NBA Draft

NBA Draft lottery: Most significant stars, surprise No. 1 picks that altered course of league history

shaquille-oneal-lebron-james-allen-iverson-split-ftr-051617.jpg
Shaquille O'Neal, LeBron James and Allen Iverson (NBA.com Illustration)

A win in the NBA Draft lottery can change the future of a franchise quickly. Make the right pick at No. 1, and the team could go from cellar dweller to championship contender in a few short years. Miss on a top prospect, and the organization will be left picking up the pieces.

With the 2018 NBA Draft lottery taking place Tuesday night, let's take a look back at the history of the winning teams, starting with the inception of the lottery in 1985. Some franchises managed to beat the odds and choose franchise-altering players, while others left fans and media scratching their heads on draft night.

1985 - Knicks

What were the odds?

14.29 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Patrick Ewing

Keep up to date with all of the latest :tag: news!
Sure Not Now

How'd that work out?

Ewing earned a trip to the Hall of Fame after 15 seasons with the Knicks (and one season each with the Sonics and Magic, but let's ignore that). He averaged 22.8 points, 10.4 rebounds per game and 2.4 blocks per game as a Knick and was a beast in the paint even in his first season. He won 1985-86 Rookie of the Year and went on to be an 11-time All-Star and seven-time All-NBA selection.

1986 - Cavs (via 76ers)

What were the odds?

14.29 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Brad Daugherty

How'd that work out?

The Cavs traded Roy Hinson for the pick that ended up being Daugherty. The UNC product made five All-Star appearances in his eight-year career, averaging 19.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Nagging back injuries cut Daugherty's career short, though, and he didn't play in the NBA past age 28.

1987 - Spurs

What were the odds?

14.29 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

David Robinson

How'd that work out?

"The Admiral" won two titles, made 10 NBA All-Star teams and captured the 1994-95 MVP award. He played all 14 years of his career in San Antonio on his way to the Hall of Fame. Oh, and he just happened to be a member of the legendary 1992 Olympic "Dream Team."

1988 - Clippers

What were the odds?

14.29 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Danny Manning

How'd that work out?

Manning was an absolute stud coming out of Kansas and left campus as the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder. However, he tore his ACL only 26 games into his rookie season with the Clippers, and he was never truly the same player. He still had a solid career and made two All-Star appearances, but Manning left many fans wondering how his career could have been different without the lingering knee issues.

1989 - Kings

What were the odds?

11.11 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Pervis Ellison

How'd that work out?

More injury trouble here. Ellison got the infamous nickname "Out of Service Pervis" from teammate Danny Ainge after he missed 48 of 82 games in his rookie season due to injury. The Kings traded him the next year to the Washington Bullets, and while Ellison had a brief resurgence in 1991-92 when he won Most Improved Player, a number of injuries never allowed him to reach his full potential.

1990 - Nets

What were the odds?

16.67 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Derrick Coleman

How'd that work out?

Coleman won the 1990-91 Rookie of the Year award and made one All-Star team while with the Nets. He played five productive seasons in New Jersey before being traded to the Sixers. He also made pit stops in Charlotte and Detroit before hanging his jersey up.

A random note about Coleman's playing days: He is one of only three players in NBA history to post a line of 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, five steals and five blocks in a single game.

1991 - Hornets

What were the odds?

10.61 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Larry Johnson

How'd that work out?

Johnson had a pro-ready frame out of UNLV and found success in his first season, winning the 1991-92 Rookie of the Year award after averaging 19.2 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. Johnson signed a 12-year, $84 million deal with the Hornets in 1993, he largest contract in NBA history to that point. He only played 51 games during the 1993-94 season as a result of a back injury, and recurring back issues took away some of his elite athleticism.

He did find new life as a role player with the Knicks in the late 1990s and averaged 12.0 points for the 1998-99 Knicks team that made the NBA Finals in a lockout-shortened season. It wouldn't be all that difficult to see Johnson thriving as a stretch 4 in today's NBA.

1992 - Magic

What were the odds?

15.15 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Shaquille O'Neal

How'd that work out?

15-time NBA All-Star, 1999-2000 MVP, three-time NBA Finals MVP and four-time NBA champion. Unfortunately for the Magic, a lot of those trophies came after Shaq had left Orlando.

O'Neal was an All-Star in each of his first four season with the Magic, averaging 27.2 points and 12.5 rebounds. His combination of size, speed and freakish athletic ability was something the NBA had never seen. Orlando got swept by Houston in the 1995 NBA Finals, but it looked as though the future was bright - until the Magic botched O'Neal's free agency after the 1995-96 season in a major way.

