Reaching for the sky

It's common to hear people talking about teams 'reaching' for size in the nba draft, so I thought I'd do some investigating into the success of top five draft picks by playing position to see how true it is. Here's a list of Top five draft picks since 2000, including 'type' and 'impact'. Note I have not included 2013 draft.




Darko Miličić Big No Impact
Chris Bosh* Big Star
Dwight Howard* Big Star
Emeka Okafor Big Good/Solid Career
Andrew Bogutx Big Good/Solid Career
Andrea Bargnani Big Underachiever
LaMarcus Aldridge* Big Star
Tyrus Thomas Big Underachiever
Shelden Williams Big No Impact
Greg Oden* Big No Impact
Al Horford* Big Star
Kevin Love* Big Star
Blake Griffin* Big Star
Hasheem Thabeet Big No Impact
Derrick Favors Big Good/Solid Career
DeMarcus Cousins Big Good/Solid Career
Enes Kanter Big Underachiever
Tristan Thompson Big Underachiever
Jonas Valančiūnas Big Good/Solid Career
Yao Ming* Big Star
Drew Gooden Big Good/Solid Career
Nikoloz Tskitishvili Big No Impact
Kwame Brown Big Underachiever
Tyson Chandler* Big Star
Pau Gasol* Big Star
Eddy Curry Big Underachiever
Kenyon Martin + Big Good/Solid Career
Stromile Swift Big No Impact
Marcus Fizer Big No Impact
LeBron James* Mid Star
Carmelo Anthony* Mid Star
Dwyane Wade* Mid Star
Shaun Livingston Mid Underachiever
Marvin Williams Mid Underachiever
Adam Morrison Mid No Impact
Kevin Durant* Mid Star
Jeff Green Mid Good/Solid Career
Michael Beasley Mid Underachiever
Evan Turner Mid Good/Solid Career
Wesley Johnson Mid Underachiever
Derrick Williams Mid Underachiever
Mike Dunleavy, Jr. Mid Good/Solid Career
Jason Richardson Mid Good/Solid Career
Darius Miles Mid Underachiever
Mike Miller Mid Good/Solid Career
Ben Gordon Small Good/Solid Career
Devin Harris+ Small Good/Solid Career
Deron Williams* Small Star
Chris Paul* Small Star
Raymond Felton Small Good/Solid Career
Mike Conley, Jr. Small Good/Solid Career
Derrick Rose* Small Star
O. J. Mayo Small Good/Solid Career
Russell Westbrook* Small Star
James Harden* Small Star
Tyreke Evans Small Good/Solid Career
Ricky Rubio Small Good/Solid Career
John Wall Small Star
Kyrie Irving+ Small Star
Jay Williams Small No Impact

It's not always an exact science labelling each player's 'type' and 'impact'. No doubt some will disagree with the categorising, so here's the criteria that seemed to make the most sense to me.


Players were divided into three categories based not just on their size, but by their role within an NBA team.


- Centres.

- Bonafide power forward's who primarily play inside (on Off and Def)


- Small Forwards

- Slashing mid size players and combo forwards


- Point Guards and combo guards

- Smaller ball handling Shooting guards


No Impact

Short NBA career with no accolades. Major bust.


Stuck around in the NBA and/or had a couple of ok seasons, but have never lived up to potential. Rating is affected by draft position/potential as well (e.g. players drafted top 2 and/or who were considered extremely talented may end up in this category despite having serviceable NBA careers - for example Bargnani or Marvin Williams)

Good/Solid Career

Regularly significant contributors/borderline stars, or developing players that still have really strong upside as a young who may grow into a star.


Has realised potential as an NBA star


The below numbers show how that the bigger* the player, the less likely they are to fulfil their potential after being drafted in the TOP 5.


Good/Solid Career


No Impact
















Bigs - it truly is a lottery with this group, with pretty even numbers across the board. Shows that top draft picks who don't succeed in the NBA are more likely to be big men, perhaps suggesting that teams 'reach' for their size, whilst overlooking their deficiencies.

Mids - Most likely to be a solid NBA player or an underachiever. Amongst this group of players there are less of the two extremes (stars and busts) . Heaps of underachievers however, perhaps suggesting that teams gamble on semi-talented guys with decent size.

Smalls - Surprisingly few duds here, almost all draftees turning into significant players in the NBA. Seems that if you're a small worth drafting in the top 5, you've probably earned it by being a undisputed prospect. Worth noting the only small player who wasn't favourably rated was Jay Williams, who, unfortunately never got a chance to prove himself in the NBA.

It's of course prudent to stress the numerous variables that contribute to these numbers, and that the stats can be skewed by a range of factors, including the methodology I used in compiling them. The results, however, do provide some interesting food for thought.

A FanPost expresses the opinion of the community member who wrote it and not that of the blog management.

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