The NBA Territorial Draft

The NBA Draft originated in 1949 with a measly 12 teams. At this time, the NBA was known as the BAA (Basketball Association of America) and the league was struggling to survive. In order to increase popularity the league instituted the territorial draft pick. This allowed teams to forfeit their first round pick to draft a player that played their last college season within 50 miles of their home stadium. Obviously, this shaped the early years of the association and the territorial pick controlled the NBA until 1965. There were 23 total territorial picks and 12 of them ended their careers as Hall of Famers. Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson, both territorial picks, were NBA MVPs. Other notable NBA stars such as Dave DeBusschere, Jerry Lucas, Bill Bradley, and Gail Goodrich were all taken as a territorial pick. So the question is “What if the territorial pick still existed today?”

The most important point about a modern territorial pick is that there is no NBA stadium within 50 miles of college powerhouses, Kentucky, Duke and Kansas. This means that players at three of the best talent producing universities would not be eligible to be territorial picks. Superstars such as Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, and Andrew Wiggins would have all been drafted traditionally. Would their choice of college be altered by the territorial draft? Absolutely it would. Players would make their college decision solely based on the nearest NBA team. High rated high school recruits would be tempted to go to school in Los Angeles in order to be drafted by the Lakers or in New York so they could play for the Knicks. Shit, I’d consider going to school in Cleveland so I could sneak my way to play with Lebron.

The territorial draft would change the entire NBA. Teams would HAVE to be near a college to compete because the best players would want to control their own destiny and pick the college that is by their desired NBA team. Teams would potentially even move to new cities if they weren’t getting the best recruits. If Kentucky continued to get the top high school players I guarantee a team would consider moving in the Lexington area.

In the last ten years who would have been a territorial pick?

2006:

  • Randy Foye (Villanova-76ers)
    • Original Draft: #7 overall by the Celtics then traded to Timberwolves

2007:

  • Jeff Green (Georgetown-Wizards)
    • Original Draft: #5 overall by the Celtics then traded to Supersonics
  • Nick Young (USC-Lakers)
    • Original Draft: #16 overall by the Wizards
    • The Clippers had the #14 pick and did not take Young so they wouldn’t have used a territorial pick on him

2008:

  • Derrick Rose (Memphis-Grizzlies)
    • Original Draft: #1 overall by the Bulls
  • OJ Mayo (USC-Clippers)
    • Original Draft: #3 overall by the Timberwolves then traded to Grizzlies
    • The Clippers had the higher pick in this draft and more than likely would have used the territorial pick on Mayo over Westbrook and Love because he was the higher rated recruit
  • Russell Westbrook (UCLA-Lakers)
    • Original Draft: #4 overall by the Sonics
    • The Lakers would have to choose between Westbrook or Love
    • Would have more than likely taken Westbrook because they already had Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, and Kwame Brown
  • Kevin Love (UCLA-Lakers)
    • Original Draft: #5 overall by the Grizzlies then traded to Timberwolves
    • With Westbrook and Mayo out of the picture, Love could have potentially been the #1 overall pick by the Bulls
  • Eric Gordon (Indiana-Pacers)
    • Original Draft: #7 overall by the Clippers
  • Brook Lopez (Stanford-Clippers or Lakers)
    • Original Draft: #10 overall by the Nets
  • Robin Lopez (Stanford-Clippers or Lakers)
    • Original Draft: #15 overall by the Suns
    • I do not think the Clippers or Lakers would have taken either of the Lopez brothers but jeez look at all the options they would have had in this draft

2009:

  • Blake Griffin (Oklahoma-Thunder)
    • Original Draft: #1 overall by the Clippers
    • Durant and Griffin on the same team would have been an interesting combo
  • James Harden (Arizona State-Suns)
    • Original Draft: #3 overall by the Thunder
    • Suns’ fans can only wish
  • Tyreke Evans (Memphis-Grizzlies)
    • Original Draft: #4 overall by the Kings
  • Steph Curry (Davidson-Bobcats)
    • Original Draft: #7 overall by the Warriors
    • Who knows if Curry would have became the player he is today if he started in a struggling franchise like Charlotte
  • Demar Derozan (USC-Lakers)
    • Original Draft: #9 overall by the Raptors
    • Could have learned from Kobe

2010:

  • Derrick Favors (Georgia Tech-Hawks)
    • Original Draft: #3 overall by the Nets
  • Gordon Hayward (Butler-Pacers)
    • Original Draft: #9 overall by the Jazz
    • Hard to be happy about this as a Pacers fan since this would have forfeited the pick to get Paul George

2011:

  • Alec Burks (Colorado-Nuggets)
    • Original Draft: #12 overall by the Jazz

2012:

  • Damian Lillard (Weber State-Jazz)
    • Original Draft: #6 overall by the Trailblazers
    • Put Lillard on the current Jazz roster and they become a top team in the west

2013:

  • Victor Oladipo (Indiana-Pacers)
    • Original Draft: #2 overall by the Magic
  • Cody Zeller (Indiana-Pacers)
    • Original Draft: #4 overall by the Bobcats
    • I believe the Pacers take Oladipo over Zeller but they are one of the few teams to have an option with the territorial pick
  • Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA-Clippers or Lakers)
    • Original Draft: #14 overall by the Jazz traded to Timberwolves

2014:

  • Nik Stauskas (Michigan-Pistons)
    • Original Draft: #8 overall by the Kings
  • Noah Vonleh (Indiana-Pacers)
    • Original Draft: #9 overall by the Hornets
  • Zach Lavine (UCLA-Clippers)
    • Original Draft: #13 overall by the Timberwolves
    • Lavine’s style of play is made for LA

2016:

  • Jaylen Brown (California-Clippers)
    • Original Draft: #3 overall by the Celtics
    • Fits the Clippers desperate need for a small forward
  • Buddy Hield (Oklahoma-Thunder)
    • Original Draft: #6 overall by the Pelicans
  • Jakob Poeltl (Utah-Jazz)
    • Original Draft: #9 overall by the Raptors

Pacers Potential Territorial Picks All-Time

2014 – Noah Vonleh 9th overall (didn’t have a pick)

2013 – Victor Oladipo 2nd overall (Solomon Hill 23rd overall)

2013 – Cody Zeller 4th overall (Solomon Hill 23rd overall)

2010 – Gordon Hayward 9th overall (Paul George 10th overall)

2008 – Eric Gordon 7th overall (Brandon Rush via trade 13th overall)

2002 – Jared Jeffries 11th overall (Fred Jones 14th overall)

1995 – Alan Henderson 16th overall (Travis Best 23rd overall)

1993 – Calbert Cheaney 6th overall (Scott Haskin 14th overall)

1981 – Isiah Thomas 2nd overall (Herb Williams 14th overall)

1977 – Kent Benson 1st overall (traded 7th overall pick)

Photo Credit via Brent Soderberg

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Gerald Wallace says:

    Fuck going to school just play with Lebron

    Like

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