Contentious negotiations, potshots from fans and media and concerns over who would be the alpha male between Shaq and Penny Hardaway all led to O'Neal souring on Orlando and jumping to the bright lights of LA. The rest was history.

1993 - Magic

What were the odds?

1.52 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Chris Webber

How'd that work out?

The Magic won the NBA Draft lottery for the second consecutive year with the lowest odds ever and used the selection of Webber to execute a trade that formed an incredible one-two punch. Orlando sent Webber to the Warriors for No. 3 pick Penny Hardaway and three future first-round picks. The Magic became a contender in the East before Shaq left town, as you now know.

Webber was the 1993-94 Rookie of the Year with the Warriors, but he left the team as part of a sign-and-trade after one season due in large part to the fact that he had a different vision of himself as a player than coach Don Nelson. Webber played for four different teams before the end of his career, but he will likely be remembered as a member of the early 2000s Kings team that was very much ahead of its time with ball-handlers, passers and shooters available at all five positions.

1994 - Bucks

What were the odds?

16.30 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Glenn Robinson

How'd that work out?

"Big Dog" got into a contract dispute with the Bucks right off the bat and ultimately signed a 10-year, $68 million deal, the richest rookie contract in league history. Then-commissioner David Stern implemented a rookie pay scale then next year to avoid another similar situation.

As for his on-court prowess, Robinson finished as the second-leading scorer in Bucks franchise history behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and made two All-Star teams during his eight seasons in Milwaukee. Robinson also played in Atlanta, Philadelphia and San Antonio but couldn't fight off nagging knee injuries, ending his career at age 32. So not a bad pick, but the two players that went right after him? Jason Kidd and Grant Hill.

1995 - Warriors

What were the odds?

9.40 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Joe Smith

How'd that work out?

The Warriors had the fifth-best odds for the No. 1 pick but managed to score the top spot. They took Smith ahead of players like Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and... Kevin Garnett.

To be fair, no one could have known KG would be a future Hall of Famer out of high school, but Smith simply never panned out based on what basketball fans saw from him at Maryland. He played for 12 teams over 16 years, averaging 10.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

1996 - 76ers

What were the odds?

33.73 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Allen Iverson

How'd that work out?

The shortest No. 1 pick in NBA history was the right choice. Iverson was an 11-time All-Star and won the 1996-97 Rookie of the Year award and 2000-01 MVP. He is in the top 30 on the NBA's all-time scoring list (24,368 points) and joined the Hall of Fame with Shaq as part of the Class of 2016. Not to mention "The Answer" is one of the greatest nicknames ever.

1997 - Spurs

What were the odds?

21.60 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Tim Duncan

How'd that work out?

1997-98 Rookie of the Year, 15-time NBA All-Star, two-time MVP, five-time NBA champion, three-time NBA Finals MVP.

Is there anyone out there who thinks the Spurs should have taken Keith Van Horn?

1998 - Clippers

What were the odds?

22.56 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Michael Olowokandi

How'd that work out?

Olowokandi went from relative unknown to top pick rather quickly, and that alone should have set off alarm bells. The "Kandi Man" came into his rookie season out of shape after playing overseas in Italy during the lockout. When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar served as a coach for the Clippers, he referred to Olowokandi as "talented but uncoachable."

Inconsistent play and injuries limited the seven-footer to nine mostly forgettable NBA seasons. What makes this hurt more? The talent taken later in the first round after Olowokandi. A brief rundown: Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce.

1999 - Bulls

What were the odds?

15.70 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Elton Brand

How'd that work out?

Brand shared Rookie of the Year honors along with Rockets guard Steve Francis after the former Duke star averaged 20.1 points and 10.0 rebounds per game in his first season in Chicago. However, Brand only played one more season with the Bulls before being traded to the Clippers in exchange for Brian Skinner and the draft rights to a young center named Tyson Chandler.

A two-time All-Star with the Clippers, Brand averaged 20.3 points and 10.3 rebounds over seven seasons in LA. He enjoyed stints with the Sixers, Mavericks and Hawks before calling it a career in 2016.

2000 - Nets

What were the odds?

4.40 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Kenyon Martin

How'd that work out?

The Nets took Martin after winning the lottery with the fifth-lowest odds ever. Martin made the playoffs in three out of his first four seasons with the Nets, including back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals, both losses to the Lakers and Spurs, respectively.

Martin only made one All-Star appearance, but he was a solid role player throughout his 15-year career, primarily with the Nets and Nuggets.

2001 - Wizards

What were the odds?

15.70 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Kwame Brown

How'd that work out?

Brown was rated by many ahead of other stud big men Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler going into the 2001 NBA Draft. Team president Michael Jordan took Brown with the top pick out of high school, and he simply never panned out. Brown averaged double-digit points (10.9) once in his career, his third season in Washington, and proceeded to bounce around the league as a backup center.

