Since Orlando took Dwight Howard #1 overall in 2004, I thought I’d run down how the top 4 played out each year since. Why? Because the Magic will be drafting between 1-4 in this summer’s draft. What you’ll see below is a mixed bag. Also worth factoring in is the perceived weakness in this year’s class, which isn’t thought to have any potentially elite players.
2012: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Brad Beal, Dion Waiters
All of them played and started this season. None were rookie of the year however.
Stars: ** Too early to say, but all 4 look to be decent with Davis and Beal showing the most star potential.
2011: Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Enes Kanter, Tristan Thompson
Irving was an all-star. Williams has played, but for a player many argued should go #1 he’s been a bust. Kanter is a bench-warmer. Thompson made progress in his second year as a serious double-double machine in the 2nd half of the year, but his ceiling is still unknown.
Stars: * Too early to say for sure, but there is one star, and three players who probably never will be.
2010: John Wall, Evan Turner, Derrick Favors, Wes Johnson
Wall has great physical gifts, but still can’t shoot, so who knows if he’ll ever enter the class of elite point guards. Turner was a starter this year, but his lack of a jump-shot is limiting his upside. Favors was traded for Deron Williams, and may finally get the chance to start in Utah next year if Milsap leaves in free agency. He has promise. Johnson was a bust in Minnesota and is in Phoenix now.
Stars: * I’ll give Wall some props, and holding out some hope for Favors. Turner won’t become a star.
2009: Blake Griffin, Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden, Tyreke Evans
Griffin is an annual all-star. Thabeet was a bust, on his 4th team already in OKC. Harden is an all-star. Evans has regressed every year since his rookie of the year season and is viewed as a selfish player without a jumpshot, but he is talented.
Stars: ** Griffin and Harden.
2008: Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, OJ Mayo, Russell Westbrook
Rose won the MVP and was annual all-star until his ACL tear. Beasley is a bust on his 3rd team, and has been a headache everywhere. Mayo is on his 2nd team and could be on his 3rd next year despite being a pretty good offensive player. Westbrook is an annual all-star.
Stars: ** Rose and Westbrook.
2007: Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Mike Conley
Oden played 82 games for his career and is out of the league trying to make a comeback. Durant is the 2nd best player in the world. Horford has been an all-star and a solid performer. Conley is a good player, and starter for Memphis.
Stars: *** Durant, and I’ll give a nod to Horford. I will give Conley one only because Joakim Noah, Aaron Afflalo, and Marc Gasol were taken after him that year that you could consider better!
2006: Andrea Bargnani, LaMarcus Aldridge, Adam Morrison, Tyrus Thomas
Bargnani has been a bust for the most part, but has shown he can score at a high level. He has a career at the crossroads. Aldridge has become an annual all-star. Morrison was a bust. Thomas was a bust and a headache.
Stars: * Aldridge, end of discussion.
2005: Andrew Bogut, Marvin Williams, Deron Williams, Chris Paul
Bogut has been a decent player when healthy, but was finally traded last year by the Bucks. Marvin Williams has been a bust, a borderline starter to this point. Deron Williams has been an annual all-star. CP3 is one of, if not the best, point guard in the league.
Stars: ** Deron and CP3.
2004: Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Shaun Livingston
Man, thank goodness the Magic took Howard/won the lottery this year, right??? Okafor and Gordon have proven useful NBA players, but that’s it. Livingston is still playing, but was a bust for being selected that high.
Stars: * Dwight. Period.
So including the year Orlando selected Dwight Howard, in 9 years, there have been 36 players drafted.
By my estimation we have 15 stars over that time. And that is being very generous. I am factoring in future potential, a risky thing, for some of the more recent picks. Truth is the draft has produced 11 all-stars in 36 picks.
By comparison, we’ve had almost as many busts, 9 or 10 depending on how you feel, over the same 9 year run.
Also worth noting, we can only say with certainty that twice (Dwight Howard, Kyrie Irving) in twelve years has the best player gone 1st overall. We’d be arguing on Rose/Westbrook and Griffin/Harden/Curry for awhile, and while Anthony Davis would still be most likely the best player from last year, it was Damian Lillard that won rookie of the year. So at best 5/12. So getting the first pick is nice, but it promises nothing.
So regardless of where the Magic end up in the lottery tonight, they are looking at about a 30-40% chance of getting an all-star based on the recent history. The math also says they have a 25% chance of drafting a bust, and the other two players are most likely to be modest contributors to a team.