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Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade (3) dunks against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half at Game 4 of the NBA Finals basketball series, Thursday, June 13, 2013, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Utah Jazz: History of No. 5 pick is boom or bust

If Jazz stay put, they’re likely to land either a star or a complete flop.

First Published Jun 23 2014 11:04 am • Last Updated Jun 23 2014 10:34 pm

Charles Barkley. Dwyane Wade. Kevin Garnett. Kevin Love.

With the No. 5 pick of Thursday’s NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz would love to add an All-Star or future Hall-Of-Fame prospect in the mode of the above names. History shows those are four of the best No. 5 picks in the past 30 years. Every team in this slot looks for that type of home run.

At a glance

All-time No. 5 NBA Draft picks

2013 » Alex Len

2012 » Thomas Robinson

2011 » Jonas Valanciunas

2010 » DeMarcus Cousins

2009 » Ricky Rubio

2008 » Kevin Love

2007 » Jeff Green

2006 » Shelden Williams

2005 » Raymond Felton

2004 » Devin Harris

2003 » Dwyane Wade

2002 » Nikoloz Tskitishvili

2001 » Jason Richardson

2000 » Mike Miller

1999 » Jonathan Bender

1998 » Vince Carter

1997 » Tony Battie

1996 » Ray Allen

1995 » Kevin Garnett

1994 » Juwan Howard

1993 » Isaiah Rider

1992 » LaPhonso Ellis

1991 » Steve Smith

1990 » Kendall Gill

1989 » J.R. Reid

1988 » Mitch Richmond

1987 » Scottie Pippen

1986 » Kenny Walker

1985 » Jon Koncak

1984 » Charles Barkley

1983 » Sidney Green

1982 » LaSalle Thompson

1981 » Danny Vranes

1980 » James Ray

1979 » Sidney Moncrief

1978 » Purvis Short

1977 » Walter Davis

1976 » Wally Walker

1975 » Darryl Dawkins

1974 » Bobby Jones

1973 » Kermit Washington

1972 » Fred Boyd

1971 » George Trapp

1970 » Sam Lacey

1969 » Larry Cannon

1968 » Don Smith

1967 » Walt Frazier

1966 » Jack Marin

1965 » Billy Cunningham

1964 » Jeff Mullins

1963 » Gerry Ward

1962 » Wayne Hightower

1961 » Wayne Yates

1960 » Lee Shaffer

1959 » Johnny Green

1958 » Connie Dierking

1957 » Brendan McCann

1956 » Joe Holup

1955 » Ed Conlin

1954 » Togo Palazzi

1953 » Frank Ramsey

1952 » Ralph Polson

1951 » John McConathy

1950 » Larry Foust

1949* » Vern Gardner

1948* » Ed Mikan

1947* » Ed Holub

* NBA then known as the Basketball Association of America (BAA)

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Jonathan Bender. Jon Koncak. Nikoloz Tskitishvili. Shelden Williams. You want busts in the fifth spot? Those are the kind of guys the Jazz would like to avoid. Those four came into the league with great fanfare. All of them flopped. Miserably.

History shows the No. 5 spot is one of the great polarizing positions of the NBA Draft, the ultimate boom-or-bust pick. There is very little middle ground, through 30 years of data. In most cases, either the pick becomes one of the better players in the NBA, or a disappointment the team that selected him has to explain to its fans.

Related: Top 5 picks at No. 5 in NBA draft history

In this draft, that adds a certain amount of alarm for the Jazz. They know the numbers, they know the statistics. They realize they are in the fifth spot in a draft considered to have four franchise-changers. That means Utah has had quite a bit of work to do over the past six weeks.

"We have a sense of urgency with this pick," said Jazz VP of Player Personnel Walt Perrin. "We know that we have to get this right."

Historically, the pick has yielded a ton of talent. You see the names at the top of the story. You can add Scottie Pippen, Mitch Richmond and Ray Allen as Hall-Of-Fame talents. You can look at Vince Carter, who was a consistent All-Star in his prime. Devin Harris, Jason Richardson and Raymond Felton became solid pros. Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins — if he ever gets his head on straight — could be an all-star for the next decade, and has the talent to someday be the best big man in the league.


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In many cases, teams were fortunate to have great players land at their feet. Cousins had No. 1 pick talent, but second-round attitude, so he dropped a few spots. In 2003, Detroit gambled and lost on Darko Milicic with the No. 2 pick, causing the ripple effect that saw Wade slide to his fifth spot. Miami happily plucked him off the board and won an NBA title with him three years later.

In the fabled 1984 draft, everyone loved Barkley’s talent. Nobody loved his 270 pounds packed in a 6-foot-4 frame. What they didn’t know was that he had a 40-inch vertical leap, a nasty temperament and a vast set of skills that allowed him to be one of the top power forwards ever.

"Sometimes, picking fifth, teams have guys that fall right into their laps," NBA and college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla said. "Sometimes the draft has a few obvious picks, and great players fall for whatever reason."

For all of the positives of the No. 5 pick, there are big negatives as well. In 2006, Atlanta thought they had their big man of the future in Williams. He was so bad that when he married women’s hoops star Candace Parker, the joke went that he wasn’t even the best player in his own house. Brandon Roy — who would become a standout with Portland — went one pick later.

Everyone loved Garnett in 1995, and indeed he has become an all-time great. Four years later, the Toronto Raptors fell in love with Bender at No. 5, a Garnett clone physically who was also straight out of high school. He went on to average five points per game in his career.

"It’s such a thin line," Fraschilla said. "The whole draft is a crapshoot. But when you have a top-five pick, the pressure to be right is enormous."

And a bunch of that pressure is on the Jazz, as are a bunch of pointed questions. Will they be able to trade up? Will they pick injured Kansas big man Joel Embiid, should he happen to slide? If not, who do they pick?

It makes for an entertaining week for those watching. And if history tells us much, there won’t be much middle ground. In all likelihood, the Utah Jazz will either draft a star or a bust.

"I think Barkley was the best No. 5 pick ever," Perrin said. "What he was able to do in the league with that body type was amazing."

tjones@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tjonessltrib



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