Brown made more than $60 million in his career, so the story isn't all bad, but Jordan would have been better served drafting a young Spaniard named Pau Gasol, who went at No. 3 overall to Atlanta before being traded to Vancouver on draft night.

2002 - Rockets

What were the odds?

8.90 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Yao Ming

How'd that work out?

Yao appeared to be on the path to superstardom after steadily increasing his shooting and scoring numbers in each of his first three seasons in the league. After missing only two of his first 246 games, Yao was plagued by ankle and foot injuries beginning in 2005, and the Rockets were robbed of a Tracy McGrady-Yao dynamic duo.

Yao averaged 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks for his career, finishing with eight All-Star appearances (due in large part to his popularity in his home country of China) and a trip to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

2003 - Cavs

What were the odds?

22.50 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

LeBron James

How'd that work out?

Uh, it's LeBron, so it worked out just fine.

2004 - Magic

What were the odds?

25.00 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Dwight Howard

How'd that work out?

Howard was an All-Star in six out of his eight seasons in Orlando and won three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards from 2008 to 2011. Stan Van Gundy used him as an anchor on both ends, and Howard enabled the Magic to utilize a four-out attack of 3-point shooters knowing he could cover them on the defensive end. It all culminated in a trip to the NBA Finals in 2009, a 4-1 loss to the Lakers.

Amid growing frustration, trade demands and an irreparable relationship with Van Gundy, Howard was traded to the Lakers in 2012. Whether you choose to blame injuries, fit, Howard's attitude problems or some sort of combination of multiple factors, Howard was never the same player. He is currently the Hornets' starting center.

2005 - Bucks

What were the odds?

6.30 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Andrew Bogut

How'd that work out?

The seven-foot Aussie caught the eyes of scouts with his passing ability on offense and rim protection on the other end. Bogut steadily increased his production in his first three years with the Bucks, but he suffered a back injury that limited him to 36 games in 2008-09.

He dealt with numerous other injuries throughout his career, though he remained effective while on the floor, earning All-NBA honors in 2010 after averaging a career-high 15.9 points per game to go with 10.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.

Bogut carved out a role for himself with the Warriors in his later years, winning a championship with the team in 2015. He has since retired from the NBA and joined Australia's National Basketball League.

2006 - Raptors

What were the odds?

8.80 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Andrea Bargnani

How'd that work out?

Let's give Bargnani credit for one thing - the man, at one point, could get buckets. He averaged 21.4 points per game on 44.8/34.5/82.0 shooting splits, the peak of his scoring power. The bad part? He was basically a turnstile defensively and didn't rebound at all for a big man. His career rebounding percentage (9.5) is atrocious.

Bargnani was an odd bridge between the Chris Bosh years and the current Lowry-DeRozan incarnation. He last played in the NBA with the Nets in 2015-16 before taking his talents overseas.

2007 - Trail Blazers

What were the odds?

5.30 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Greg Oden

How'd that work out?

Sorry, Trail Blazers fans. Oden missed what would have been his rookie season after microfracture surgery on his right knee. He continued to deal with injuries in his debut 2008-09 season and underwent another microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2010. Oden didn't play from 2010 to 2013 and failed to log many minutes in a short-lived comeback with the Heat during the 2013-14 season.

It's hard to blame Oden for being a "bust" when his body wouldn't comply. He possessed the talent, and that's why he went No. 1. Still, seeing Kevin Durant become a superstar doesn't make this one feel any better.

2008 - Bulls

What were the odds?

1.70 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Derrick Rose

How'd that work out?

After the Bulls won the lottery with the second-worst odds ever, they got an explosive point guard in Rose who was ready to bring the team back to prominence. Rose was an All-Star in three of his first four seasons and earned the 2010-11 MVP award after leading the Bulls to a 62-20 overall record.

It went downhill quickly after that. Rose only played in 39 games during the 2011-12 regular season, then tore his left ACL in Game 1 of the Bulls' first-round series against the Sixers. He missed the entirety of the next season, and he was never truly the same player. Rose was last seen coming off the bench for the Timberwolves in the 2018 NBA playoffs.

2009 - Clippers

What were the odds?

17.70 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Blake Griffin

How'd that work out?

The Clippers got another shot at it, and they made this one count. After suffering a broken kneecap in the 2009 preseason (which kept him sidelined for the entire year), Griffin stormed back to win 2010-11 Rookie of the Year in his first full season. The former Oklahoma standout was an All-Star in five of his seven seasons.

