Friday, December 10, 2004

A Look Back at the 1994 NBA Draft

By Paul Benedict

Throughout the season, I'm going to reminisce over every NBA draft of the past ten years. It's always fun to look back and see how your fav team fared, see which guys totally busted, and see which draftees turned out to be real steals. I'll profile each 1st round pick with a little more emphasis on the lottery picks and then discuss some of the noteworthy 2nd round picks. The grades will be based on how each player turned out with regard to their respective draft position. So without further delay, I present to you a look back at the 1994 NBA Draft.

Revisiting the 1994 NBA Draft
  • Best Player--Jason Kidd
  • Best Pick--Jason Kidd
  • Best Steal: Voshon Lenard
  • Worst Player: Yinka Dare
  • Biggest Bust: Sharone Wright
  • Draft Most Known For: Injuries limiting draftees' careers
  • Overall Draft Grade: C


Lottery Picks

1. Milwaukee--Glenn Robinson, SF, Purdue
Career Stats:
11 Years: 20.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Career Highlights
-1994-95 All-Rookie 1st Team
-1996 USA Basketball Team (forced to withdraw due to injury)
-2-time NBA All Star (00, 01)
-5th all-time on Bucks' career scoring list
-Helped Milwaukee reach the playoffs 3 consecutive years from 99-01, making it as far as the Eastern Conference Finals in '01.
The Lowdown- 'Big Dog' peaked early in his career and never seemed to have the poise or determination to take his career to superstar status. There have been worse #1 draft picks, but there's also been many that were better.
Grade: B-

2. Dallas--Jason Kidd, PG, California
Career Stats:
11 Years: 14.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 9.3 APG, 2.1 SPG
Career Highlights:
-1994-95 Co-Rookie of the Year
-NBA leader in assists 5 times
-Selected to 7 All Star Games, 4 as a starter
-Gold Medalist at 2000 Olympics
-Named to All-NBA 1st team 5 times; All-Defensive 1st Team 3 times
-Led Nets to 2 straight NBA Finals Appearances
The Lowdown-The quintissential point guard of this generation. Kidd will undoubtedly go down as one of the 5 greatest floor generals of all time and be elected into the Hall of Fame on his very first ballot.
Grade: A



Grant Hill would have been the best player taken in the 1994 Draft. Yes, better than Jason Kidd.

3. Detroit--Grant Hill, SF, Duke
Career Stats:
11 Years: 20.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Career Highlights:
-1994-95 Co-Rookie of the Year
-Became 1st Rookie ever to lead NBA in All Star voting
-1996 Olympic Gold Medalist
-5-time NBA All Star
-4-time All NBA 1st or 2nd Team
-Led the Pistons to the playoffs 4 times, but never past the 1st round
-Played in just 47 games during his first 3 seasons in Orlando due to several career-threatening ankle injuries
The Lowdown-The charasmatic and exciting Hill was expected to be one of the NBA's poster boys following the breakdown of the Jordan-led Bulls era. However, after fleeing to Orlando after a career season in '99-00, Hill encountered serious ankle injuries and has been shelved during almost all of the past 3 seasons. Finally healthy this season, Hill is playing like an All Star once again and redeeming his once Hall of Fame-lock status.
Grade: A-

4. Minnesota--Donyell Marshall, PF, UConn
Career Stats:
11 Years: 12.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.0 BPG
Career Highlights:
-2nd Team All-Rookie in 1994-95
-Received 37 DNP-CDs during the '95-96 and '96-97 seasons, earning the 'bust' label while being seated firmly on Golden State's bench before being traded to Minnesota for Tom Guggliotta.
-Jumpstarted his career the following season, averaging 15.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG for the Warriors.
-Key member of two Utah playoff teams in '00-01 and '01-02.
-Averaged an outstanding 16.2 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.7 BPG after being shipped from Bulls to the Raptors in '03-'04.
The Lowdown-Marshall has played for 5 teams since entering the league and has done a solid job of finding a role with each team following his dog days in Oakland. Though he has never been an All Star nor a focal point on any of his teams, Marshall receives due praise for his above-averaged offensive and defensive games.
Grade: B-

