Winning the lotto, or winning the draft?


The more I sit and wait for the draft lotto, the more I have thought about, what would winning the lotto (getting the 1 or 2 pick for this year) do for the Jazz?

As fans, we all probably think the addition of Irving or Williams would be a huge boost, and both could be starters within the year. But is that the case always? How often do the top 3 picks pan out? How many become superstars? Is your superstar going to leave you? Is your pick going to become a disaster due to injury?

I dug a little deeper, here is what I found.

*You are about to encounter a lot of words. Proceed at your own risk.

For my research I decided to look at the drafts from 2000 to 2007. I would have gone further, but I don’t really think that the recent drafts have taken full effect yet.

Here are the top 3 picks from each draft (via Wiki), and how they have turned out thus far.


1.       Kenyon Martin PF/C (NJ Nets): Martin has become a solid big in the NBA. He has been an all-star before. No longer on team that drafted him.

2.       Stromile Swift PF/C (Vancouver Grizzlies): His second year was his best, where he averaged 12 and 6. He was traded multiple times throughout his career. Never lived up to his draft spot. Now plays in a league in china.

3.       Darius Miles SF/PF (LA Clippers): Miles was the first prep-to-pro player to be on the All-Rookie team. He was traded multiple times. Known for his confrontations with his coach in Portland, being suspended for substance abuse, and a knee injury that took two seasons out of his career. Had potential to be a great player (career high of 47 pts), injury and attitude got in the way.


1.       Kwame Brown C (Washington Wizards): The first #1 pick to be drafted straight out of high school.  Continually improved his first 3 years, but went downhill from there. Nothing special. He has become a major bust, third string big man.

2.       Tyson Chandler C (Chicago): Never has been much of a scoring big. However he has become a great defender and a good rebounder. Was traded multiple times in career, but is still a very good player in my opinion, a difference maker for any team.

3.       Pau Gasol PF/C (Vancouver Grizzlies): Averaged 19 and 9 his first year in the NBA and won the ROY Award. One of the best/most talented bigs in the NBA to this day. Was traded once, in the infamous trade with LA (why? WHY?!?). Debatably a top ten player in the league to this day.


1.       Yao Ming C (Houston Rockets): 7’ 6”, a center that was among the best for the majority of his career. Made 8 All-Star games, but the past few years has been plagued with very bad foot injuries. Still on the Rockets, but may not be for long. An amazing player whose career was greatly reduced due to injuries.

2.       Jay Williams PG (Chicago Bulls): Had an inconsistent but promising rookie season with the Bulls. However his career was ruined by a motorcycle crash. Made a comeback to the NBA in 2006, but was later waived by the Austin Toro’s (D-League).  

3.       Mike Dunleavy, Jr. SF (GS Warriors): Started for the Warriors for a good part of his time there, traded to the Pacers in 2007, where he peaked in 2008 with 19 ppg. A solid player, possible starter for some teams, role player at most. At least 5 or 6 better players in draft.


1.       LeBron James SF (Cleveland Cavaliers): The best player in the league in my opinion. Do you need much of an explanation? Two time MVP, led team to finals in 2007. Left in FA to the Heat last off-season.

2.       Darco Milicic C (Pistons): Huge potential. Huge bust. Still can play at NBA level, just not that good. Now on the T-Wolves.

3.       Carmelo Anthony SF (Denver Nuggets): Fantastic scorer, debatably the best pure scorer in the league. Multiple time all-star. Then the Melo-Drama crap happened this past season, and now in result, he plays for the Knicks (3rd best player in draft)


1.       Dwight Howard C (Orlando Magic): Best center in the league to right now. Multiple time all star, and DPOY. Been on the Magic his whole career, taking them to finals once. With no progress on Magic since their trip to finals, Howard looks like he could be leaving the magic once his contract is up.

