Detroit Pistons’ pick at No. 5 in NBA draft has Hall of Fame track record

Detroit Free Press

When the lottery balls fell Tuesday, the Detroit Pistons ended up with the No. 5 pick in next month’s draft, set for June 23 in Brooklyn, New York. It’ll be the first time in franchise history the Pistons pick fifth. (The New York Knicks, meanwhile, have picked fifth five times, the most in league history, but not since 1986.)

Just four No. 5 picks have taken home the top rookie honors: Mike Miller (2000), Vince Carter (1998), Mitch Richmond (1988) and Walter Davis (1977).

Will the Pistons end up with next season’s Rookie of the Year winner? Last year’s No. 4 pick, Scottie Barnes, took the honors this season, showing teams don’t necessarily need to pick first or second to get an impact player right away.

Let’s take a look at some of the more notable No. 5 picks over the first 75 NBA drafts.

ANALYSIS: Pistons’ draft scouting will be tested picking 5th

Too soon to tell

The past five No. 5 picks are still developing, though only one has made a splash in the postseason so far. The list:

De’Andre Fox, 2017: Some minor injuries have limited the point guard to just one full season in his five years out of Kentucky, but the Kings are building around him (again) after he averaged 23.2 points and 6.5 assists over the past three seasons.

Trae Young, 2018: Has delivered in his four seasons out of Oklahoma, with a second-place finish in ROY voting, an All-Star berth in Year 2, a run to the Eastern Conference finals in Year 3 and another All-Star nod (while averaging 28.4 points and 9.7 assists per game) this season.

Darius Garland, 2019: The Vanderbilt product went from averaging 12.3 points per game as a rookie to 21.7 this season and made his first All-Star team.

Isaac Okoro, 2020: The Cavs surged, but not because of the Auburn product’s development; he averaged 9.6 points and 3.1 rebounds a game as a rookie, and 8.8 and three boards in Year 2.

Jalen Suggs, 2021: The former Gonzaga point guard made it into 48 games for the Magic as a rookie due to a fractured thumb early on, averaging 11.8 points, 4.4 assists and three turnovers in 27.2 minutes a game.

The Mitten State men

Of the 75 No. 5 picks, 67 spent at least one year in college. And of those 67, three did so in Michigan:

Steve Smith, 1991: The Michigan State alumnus made the All-Rookie first team with the Heat despite playing in just 61 games; he averaged 12 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds that season. He wound up playing 14 seasons with one All-Star nod (1998), one NBA title (2003 with the Spurs) and a career 14.3 points-per-game average over 942 appearances.

Juwan Howard, 1994: After three seasons in Ann Arbor, Howard was reunited with his Fab Five teammate, Chris Webber (1993’s No. 1 pick), on the then-Bullets roster. Howard made the All-Rookie second team in 1994-95, then earned an All-Star berth and an All-NBA third team nod in 1995-96. He spent 17 seasons with eight franchises, averaging 13.4 points and 6.1 rebounds over 1,208 career games.

Jason Richardson, 2001: The Saginaw native won a national title as a freshman with the Spartans, then averaged 14.7 points a game as a sophomore, earning the No. 5 pick from the Warriors. His 14.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game as a rookie put him on the All-Rookie first team. Richardson spent 13 seasons in the NBA, his best scoring-wise coming in Year 5 with the Golden State Warriors, averaging 23.2 points per game.

The Hall of Famers

A whopping 10 future members of the Basketball Hall of Fame have been picked at No. 5. Though that’s not counting two more who should be in once they’re eligible: Vince Carter, picked by the Toronto Raptors in 1998, and Dwyane Wade, picked by the Miami Heat in 2003. (We won’t mention who the Pistons picked at No. 2 while passing on Wade.) Only three other draft positions in the top 10 have produced double-digit Hall of Famers: No. 1, with 19; No. 2, with 16; and No. 3, with 11. Nos. 4 and 6 have produced eight and seven HOFers, respectively.

