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A Decade of Drafting

Posted: Thu June 18, 1998

If hindsight is 20/20, then CNN/SI draftnik Albert Lin has achieved perfect clarity. With the 1998 NBA Draft just around the corner (Wednesday, June 24, 7:30 p.m., TNT), he examined the drafts of the 1990s, poring over lists and exploring trends. His analysis follows:

BEST FIRST-ROUND CLASS: 1992

The first seven picks were Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Christian Laettner, Jimmy Jackson, LaPhonso Ellis, Tom Gugiotta and Walt Williams.

Other quality first-rounders of note: Clarence Weatherspoon (9), Robert Horry (11), Bryant Stith (13), Doug Christie (17), Tracy Murray (18) and, yes, Latrell Sprewell (24).

WORST FIRST-ROUND CLASS: 1994

Things started off well, with Glenn Robinson, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill going 1-2-3. Juwan Howard (5), Brian Grant (8), Eddie Jones (10) and Charlie Ward (26) are the only other serviceable starters, though Jalen Rose (13) and Wesley Person (23) have had their moments.

Check out this murderer's row from 14-20: Yinka Dare, Eric Piatkowski, Clifford Rozier, Aaron McKie, Eric Mobley, Tony Dumas, B.J. Tyler. Yikes.

BEST SECOND-ROUND CLASS: 1990

Players include Toni Kukoc (2nd in second, 29th overall), Greg Foster (8, 35), Bimbo Coles (13, 40), Antonio Davis (18, 45), Derek Strong (20, 47) and Cedric Ceballos (21, 48).

WORST SECOND-ROUND CLASS: 1995

The best player from this round? Probably Andrew DeClerq (5th in second, 34th overall), as scary as that is. Others who have enjoyed a bit of "success" (i.e., they're still on somebody's roster): Eric Snow (14, 43), Tyus Edney (18, 47), Mark Davis (19, 48), Fred Hoiberg (23, 52), Chris Carr (27, 56) and Don Reid (29, 58).

Washouts include the immortal Dwayne Whitfield of Jackson State (11, 40), George Banks of Texas-El Paso (17, 46) and Michael McDonald of New Orleans (26, 55).

BEST SECOND-ROUND PICK OF THE DECADE:

Nick Van Exel (1993, 10th in second, 37th overall), ahead of Toni Kukoc (1990, 2, 29) and Isaac Austin (1991, 21, 48).

THE THREE BEST DRAFT MOVES OF THE DECADE:

1. Celtics trading Eric Montross and ninth pick in 1996 (Samaki Walker) to Mavericks for sixth pick in '96 (Antoine Walker) and 1997 No. 1 (Ron Mercer, also sixth).

2. Lakers sending Vlade Divac to Hornets for the rights to Kobe Bryant (1996, 13th overall). Of course, they knew Shaq was coming.

3. Nets working out an eight-player trade for the rights to Keith Van Horn (1998, 2).

Honorable mention: Timberwolves taking a chance on high schooler Kevin Garnett (1995, 5).

THE THREE WORST DRAFT MOVES OF THE DECADE:

1. Sixers taking Shawn Bradley (1993, 2nd overall) with Penny Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, Isaiah Rider, Vin Baker, Allan Houston, Sam Cassell—everybody but Chris Webber—still on the board.

2. Bucks trading the rights to Gary Trent (1995, 11) and a future first-rounder (which Portland eventually packaged for Isaiah Rider) to the Trail Blazers for the rights to Shawn Respert (1995, 8).

3. Raptors taking Marcus Camby (1996, 2) when the next four picks were Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen and Antoine Walker.

MOST SUCCESSFUL TEAMS OF THE DECADE:

1. Wizards. Surprised? The Wizards/Bullets have come away with talent (as they were supposed to) in the lottery—Rasheed Wallace (1995, 4th overall), Juwan Howard (1994, 5), Calbert Cheaney (1993, 6), Tom Gugliotta (1992, 6)—along with some second-round keepers—Jim McIlvaine (1994, 32), Gheorge Muresan (1993, 30), Brent Price (1992, 32) and Greg Foster (1990, 35).

2. Nuggets. Brent Barry (1995, 15, traded on draft day to Clippers as part of Antonio McDyess deal), Jalen Rose (1994, 13), Rodney Rogers (1993, 9), LaPhonso Ellis (1992, 5), Bryant Stith (1992, 13), Dikembe Mutombo (1991, 4), Chris Jackson (1990, 3, now Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf).

