History Of The 12th Pick In The NBA Draft


Jun 26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; A general view as the names of the first round draft picks are displayed above the stage during the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday the Utah Jazz learned that they are in fact picking 12th in the 2015 NBA Draft.  So what is the history of the No. 12 pick in the NBA Draft?  Unfortunately, it is not great.

The 12th pick has not always been a lottery pick. 1995 was the first year that the 12th pick was considered a lottery pick.  Until 1985, draft picks were actually determined by a coin flip.  The worst teams in each division would flip a coin to determine the fate of their draft picks.  The team that won received the higher draft pick.

In 1984, the lottery system was reformed.  This reform came as teams complained that there were teams deliberately losing games to get a better draft pick.  Let’s just say these teams would look at Sam Hinkie as an abomination.  The real reason teams were so upset was that they all wanted Hakeem Olajuwon, who went to the Rockets because of a coin flip.

Ironically enough, this ended up being the greatest draft class in NBA history.   Five players from this draft were inducted to the Hall of Fame; Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Oscar Schmidt and our beloved John Stockton.

The new system only lasted for five years.  Under this system, only the top three picks were determined by a lottery.  In 1990, the NBA lottery as we know it today was born.  Initially, only 11 teams were in the lottery.  In 1995, the NBA was expanded and eventually all 14 teams who missed the playoffs were allowed to be in the lottery.

Above you will find every player selected with the 12th pick since 1976 (the merger of the ABA and NBA).  Very few of these players left a footprint on the history of the NBA.  There are some names people recognize, like Muggsy Bogues who was the shortest player to ever play in the NBA.

Jazz fans will recognize Alec Burks on this list and, in fact, he could end up being the best 12th pick since 1989!  However, there are no Hall of Fame-caliber players in those 39 drafts.  In fact, only three of these players made an All-Star game; Mookie Blaylock, Kelly Tripucka and Jim Paxson.  These players were all great, but not what you want the ceiling of your draft pick to be.

The average career PER for these players picked 12th in the draft is a 12.7.  Average PER in the NBA is 15, meaning it’s likely that the Utah Jazz get a below-average player in this draft.  So for all of those counting on the 2015 pick to be an absolute game changer, it’s probably time to pump the brakes a little.

However, there is a slim chance this pick could be an elite player.  The data we looked at did not go back into the ABA-NBA days, as those drafts were very erratic.  In 1972, with the 12th pick in the draft, the Milwaukee Bucks selected a man by the name of Julius Erving.  Dr. J was a 16-time All-Star, three-time champion, and MVP four times.  Those accolades, among many others could be the sliver of hope for the Utah Jazz as they make their 12th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

More likely than not though, the Jazz will walk away with a decent bench player who is below average in the league, similar to a Gerald Henderson-level player.  Let’s hope the Utah Jazz get lucky, but in the meantime, enjoy some Dr. J highlights.

Next: A Utah Jazz Fan's NBA Draft Lottery Roller Coaster

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