While we’ve already been speculating about what happens next with Kawhi Leonard and where LeBron will take his talents in free agency, the league’s silly season officially tips off Thursday evening with the NBA draft. In advance of the festivities, I went back and ranked the previous 10 drafts based on four categories: hits (players who could generally be described as positive picks because of their talent, or the value they offered relative to where they were taken, or simply because they carved out useful—if not spectacular—careers), misses (players who were none of those things), impact on the league (how the decisions made in that particular draft affected the NBA at the time and in the future), and entertainment value (fairly obvious). Hits, impact, and entertainment were graded on a scale of 1 to 10, while points were subtracted for the miss category, for a maximum possible total score of 30.
Some notes on methodology: Certain players aren’t definitive hits or misses, and thus you might not find their names mentioned below. Other names were left out in an attempt to shorten what’s already a very long list. Most importantly, this is not a self-serious, hot-take ranking of each draft based on which year produced the most talent. It is, however, a pretty good reflection of what I like about the NBA for a variety of reasons.
Hits: Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, and Jaylen Brown is a pretty nice top three. Jamal Murray to the Nuggets with the seventh pick deserves a mention, and not just because he’s emerged as yet another Lonzo Ball antagonist. Kris Dunn (fifth to Minnesota) and Domantas Sabonis (11th to OKC) didn’t work out in their first NBA stops, but they’ve looked better since being moved to Chicago and Indiana, respectively. Dejounte Murray working out in San Antonio after the Spurs picked him no. 29 is so typical for them. Milwaukee gets credit for landing the Rookie of the Year with the 36th pick, even though Joel Embiid was robbed and no one remembers Malcolm Brogdon. Score: 5/10
Misses: Probably a little early for this, but it wasn’t a great draft for the Suns. Phoenix took Dragan Bender fourth, then traded up with Sacramento to get Marquese Chriss in exchange for picks that became Georgios Papagiannis, Skal Labissiere, and the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic, who has so far been the best player in the deal by a wide margin. Maybe either Bender or Chriss develops into something, but the early returns haven’t been good. Score: minus-2/minus-10
Impact on the league: An NBA-record 14 foreign-born players were drafted in the first round. Simmons is the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year for 2017-18 and contributed to a playoff push for the Sixers. Brown took a big step up for the Celtics this season. Ingram showed significant strides with the Lakers. There were also a few trades. The Thunder flipped Serge Ibaka to the Magic for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and the 11th pick (Sabonis). The Nets shipped Thad Young to Indiana for a pick that became Caris LeVert. And right before the draft there was a three-team deal between the Pacers, Jazz, and Hawks that landed George Hill in Utah, Jeff Teague in Indiana, and Taurean Prince in Atlanta. Score: 3/10
Entertainment value: Not a lot here. Sixers Twitter reacted the way you’d expect when the team took Simmons with the first overall pick. Denzel Valentine got very excited when he was drafted. And Celtics fans were not at all thrilled by Boston selecting Ante Zizic no. 23 overall, which was probably the best moment in an otherwise boring draft. Angry Celtics fans are the only good Celtics fans. Score: 3/10
Total Score: 9
