Picking the best and worst all-time draft choices for all 30 NBA franchises

  • Article by: NOAH TRISTER , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: June 26, 2013 - 3:10 AM

In honor of Thursday night's NBA draft, The Associated Press takes a look at the best and worst all-time picks for each of the league's 30 franchises.

The starting point for this exercise was 1966, when the territorial pick system went away and the draft began to look more like it does today. We're judging picks not on how sensible they seemed at the time, but on how much they ended up being worth to the selecting team — taking into account where each pick was in the draft and who else was available.

When it came to trades, we tried to use common sense, crediting whichever team was actually making the selection.

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ATLANTA HAWKS

Best Value: Doc Rivers, No. 31 pick, 1983. Plenty of teams passed on Rivers, who was part of a draft that also included talented point guards Derek Harper and Darrell Walker. Rivers played eight solid seasons in Atlanta.

Worst Value: DerMarr Johnson, No. 6, 2000. The second Cincinnati product to go in the top six that year behind No. 1 pick Kenyon Martin, Johnson played two seasons with Atlanta before breaking his neck in a car crash. After missing the entire 2002-03 season, he was able to play again in the NBA — but his career with the Hawks was over.

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BOSTON CELTICS

Best Value: Larry Bird, No. 6, 1978. Red Auerbach drafted Bird in the first round even though it would be another year before the Indiana State star became a professional. Worth the wait, to say the least.

Worst Value: Chauncey Billups, No. 3, 1997. The most tragic pick for the Celtics was Len Bias, whose death shortly after the 1986 draft transcended the game, but in terms of mismanagement, Boston's handling of the third pick in '97 probably still stings a bit. Billups was a perfectly reasonable pick, but he had not even played a full season before the Celtics traded the future Finals MVP for Kenny Anderson.

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BROOKLYN NETS

Best Value: Buck Williams, No. 3, 1981. Williams is still the franchise's career scoring leader thanks to an impressive eight-year run in New Jersey.

Worst Value: Dennis Hopson, No. 3, 1987. The No. 3 pick wasn't as kind a few years later. Hopson played only five seasons in the NBA, three with the Nets.

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CHARLOTTE BOBCATS

Best Value: Emeka Okafor, No. 2, 2004. This young franchise has never picked No. 1 overall. Okafor gave Charlotte five solid seasons before being traded to New Orleans.

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