Joe Dumars said he told team owner Tom Gores there are “no franchise changers in this draft.”
I strongly believe Dumars will be wrong.
The first step is defining the threshold for being a “franchise changer.” Initially, I planned to use the player who posted the fewest win shares while leading a championship-winning team in win shares, but there were too many outliers, and that would have set the bar too low.
So I settled with Hakeem Olajuwon in 1994-95, when he led the Houston Rockets to the NBA title and posted 10.7 win shares. Though he was 32 and on the downturn of his career at that point, he still made the All-NBA second team the next year and the All-NBA third team the following year. He still had plenty of juice left.
We can all agree Olajuwon played like a “franchise changer” in 1994-95, right?
Since the NBA-ABA merger, 32 of 35 drafts have produced at least one player who produced a season as good as Olajuwon’s in 1994-95.
The only three drafts that haven’t are 2010, 2011 and 2012, and that’s only because those players haven’t yet had a chance to blossom and make their mark. It’s crazy to believe 2010 picks (such as Paul George, John Wall, Greg Monroe and DeMarcus Cousins), 2011 picks (such as Kyrie Irving, Kenneth Faried, Kawhi Leonard and Chandler Parsons) and 2012 (such as Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal) won’t elevate their draft classes into the same stature as every other class.
In other words, every single NBA draft in the modern era had produced a "franchise-changer" or will. Every. Single. One.
Some have panned the 2013 draft class as historically bad, and for Dumars to be right, the critics would have to be correct. I just don’t see this group as such an extreme exception, even if we can’t identify the “franchise changers” at this very moment. As always, someone will emerge.
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