Why Sucking for Wiggins is Not a Strategy...

Much has been made of the 2014 NBA Draft Class. Many are calling it the best since 2007. Some say the best since 2003. Some people are even saying that just touching the hem of Andrew Wiggins' garment will cure any disease. I agree that next years draft is stacked. But over the past week or so, I'm starting to think this draft is getting a little overrated. 

Teams are positioning themselves for next years draft as though winning it means you can pick any two players from NBA History and have them, in their primes, indefinitely. The reality is, one team next season will get the number 1 pick. Just one. And that team will draft Andrew Wiggins who by all accounts is a franchise changing player.  There are another 4 teams that will most likely get really good players who may one day become All-Stars. The other 25 teams? Well, they will just have to build their franchises the way others have been doing it since the 1950s. Slowly, patiently and smartly.

The discussion this past few days among basketball junkies has been framed in a way that says the 2014 draft should be the end goal for all of the bottom feeding teams in the NBA. While getting Andrew Wiggins would undoubtedly be franchise changing for half the league, getting him should not be a strategy.

Consider the following:

  • Since 1985 when the NBA instituted the draft lottery, there have been just 2 players drafted #1 that have won an NBA championship with the team that drafted them; David Robinson (drafted #1 by the Spurs in 1987) and Tim Duncan (drafted #1 by the Spurs in 1997.)
  • Of the 29 players selected #1 since 1985, only 7 players have taken the team that drafted them to the NBA Finals. 
  • In 1990 the NBA shifted to a weighted lottery system where the team with the worst record had the greatest chance to get the number 1 pick.  Since this system as has been in place the team with the best odds to get the first pick has gotten the pick only 3 times; New Jersey Nets (1990), Cleveland Cavaliers (2003) and Orlando (2004).

I'm not using these facts to try and say that the team that drafts Wiggins will not win an NBA title.  It's also not to say that a bit of luck in the lottery isn't necessary to build a team. I'm using them to say that it's possible to win without him.  How about drafting well and getting good coaching.  The NBA is a star driven league. I am aware of this.  But most teams won't get that star via the #1 pick.


So before you NBA teams throw your entire season away in pursuit of Wiggins, remember that many franchises have built championship teams without the #1 pick. And so can you.