Hits: John Wall first overall to the Wizards. DeMarcus Cousins fifth to the Kings. Gordon Hayward ninth to the Jazz might have been the best pick of the draft given where he was taken, except one pick later the Pacers lucked into Paul George at no. 10. Eric Bledsoe lasted until the middle of the first round, where he was taken 18th by the Thunder and then traded to the Clippers for a conditional future first-round pick. Avery Bradley was another quality value selection; the Celtics grabbed him 19th. Because of course they did. Max-money man Hassan Whiteside—who was alternately invisible and awful in the playoffs this season—went 33rd to the Kings. (Actually I’m not sure if that’s a hit, but at least Sacramento didn’t pay him what Miami did.) And the Pacers took Lance Stephenson 40th, thereby setting us up for one of the most deeply weird and hilarious moments in NBA history. Score: 6/10
Misses: Evan Turner (second to the Sixers), Derrick Favors (third to the Nets), and Wesley Johnson (fourth to the Wolves) all went ahead of Boogie. I love ET, and Favors and Johnson have had their moments, but even with Cousins being a pain in the ass sometimes, passing on him for those guys doesn’t look so hot in retrospect. Meanwhile, Ekpe Udoh (sixth to GSW), Greg Monroe (seventh to Detroit), and Al-Farouq Aminu (eighth to the Clippers) were all taken before Hayward and PG. Not great. Score: minus-6/minus-10
Impact on the league: The Wizards have won all those championships with Wall. Boogie remains a model citizen in Sacramento. Hayward has made the Jazz a perennial contender in Utah. And Indiana will always love Paul George. Or none of those things. I’ll award points here, but only because I’m feeling magnanimous. Score: 2/10
Entertainment value: The draft that gave us one of the NBA’s best personalities. The Villain for life. Score: 9/10
Total score: 11
Hits: Victor Oladipo went second overall to the Magic. Things didn’t work out for him in Orlando, and he was later used by the Thunder to pry Paul George away from the Pacers, but after the season Oladipo just had he counts as a hit—even though the Magic never realized it. Otto Porter Jr. was taken third, turned himself into a nice 3-and-D wing for Washington, and then parlayed that effort into max money. The Blazers used the 10th pick on little-known Lehigh shooting guard C.J. McCollum. The Thunder grabbed Steven Adams at no. 12, making him the first New Zealander to be drafted in the first round. And somehow Rudy Gobert fell to 27th overall, where he was picked by the Nuggets and then traded to the Utah Jazz (more on that in a bit). (I’m not going to count eventual Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams; even Malcolm Brogdon can’t believe he won.)
But the biggest hit of all was the Bucks’ draft-night jackpot when they lucked into Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th pick. That feels absurd in retrospect, but at the time the Greek Freak was a project who was playing against “an eighth grade CYO team” back home. There was just no way to know what he’d become. That turned out to be really fortunate for Milwaukee. That pick alone pushes this category over the top. Score: 10/10
Misses: In its last year as the Charlotte Bobcats, the franchise commemorated the occasion by taking Cody Zeller. Alex Len (fifth to Phoenix), Ben McLemore (seventh to Sacramento), and Trey Burke (ninth to Minnesota, then traded to the Jazz for Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng) never panned out. Neither did the aforementioned ROY MCW. Also, the Nuggets should never forgive themselves for trading the Stifle Tower to Utah in exchange for … [checks notes] ... [checks notes again and squints this time just to make sure] … Erick Green and cash. Denver couldn’t have known that Gobert would become one of the best rim protectors in the league, but how do you trade for a dude named Erick who spells his name with a “c” and a “k”?
The biggest miss of all was the Cavaliers gambling the first overall pick on Canadian forward Anthony Bennett, who played all of one year at UNLV and who absolutely no one thought should or would be the top player taken. Bennett started just four games in four years in the NBA and averaged 4.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 12.6 minutes before washing out of the league. He played for Fenerbahce in Turkey in the 2016-17 season and scored 1.2 points per game. Last I heard, he was with the Maine Red Claws of the G League. I would have double-checked that but … why bother?
