The Hawks won the No. 3 pick in the draft lottery drawing on Tuesday night in Chicago. Here are the five best and worst players selected with that pick in the lottery era (beginning with the 1985 draft) according to Basketball Reference Win Shares. (The list of worst players excludes those who were drafted recently and are still active.)
THE FIVE BEST NO. 3 PICKS
Pau Gasol (2001, Hawks)
The Hawks made this pick for the Grizzlies, who sent them Wheeler High product Shareef Abdur-Rahim in a trade. Gasol went on to become one of the top European players in league history. Gasol, who just completed his 17th season, has been named to five All-Star teams and won two championships with the Lakers. Abdur-Rahim was an All-Star selection in his first season with the Hawks but was traded to Portland in February 2004.
Chauncey Billups (1997, Celtics)
Billups played just 51 games for the Celtics before they traded him to Toronto, and a year after that he was shipped to Denver. It wasn’t until later in his career that Billups developed into one of the league’s top guards. He was named to five All-Star teams, three All-NBA teams and was the 2004 Finals MVP as the Pistons beat the Lakers for the championship.
James Harden (2009, Thunder)
Harden was a top sixth man for three seasons in Oklahoma City before the Thunder traded him to the Rockets in October 2012. Harden has been an All-Star in every season since with four All-NBA selections, and he is a leading candidate to win league MVP this season.
Carmelo Anthony (2003, Nuggets)
Anthony was part of the famed draft class that included LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in the top five. (The No. 2 pick, Darko Milicic, was an infamous bust). Anthony has been one of the all-time great high-volume NBA scorers—he won the 2012-13 scoring title and ranks third among active players in points per game and 18th all-time.
Grant Hill (1994, Pistons)
Hill, a vice chair of the board for the Hawks, was recently selected for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. (The No. 2 pick in his draft, Jason Kidd, will be inducted into the Hall along with Hill). Hill was an instant star for the Pistons but they traded him to Orlando before the 2000-01 season. An ankle injury nearly derailed Hill’s career—he sat out the 2003-04 season—but he recovered to produce seven more good NBA seasons before retiring after the 2012-13 season.
THE FIVE WORST NO. 3 PICKS
Adam Morrison (2006, Bobcats/Hornets)
The Charlotte franchise selected Morrison after he starred at Gonzaga—he was the USBA co-player of the year with Duke’s J.J. Redick. Morrison was the first-ever pick for Charlotte basketball boss Michael Jordan but he was over-matched in the NBA. Morrison missed the 2007-08 season because of injury and the next year season was traded to the Lakers, who didn’t use him much as they won two championships. He was out of the league after four seasons.
Chris Washburn (1986, Warriors)
Washburn played at N.C. State alongside future NBA players Vinny Del Negro and Nate McMillan. Those two enjoyed long NBA careers but Washburn played just 72 games as he struggled with a drug problem. The Hawks traded for Washburn in December 1987. He missed the next season after the league suspended him for violating the league’s drug policy, and in June 1989 he received a lifetime ban from the league.
Dennis Hopson (1987, Nets)
The Nets selected Hopson after he was the Big Ten player of the year at Ohio State (future Hall of Famer players Scottie Pippen and Reggie Miller were picked later in that draft). Hopson showed some early promise with the Nets but they traded him to the Bulls in June 1990. He would finish his NBA career with 119 games played and 10.9 points per game.
Darius Miles (2000, Clippers)
The Clippers drafted Miles out of East St. Louis High School—at the time, it was the highest draft selection for a high school player. Miles was named to All-Rookie team but never developed into the star player that his potential suggested. Miles went on to play for the Cavaliers and Blazers before missing two seasons because of microfracture knee surgery. Miles came back to play 34 games for the Grizzlies in 2008-09.
O.J. Mayo (2008, Grizzlies)
Like Miles, Mayo’s career began with an All-Rookie team selection. He was on his way to a decent NBA career until he was “dismissed and disqualified” by the league in 2016 for violating its anti-drug program. Mayo is eligible to apply to the NBA for reinstatement this summer and began his comeback attempt in April by signing with a club in Puerto Rico.