5. Washington--Juwan Howard, PF, Michigan
Career Stats:
11 Years: 17.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.9 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Career Highlights:
-2nd Team All-Rookie in 1994-95
-Named to 1996 All Star Team and All-NBA 3rd Team
-Now playing for his 5th NBA team in Houston, Howard has seen his production take a significant dive (7.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG).
The Lowdown-Juwan, like Robinson, peaked early in his career averaging 22 and 8 for Washington in just his 2nd season. Has been a very consistent performer throughout his career and always a positive influence on each of the teams he's played for, yet he's settled in as a good #3 option for an NBA team and you might expect more from a #5 draft pick.
Grade: B

6. Philadelphia--Sharone Wright, PF, Clemson
Career Stats:
4 Years: 9.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.0 BPG
Career Highlights:
-2nd Team All-Rookie in 1994-95
-Was traded from Philadelphia to Toronto during the '95-96 season where he averaged a career-best 16.5 PPG in 11 games.
-After a tough '96-97 campaign in which injuries kept his production and minutes down, Wright was involved in a serious car accident during the summer and was forced to retire from the game due to crippling arm injuries.
The Lowdown-Wright was already headed in the wrong direction when he was involved in the accident due to his soft play (he had earned the nickname "Chiffon" around Philly for his amazing ability to disappear against bigger, more physical opponents), but it's possible that the big man could have gone through a similar career revitilization a la Donyell Marshall after an abyssmal season with Toronto in '96-97. It's tough to judge a player who's career was tragically cut short after just 3 seasons, but it is safe to say that Wright did not live up to his draft expectations.
Grade: D-

7. Clippers--Lamond Murray, SF, California
Career Stats:
11 Years: 12.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 35.7 3PT%
Career Highlights:
Played in 1994-95 All Star Rookie Game
-Had career-best season in '01-02 in Cleveland playing alongside Andre Miller averaging 16.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG and shooting 42.4% from beyond the arc.
-Missed entire '02-03 season after being traded to Toronto with torn ligaments in right foot.
-Playing in just 16 MPG off the bench since joining the Raptors
-Murray is another guy who has seen his stock drop due to serious injuries, but was never more than a one-dimensional scorer even when he has been healthy. Is still one of the game's better shooters today, but will likely play off the bench for the remainder of his career.
Grade: C

8. Sacramento--Brian Grant, PF, Xavier
Career Stats:
11 Years: 11.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 49.1 FG%
Career Highlights:
-1st Team All-Rookie in 1994-95.
-Was a key member of Portland's '99-00 team which came 1 game away from reaching the NBA Finals
-Has played for 5 playoff teams throughout his career
-Named the winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in '98-99 season for outstanding community service and charitable work.
The Lowdown-Grant will mostly be remembered as a great teammate, an extremely hard-worker, and for his contributions to those elite Blazers teams of the late 90's. Many people thought the Kings reached just a little when they grabbed Grant this high, but he has had a respectable NBA career.
Grade: B

9. Boston--Eric Montross, C, North Carolina
Career Stats:
7 Years: 4.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.6 BPG, 49.0 FG%
Career Highlights:
-2nd Team All-Rookie in 1994-95
-Averaged 10.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 0.8 BPG his rookie year, but career went downhill afterwards never averaging more than 7.2 PPG or 6.6 RPG in any season.
-Played for 6 NBA teams throughout his career, but was forced to retire in '02 due to injuries.
The Lowdown-Montross is yet another player who saw his career crippled by injuries throughout, but regardless, failed to fill the shoes of Robert Parish that Boston had been hoping he would when they drafted him in '94. The Celts ended up shipping him off to Dallas for two draft picks (which they turned into Antoine Walker and Ron Mercer), but Montross never failed to build on a quality rookie season. He never played more than 54 games or 17 MPG in a season after 1997 while battling foot injuries, but it was his ineffectiveness which ultimately doomed his NBA career.
Grade: D+