Also, 14 teams passed on Giannis. No one knew anything that year (least of all the Cavs). Score: minus-10/minus-10
Impact on the league: That draft was the NBA’s formal introduction to a young general manager named Sam Hinkie. That evening, Hinkie bundled Jrue Holiday off to the Pelicans for Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-round pick, which he later used to take Elfrid Payton, whom he then traded for Dario Saric and another first-rounder. (Sure, Noel became the first in a long line of high Sixers draft picks to sit out his first year as a medical redshirt, but eventually it all worked out when Bryan Colangelo traded Noel to Dallas for a fake first-rounder and the center established himself as the league’s elite consumer of halftime hot dogs.) And with that, the Process was up and running and Hinkie launched his effort to reach the moon. Meanwhile, the Cavs made one of the worst first overall picks ever, while the Bucks stole a transcendent player out from under the unsuspecting noses of 14 other franchises. Score: 7/10
Entertainment value: In his last draft, David Stern got booed a lot. (They definitely weren’t saying “Boo-urns.”) But the reaction from the broadcast crew when Bennett was the surprise first pick was classic—especially the part when Shane Battier, acting as a reporter, interviewed him and rattled off some other first overall picks by way of introduction: “Jabbar. Magic. LeBron. … Bennett.” So good. Score: 7/10
Total score: 14
Hits: Derrick Rose first overall to the Bulls. (He used to be good!) Walking triple-double Russell Westbrook was taken fourth by the Sonics. Kevin Love was selected fifth by Memphis, then traded to the Wolves along with Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, and Jason Collins for O.J. Mayo (who was taken third), Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, and Greg Buckner. Sure. Why not. Danilo Gallinari (sixth to the Knicks), Eric Gordon (seventh to the Clippers), and Brook Lopez (10th to the Nets) rounded out the top 10. The Suns took Robin Lopez 15th (he’s the Marcus Morris of Lopez brothers). Roy Hibbert—who was actually good for a second, until he wasn’t—went 17th to Toronto and then was traded to Indiana for Jermaine O’Neal. Ryan Anderson (21st to Nets), Serge Ibaka (24th to the Sonics, RIP), Nic Batum (25th to Houston, then traded to Portland), and George Hill (26th to the Spurs) were all grabbed late in the first round. DeAndre Jordan was taken 35th by the Clippers (look at the Clippers doing stuff). And Goran Dragic was picked 45th by the Spurs and then shipped to Phoenix. Score: 7/10
Misses: The Miami Heat took Michael Beasley with Westbrook and Love on the board. And the Grizzlies traded Love away for O.J. Mayo. Score: minus-3/minus-10
Impact on the league: This was the could-have-been-contenders draft. Rose was an MVP. The Bulls were building something until Rose got hurt in the playoffs against the Sixers in 2012 and everything crumbled. The Sonics/Thunder had the makings of a superteam with Westbrook and Kevin Durant in place, and would go on to draft James Harden the following year—only to screw it up and scuttle their budding dynasty when they eventually traded Harden for reasons that still surpass understanding. (Don’t get mad at me, OKC fans; I’m just another messenger.) Other than that, shoulder shrug. Score: 4/10
Entertainment value: Patrick Ewing Jr.—Jr. Ewing Theory—got drafted by the Sacramento Kings. Because of course he did. It was also the draft that gave us a lifetime supply of triple-doubles, tense fan interactions, and questionable fashion choices—all in one Russ-sized package. Score: 7/10
Total score: 15
Hits: Ahead of their final season as the New Orleans Hornets, the soon-to-be Pelicans took Anthony Davis first overall. Bradley Beal went third to the Wizards. The Trail Blazers took Damian Lillard sixth (and got not only one of the best guards in the NBA, but arguably our best-ever athlete rapper). Harrison Barnes (seventh overall) was … fine in Golden State before being … fine in Dallas. Whatever your feelings on Andre Drummond, he was a good pull for the Pistons with the ninth pick. Evan Fournier went 20th to the Nuggets and has had a nice career. It took a while, but Jae Crowder (34th and traded to the Mavericks) and Khris Middleton (39th to the Pistons) have both become useful NBA players. And with one of the best second-round picks in league history, the Golden State Warriors selected Draymond Green at no. 35. Score: 9/10
