For bad teams, the NBA Draft is a beacon of hope, a chance to get that one of a kind player that can alter franchise history. In no other sport can a single player have such a huge impact on a team, and it's no surprise that the greatest dynasties are often built around a great player(s) that that team drafted.
The Sacramento Kings have had their share of good and bad luck via the NBA Draft Lottery, and will once again test their chances this Wednesday. This is the Kings' fifth straight year in the lottery, dropping down or staying at the same spot each time. The Kings are currently slated to pick 5th, and will most likely pick somewhere between 5th-7th. They have about a one-in-four chance at jumping into the Top Three, but when you factor in the Curse of the Basketball Gods, those odds change to 0.0000000000004% (give or take a couple trillionths of a percent).
With the lottery in mind, I thought I'd take a look at 10 past drafts (not including last years) to see just how good the players in the lottery have been, and what the average chance of getting a good or great player has been.
(Superstars defined as any player that made at least one All-NBA 1st Team Appearance or won NBA MVP. Stars defined as any player that made an All-NBA 2nd Team or 3rd Team or All-Star team except for Chris Kaman because he is not a star. Above Average, Average and Bust are purely my opinion. It also should be noted that the last few years are less relevant considering players have only been in the league a few years and those will likely change in the next few years with players like Griffin moving into the Superstar range and Cousins/Monroe/Harden moving into the Star range, etc.)
Superstars: Amare Stoudemire (9th)
Above Average: Nene (7th)
Above Average: Chris Kaman (6th), Kirk Hinrich (7th)
Superstars: Dwight Howard (1st)
Above Average: Raymond Felton (5th)
Superstars: Kevin Durant (2nd)
Stars: Al Horford (3rd)
Superstars: Derrick Rose (1st)
Superstars: None Yet
Stars: Blake Griffin (1st)
Superstars: None Yet
Stars: None Yet
Players Drafted: 140
Total Superstars: 8 (5.7%)
Average Pick for Superstars: 3.3
Total All-Stars: 19 (13.6%)
Average Pick for All-Stars: 4.3
Total Above Average: 27 (19.3%)
Average Pick for Above Average Players: 6.1
Total Average: 35 (25.0%)
Average Pick for Average Players: 9.3
Total Busts: 51 (36.4%)
Average Pick for Busts: 8.8
Superstars from 2001-2010 Drafted Outside the Lottery: None
Last Superstars Drafted Outside the Lottery: Steve Nash (15th pick in 1996), John Stockton (16th pick in 1984)
All-Stars from 2001-2010 Drafted Outside the Lottery: 16 (Gilbert Arenas, Mehmet Okur, Tony Parker, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Carlos Boozer, Josh Howard, David West, Mo Williams, Jameer Nelson, Danny Granger, David Lee, Rajon Rondo, Marc Gasol, and Roy Hibbert)
So yeah, the lottery is kind of a big deal when you're looking for impact players. As the saying goes, the cream rises to the top, and it's no wonder that nearly every superstar drafted over the past 10 years was chosen in the Top 5 (way to ruin it Amare). The All-Star were similarly drafted very high, with an average pick of 4.3 meaning most were also picked in the Top 5. There were a similar amount of All-Stars drafted outside of the lottery as in it, but there was also a greater ratio of one-time All-Stars in that group.
An interesting number though is the fact that the average pick for Busts is higher than the average pick for average players. That's because almost every year there is a player in the Top 5 who completely fails. In this sample, 7 of the 10 years had at least one top-5 pick as a bust, and all 10 years had at least one or more top-5 picks as a bust or average. Considering a top-5 pick is your greatest chance at a star, that really hurts.
In this year's draft, there seems to be one sure thing: Anthony Davis. He projects to be a Tyson Chandler like defensive star at the very minimum, and could be one of the elusive superstars. The other players are far from sure things however, but getting a top-5 pick will drastically increase the Kings chances of improving immediately. The Kings can still have a chance at nabbing a star or a very good player if they stay at 5 or fall (the likeliest scenario), but if a team with a proven STAR or near-STAR player (not John Salmons, Geoff, think more Andre Iguodala) comes sniffing, I'd definitely be looking to move the pick if I could. The odds of grabbing a similar caliber player in the 5-7 range aren't as high as I'd like, and the farther you drop in the draft, less those odds become.