10. Lakers--Eddie Jones, SG, Temple
Career Stats:
11 Years: 16.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 37.8 3PT%
Career Highlights:
-MVP of Rookie Game in 1995
-1st Team All-Rookie in 1994-95
-Named to 3 NBA All-Defensive 2nd Teams
-Named to All-NBA 3rd Team in '99-00.
-Led the NBA with 2.67 SPG in '99-00.
-Has been a starter for 7 playoff teams
The Lowdown-Jones was drafted by none other than Jerry West and has sustained a stellar career in the NBA with his superb athleticism that allows him to play terrific defense and maintain a solid offensive game. Though EJ will never make the Hall of Fame, he will be remembered as one of the premiere defensive guards of his era.
Grade: A-

11. Seattle (from Charlotte)--Carlos Rogers, PF, Tennessee St.
Career Stats:
7 Years: 7.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.8 BPG, 53.6 FG%
Career Highlights:
-Started just 55 games in his 8-year NBA career
-Beset by injuries to his ankle, back, and knee ever since donning an NBA jersey, thus preventing him from playing with the explosiveness for which he was drafted.
-Released by Indiana in 2002 and hasn't returned to the NBA since.
The Lowdown-Rogers received numerous chances to find a role on an NBA team, but every time he showed flashes of his ability, he suffered an injury which would sideline him and eventually set his progression back further. As the final lottery pick taken in 1994, Rogers has to be considered a major bust for failing to never even start more than 20 games in one season.
Grade: D

The Rest of the 1st Round

12. Miami--Khalid Reeves, PG, Arizona
Career Stats:
5 Years: 7.8 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.8 SPG
The Lowdown-Reeves was traded three times within his first two years in the NBA and found it difficult to become comfortable with any one team as a young point guard. He was released in 2000 by the Bulls and has since played all over Europe.
Grade: D+

13. Denver--Jalen Rose, GF, Michigan
Career Stats:
11 Years: 14.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.2 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Career Highlights:
-2nd-Team All-Rookie in 1994-95
-Most Improved Player Winner in '99-00
-Averaged 23 PPG in 2000 NBA Finals for the Pacers
The Lowdown-Rose has been a valuable asset to NBA teams for his versatility (able to play the 1, 2, and 3) and ability to chalk up points at a sometimes frentic pace. Though his production is beginning to slip, he's still considered a respectable NBA starter.
Grade: B+

14. New Jersey--Yinka Dare, C, George Washington
Career Stats:
4 Years: 2.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.6 BPG
The Lowdown-Dare has widely been considered as one of the biggest draft busts in the last decade having played in just 110 games in 4 years and never scoring more than 3 PPG and dishing out just 4 assists in his entire NBA career. Earlier this year, Dare was tragically found dead at his home in New Jersey after a heart attack at the young age of 32.
Grade: F

15. Indiana--Eric Piatkowski, SG, Nebraska
Career Stats:
11 Years: 8.2 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.6 SPG, 40.0 3PT%
The Lowdown-Piatkowski was traded immediately after the draft in a package to the Clippers for PG Mark Jackson and has made a living in the NBA as one of its most lethal 3-Point marksmen, holding the Clippers records for 3-pointers made, attempted, and 3-point percentage. However, he has failed to provide anything beyond a nasty shooting touch off the bench.
Grade: B-

16. Golden State (from Cleveland)--Clifford Rozier--PF, Louisville
Career Stats:
4 Years: 4.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.7 BPG, 49.6 FG%
The Lowdown-Rozier had personal issues which prevented him from living up to the explosive, raw ability he brough with him from Louisville. After struggling to handle the responsibilities of an NBA player, Rozier was released by Minnesota in 1997 and ended up with the USBL in 1999. Mental problems kept him from maintaining a career in basketball and Rozier was eventually driven to crime. Rozier who has been arrested 5 times since 1999, is now in jail after being convicted of grand theft auto in 2001.
Grade: F

17. Portland--Aaron McKie, SG, Temple
Career Stats:
11 Years: 8.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.2 SPG
Career Highlights:
-'00-01 NBA 6th Man of the Year
-Key member of '00-01 76er team that reached the NBA Finals.
The Lowdown-McKie has been the most important player of Philly's bench for 6 years now thanks to his ballhandling, shooting ability, defense, and the maturity he displays on the court. The kind of player any team would be lucky to have.
Grade: B

