The NBA Draft is an excellent opportunity for teams to pick up young talent. For small-market teams, it’s the best way to land a star, so they often tank to get a high draft pick. However, the Draft is not an exact science, and the order by which players are selected is never indicative of the ranking of talent in each draft class when it’s all said done.
Nevertheless, basketball is often a game of probability on the court as much as it is off the court. While the best players are not always selected in the top three, having a player who was once top pick in the past has had a significant effect on whether or not champions are won or lost. In the history of the NBA, only one team without a player selected in the top nine has won the NBA title – the 2019 Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors’ highest selection was their star, Kawhi Leonard who was picked at no.15 in 2011. The Raptors acquired Leonard by trading their 9th pick in the 2009 draft, Demar DeRozan. Kyle Lowry was the 24th pick (’06), Pascal Siakam the 27th (’17), Danny Green 46th (’09), Fred VanVleet went undrafted, Serge Ibaka the 24th (’08), Marc Gasol 48th (’07), and OG Anunoby 23rd (’17).
If the Bucks are to win tomorrow, they will become the second team to achieve such a feat. Their highest selection is not even one of their big three; Brook Lopez was selected 10th in 2008. Giannis was the 15th pick, Holiday was the 17th, and Middleton was 39th. A win by the Bucks is important as it sends a message all small-market teams are trying to broadcast – you can be a championship team full of guys who had to improve significantly at multiple aspects of the game to compete or completely change his approach to the game in Lopez’s case. Also, no player on the Bucks has been to the Finals before, so a win on your first trip would be extra special.
Realistically speaking, this is a golden opportunity for the Milwaukee Bucks as both Philadelphia and Brooklyn will look to retool and come back stronger and healthier next year. At full strength, these two juggernauts seem nearly impossible to beat in a seven-game series – especially Brooklyn. The Nets are a team that boasts having three of the best scorers this game has ever seen, all selected in the top three of their draft classes. Having a top pick on your team may have been a championship factor in the past, but seems like Giannis, and the Milwaukee Bucks are interested in defying the odds this year, so who is to say they cannot continue to do it for years to come.
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