We could wait more than a year before jumping into the adjoining worlds of shortsightedness and hyperbole, couldn’t we?
Yes, this was a bad draft. We’ve said it ourselves several times. For the first time since 2001, the top pick is going to average less than five points per game. For the first time since 1988, the Rookie of the Year is probably going to be a double-digit selection.
But draft evaluation has a way of changing over time. Take the 1995 draft, which produced Damon Stoudamire as Rookie of the Year. That draft also produced Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Michael Finley and a guy named Kevin Garnett. Whom would you rather have?
The following year, a low lottery pick shot under 42 percent from the field and averaged just 7.6 points per game. He did not receive a vote in Rookie of the Year balloting. He still wasn’t a starter until his third season. His name was Kobe Bryant.
To say this draft is the worst in NBA history is quite a statement. The NBA began in 1947. The elimination of territorial picks began in 1966. The lottery began in 1985.
And even if you use the framework of the lottery era, it is still hard to unilaterally declare this draft as the worst ever.
Older readers will remember the Class of 1986. The top 10 picks were Brad Daugherty, Len Bias, Chris Washburn, Chuck Person, Kenny Walker, William Bedford, Roy Tarpley, Ron Harper, Brad Sellers and Johnny Dawkins.
By our count, that’s one All-Star, two busts, three solid players and four cokeheads, including one death. And if you probe a bit deeper in that draft, you uncover more gems such as Hot Plate Williams, Pearl Washington and Walter Berry.
Younger readers may want to revisit the Class of 2006. The top 10 picks were Andrea Bargnani, LaMarcus Aldridge, Adam Morrison, Tyrus Thomas, Shelden Williams, Brandon Roy, Randy Foye, Rudy Gay, Patrick O’Bryant and Mouhamed Sene.
By our count, that’s two All-Stars, including one whose career already is over; three solid players; and five busts, including one who never played a game in the NBA. A deeper look reveals Hilton Armstrong, Cedric Simmons and the immortal Oleksiy Pecherov.
Look, we’re not saying the 2013 draft wasn’t bad. Through the prism of right now, it is terrible. But that same prism three years ago would have shown Paul George, Evan Turner and Gordon Hayward to be guys who struggle to score and Eric Bledsoe and Greivis Vasquez as backup point guards.
For now, we’ll let folks with less patience and shorter memories attach a permanent label to this draft class. What we will do is rank its 10 worst full-season players, factoring in selection, expectations and production, or lack thereof.
On to the rankings.