You could make a pretty good starting five with just the top six No. 5 picks by Win Shares (a metric that measures the total number of wins contributed over a career):

Dwyane Wade, who averaged 22 points a game, plus 5.4 assists and 1.5 steals with the Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls. We’ll overlook Wade’s rough 29.3% mark from 3-point range, since our shooting guard is …

Ray Allen, who retired as the NBA’s all-time leader in made 3s (2,973) in 2014 after being drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996 (and traded to the Milwaukee Bucks on draft night). It wasn’t all volume, either; Allen shot 40% over his years with the Bucks, Heat, Supersonics and Celtics. His stop in Boston paired him with our center …

Kevin Garnett, whose 1995 selection by the Timberwolves paved the way for high schoolers (and eventually one-and-done players) to jump to the NBA. A 15-time All-Star and 2004 MVP, Garnett averaged 17.8 points, 10 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. Of course, after his career, he popped up on telecasts and in movies (remember “Uncut Gems”), but not nearly as much as our power forward …

Charles Barkley, who averaged 22.1 points and 11.7 rebounds over 15 seasons after being drafted by the 76ers in 1984. “The Round Mound of Rebound” never won a title despite 11 All-NBA nods, but he wrapped up his career with four seasons in Houston, including 1998-99 when he teamed up with our small forward …

Scottie Pippen, another beneficiary of a draft-day trade when the Supersonics shipped him in 1987 to Chicago for Olden Polynice, a 1988 second-rounder and a 1989 first-round pick swap. All Pippen did was average 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and two steals (the most of any No. 5 pick) per game.

That leaves a pretty good Hall of Fame bench, too: Carter filling in at multiple positions, plus guards Walt Frazier, Sidney Moncrief, Mitch Richmond and Guy Rodgers, and forwards Bobby Jones and Ed Macauley.

The best of the rest

Hey, not everyone’s a Hall of Famer, even though the hit rate (12-for-75, counting Carter and Wade) is pretty decent at No. 5. Here are three more standouts:

Walter Davis, 1977: The first No. 5 pick to take top-rookie honors, Davis averaged 24.2 points, six rebounds and 3.4 assists in 81 games with the Suns to grab 74.3% of the vote and also make the All-NBA second team. An All-Star in each of his first four seasons thanks to a sweet shooting stroke — earning him the nickname “Candyman” — his career was derailed by a back injury, and in later seasons, a cocaine scandal in which he testified against Suns teammates in exchange for immunity from prosecution. He’s still the franchise’s career scoring leader (15,666 points).

Kevin Love, 2008: The native Oregonian was drafted by Memphis out of UCLA and then shipped to the Timberwolves on draft night. He made the All-Rookie second team in his first season and made three All-Star squads in six seasons while averaging 19.2 points and 12.2 rebounds. That earned him a trade to the Cavs as part of LeBron James’ return to Cleveland, and a championship in 2016. Love hasn’t been nearly as effective in wine and gold, averaging 16.3 points and 9.4 rebounds.

Jonas Valanciunas, 2011: A project for the Raptors and then-coach Dwane Casey, the 6-foot-11 center spent an extra year in his native Lithuania, then made the All-Rookie second team while averaging 8.9 points and six rebounds a game in 2012-13. Still, his breakout season didn’t come until he was traded to Memphis in 2019; after averaging 11.8 points a game over parts of seven seasons in Toronto, he’s at 16.9 points a game in 225 appearances with the Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans.

Just the worst

And then there’s the other end of things, with three No. 5 picks who didn’t work out:

John McConathy, 1951: The northern Louisiana native was an All-American at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, Louisiana, but didn’t click with the Syracuse Nationals (who would eventually become the Philadelphia 76ers) or the Milwaukee Hawks (who would move to St. Louis in 1955, then to Atlanta in 1968). McConathy played in just 11 games with the Hawks, averaging 1.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 9.6 minutes a game before returning to Louisiana.

Brendan McCann, 1957: The Knicks stayed close to home with the Brooklyn native out of St. Bonaventure; he only played in 41 games over three seasons, with 74 total points. The 1957 draft wasn’t exactly loaded, with just six of 85 picks lasting more than three seasons. But the Knicks probably regret passing on the one star: Sam Jones, who went No. 8 to the Celtics out of North Carolina Central, before making five All-Star teams and winning 10 titles en route to the Hall of Fame.

Nikoloz Tskitishvili, 2002: They say you can’t coach size, but the Nuggets couldn’t coach the 7-footer from Tbilisi, Georgia, into an effective NBA player, either. “Skita” averaged 3.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game in 81 appearances as a rookie, and that was his best season. He played 91 more games over the next three seasons.

Contact Ryan Ford at rford@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @theford.

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