Unhappy Returns

Top NBA and NHL draft picks rarely lead their teams to titles
July 01, 2007

IT'S THE MOMENT every owner and G.M. dreams about: Choosing first in the draft. The NHL's Blackhawks basked in it last Friday when they chose winger Patrick Kane (story below). The NBA's Trail Blazers will revel in it this Thursday, when they use the top choice on, most likely, Ohio State's Greg Oden (above). But there's no guarantee the good feelings will last much beyond draft night. This breakdown of the last 20 top picks in each league shows how far each has taken the franchise that drafted him. A No. 1 pick will most likely take you to the playoffs, but a championship might be wishful thinking.

Never made playoffs
Elton Brand, Pervis Ellison, Michael Olowokandi, Joe Smith, Chris Webber

Won NBA Title
Tim Duncan, David Robinson

Lost NBA Finals
Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Kenyon Martin, Shaquille O'Neal

Lost conference finals
Glenn Robinson

Won a playoff series, never advanced to conference finals
Larry Johnson

Made playoffs, never won a series
Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Kwame Brown, Derrick Coleman, Dwight Howard, Danny Manning, Yao Ming

NBA
5 2 4 1 1 7

Won Stanley Cup
Vincent Lecavalier, Mike Modano

Lost Stanley Cup
Ed Jovanovski, Chris Phillips

Won a playoff series, never advanced to conference finals
Joe Thornton

Made playoffs, never won a series
Sidney Crosby, Alexandre Daigle, Rick DiPietro, Marc-Andre Fleury, Roman Hamrlik, Ilya Kovalchuk, Owen Nolan, Mats Sundin, Pierre Turgeon

Never made playoffs
Bryan Berard, Erik Johnson,* Eric Lindros, Rick Nash, Alexander Ovechkin, Patrik Stefan

NHL
2 2 1 9 6

*Hasn't played in NHL yet

ILLUSTRATIONILLUSTRATION BY SLIM FILMS PHOTOHANS DERYK/REUTERS (ODEN)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)