Daryl Morey’s campaign with the Rockets was a march against Draft picks. During his 13-year tenure in Houston, Morey sent 37 of them out the door, all with the intention of bringing in proven pros who can make an impact right away. Meanwhile, Danny Ainge is keeping his batch intact.
It’s a clash of philosophies that are centered around the value of the Draft pick. Or better yet, the value of a draft position. Because we’ve seen it times and times again that picking higher doesn’t necessarily mean picking better, and countless individuals prove this hypothesis. Still, the best argument for it, at least short term impact wise remains this.
Since all-time great Draft Class in ’84, only once did the top 5 picks made the All-Rookie Team after their first year run in the association, and it happened with the Class of ’18. Deandre Ayton, Luka Dončić, Trae Young, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Marvin Bagley III all had accolade worthy debut seasons, that, at least in the short run, justified the picks.
Hakeem Olajuwon, Sam Bowie, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, and Charles Barkley were the last ones to do it, and it took over three decades of Draft Classes for us to witness it again. Now, making an All-Rookie team doesn’t make you a lock for a great NBA run, but it usually is a good indicator of the direction of one’s tenure in the league. Except for the late bloomers, of course, but they’re more of an exception to the rule.
This all points to one thing, picking higher doesn’t necessarily correlate with nailing the selection. So is there any worth to it? In years where there are obvious standouts, sure. But in years, like by all projections, this one will end up being, I don’t think so. Because most often than not, you are hanging on for what-ifs. And with the pool of around 400 best basketball players in the world, going for the proven pros might be a better option than rolling the dice on a prospect.
So when your team does pile up high draft picks, don’t get too optimistic about it. It’s more of a hope selling than it is an assurance of embarking on the right path. Guys like Kobe Bryant, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Manu Ginobili, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, and so many more prove it. And so does the gap between ’84 and ’18.