85)
Mixed-Bag Remainders:Nik Tskitishvili ('02); Jason Richardson ('01); Mike Miller ('00); Jonathan Bender ('99); Vince Carter ('98); Tony Battie ('97); Ray Allen ('96); Juwan Howard ('94); LaPhonso Ellis ('92); Steve Smith ('91); Kendall Gill ('90); Kenny Walker ('86)
Analysis: In other slots, Carter and Allen could crack the "Best 3," and aside from the "Worst 3" this is a solid group. In a re-draft including every pick of the last 10 years, Garnett would go 1 or 2. (For the record: Golden State, the Clippers, the 76ers and the then-Bullets passed on him. Can you believe that as recently as 1995, drafting high school kids was unhip?)

No. 12
Best 3: Mookie Blaylock ('89); Harvey Grant ('88); Greg Anthony ('91)
Worst 3: Alec Kessler ('90); Alex Radejovic ('99); Kenny Green ('85)
Mixed-Bag Remainders:Melvin Ely ('02); Vlad Radmanovic ('01); Etan Thomas ('00); Mike Doleac ('98); Austin Croshere ('97); Vitaly Potapenko ('96); Cherokee Parks ('95); Khalid Reeves ('94); George Lynch ('93); Harold Miner ('92); Tyrone Bogues ('87); John Williams ('86)
Analysis: For this batch of Pearl Jam inspirations (Blaylock), marketing ploys (Bogues, to team with Manute Bol) and other role players, most teams would have been better off with the player taken immediately after: Redojevic (Corey Maggette); Doleac (Keon Clark); Potapenko (Kobe (Urp!) Bryant); Parks (Corliss Williamson); Reeves (Jalen Rose). It's like "hit or miss" for the GMs at No. 12 -- without the hits.

The Pick: No. 5, in a rout

No. 4 vs. No. 13
No. 4
Best 3: Rasheed Wallace ('95); Dikembe Mutombo ('91); Stephon Marbury ('96)
Worst 3: Reggie Williams ('87); Chris Morris ('88); Antonio Daniels ('97)
Mixed-Bag Remainders:Drew Gooden ('02); Eddy Curry ('01); Marcus Fizer ('00); Lamar Odom ('99); Antawn Jamison ('98); Donyell Marshall ('94); Jamal Mashburn ('93); Jimmy Jackson ('92); Dennis Scott ('90); Glen Rice ('89); Chuck Person ('86); Xavier McDaniel ('85)
Analysis: Can you believe a team once felt so good about Dennis Scott that they made him the fourth overall pick? All that hype went right to his waist. Meanwhile, Reggie Williams is one of many -- (so many) -- indescribably bad picks by the Clippers from '85 through...what year is it?

No. 13
Best 3: Kobe Bryant ('96); Karl Malone ('85); Richard Jefferson ('01)
Worst 3: Michael Smith ('89); Dwayne Washington ('86); Terry Dehere ('93)
Mixed-Bag Remainders:Marcus Haislip ('02); Courtney Alexander ('00); Corey Maggette ('99); Keon Clark ('98); Derek Anderson ('97); Corliss Williamson ('95); Jalen Rose ('94); Bryant Stith ('92); Dale Davis ('91); Jeff Grayer ('88); Joe Wolf ('87)
Analysis: I would pay a lot of money to sit in a bar with Bill Simmons to hear him talk about how he felt when the Celtics took Michael Smith in '89. Tim Hardaway (14), Shawn Kemp (17), Vlade Divac (26) or even just saying "We pass" would have been preferable.

The Pick: No. 13 Don't call it an upset. At the top, No. 13 is a gold mine; on the flip side, blowing it at that spot doesn't stink nearly as bad as whiffing with the No. 4 pick.

No. 3 vs. Rest of 1st Round
No. 3
Best 3: Grant Hill ('94); Baron Davis ('99); Pau Gasol ('01)
Worst 3: Chris Washburn ('86); Benoit Benjamin ('85); Dennis Hopson ('87)
Mixed-Bag Remainders:Mike Dunleavy ('02); Darius Miles ('00); Raef LaFrentz ('98); Chauncey Billups ('97); Shareef Abdur-Rahim ('96); Jerry Stackhouse ('95); Penny Hardaway ('93); Christian Laettner ('92); Billy Owens ('91); Chris Jackson ('90); Sean Elliott ('89); Charles Smith ('88)
Analysis: Shapes up as the "Reputation Pick" (and, somehow, the "Duke Pick,") which explains a lot: With an exception or two, all of these guys should have ended up better than they are/were. They are not quite the talents that the No. 1 and No. 2 picks usually are, yet are often stuck on teams that are just as crappy as ones picking before them. Maybe we should just call it the "Kiss of Death" pick.

Rest of First Round
Best 3: Latrell Sprewell (No. 24, '92); Joe Dumars (No. 18, '85); Steve Nash (No. 15, '96)
Second-Best 3: Shawn Kemp (No. 17, '89); Peja Stojakovic (No. 14, '96); Mike Finley (No. 21, '95)
Analysis: It's a little unfair to give this group every other first-round pick after the lottery (with no "Worst 3") but then again, their opponent in this fantasy bracket could have had ANY of these guys at least 11 picks later. But don't misunderstand this for some type of advantage; what's interesting is how few players from 14 through the end of the first round turn out to be major contributors.