The "Lob City" era is now over with Griffin currently in Detroit, but he made it clear he was worthy of the No. 1 overall selection.

2010 - Wizards

What were the odds?

10.30 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

John Wall

How'd that work out?

Pretty good for Washington. Wall has become one of the most explosive and productive points guards in the league. Over his past five All-Star seasons, Wall has averaged 19.9 points, 9.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.

After an early playoff exit in 2018, it will be interesting to see how the Wizards build around Wall and shooting guard Bradley Beal moving forward.

2011 - Cavs

What were the odds?

2.80 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Kyrie Irving

How'd that work out?

It's hard to argue with a game-winning shot to give Cleveland its first title since 1964. Aside from his 2016 NBA Finals heroics, Irving transformed into an offensive force next to LeBron James and Kevin Love, averaging 22.4 points and 5.3 assists in three successful seasons as part of the "Big Three."

Of course, all good things must come to an end. Irving was traded to the Celtics during the 2017 offseason and has excelled in Brad Stevens' system. Unfortunately, he was forced to sit out Boston's 2018 playoff run after undergoing a procedure on his knee. Irving is only 26 years old, though, and he should have plenty of years left in his career.

2012 - Hornets

What were the odds?

13.70 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Anthony Davis

How'd that work out?

While the then-Hornets and now-Pelicans have struggled to make much noise in the Western Conference since acquiring the long-armed forward out of Kentucky, Davis individually has been terrific. He's made the All-Star squad in five out of his first six seasons and averaged 23.4 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game for his career.

Davis led the Pelicans to the second round of the 2018 playoffs alongside Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo before falling to the powerhouse Warriors. Davis should be an MVP candidate for years to come, but his team's overall success will largely depend on the pieces around him.

2013 - Cavs

What were the odds?

15.60 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Anthony Bennett

How'd that work out?

It boiled down to offensive skills that didn't translate, poor defense and a work ethic that left much to be desired for Bennett. He got off to a rough start in Cleveland and never recovered.

Bennett ended up being part of the Kevin Love-Andrew Wiggins trade after LeBron James returned to Cleveland. He last played for the Nets during the 2016-17 season.

2014 - Cavs

What were the odds?

1.70 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Andrew Wiggins

How'd that work out?

Somehow, with the second-worst odds of all time, the Cavs got back-to-back No. 1 picks. Once LeBron James was back in the fold, the Cavs turned Wiggins into the primary trade asset to acquire Kevin Love from the Timberwolves. All of the dominoes fell perfectly in line for Cleveland, and the Cavs won a championship in 2016.

Wiggins is a certainly a scoring threat (19.7 points per game for his career), but he has plenty of room to improve. Still, he's only 23 years old with time to round out his game.

2015 - Timberwolves

What were the odds?

25.00 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Karl-Anthony Towns

How'd that work out?

Towns should be an All-Star for years to come. The 2015-16 Rookie of the Year averaged 21.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game this past season on 54.5/42.1/85.8 shooting splits. And he's a seven-footer. That's insane.

Towns could be the kind of player who drives a franchise to the playoffs for a decade or more. He has limitless potential.

2016 - 76ers

What were the odds?

25.00 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Who'd they take?

Ben Simmons

How'd that work out?

Simmons suffered a foot injury less than a month before the start of the 2016-17 regular season and missed the entire year after undergoing surgery. But his rookie season was well worth the wait.

The Aussie averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game, helping the 76ers reach the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The one-two punch of Simmons and Joel Embiid should keep Philly near the top of the East standings for a long time.

2017 - 76ers (via Celtics)

What were the odds?

25.00 percent

Who'd they take?

Markelle Fultz

How'd that work out?

The Celtics won the 2018 lottery but sent the No. 1 pick to the Sixers before the draft in exchange for the No. 3 pick and a future first-rounder. Fultz only played in 14 games as a rookie after dealing with a shoulder issue which may have altered his shooting mechanics.

As a result of the trade, Boston was able to take Jayson Tatum, who averaged 13.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game as a rookie. Fultz could become a star down the road, but based on early returns, the Celtics must be happy with the deal.

More from NBA.com

wiggins-okogie-121018-ftr-nba-getty
Canadian moment of the week: Wiggins' big putback
Gilbert McGregor
#Melo Nuggets
On this date: Carmelo ties single quarter scoring record
Carlan Gay
Luka Doncic
The Luka Doncic day-by-day diary
Micah Adams
nick-young-121018-ftr-nba-getty
Nuggets sign Nick Young
NBA.com Staff
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade first played on November 12, 2003
D-Wade and LeBron through the years
Kyle Irving
lebron-wade-nba-finals.jpg
10 moments we'll never forget from LeBron and Wade's time in Miami
More News