Michael Beasley and the Curse of the #2 Overall Pick

I have been a staunch defender of Michael Beasely. Even after the multiple incidents he has had during his career, I have maintained that an athletic scorer will always find work in the NBA. But it seems that Micheal has found a way to wear his welcome out in the league. 

Earlier this week, Beasley was released by the Phoenix Suns after yet another arrest for marijuana possession.  He's been arrested 4 times since entering the NBA in 2008 for marijuana. At some point, his production or (lack there of) just isn't worth the headache.  Beasley, a former #2 overall pick in 2008, seems to be nearing the end of his career. I can imagine he's gonna get many more chances to redeem himself.

It got me to thinking...what is it with the #2 overall pick in the NBA draft.  Below I have listed every second pick since 2008:

2013 Victor Oladipo, Indiana – Orlando Magic

2012 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky – Charlotte Bobcats

2011 Derrick Williams, Arizona – Minnesota Timberwolves

2010 Evan Turner, Ohio State – Philadelphia 76ers

2009 Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut – Memphis Grizzlies

2008 Michael Beasley, Kansas State – Miami HEAT

2007 Kevin Durant, Texas – Seattle Supersonics

2006 LaMarcus Aldridge, Texas – Chicago Bulls (Draft rights traded to Portland Trail Blazers)

2005 Marvin Williams, North Carolina – Atlanta Hawks

2004 Emeka Okafor, Connecticut – Charlotte Bobcats

2003 Darko Milicic, Serbia & Montenegro – Detroit Pistons

2002 Jay Williams, Duke – Chicago Bulls

2001 Tyson Chandler, Dominguez HS (Calif.) – L.A. Clippers (Draft rights traded to Chicago Bulls)

2000 Stromile Swift, LSU – Vancouver Grizzlies

 Of those 14 draft picks 2 of them are far too early in there career to judge (Oladipo and Kidd-Gilchrist). 3 of them have been All-Stars (Durant, Aldridge and Chandler). One had had a good career. Not great but certainly not busts (Okafor; you could argue Turner here). The other 8? I am comfortable labeling them busts. 8 of the last 14 #2 overall picks have been busts.

What is the cause of this? Don't really know. Some of it is poor luck (See Jayson Williams in 2002). Some of it just just terrible drafting (See 2003, 2005, 2009). But overall, drafting isn't a science. All of these guys were deemed top notch prospects at the least. And most of them haven't panned out. 

The moral of the story here is there are no sure things in the Draft. Especially at the second spot. All of the players presented enormous talent and potential when they were selected. This isn't truer for any player on this list than Michael Beasley.  Unfortunately, his character doesn't seem to match is on the court talent. Miami would kick themselves for that draft pick. But they've done ok for themselves. Hey, at least they didn't draft Marvin Williams over Chris Paul. That would be idiotic.

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. 

 

2013 NBA Mock Draft

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It's the most wonderful time of the year folks. The NBA Draft is this Thursday. For the past couple weeks I've been watching YouTube clips and reading mock drafts. I've changed my opinion on each guy at least twice. And I'll dreadfully afraid of what the Bobcats will do. So, things are normal. 

Despite what all the experts say, I don't think this draft is dreadful. Is there a franchise changing star in this draft? No. But there are several players who will start in the league for a while and maybe even a couple all stars. Teams can add depth and some legit playmakers this year. And hey, as bad as some of these teams are they can't be that choosey. 

Last week Brandon and did an extensive draft preview (check it out here). But I thought I'd go on record with my lottery mock draft certainly to be proven useless in the next couple days.   

Lottery Picks

1. Cleveland Caveraliers - Nerlens Noel (C - Kentucky) Sure he has a torn ACL. Sure he got dominated by every top front court prospect he faced this year. Sure the Cavs are desperately trying to trade out of this pick. He's still the #1 pick. He's got the most upside and if he progresses the way people project he may, he could at worst become a defensive anchor for years to come. Worth the gamble for a team that already has their franchise player on board. 

