FanPost

What's the value of a top 5 draft pick?

There's been a lot of talk here about attempting to get a second pick among the top 5 (or top 4, ideally, given the profile of this year's draft class).  I have been against this, arguing that lots of rookies is better in theory than in practice, that the draft is a crapshoot, and that we overvalue draftees because we have yet to see their flaws exposed in the NBA.  It's easy to dream on guys we haven't see fail yet, and we do it every...single...year. 

On the other hand, the argument goes, the only realistic way for the Wolves to get the superstar that they need is in the draft, and therefore more (high) picks increases the chances of getting that superstar.  So even if we are wrong on Turner, maybe Favors or Cousins becomes that guy.  The more chances you have, the more chances you have to hit the jackpot.

As I've been reading the recent threads here at CH, I've been wondering if maybe I'm wrong.  Perhaps the counter argument is the real winner here, and we should go all in on trying to get another top pick, even at the cost of players like Love, Rubio, and/or Jefferson. My gut still says no, that I would rather try to leverage the assets the team has into talent that we know can play, add a Turner (or Wall, hopefully, come on ping pong balls), hopefully add Rubio, and see where we are.  I thought I would review the last decade of top 5 picks, just to see what's what. 

2000: K. Martin (Solid, 1 ASG), S. Swift (Bust) D. Miles (Bust M. Fizer (Bust) M. Miller (Solid)

2001: K Brown (Bust), T. Chandler (OK), P Gasol (AS, not best player on a title team, but great), E. Curry (Bust), J Richardson (OK/Solid). 

2002: Yao, M (Excellent, not #1), J, Williams (Bust), M. Dunleavy (Bust/OK), D. Gooden (OK), Tsiskitvili (Bust)

2003: L James (Great, #1 guy), D. Milicic (Bust), C. Anthony (Great, may be #1 guy, maybe not), C. Bosh (Excellent, AS, probably not #1 guy), D, Wade (Great, #1 guy)

2004: D. Howard (Great), E. Okafor (OK/Solid), B. Gordon (OK/Solid), S. Livington (Bust), D. Harris (Solid)

2005: A. Bogut (Solid+ now), M. Williams (OK), D. Williams (Great), C. Paul (Great) R. Felton (OK/Solid)

2006: A. Bargnani (OK?), L. Aldridge (Solid), A. Morrison (Bust), T. Thomas (OK/Solid), S Williams (Bust)

2007: G. Oden (Bust...?), K Durant (Great), A Horford (Solid), M Conley (OK), J Green (solid)

2008: D. Rose (Great..could be #1?), M. Beasley (OK), O. Mayo (Solid), R. Westbrook (Solid+), K Love (Solid)

 

Actually, I'll stop there, because where some of these guys will end up is less than clear, and I don't want to judge last year's draft.  That's 45 players drafted in the top 5 in 9 seasons.  Of those 45, there are what, 5 that we are confident can be the #1 guy on a truly competitive (Finals caliber) team?  James, Anthony, Wade, Howard, and Durant?  Let's add Paul and Williams, that's 7.  Then there are a few guys that are just short of that, but are excellent: Gasol, Bosh, Rose, maybe Westbrook and Bogut.  That's 12 total guys out of 45 who are really difference makers.  13, I forgot Yao.  I have around 11 busts, not counting Oden.  Interestingly, the busts are mostly from the early years of the decade; either some of the recent guys will emerge as busts, or teams are getting better at this drafting thing.  Or it's a fluke. 

Frankly, I'm not sure where I'm going with this; I just wanted some data.  I guess my feeling is that if you trade Kevin Love for a top 5 pick, chances are you aren't getting anyone better than him.  On the other hand, like any lottery drawing, you might get lucky. 

Clearly, the best teams of recent years have gotten their best guy from the draft: Duncan, Bryant (Draft day trade), James, Wade, Howard.  Boston is, depending on how you look at it, an exception.  But...teams have spent heavily on acquiring draft picks and seen it not work also.  The Bulls with Chandler and Curry come to mind.  (They had a tough run, didn't they?  Fizer, then Chandler and Curry, then Jay Williams.  Yikes.  It's worse than the Wolves). The Pacers trading to get Jonathan Bender.  On the other hand, the Blazers got Roy and Aldridge one year, that was pretty good.  OKC traded Ray Allen to get Jeff Green...I dunno.  Allen had to go as they were getting younger, and it's hard to complain about OKC, but Green is not a great player.

Anyway, I have no great conclusion here.  Looking at this doesn't make me more excited to go out and get more high draft picks, I have to say. What say you?  Do you want another top 5 pick this year?  Why?  And if so, what would you give for it? 

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