Misses: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has never been able to justify Charlotte using the second pick on him. Austin Rivers, who went 10th to the Hornets, is one of the most hated players in the NBA. The Rockets took Royce White with the 16th pick and while he pushed the discourse about mental health in pro sports out into the open, he was never able to really contribute in the NBA. But my favorite came courtesy of the Sixers. At the time, the organization was run by a combination of Rod Thorn, Tony DiLeo, and Doug Collins. They traded a future first-round pick and the 45th pick in that draft for Arnett Moultrie—then Collins proceeded to bury Moultrie on the bench. Moultrie averaged just 12.4 minutes in 59 total games over two seasons with the Sixers before getting bounced out of the league. Also, as Draymond is fond of pointing out, he was passed up 34 times—including twice by the team that eventually drafted him—before being selected. Score: minus-5/minus-10
Impact on the league: Four future All-Stars were taken at the top of the draft, and a handful of players that people weren’t sure about ended up working out better than expected. Plus we were treated to Draymond, who continues to be a delight—unless your name is Tristan Thompson, in which case you should give him some room. Score: 6/10
Entertainment value: Jay Bilas acknowledged that he’s aware of the Jay Bilas wingspan drinking game. Thomas Robinson was overjoyed to be drafted. At 27, Bernard James became one of the oldest players to ever be drafted when he was taken 33rd overall. (James spent six years in the Air Force before winding up at Florida State.) And a young Nets fan gave us an all-time great GIF when the team took Ilkan Karaman late in the second round. And then there’s Draymond, who can still recite all 34 players who were taken ahead of him. The man is a treasure. Score: 6/10
Total score: 16
Hits: Karl-Anthony Towns with the first pick to the Wolves, Kristaps Porzingis fourth to the Knicks, and Devin Booker 13th to the Suns were the headliners. Myles Turner has been inconsistent in Indiana, but he’s been slightly more hit than miss so we’ll give the Pacers a nod for taking him 11th. Grabbing Drew Bledsoe’s buddy Terry Rozier at no. 16 was a nice pull for the Celtics. And of course there’s no way the Cavs would be where they are today had they not traded for the rights to The Ringer’s favorite Turkish backup wing, Cedi Osman (31st overall). Score: 7/10
Misses: So many. I’m not sure what D’Angelo Russell will ultimately be, but the Lakers land in the miss category on that one; when you take a guy second and then FedEx him across the country after two seasons, that’s less than ideal.
The Celtics reportedly offered the Hornets six picks to move up to no. 9 to take Justise Winslow. Charlotte declined so that it could draft Frank Kaminsky, which is the sort of malpractice that should have led to the Hornets being disbanded or at least relegated to the G League. I loved Mario Hezonja and still do—when he played for Barcelona, someone asked if he had seen Messi play and his response was “let Messi come to see me”—but he hasn’t done much after being taken fifth by Orlando. Neither has Willie Cauley-Stein (sixth to Sacramento) or Stanley Johnson (eighth to Detroit). The Nuggets already gave up on Emmanuel Mudiay after taking him seventh. And 12 teams passed on Booker, which seems criminal in retrospect.
Then there’s the biggest miss of all: The Sixers took Jahlil Okafor third instead of Porzingis. That’s bad for all sorts of reasons, including but not limited to the fact they already had Embiid and Nerlens Noel on the roster. Embiid’s draft-night tweet summed up my thoughts then and now. Score: minus-9/minus-10
OK........... Lol— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 25, 2015
Impact on the league: There was some good talent in the draft—KAT and Porzingis are already two of the best players in the NBA—but the order was all screwed up. (The Ringer staff recently went back and fixed it for everyone.) Who knows what kind of shape the Hornets would be in if only they’d taken Dealer Danny Ainge’s super-sweet offer? And maybe the Celtics wouldn’t be poised to be the dominant force in the Eastern Conference for the next five years if they had unloaded all of those picks. And what if the Sixers had taken Porzingis instead of Okafor? Or Booker? Or, hell, Hezonja? Or really ANYONE BUT OKAFOR?! The what-if butterfly effect on this one is significant. Score: 9/10
Entertainment value: In addition to Embiid channeling my inner WTF, Ricky Rubio made a draft-night Twitter joke of his own, but it wasn’t nearly as good. We were also treated to Kelly Oubre’s shoes, which remain his strongest contribution to the NBA. But without question the best moment came courtesy of Knicks fans, who lost their minds when the franchise took KP—and not in a good way. The crying kid is the perfect avatar for every Knicks fan everywhere, forever. Never forget, Knicks fans: We have the receipts. Score: 10/10