2.       Emeka Okafor C (Charlotte Bobcats): One of the better defending/rebounding bigs in the league. Not an all-star, but a good player who makes a difference (like Tyson Chandler (ironically they were traded for each other in 2009))

3.       Ben Gordon SG (Chicago Bulls): Borderline all-star, first rookie to win 6th Man of the Year award. Great scorer, signed a new contract with Pistons 2 seasons ago.


1.       Andrew Bogut C (Milwaukee Bucks): One of the top centers in the league. Great defender, rebounder, scorer, the whole package. 3rd best player in draft (behind dwill and cp3). Continues to play for the Bucks.

2.       Marvin Williams F (Atlanta Hawks): Nothing special. Averages 12 points and 5 boards a game, rotation player. Remains on the Hawks.

3.       Deron Williams PG (Utah Jazz): No explanation needed. One of the top 2 players in draft, was traded this past season.


1.       Andrea Bargnani F (Toronto Raptors): Solid player, started his career out slow, but he has continued to progress, averaged 21 points this last season. Would be a starter on many teams. Still on Raptors.

2.       LaMarcus Aldridge PF (Portland): Has become an All-Star player, really good offensive game. Top 3 or 4 player in draft. Still on Blazers.

3.       Adam Morrison SF (Charlotte Bobcats): Big time bust. Played for multiple teams. Not much to say.


1.       Greg Oden C (Portland Trail Blazers): Amazing player in college. A couple of devastating knee injuries have kept Oden pretty much cemented on the bench.  We may never know how good Oden would have been, Steve Kerr described him as a “once-in-a-decade” player. Not a bust, but he may never play up to what he could have become.

2.       Kevin Durant F (Seattle Supersonics): One of the best scorers in the league, super-star status. Obviously the best player in the draft. Youngest player to lead league in scoring. You get the point.

3.       Al Horford C (Atlanta Hawks): Very good young center. Borderline All-Star, top 3 player in the draft.

(Sorry I got lazy with the descriptions)


Sooo I’m guessing that most of you skipped over the descriptions and just read the names, so here is a summary that you impatient people can read.

Out of the 24 players that were picked in the top 3 from the 2000-2008 drafts…

(Some of these are my opinions and may differ with yours)

-          11 are All-Star capable (only 6 remain with their original team)

-          5 are superstars ( only 2 remain with original team)

*A superstar counts as an all star as well

At this point about 46% of top 3 draft picks become All-Stars, and 21% become superstars. Just over half the All-Stars remain with team that drafted them, and less than half the superstars remain with their original team

Here is some more

-4 players either had the majority or a big part of their career ruined by injuries

-I consider 4 players to be major busts

-I consider 4 players to be relative busts (A good player, but I call them a bust because they were drafted way too high (like a #10 player, drafted #3))

So exactly 50% of top 3 picks, either had their career ruined by injury, or were underachievers


*Sad but true- The Jazz have about a 30% chance of landing a top 3 pick (if you combine chances of both lotto picks). If they do land one of them, they only have a 46% chance of landing an all star player, and if they do turn out to be an all star, then there is about a 55% chance he stays with the team. That means going into this upcoming lotto/draft the Jazz have approximately a 7.5% chance of landing an all star that will remain with the team. Ouch.

Check this out.

Out of those 8 drafts, only 4 times did the top player (of the draft) come out of the top 3 picks. And only 4 ROY awards came from the top 3 picks as well.  So what does that mean? That you don’t always need a top 3 pick to come away as the winner of the draft.


*Only one player out of all 24 has led their team to a championship (Pau Gasol). And of course you can argue that Kobe Bryant overrides that.

The good news is this is all just a bunch of recent data compiled into semi-interesting numbers. Anything could happen. Last year, the Jazz had the #9 pick, a pick that typically doesn’t turn out, but look at what we have now!

I feel pretty confident in Derrick Williams and Kyrie Irving. But I guess we will just have to wait and see (cross your fingers).

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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