1994: This might have been a year, much like this year, where any one of three players could have been the top pick. The Milwaukee Bucks took Glenn Robinson, who was a nice fit with Ray Allen and Sam Cassell. The Dallas Mavericks needed a floor general and took Jason Kidd, who went on to be one of the best point guards the game has ever seen. And at No. 3, Grant Hill fell into the lap of the Detroit Pistons. Hill, even with all the injuries he battled throughout his pro career, might have been the best No. 3 pick of the lottery era. All three combined to make 19 All-Star appearances.
2003:Carmelo Anthony dropped from the sky and the Denver Nuggets were waiting. After LeBron James went first, for whatever reason, Pistons GM Joe Dumars took Darko Milicic second. At the time, Milicic was supposed to be the next great thing out of Europe. He wasn't. Anthony has had a superb career in Denver and New York, scoring 19,958 points in his first 11 seasons. He has been named to seven All-Star teams and led the league in scoring in 2012-13. Milicic ended up with 2,813 career points with six different teams and has been out of the NBA since the Celtics waived him in November 2012.
1989 and 2005: The only times that a No. 3 pick has made an All-Star team and the top two picks did not came when Sean Elliott was taken by the Spurs in 1989 and the Utah Jazz selected Deron Williams in 2005. Elliott, one of only three lottery picks in the history of San Antonio (David Robinson in 1987 and Tim Duncan in 1997) was a two-time All-Star. Top pick Pervis Ellison and Danny Ferry were taken 1-2. Williams, fresh off taking Illinois to the national championship game, was picked after Andrew Bogut and Marvin Williams. Williams has made three All-Star teams.
1992:Christian Laettner, a Dream Teamer coming off a tremendous college career at Duke, was the consolation prize after Orlando took Shaquille O'Neal first and the Charlotte Hornets selected Alonzo Mourning No. 2. Laettner had a solid yet unspectacular career but did make an All-Star team, marking the first time since the lottery that all three top picks were All-Stars.
1993:Penny Hardaway was a terrific point guard, who was taken third by Golden State and traded to Orlando for Chris Webber and a boat-load of draft picks. Penny teamed with Shaquille O'Neal to turn around the Orlando franchise, taking them to the NBA Finals in his second year. He averaged over 20 a game for 3 straight years and was a four-time All-Star until knee troubles compromised his talent.
2009:James Harden was selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he was a support player for the first 3 years of his career, starting just seven games while being a major offensive weapon. But he has blossomed as the star of the Houston Rockets the last two seasons, making the All-Star team both years. And this year, he was first-team All-NBA.
1985: Looking for a big man, the Clippers take a shot at Benoit Benjamin out of Creighton, where he was the protégé of head coach Willis Reed. The Clippers would have been better off taking Reed. Benjamin underachieved his way through parts of 15 NBA seasons, averaging a career-best 16.4 points a game in 1988-89. He played for nine different teams, including the Sixers (1997-99).
1990:Chris Jackson was the wunderkind. At LSU, they dubbed him the next Pete Maravich, after averaging 30.2 points a game his freshman year. He could shoot. Jackson, who changed him name to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in '93, even led the NBA in free-throw percentage twice. Averaged 19.2 points a game twice and was on the cusp of a great career. But between his Tourette's syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder, he became a different person and his play suffered.
1991:The third pick in the draft was Billy Owens, a multitalented forward out of Syracuse who went to Sacramento. He was a forward who could pass, shoot and handle. The Golden State Warriors thought so much of Owens that they gave up All-Star guard Mitch Richmond to get him. While he showed flashed, he never averaged more than 16.5 points a game in his 10-year career and never made an All-Star team.
1986: The search for the NBA's Holy Grail, a big man who can play, led the Warriors to North Carolina State promising big man Chris Washburn. Besides an intelligence test, they should have also administered a drug test. Of the top seven picks in this draft, four battled drug problems. Washburn was one and another, Len Bias, died from a drug overdose 2 days after being selected by the Boston Celtics with the second pick.
The Sixers have had two No. 3 picks since 1985. In 1988, they drafted Charles Smith out of Pitt and traded his rights to the Clippers for Hersey Hawkins and a future first-round pick. Hawkins was a solid two-guard but didn't make us forget about Andrew Toney.
And in 1995, they took Jerry Stackhouse. Sixers coach/GM John Lucas thought Stackhouse was the next "it" guy, but Stack couldn't play defense and was turnover-prone. A gifted offensive player, Stackhouse was shipped to Detroit, where he became a two-time All-Star, but, like Hawkins, he was not the player the Sixers thought they were getting.