3. Kings. Lots of chances produced: Anthony Johnson (1997, 40), Corliss Willilamson (1995, 13), Brian Grant (1994, 8), Michael Smith (1994, 35), Walt Williams (1992, 7), Billy Owens (1991, 3), Bimbo Coles (1990, 40, traded on draft day to Heat). Others who show promise or have had extended stays in the league: Olivier Saint-Jean (1997, 11, now Tariq Abdul-Wahad), Predrag Stojakovic (1996, 14), Lawrence Funderburke (1994, 51), Pete Chilcutt (1991, 27), Lionel Simmons (1990, 7), Duane Causwell (1990, 18).

Honorable mention: Bucks, because they didn't keep most of them. Bona fide NBA stars include Stephon Marbury (1997, 4, dealt on draft day to Timberwolves for Ray Allen), Glenn Robinson (1994, 1), Vin Baker (1993, 8); solid talent includes Voshon Lenard (1994, 46, went back to school), Bobby Phills (1991, 45), Terry Mills (1990, 16, traded to Nuggets); also Danny Fortson (1997, 10, traded to Nuggets), Gary Trent (1995, 11, traded to Trail Blazers), Eric Snow (1995, 43, traded to Sonics).

LEAST SUCCESSFUL TEAMS OF THE DECADE:

1. Trail Blazers. Not one legitimate NBA starter in the bunch. Best pick is a tossup between Aaron McKie (1994, 17) and James Robinson (1993, 21)—unless you like Alaa Abdelnaby (1990, 25). As for youngsters Alvin Williams (1997, 48, now with Raptors) and Jermaine O'Neal (1996, 17), it's still too early to call.

2. Spurs. Granted, they hit the jackpot with Tim Duncan (1997, 1) last year, but other than that the best player the Spurs have selected is Tracy Murray (1992, 18th overall)—and he was sent to Portland in a three-way, draft-day deal.

3. Hawks. Alan Henderson (1995, 16) finally emerged this past season and Ed Gray (1997, 22) showed some flashes before he sprained his right foot, but Stacey Augmon (1991, 9) is the only other noteworthy name. Busts include Doug Edwards (1991, 15), Adam Keefe (1992, 10) and Rumeal Robinson (1990, 10).

Honorable mention: Clippers. They had to be here somewhere. With as many No. 1s as they've had and as high as the picks have come, they should be doing much better. Loy Vaught (1990, 13) is a mainstay and Maurice Taylor (1997, 14) has shown some ability, but Lorenzen Wright (1996, 7)? Lamond Murray (1994, 7)? Greg Minor (1994, 25)? Terry Dehere (1993, 13)? Randy Woods (1992, 16)? Elmore Spencer (1992, 25)? LeRon Ellis (1991, 22)? Bo Kimble (1990, 8)? Please. Antonio McDyess (1995, 2) was traded on draft day, and Elliott Perry (1991, 37) didn't develop until later in his career.

BIGGEST LOTTERY BUSTS:

Bo Kimble (1990, 8th overall, Clippers), Doug Smith (1991, 6, Mavericks), Mark Macon (1991, 8, Nuggets), Adam Keefe (1992, 10, Hawks), Shawn Bradley (1993, 2, Sixers), Sharone Wright (1994, 6, Sixers), Ed O'Bannon (1995, 9, Nets), Todd Fuller (1996, 11, Warriors), Adonal Foyle (1997, 8, Warriors).

THE CURSE OF THE NO. 8 PICK:

Vin Baker (1993, Bucks), Brian Grant (1994, Kings) and Kerry Kittles (1996, Nets) have turned out all right, but how about this list of duds: Bo Kimble (1990, Clippers), Mark Macon (1991, Nuggets), Todd Day (1992, Bucks), Shawn Respert (1995, Trail Blazers), Adonal Foyle (1997, Warriors). Good luck, Sixers!

Related information
From Sports Illustrated
Jackie MacMullan's Mock Draft
Position-by-Position Analysis
Commencement: Draft-Class Superlatives
SI's Seth Davis: 12 Intriguing Prospects
Prince or Frog? Keon Clark from UNLV is the great unknown
Chicago Pre-Draft Camp Notes
Your Turn
You Be the GM: Who would be your top pick?
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