18. Milwaukee (from Orlando)--Eric Mobley, PF/C, Pittsburgh
Career Stats:
3 Years: 3.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.5 BPG, 54.1 FG%
The Lowdown-Mobley just simply wasn't talented or dedicated enough to maintain a roster spot in the NBA for more than 3 years.
Grade: F

19. Dallas (from Golden State)--Tony Dumas, G, Missouri-Kansas City
Career Stats:
4 Years: 7.3 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.4 SPG
The Lowdown-Dumas was a pure scorer in the Eddie House-mold who could light it up at any point, but he was also a headcase who couldn't play a lick of defense. His short-lived NBA career quickly came to an abrupt end after he punched his pregnant girlfriend in the torso and threw her out of the car while still driving.
Grade: D

20. Philadelphia (from Utah)--B.J. Tyler, G, Texas
Career Stats:
1 Year: 3.5 PPG, 3.2 APG, 0.7 SPG
The Lowdown-Sixer Coach John Lucas pushed the organization to draft Tyler (a kid he personally knew from their days together at a drug rehab center) for his quickness and soft shooting tough. Problem was, Tyler wasn't a pure point guard, didn't have the size to play the 2, and had a poor work ethic, and therefore was cut by the Sixers after just one season and ended up in the CBA.
Grade: F

21. Chicago--Dickey Simpkins, PF, Providence
Career Stats:
8 Years: 4.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 0.9 APG
The Lowdown-Simpkins will be remembered as one of the true scrubs on two of Jordan's championship teams ('96, '97). He actually received legitimate playing time for the Bulls after the dynasty ended, but never played well enough to merit a permanent roster spot in the league beyond 2000. Still, 2 championship rings--no other player in this draft can even claim one.
Grade: B

22. San Antonio--Bill Curley, PF, Boston College
Career Stats:
7 Years: 2.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.3 BPG
The Lowdown-At a burly 6-9, Curley could have made a decent backup off the bench if not for injuries to his ankle and knee which essentially cost him his NBA career. Fortunately for the Spurs, they traded him after just a season to the Pistons in exchange for Sean Elliot who ended up being an All Star.
Grade: D

23. Phoenix--Wesley Person, GF, Auburn
Career Stats:
11 Years: 11.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.8 SPG, 41.6 3PT%
Career Highlights:
-2nd Team All-Rookie in 1994-95
-Won 3-Point Contest during All Star Weekend in 1995 by defeating older brother Chuck in the final round.
-Led the NBA in 3-Pointers made in 1997-98
The Lowdown-Person has enjoyed a steady NBA career as one of its top 3-Point shooters. At the 23rd spot, you could do a lot worse than a guy who's averaged in double-figures in 7 different seasons and shot over 40% from downtown in all but 3.
Grade: A-

24. New York--Monty Williams, F, Notre Dame
Career Stats:
9 Years: 6.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.6 SPG
The Lowdown-Monty has always been praised for the positive attitude and energy he brough to teams in his bench roles for most notably the Spurs and the Magic. He was signed by the Sixers as a free agent in 2003, but forced to retire after competing in just 21 games due to chronic knee problems.
Grade: B-

25. Clippers (from Atlanta)--Greg Minor, GF, Louisville
Career Stats:
5 Years: 6.9 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.6 SPG
The Lowdown-Minor bounced around the pro ranks before finding a role off the bench under the Rick Pitino-led Celtics of the late 90's. His career was cut short in 1999 after a freak injury to his hip forced him to retire.
Grade: C

26. New York (from Houston)--Charlie Ward, PG, Florida St.
Career Stats:
11 Years: 6.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 36.4 3PT%
Career Highlights:
-Was the starting point guard on 3 New York Knick playoff teams, including the '99 team which reached the NBA Finals.
The Lowdown-The former Heisman Trophy Winner has sustained a long career in the NBA thanks to his defense, ballhandling, and experience. Though he never once averaged double-digits, Ward could be counted on for steady play at the point guard spot.
Grade: B+

