So the Phoenix Suns finally broke the jinx.
The #1 pick is owned by the Suns for the first time in its 50-year franchise history.
All the Suns need to do is select the next generational superstar and championships will fall from the sky.
Unfortunately, your resident doom merchant is here to spin a different yarn.
Picking #1 may seem like a panacea, but history shows that it may be more of a nostrum.
Skipping the three most recent drafts and going with the previous 25 before that.... 1990-2014... I compiled a list of all the #1 picks and made a list of all their accomplishments with the team that drafted them.
Any other accomplishments after they left the team that drafted them are not on this list.
Here are a few things I noticed.
Eight of the 25 players never made an All-Star game. Kenyon Martin and Derrick Coleman only made one each. Even Larry Johnson, Glenn Robinson and Elton Brand (two each) weren’t really franchise type of players.
So the chance at getting franchise player is about 50/50.
In 10 of the drafts the team picking #1 overall got the best player in the draft (or at least it was arguably close). I listed the players that team “should have taken” to the right. Some years there were actually more than one (besides the Matrix/Manu draft).
Only four players won MVP’s for the teams that drafted them (Shaq won his with the Lakers).
Anthony Davis is the only player on the list who still has a reasonable chance to be the fifth player to join that group.
Six out of the 25 players took the team that drafted them to the NBA Finals.
Now here’s the focal point of the article.
Only 3 out of the 25 players taken #1 overall won a championship for the team that drafted them and two of them (LeBron James, Kyrie Irving) were on the same team.
Then factor in that both guys left... LeBron to the Miami Heat before coming back, which was basically only because he was going home, and Irving to the Boston Celtics in part because he felt underappreciated playing in LeBron’s shadow.
So for the most part, Tim Duncan is the ONLY player taken #1 that was a real “one team for his entire career” franchise changer... and get this, he was drafted onto a good team and into a good organization.
The San Antonio Spurs weren’t a hot mess like the Suns have been. David Robinson got injured and they managed to pull off the greatest one year tank in NBA history.
Including the 10 years of the 1980’s only adds in three more players that won titles with the teams that drafted them (David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon and James Worthy). That’s a little better than 3 for 25, but still shows a team drafting #1 is much more likely to NOT win the title than win it... especially considering Worthy landed on a title team.
The main conclusion I can draw from this is that even if you give crappy teams the #1 pick, they tend to be organizationally dysfunctional to the point that they can’t build championships around their star player.
Bad is bad.
And bad teams suffocate under the weight of their own incompetence.
Cleveland had the #1 pick four times in 12 years and the only reason they won a championship is because LeBron is from Ohio.
The New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards, Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls all had multiple #1 picks and never won a championship.
Luck also plays into this... bad luck to be exact.
If Derrick Rose, Greg Oden and Yao Ming aren’t riddled with injuries that changes things dramatically for those franchises.
Some drafts are just better than others.
In 2000, Kenyon Martin (who the Nets picked #1) actually was the best player in one of the worst drafts ever. Sorry New Jersey.
This draft seems like one of the better ones.
Besides DeAndre Ayton and Luka Doncic there are several others that project to be very good pros. Usually there is at least one sleeper per draft, too.
The Suns appear to have picked a good year to suck.
But are they lucky... and are they organizationally strong enough to turn a #1 pick into a dynasty?
History says probably not.
But winning a championship is long odds for everyone.
So the Suns better not waste their opportunity to use the #1 pick to improve theirs.
Whether that’s picking Doncic, Ayton... or (my personal favorite) trading for Karl-Anthony Towns.
Because picking #1 sure makes for an exciting month headed up to the draft, and is a beacon of hope amidst the doldrums of the last eight years, but I really don’t want the Suns to take another stab at it a few years down the road like the Nets or Magic.
One #1 pick is enough for me.
Now comes the daunting task of winning one championship.