Pick Perfect

NBA success doesn't necessarily start with the draft
October 20, 2014

WHICH NBA TEAM is best at picking and developing talent? Well, it's not the Timberwolves. This chart gives each franchise a five-year draft ranking (a combination of how high its picks have been and how many picks it had) and compares it with regular-season finishes from 2009 through '13--14. Those teams in the blue-shaded section underperformed their draft ranking, while those in the yellow outperformed their picks.

During the span Minnesota had 18 picks, including three in the top five, but finished in the top 20 in the league just once. The Heat and the Spurs combined for only four first-round picks but had the best regular-season records in 2013 and '14, respectively. Yet there's a difference: The Spurs drafted wisely and developed players; the Heat signed the Big Three.

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

DRAFT RANKING

AVERAGE FINISH

[OKC THUNDER]

[PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS]

[CLEVELAND CAVALIERS]

[MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES]

[DETROIT PISTONS]

SACRAMENTO KINGS

[WASHINGTON WIZARDS]

[MILWAUKEE BUCKS]

[UTAH JAZZ]

[CHARLOTTE HORNETS]

[CHICAGO BULLS]

[MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES]

[HOUSTON ROCKETS]

[PHILADELPHIA 76ers]

[GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS]

[NEW ORLEANS PELICANS]

[INDIANA PACERS]

[PHOENIX SUNS]

[BROOKLYN NETS]

[TORONTO RAPTORS]

[DALLAS MAVERICKS]

[BOSTON CELTICS]

[LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS]

[SAN ANTONIO SPURS]

[DENVER NUGGETS]

[NEW YORK KNICKS]

[MIAMI HEAT]

[LOS ANGELES LAKERS]

[ORLANDO MAGIC]

THEY SAID IT

"We need to be in a position where we're thinking long term, and the long term includes the short term."

Sam Presti, Thunder GM

on the debate about whether to send MVP Kevin Durant for immediate surgery on his injured right foot.

PHOTORONALD MARTINEZ/GETTY IMAGES (DURANT) TWENTY NINE PHOTOS CHART

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)