Top 5 Draft Picks In Consecutive Years: How Much Does The Team Improve?

Oh, what could have been.

Is having a top 5 pick in consecutive years enough to get a team moving in the right direction?  The table below shows best and worst turnarounds for teams that meet the aforementioned criteria.  There have been 44 instances of this in the lottery era; I have counted only the teams that got the top 5 pick by virtue of their record, not the teams who got the pick in a trade.  However, there were only few instances where a team got a top 5 pick from a trade, as most first round picks are lottery-protected.  The columns on the table are Team, Years With Top 5 Picks, the team record before its first top 5 pick and the team record after the second top 5 pick, and the improvement made after the second consecutive top 5 pick.

The best turnarounds are highlighted by the 2009-2010 Seattle/OKC Thunder; KD and Russell Westbrook were joined by James “Philly Beard” Harden and they have become a lethal combination.

Orlando had Shaq and Penny in consecutive years; that duo led them to an NBA Finals appearance.  If they stayed together, who knows what would have happened.  Two others teams that fit into the Orlando category are the ’95 Mavericks and the ’97 T-Wolves.

The Mavs had Jimmy Jackson and Jamal Mashburn, who were a part of the worst turnaround in the lottery era.  However, when Jason Kidd got there in ’94 they seemed to be at the beginning of a great era in Dallas, but those three just couldn’t get along.  In Minnesota, Stephon Marbury couldn’t understand that he and KG were going to be a force to be reckoned with for the next ten years.  With the exception of the ’93 Nets, who were destroyed by John Starks’ flagrant foul on Kenny Anderson, the common thread is the egos of the young stars got in the way of potential powerhouses.   FULL CHART

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