The Washington Wizards have the no.8 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, their highest draft pick in ten years. Even though having a higher-than-usual draft pick is obviously a positive, the history of 8th overall selections paints a less-than-rosy picture for the Wizards.
An average NBA Draft has about 7 All-Star players and a few All-NBA level players. Therefore, statistically speaking, one would expect an All-Star player to be selected at least every few years with the no.8 pick. That is not the case, however. The list of players drafted with the 8th overall selection is a bleak one.
If we look at the 8th picks of the last ten years, there are only three surefire rotation-level players; Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Franz Wagner, and Collin Sexton. There are a couple of more names like Dyson Daniels and Obi Toppin that can potentially get there, but the list mainly consists of players who have disappointed in the NBA such as Frank Ntilikina, Jaxson Hayes, Stanley Johnson, and Nik Stauskas.
It doesn’t get much better than that when we go further back in time. In fact, the curse of the no.8 pick becomes more apparent.
The no.8 pick in 2010 Al-Farouq Aminu was immediately followed by Gordon Hayward and Paul George in the draft. The 8th-pick in 2011 Brandon Knight was followed by future All-Stars Kemba Walker and Klay Thompson. In 2002, Amare Stoudemire was the 9th-pick after Chris Wilcox.
If we look at all the 8th overall picks of the 2000s, it’s even a struggle to find high-level rotation players. Jamal Crawford and Rudy Gay probably had the best careers out of the group, but neither was an All-Star selection in their careers.
In fact, we have to go 30 years back to find a player who was drafted at no.8 that became an All-Star. In 1993, Vin Baker was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 8th pick and went on to become a four-time All-Star with the Bucks and the Seattle Supersonics.
If Vin Baker is the best player who was been drafted with the 8th pick in the last 30 years, that is serious evidence of the curse of the pick.
The Washington Wizards already had a tough road ahead of them, but having to overcome this curse adds even more pressure on them. