May 17, 2018, 11:00 am
Now that we know the Bulls will be picking at No. 7 in the 2018 NBA Draft, what can we learn by looking at the past 20 years of draft data as we try to define a reasonable range of expectations for the player they ultimately select?
Well, it’s a mixed bag.
If you’re a glass half-empty type, you would correctly point out that in the last 20 years, the best player in the draft was only available at the seventh or later spot a mere five times out of twenty:
1998 – Dirk Nowitzki (9th) and/or Paul Pierce (10th)
2009 – Stephen Curry (7th)
2011 – Kawhi Leonard (15th)
2013 – Giannis Antetokounmpo (15th)
2017 – Donovan Mitchell (13th)
Perhaps its a bit early to include Donovan Mitchell on that list, but if we give him the benefit of the doubt – that would mean the best player in the draft has been available at the seventh spot or later only 25 percent of the time.
If you’re a glass half-full type, you would counter that point by also correctly stating that business has been picking up lately, with four of those players being in drafts within the past ten years.
Cutting our sample size in half almost doubles the chances of the best player in the draft still being on the board when the Bulls pick!
So is a franchise player in the cards when the Bulls are on the clock at the Barclay’s Center on June 21st?
Time will tell, but its important to remember that a draft pick is an investment. As with any investment, past performance is not indicative of future success.
So with a grain of salt, let’s take a look at a 20-year history of No. 7 selections in the NBA Draft, feel nostalgic, and realize that none of us has any idea at this point what we will be saying in a few years about any of the players slated to be drafted next month.
The Bulls have owned the No. 7 pick four times over the past 20 years:
2000 – Chris Mihm – Texas (immediately traded to Cleveland for No. 8 pick Jamal Crawford and cash)
2003 – Kirk Hinrich – Kansas
2004 – Luol Deng – Duke
2017 – Lauri Markkanen
As you will see after looking at the complete list of No. 7 picks below, the Bulls have had outstanding luck drafting from the seventh spot. All of those players (swapping out Mihm for Crawford), either went on to have or are in the process of having long, productive NBA careers.
There have only been three All-Stars drafted in the last 20 years from the No. 7 spot:
Richard Hamilton – 1999 (Washington Wizards)
Luol Deng – 2004 (Chicago Bulls)
Stephen Curry – 2009 (Golden State Warriors)
All signs point to Lauri Markkanen making an All-Star team at some point in the future as well.
It may have been difficult to see the Bulls cede ground in the lottery Tuesday night, but over the past 20 years no team in the NBA can claim the repeated success the Bulls have had with the No. 7 pick.
Now onto a nostalgic stroll down memory lane with a recap of No. 7 selections from 1998-2017:
1998 – Jason Williams, PG – Florida (Sacramento Kings)
1999 – Richard Hamilton, SG – Seton Hall (Washington Wizards)
2000 – Chris Mihm, C – Texas (Chicago Bulls)
2001 – Eddie Griffin, PF – Seton Hall (New Jersey Nets)
2002 – Nene, PF – Brazil (New York Knicks)
2003 – Kirk Hinrich, PG – Kansas (Chicago Bulls)
2004 – Luol Deng, SF – Duke (Chicago Bulls)
2005 – Charlie Villanueva, PF – Connecticut (Toronto Raptors)
2006 – Randy Foye, PG – Villanova (Boston Celtics)
2007 – Corey Bewwer, SF – Florida (Minnesota Timberwolves)
2008 – Eric Gordon, SG – Indiana (Los Angeles Clippers)
2009 – Stephen Curry, PG – Charlston (Golden State Warriors)
2010 – Greg Monroe, PF – Georgetown (Detroit Pistons)
2011 – Bismack Biyombo, C – Congo (Sacramento Kings)
2012 – Harrison Barnes, SF – North Carolina (Golden State Warriors)
2013 – Ben McLemore, SG – Kansas (Sacramento Kings)
2014 – Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky (Los Angeles Lakers)
2015 – Emmanuel Mudiay, PG – Congo (Denver Nuggets)
2016 – Jamal Murray, PG – Kentucky (Denver Nuggets)
2017 – Lauri Markkanen, PF – Arizona (Chicago Bulls)