NBA

Every NBA Team’s Best Draft Pick of All-Time: Western Conference Edition

Dallas Mavericks: Rolando Blackman

The Mavericks drafted Rolando Blackman with the 9th overall pick in the 1981 NBA draft. While the case could be made for Mark Aguirre, who was selected 1st overall by Dallas in the same draft, Blackman was selected to 4 All-Star games (one more than Aguirre), and left as the franchise leader in points scored. Blackman was also taken eight picks after Aguirre, proving a better value.

Denver Nuggets: Dikembe Mutombo

The Nuggets drafted Dikembe Mutombo with the 4th overall pick in the 1991 NBA draft. Mutombo would go on to be an All-Star selection eight times (three with Denver), and 4 time Defensive player of the year (one with Denver). He gets the nod over Carmelo Anthony because Mutombo led the team to much more success.  

Golden State Warriors: Steph Curry

The Warriors selected Steph Curry with the 7th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft. The best player in the organization’s history, Steph has led the Warriors to 3 championships, and has them in position to win a fourth. He already has 2 MVPs and has been to the All-Star game 6 times.

Houston Rockets: Hakeem Olajuwan

Hakeem was drafted 1st overall by the Rockets in the 1984 NBA draft. The Rockets drafted Olajuwan before he began his name with an ‘H’. He was paired with the previous year’s top overall pick, Ralph Sampson, to form the “Twin Towers”. Olajuwan would go on to lead the Rockets to two NBA championships, while collecting 12 All-Star selections and a league MVP.  He was also a first team NBA All-Defensive team selection five times, winning NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice. The only knock could be that the Rockets took Olajuwon two picks ahead of Michael Jordan.

Los Angeles Clippers: Bob McAdoo 

The Clippers took Bob McAdoo with the 2nd overall pick in the 1972 NBA draft. Bob was actually drafted by the Buffalo Braves but the Braves moved to San Diego and became known as the Clippers 1978. McAdoo was a three time All-Star, led the league in scoring three times, and won an MVP with the Braves. He would go on to a Hall of Fame career adding two more All-Star appearances and two Championships with the Lakers.

Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson

The LA Lakers selected Magic Johnson with the 1st overall pick of the 1979 NBA draft. The Lakers are arguably, historically,  the NBA’s most successful franchise, which makes it interesting that they have been in position to take top players so often. They have drafted 9 players that went on to the Hall of Fame but Magic has to be the best. He revolutionized the game as a point guard in a power forward’s body. Magic would lead the Lakers to 5 Championships- and you can only imagine if he didn’t have Larry Bird’s Celtics and later Michael Jordan’s Bulls to contend with. He was also a 12 time All-Star, and 3 time NBA MVP.

Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley

Mike Conley was taken 4th overall in the 2007 NBA draft. Seems like an easy pick, even though Conley has never made an All Star team. Memphis (and Vancouver before they moved), have never drafted a player, who played in an All-Star game while part of the organization. Conley is the franchise leader in assists, steals and 3 pointers, and has led them to 7 of the teams 10 playoff appearances.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Garnett 

The Timberwolves drafted Kevin Garnett with the 5th overall pick in the 1995 NBA draft. Garnett was the first player drafted directly out of high school in 20 years. When he was selected, he opened the door for high schoolers to skip college and apply for the NBA draft in the late 90s and early 2000s. He was a 10 time All-Star with the wolves, and won the league MVP in 2004.  He is still the franchise record holder in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, minutes, and games played. He would add 5 more All-Star appearances, and a Championship after he left Minnesota.

New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis was drafted with the 1st overall pick in the 2012 draft. His time in New Orleans may be coming to an end, but he’s certainly been the best draft pick for the team. Davis is a 6 time All-Star, three time league leader in blocks, and NBA All-Defensive team pick. He has averaged over 23 points and more than 10 rebounds a game over his career, and will almost certainly add accolades to his resume, whether it’s in New Orleans or somewhere else.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant

The Seattle Supersonics (now the OKC Thunder) drafted Durant 2nd overall in the 2007 NBA draft. Some people can try to claim that Gary Payton or Russell Westbrook should be in this spot, but Durant’s resume is just better.  Selected to 7 All-Star games while in OKC, and a league MVP.  He led the league in scoring four times. Before breaking the hearts of Thunder fans to leave for Golden State, he cemented his name in the Franchise top ten lists for points, blocks, rebounds, assists, games and steals.

Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash 

Nash was selected with the 15th overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft. Nash is a tricky one and almost never happened. His first two years in Phoenix were spent mostly on the bench, before being traded to Dallas. But a few years later, he wound up back with the Suns and his Hall of Fame career took off.  Nash would break out, being named to the All-Star team seven times in his second stint with Phoenix, winning two league MVPs and leading the league in assists five times.

Portland Trail blazers: Clyde Drexler 

Clyde “The Glide” Drexler was selected 14th overall in the 1983 NBA draft.  In Drexler’s 11+ seasons in Portland, he made the All-Star team seven times and turned the Trail blazers into a power on the west. Drexler was a complete player- among the leaders in guards in nearly every statistical category.

Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins 

Cousins was drafted 5th overall in the 2010 NBA draft. He played with the Kings for 7+ seasons, averaging 21.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, and three assists, while being named to three All-Star games.

San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan

The Spurs drafted Tim Duncan with the 1st overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft. Duncan was the obvious choice as the top pick overall in 1997, allowing the Spurs to put him at power forward next to David Robinson.   The combination became legendary, as Duncan was a complete mismatch for most of the power forwards at the time. Duncan would spend his entire career in San Antonio- playing in 15 All-Star games, winning two league MVPs, and winning five Championships.  He was named to the NBA All-Defensive team eight times, and finished with over 26,000 points, over 15,000 rebounds, and over 4,000 assists.

Utah Jazz: Karl Malone 

The Utah Jazz selected Karl Malone with the 15th overall pick in the 1985 NBA draft. It’s hard to separate Karl Malone and John Stockton, in our minds, on the court, or on this list. Karl Malone likely would not be who he is if not for John Stockton, but Malone did win 2 league MVPs, and was named to 14 All-Star games (compared to Stockton’s 10). He would go on to score over 36,000 points, grab almost 15,000 rebounds, and have over 5,000 assists.

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