The Pick: No. 3, with little enthusiasm

No. 6 vs. No. 11
No. 6
Best 3: Antoine Walker ('96); Tom Gugliotta ('92); Hersey Hawkins ('88)
Worst 3: William Bedford ('86); Doug Smith ('91); Sharone Wright ('94)
Mixed-Bag Remainders:DaJuan Wagner ('02); Shane Battier ('01); DerMarr Johnson ('00); Wally Szczerbiak ('99); Robert Traylor ('98); Ron Mercer ('97); Bryant Reeves ('95); Calbert Cheaney ('93); Felton Spencer ('90); Stacey King ('89); Kenny Smith ('87); Joe Kleine ('85)
Analysis: How many names within this uninspiring group resulted in draft-night sports-radio call-in proclamations like "Calbert Cheaney is an All-Star for years to come," which one of your family members surreptitiously recorded and annually leaves on your answering machine?

No. 11
Best 3: Reggie Miller ('87); Allan Houston ('93); Robert Horry ('92)
Worst 3: Trajan Langdon (99); Carlos Rogers ('94); Todd Fuller ('96)
Mixed-Bag Remainders:Jared Jeffries ('02); Kedrick Brown ('01); Jerome Moiso ('00); Bonzi Wells ('98); Olivier Saint-Jean ('97); Gary Trent ('95); Terrell Brandon ('91); Tyrone Hill ('90); Nick Anderson ('89); Will Perdue ('88); John Salley ('86); Keith Lee ('85)
Analysis: On the one hand, Reggie, Allan and Big Shot Rob represent three of the NBA's most clutch shooters of the last decade. On the other, Trajan Langdon represents one of the CBA's most clutch jump-shooters of the last decade.

The Pick: No. 11. Those No. 6 picks read like the Tweener All-Stars.

No. 7 vs. No. 10
No. 7
Best 3: Chris Mullin ('85); Kevin Johnson ('87); Rip Hamilton ('99)
Worst 3: Roy Tarpley ('86); Bobby Hurley ('93); Chris Mihm ('00)
Mixed-Bag Remainders:Nene Hilario ('02); Eddie Griffin ('01); Jason Williams ('98); Tim Thomas ('97); Lorenzen Wright ('96); Damon Stoudamire ('95); Lamond Murray ('94); Walt Williams ('92); Luc Longley ('91); Lionel Simmons ('90); George McCloud ('89); Tim Perry ('88)
Analysis: This slot should lose if only because of Roy Tarpley's presence. But at least Tarpley had the drugs; what's Chris Mihm's excuse? In five years, Hilario, Griffin and Thomas may boost the stock of the 7s; alas, it's too late for Lionel Simmons to contribute.

No. 10
Best 3: Paul Pierce ('98); Horace Grant ('87); Caron Butler ('02)
Worst 3: Adam Keefe ('92); Johnny Dawkins ('86); Rumeal Robinson ('90)
Mixed-Bag Remainders:Joe Johnson ('01); Keyon Dooling ('00); Jason Terry ('99); Danny Fortson ('97); Erick Dampier ('96); Kurt Thomas ('95); Eddie Jones ('94); Lindsey Hunter ('93); Brian Williams ('91); Pooh Richardson ('89); Willie Anderson ('88); Ed Pinckney ('85)
Analysis: Recently, the No. 10 has become the "value pick" (a.k.a. Player-Uses-Perceived-Disrespect-As-Motivation pick), with guys like Pierce and Butler (but the trend goes back to Eddie Jones, Brian Williams and Ho Grant). But as you can see, one GM's "value" is another's Adam Keefe.

The Pick: No. 10

No. 2 vs. Second-Rounders
No. 2
Best 3: Gary Payton ('90); Jason Kidd ('94); Steve Francis ('99)
Worst 3: Danny Ferry ('89); Stromile Swift ('00); Shawn Bradley ('93)
Mixed-Bag Remainders:Jay Williams ('02); Tyson Chandler ('01); Mike Bibby ('98); Keith Van Horn ('97); Marcus Camby ('96); Antonio McDyess ('95); Alonzo Mourning ('92); Kenny Anderson ('91); Rik Smits ('88); Arman Gilliam ('87); Len Bias ('86); Wayman Tisdale ('85)
Analysis: If No. 1 picks traditionally are about getting a great big man, the best No. 2s have been about snagging the best guard (or, at least, the reputed best guard...hello, Jay Williams!) Settling for "second-best" big players (like our Worst 3) has not been a good strategy.

Best 3: Mark Price ('86); Dennis Rodman ('86); Toni Kukoc ('90)
Second-Best 3: Nick Van Exel ('93); Rashard Lewis ('99); Gilbert Arenas ('02)
Analysis: To offer Second-Rounders a handicap, we're again looking at only the good picks. Considering these guys were totally overlooked on draft night, doesn't say much for scouting. (As if this entire rundown hasn't been one big expose of scouts' inadequacies.)

The Pick: No. 2s. Second-Rounders are scrappy overachievers, but the No. 2s are overwhelming. Even No. 2 duds contribute. Second-rounders who make a difference are few and far between.

Click here to go on to the QUARTERFINALS!



Dan Shanoff Archive

Shanoff: NBA Draft Quarterfinals

Shanoff: NBA Draft Semifinals

Shanoff: NBA Draft Finals

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