NLL Insider - Top 10 picks in the 2005 – 2014
by CarlSpackler, updated on Sunday, June 18 2017, 11:46 pm EST
With each draft, every team has visions of landing their next star. In fact, many teams will sacrifice a season in order to land a spot in the lottery. But as many are painfully aware, a lottery pick is by no means a guarantee that a star will be found. Maybe not even a starter. NLL GMs follow the NBA draft closely, poring over the various mock draft sites to determine which players will be the next ones to take the league by storm.
As one might expect, the NLL draft fairly closely mirrors the NBA draft. But some NLL GMs will take a flyer and diverge from their real life counterparts. So, do those flyers pay off, or would they have been better off sticking to the choices made in the NBA? We examined 10 years of drafts and, since it takes a few seasons for players to really show how well they’re going to fare in the league, the most recent draft we looked at was the 2014 draft. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the top 10 picks in the 2005 – 2014 drafts.
*Bold players indicate they’ve been selected to the NBA All-Star game or All NBA Team.
Overall, 2005 was not a great draft in terms of star players. Chris Paul is really the only one in the draft who has established himself as a superstar. There are a handful of others who’ve made it to an All-Star game or were named to an all NBA team – Andrew Bogut, Deron Williams, and even Andrew Bynum made one. In the NBA, CP3 was taken 4th. The NLL didn’t see the same magic in him, as Utah, opted for Channing Frye instead. And Chris almost slipped out of the top 10 until Seattle selected him at #9.
NBA GMs +1.
In the 2006 draft, Charlotte was not on the Bargnani bandwagon, rejecting the example set in the NBA draft. Instead, they wisely chose LaMarcus Aldridge, while Bargnani slipped to 4th. Another smart move by an NLL GM was San Antonio’s choice to select Rudy Gay with the 5th pick, even though he slipped to 8th in the NBA. While he may not have been selected to an All-Star or all NBA team, he’s been a very good NBA player throughout his career. Brandon Roy was the immediate star post-draft but, unfortunately, injuries derailed his career prematurely. Unfortunately, nobody in the NLL or the NBA was able to see that Adam Morrison was going to be such an ineffective pro player.
NLL GMs +1.
Unfortunately, neither Portland in the NBA or Atlanta in the NLL were able to predict that Greg Oden was made of glass. The rest of the top 10 was very similar with picks 1-4 being identical between the leagues. The rest of the picks varied only slightly. There were 4 big stars in this draft and it was clear who they were.
Both were too similar to call a winner.
Scouts were pretty unanimous in their assessments at the time that Derrick Rose was the clear #1 in this draft. But NLL’s Golden State GM said scouts be damned and selected Michael Beasley. While Beasley hasn’t been bad, he never seemed to reach star status. Rose became the star that scouts predicted he’d be, though injuries have tempered that. The UCLA boys, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love went 4 and 5 in both leagues, but they just swapped places. Both still stars, though Westbrook is the one true superstar of this draft. In a brilliant bit of foresight, Sacramento didn’t agree with the NBA’s selection of Danilo Gallinari and instead chose Brook Lopez.
NBA wins on the Rose move, but NLL wins on Lopez. We’ll call it a tie.
Big credit is due to the NLL GMs in this year’s draft. For some reason, the NBA and various other sources were high on Hasheem Thabeet. The GMs of the NLL recognized that nonsense for what it was. Utah instead selected James Harden with the #2 pick. Unfortunately, Thabeet didn’t slip too far, and was eventually picked up with the 5th pick. Some of bits of wisdom from the NLL was picking up Steph Curry at #6 (he went 7th in the NBA) and DeMar DeRozan at 8 (9 in NBA).
NLL wins this one big. ++1
The NLL made a few smart moves in the 2010 draft and one glaring error. The Bucks wisely grabbed Boogie with the 4th pick while the while the Timberwolves in the NBA opted for Wesley Johnson with their #4 pick. And Atlanta was not deterred when Gordon Hayward went 9th in the NBA. The Hawks instead grabbed him at #6. But the big error sits down at the #10 spot in the NBA. With that pick, the Pacers selected Paul George. With the 10th pick in the NLL, San Antonio selected Ed Davis. The 11 – 14 picks all went by as Ekpe Udoh, Patrick Patterson, Larry Sanders, and Xavier Henry were grabbed before Paul George’s name was announced, heading to Sacramento at #15.
Two slightly smarter picks by the NLL, but the NBA gets the +1 only because George fell as far as he did.
This was a pretty similar top 10, with one fairly notable exception. Kemba Walker wasn’t grabbed until #9 in the NBA, but Chicago’s GM saw something the potential in Walker and grabbed him with the 6th pick in the NLL. Two guys who should have been top 10 selections but, unfortunately, neither league was able to anticipate how good they’d become, were Klay Thompson (11th in NBA and NLL), and Kawhi Leonard (15th in NBA, 13th in NLL).
For the Walker selection, NLL gets the +1.
Anthony Davis was an obvious #1 in 2012. But the rest was fairly uncertain, which is probably why there was such a variance between the two leagues. Outside of #1, no other pick in the NLL was the same as the pick in the NBA. Damian Lillard was selected #6 in the NBA, but was passed over by a few teams and Philly was ecstatic to grab him at #10. Chicago did make a pretty smart move, grabbing Harrison Barnes with the 4th pick, despite the fact that he didn’t go until #7 in the NBA.
We’ll call this one a wash.
2013 was a fairly underwhelming draft. Though, to be fair, we are getting into the timeframe where players haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully show what kind of players that may or may not be. Though a number of players have already shown that they are not going to be much. The Sixers had the first pick in this year’s NLL draft and were smart to see that Anthony Bennett was a pile of hot garbage. Unfortunately, they took a gamble by selecting Ben McLemore who hasn’t yet done too much in the league. But credit goes to the Thunder in this draft by seeing the potential in C.J. McCollum and picking him at #5, even though he didn’t go until #10 in the NBA.
This was viewed as a pretty loaded draft and, though it’s still early, some players are showing that they are clearly going to be stars, if they aren’t already. There wasn’t much difference between the two leagues. Players shuffled by 1, maybe two spots, but that was about it.
Not enough difference to determine a winner here.
So what does this tell us as we head into the 2017 draft? Absolutely nothing. Some years, the NLL GMs have diverged from what happened in the NBA and it worked out very well. Other years, they’ve diverged and gotten burned. So, the lesson here is that, barring a few exceptions, the draft is largely a crapshoot. Best of luck to all you in landing the next NBA star. Luck being the operative word here.