2. Orlando Magic - Victor Oladipo (SG - Indiana) In my opinion the most NBA ready player in the draft. Elite wing defender with the skill set to be a great scorer. The Magic need talent and this guy is possibly the best talent in the draft. 

3. Washington Wizards - Otto Porter (SF - Georgetown) Of the top 10 picks this is the first no brainer. Washington needs a SF to pair with with young core backcourt they have assembled with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Not only does Otto Porter fit the roster perfectly, he's the best player on the board. Win-Win.

4. Charlotte Bobcats - Anthony Bennett (PF - UNLV) My Beloved Bobcats. They could take anyone here and it'd be a great pick.  Anthony Bennett, while undersized, will add much needed scoring to front court that doesn't have any. Wouldn't surprise me to see them take McElmore here. But they need to get a big man in this draft.

5. Phoenix Suns - Ben McElmore (SG - Kansas) Like the Bobcats and Magic, they need talent and McElmore has that.  Elite scoring shooting guard with a fantastic jumpshot.  If he falls to them at 5, it will be fantastic value.

6. New Orleans Pelicans - Alex Len (C - Maryland) It's possible that Trey Burke is the pick here as New Orleans will look to use Eric Gordon as trade bait. But taking Len allows them to move Anthony Davis to what I think is his natural position of PF.

7. Sacramento Kings - Trey Burke (PG - Michigan) Trey Burke could turn out to be the best player in the draft.  This team needs some sort of stability and leadership. Burke can give them that.  This move also allows them to shop Isaiah Thomas. 

8. Detroit Pistons - CJ McCollum (PG - Lehigh) Why would Detroit take CJ MuCullum you ask? 2 reasons. 1.) Rodney Stuckey and 2.) Brandon Knight. Enough said.

9. Minnesota Timberwolves - Kentavius Caldwell-Pope (SG - Georgia) The Brandon Roy experiment didn't pan out. And sure Alexy Shved is a decent prospect. But the T-Wolves need a SG. And he might be as good a perimeter scorer there is in this draft.

10. Portland Trailblazers - Cody Zeller (C - Indiana) If Zeller is still on the board at 10, Portland can't pass him. Legit 7 footer. Good hands. Very agile. Nice touch.  Would fit nicely next to Aldridge. I would like to see him get a little more nasty though. Gregg knows what I mean.

11. Philadelphia 76ers - Shabazz Muhammad (SG - UCLA) Prediction: We'll look back at this draft and wonder how in the hell Shabazz Muhammad fell to 11th.  He's one of the 5 best players in the draft. And despite the fact that he lied about his age, all the character flags we've seen about him are worth the risk at this stage of the draft. 

12. Oklahoma City - Mason Plumlee (C - Duke) OKC got this pick in the James Harden deal. Didn't turn out to be as good as they would have hoped. But Plumlee I think will be a very solid energy role player for them off the bench. This team is in win now mode. They need players ready to come in and contribute now. 

13. Dallas Mavericks - Michael Carter Williams (PG - Syracuse) True PG. Good court vision. Excellent passer.  Could be a cheap steady option at the point for Dallas as they look to load up with stars to make another run at a title.

14. Utah Jazz - Sergey Karasev (SF - Russia) One of my favorite players in the draft. Can absolutely shoot the basketball. Pair him with Gordon Hayward and Utah will have one the best shooting wing tandems in the league.

Other Notable Picks

Gorgui Dieng (C - Louisville) - It baffles me how Steven Adams and Kelly Olynyk are ranks higher than him. Dieng is a legit center and a potential defensive anchor.  Which of course means San Antonio is gonna draft him.

Grant Jarrett (C - Arizona) Not a great athlete. Needs to lose a little weight. But he can really shoot for a big guy. Think Byron Mullens but with the ability to know when not to shoot the 3. 

Tony Snell (SF - New Mexico) One of my favorite players in the draft. This kid can flat out play. Someone is gonna take him in the late first and get an absolute steal.