Total score: 17
Hits: Again, it’s probably a little soon to rank hits and misses for this class, but for the purposes of this exercise it must be done. Jayson Tatum to the Celtics at no. 3 was great for Boston and awful for the rest of the Eastern Conference, particularly the Sixers. And Donovan Mitchell getting passed up by 12 teams before Utah scooped him up with the 13th pick was a massive boon for the Jazz. Lauri Markkanen (seventh to the Bulls) and Dennis Smith Jr. (ninth to the Mavericks) showed flashes this season. OG Anunoby to the Toronto Raptors with the 23rd pick was a terrific find. So was Kyle Kuzma at 27 to the Lakers. And if the Warriors hadn’t traded for Jordan Bell (he was taken by Chicago with the 38th pick), he wouldn’t have won a championship, run out of Hennessy at the parade, gotten off the bus and gone into the crowd to re-up his supply. The Warriors win at everything. Score: 5/10
Misses: Hmm. Nothing comes to mind. I don’t even remember who was taken first overall, and I definitely don’t remember that the GM who was responsible for it traded an extra first-round pick to his franchise’s biggest past/present/future rival to get it done. Nor do I recall that the executive in question was involved in a secret Twitter account scandal that threw shade at the player he selected at the top of the draft. It’s a weird memory block, I admit. But, man, the Hornets probably regret taking Malik Monk, right? Score: N/A
Impact on the league: Tatum and Mitchell are going to be stars for a long time. The no. 7 pick (Markkanen) was traded to the Bulls (along with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine) in exchange for Jimmy Butler, who helped the Timberwolves achieve their first winning record in 13 years and reach the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons. I’m still not sold on Lonzo Ball as a basketball player, but it’s impossible to measure the effect the Ball family has had on the NBA. (Not to mention that Lonzo has set the rest of us up for easy jokes; can’t believe the Lakers would prefer that he and Kuzma tone it down on social media.) The Lakers also shipped out D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to bring in Brook Lopez and the 27th pick, which turned into Kuzma. And the Sixers did something that may or may not alter the fate of their franchise moving forward, but whatever it was escapes me at the moment. Score: 6/10
Entertainment value: Where do we even begin? Frankie Smokes wore a sweet suit. De’Aaron Fox had a custom jacket lining to honor his mother, who is a breast cancer survivor. A really high draft pick had a really awkward social media gaffe. And in a since-deleted tweet, Butler’s trainer labeled the Bulls “the worst culture in the league,” said everyone knows Chicago general manager Gar Forman is “a liar,” and added that he knew “drug dealers with better morals than their GM.” Get that man on NBA Desktop.
Then there was LaVar Ball, who gave a typically wild interview to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman—ah, the simple times when those two were still pals—and invoked Zeus and Jesus.
That naturally inspired Joel Embiid, who promptly encouraged Ben Simmons to “dunk on [Lonzo] so hard that his daddy runs on the court to save him.” Score: 9/10
Total score: 20
Hits: Andrew Wiggins—taken first overall by the Cavaliers and then traded to Minnesota as part of the deal that brought Kevin Love to Cleveland—ended up as Rookie of the Year. (That was a good start for him and the Timberwolves—even if it led the team to give him a less-than-ideal max contract.) Marcus Smart still can’t shoot, but he’s done everything else the Celtics asked after taking him sixth. The Sixers took Elfrid Payton 10th—then traded him to the Orlando Magic for Dario Saric and a first-round pick. That’s a hit for the Sixers (but a massive miss for the Magic). Aaron Gordon (fourth to the Magic) and Zach LaVine (13th to the Wolves) made the dunk contest fun again. T.J. Warren (14th) has been solid for the Suns. The Nuggets got Jusuf Nurkic (16th), Gary Harris (19th), and a second-round pick in a trade with the Bulls in exchange for Doug McDermott (11th) and Anthony Randolph. That’s a hit for Denver (but a massive miss for the Bulls). Rodney Hood (23rd to Jazz), Clint Capela (25th to Rockets), and Bogdan Bogdanovic (27th to Pacers) were all late-first-round finds.