27. Orlando (from Seattle)--Brooks Thompson, G, Oklahoma St.
Career Stats:
4 Years: 4.5 PPG, 0.9 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.5 SPG, 37.6 3PT%
The Lowdown-The Magic drafted the southpaw Thompson to be a perimeter threat off the bench to help take some pressure off of Shaq down low. He could really stroke it, but his defense and ballhandling were major liabilities for a guard and his stay in the league lasted just four years. Thompson is now a head coach in the junior college ranks.
Grade: D

Notable 2nd Rounders

30. Minnesota--Howard Eisley, PG, Boston College
Career Stats:
11 Years: 6.7 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 3.6 APG, 0.7 SPG, 35.6 3PT%, 82.7 FT%
The Lowdown-Eisley made a living in the NBA as one of its most dependable backup point guards and will likely be remembered as John Stockton's trusty replacement for those great Jazz teams of the mid to late 90's.
Grade: B+

32. Washington--Jim McIlvaine, C, Marquette
Career Stats:
7 Years: 2.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.7 BPG
The Lowdown-Nobody will ever forget this guy, for the phrase, "Boy, that contract is awfully McIlvainian" was coined thanks to his receiving the most outlandish contract in NBA history (7 years, $35 million) which was more than Shawn Kemp was making at the time. Kemp was so outraged with Sonics personnel that he demanded to be moved from Seattle thus ending any chance that those great Sonic teams of the mid 90's would become annual championship contenders. Seattle hasn't recovered from this mess until this season and Kemp was never the same player again. Now you know what a McIlvanian contract is...
Grade: 7 years in the league is worthy of a B---the damage he did to the league is worthy of the worst possible grade imaginable.

46. Milwaukee--Voshon Lenard, SG, Minnesota
Career Stats:
10 Years: 12.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.8 SPG, 38.6 3PT%
The Lowdown-Lenard was actually the first player ever to be drafted into the NBA (Milwaukee in '93), and then elect to return to school and re-enter the draft the following season. Here's another fascinating nugget of information--Lenard, Jalen Rose, and Howard Eisley, 3 1994 draftees, won back-to-back Michigan state titles while playing on the same high school team at Detroit Southwestern High. Lenard has lived a very respectable life in the NBA despite being undersized for a SG; his quick release and consistent jump shooting have made him into a quality NBA player.
Grade: A

54. Seattle--Zeljko Rebraca, C, Croatia
Career Stats:
4 Years: 6.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 0.8 BPG, 50.5 FG%
The Lowdown-Rebraca was one of the first players to stay in Europe upon being drafted into the NBA only to later to come over when a contract and playing time were guaranteed. Now with his 3rd team in 4 years, Rebraca sits at the end of the Clippers bench.
Grade: C+

2 Comments:

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent overall review of the '94 draft, but way too generous on a lot of those grades. Grant Hill should be no higher than a B. He crippled the Magic for three years. Eric Piatkowski B-?? Cmon. But the most questionable had to be giving Dickey Simpkins a B. That's rediculous. Overall, a great piece though.

 
At 2:56 PM, Blogger Paul Benedict said...

Post your name or initials next time, that was some great feedback. You're absolutely right about Grant Hill--I really didn't consider that when I determined his grade. I still wouldn't slide him to a B though...the injury wasnt exactly his fault and based on talent alone, he could have been a consensus Top 5 player in this generation. If I were to change it,I'd give him a B+ right now. Eric Piatkowski, I think B-/C+ range is about right. He's been consistent throughout the years, never an impact player, but always a serviceable bench player. If you were to consider a B- as a worthy draft choice like I am, I'd say he fits here. I suppose at 16th you can do better, we'll find out as we work our way up to 2004. And Dickey Simpkins, yeah I see what you're saying. My thinking in giving him a B was that he was the only guy who was a member of a championship team. Now he obviously wasnt a factor on those teams, but at 21st in the draft, I think you can do a whole lot worse than a guy that was good enough to merit some playing time for those Bulls teams. I'd shift him to a B-, maybe even a C+ regardless. You have to remember that many guys taken 20 and beyond dont last more than a couple years in the league. In retrospect, I'd say I was very generous to this draft class in light of how weak it really was. I'll probably scoff at these grades once I get to the '99 and '03 drafts...

 

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