But the two biggest hits were big men. The Nuggets took Nikola Jokic in the second round with the 41st overall pick, thereby giving them a top-tier player on a bargain-basement contract. And at no. 3 the Sixers gambled on an injured center with a healthy social media game. Joel Embiid was super excited about that; trust the Process, not the television delay. Score: 9/10
Misses: Second overall pick Jabari Parker has struggled with injuries and hasn’t come close to realizing his potential with the Bucks. The same can be said about Dante Exum, who went fifth to the Jazz (though Danny Chau is holding out hope). Noah Vonleh (ninth) never did anything in Charlotte (and still hasn’t in Portland). The Bulls and Magic both made the aforementioned bad draft-night trades. Bruno Caboclo (20th to the Raptors) will forever be two years away from being two years away. And the Kings … the Kings did what they do and gave us another meme. God bless them. Stauskas? Stauskas! Score: minus-5/minus-10
Impact on the league: Minnesota got the eventual Rookie of the Year and started rebuilding a decimated franchise (even though Butler isn’t so sure about playing with him). The Sixers bet big on Embiid and gave rise to a host of jacked-up fans who haven’t stopped trusting the Process since. Rob Hennigan went from being a respected young general manager in Orlando to being thought of as a guy who got swindled (and then, eventually, the guy who forgot to cover his whiteboard). But the LeBron ripple effects are the big thing here. If the Cavs don’t get the first pick and land Wiggins, then they can’t put him in a trade package for Love, which means they might not have had the necessary assets to lure LeBron back home in the first place, which means they might not have won the ensuing championship, which means that the 52-year title drought that James ended in the Land might still be going. Score: 10/10
Entertainment value: Payton’s hat hair was pretty good. Wiggins gets points for wearing a suit from the Three Amigos collection. And LaVine putting his head down on the table and exclaiming “fuck me” after the Wolves drafted him will always be funny (even though he later said it was because he was happy to be in the league). But the best part was when a little-known media personality got super excited about the Celtics taking James Young with the 17th pick. Score: 8/10
Total score: 22
Hits: Kyrie Irving went first overall to Cleveland. The Bobcats took Kemba Walker ninth, and the Warriors selected Klay Thompson 11th. San Antonio acquired the rights to Kawhi Leonard, who had been taken 15th by the Pacers, in exchange for George Hill, Davis Bertans, the rights to Erazem Lorbek, and a future second-rounder. Good for the Spurs. (Less good for the Pacers.) The Bulls took Jimmy Butler with the last pick of the first round, and the Kings took Isaiah Thomas with the last pick of the entire draft. In between, there was a handful of other guys who turned into useful NBA players relative to where they were selected: Markieff Morris (13th to Phoenix), Marcus Morris (14th to Houston), Nikola Vucevic (16th to Philly), Tobias Harris (19th to Charlotte), Nikola Mirotic (23rd, eventually to Chicago after several trades), Reggie Jackson (24th to OKC), Bojan Bogdanovic (31st to Miami), Chandler Parsons (38th to Houston), and E’Twaun Moore (55th to Boston). That’s a lot. Score: 9/10
Misses: Derrick Williams was taken second by the Timberwolves. Jan Vesely went sixth to Washington. The Bucks took Jimmer Fredette 10th and then traded him to the Kings in a three-team deal. And the Pacers got a good player in George Hill, but only at the expense of trading a great player in Kawhi. Score: minus-5/minus-10
Impact on the league: Six All-Stars were selected. Klay to the Warriors helped put another piece in place for the dominant run Golden State is currently enjoying. Kawhi to the Spurs was a masterstroke by San Antonio, even though the relationship between Leonard and the franchise has recently soured. And Kyrie landing in Cleveland was a big deal for the Cavs—and the Clippers. The Cavs were able to take Irving first thanks to a trade deadline deal that sent Baron Davis and his dad bod to Cleveland in exchange for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. The spin at the time was that the Clippers were clearing cap space to acquire Chris Paul, but you’ll recall that Paul was traded to the Lakers before the league office put the kibosh on that. So who knows what the Clippers were actually thinking?
Meanwhile, if they had just stayed put, they could have paired Blake Griffin with Irving to form a parallel-universe version of Lob City. That would have changed everything for CP3. It also would have affected the future of Cleveland, which sold LeBron on coming back home, in part, because the Cavs already had one superstar he could play with after leaving Miami. Without Irving in place, who knows whether LeBron would have gone back to Cleveland or the Cavs would have won that championship. The whole thing is a mind melter. Score: 10/10
Entertainment value: The basketball value alone was extremely high, but Jan Vesely’s imprint here cannot be understated. Before the draft, someone described Vesely as a European Blake Griffin, to which Vesely responded that Griffin is “an American Jan Vesely.” Which, all the LOLs on that one. But that wasn’t even his most memorable draft moment. Score: 10/10
Total score: 24
Hits: The Clippers took Blake Griffin first overall. James Harden went to the Thunder with the third pick. Steph Curry somehow fell to the Warriors at no. 7, thereby putting the cornerstone in Golden State’s championship foundation. The Raptors grabbed DeMar DeRozan with the ninth pick. Jrue Holiday went 17th to the Sixers, Ty Lawson 18th to the Wolves, and Jeff Teague 19th to the Hawks. Darren Collison was taken 22nd by New Orleans. Taj Gibson started a late run of eventual NBA vets when he went 26th to Chicago, followed by DeMarre Carroll (27th to Memphis) and Wayne Ellington (28th to Minnesota). Jodie Meeks was taken 41st by the Bucks, one spot ahead of Patrick Beverley, who went 42nd to the Lakers. And Patty Mills was selected 55th by the Trail Blazers. But the big one here is Steph. He puts the score over the top. Score: 10/10
Misses: This is an all-timer. That May, not long before the draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves hired David Kahn as president of basketball operations. He replaced Kevin McHale as the organization’s top executive. Before that, Kahn worked for the Pacers for almost a decade between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, but he was primarily on the business side of Indiana’s operation. When he left, he spearheaded an effort to relocate the Montreal Expos to Portland. It didn’t work. The Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals. Then Kahn bought several D-League teams in 2005. His pre-Wolves résumé was not the kind of thing that would jump out at you on ZipRecruiter.
But, hey, Kahn and the Wolves had the fifth and sixth picks in the draft. No way they could screw it up. Except they did. With the fifth pick, Kahn selected point guard Ricky Rubio. No complaints from me there. I am a devoted and unrepentant Rubio fan. I call him Rick. That’s how much I love him. Then, with the sixth pick, Kahn took yet another point guard: Jonny Flynn from Syracuse. That’s two point guards in a row, neither of whom were named Steph Curry, who went with the next pick to the Warriors and went on to win two MVP awards and three of the last four NBA championships.
Flynn was fine in his first year (13.5 ppg, 4.4 apg, 1 spg, 41.7 FG%, 35.8 3-pt %, 82.6 FT%, 28.9 minutes per game, 81 games as a starter). Then he cratered in his second year (his TS percentage and PER plummeted to 44.4 and 7.1, respectively), and he was out of the league entirely by the time he was 22 years old.
A year ago, Kahn wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated about why he passed on Curry. He made some really good points. Just kidding. I didn’t read it. He passed on Curry twice. Unless there was some sort of Taken hostage situation in which he was forced to do unspeakable things in order to save his family, I’m all set on explanations. Score: minus-infinity/minus-10
Impact on the league: Griffin resurrected a long-buried Clippers franchise. Harden teamed up with KD and Russell Westbrook and made basketball in OKC a real thing and not a weird, abstract concept to snicker at. And Steph Curry went to the Warriors and started a dynasty that figures to render the NBA Finals boring and anticlimactic for the foreseeable future. And all because the Wolves couldn’t get out of their own way. Can you imagine what would have happened had Kahn taken Curry with one of those two picks? The Wolves might be celebrating their third title in four seasons. Just kidding again. That could never happen in Minnesota. Score: infinity/10
Entertainment value: Kahn! Score: 10/10
Total score: A lifetime of sadness in Minnesota, endless sunshine in the Bay.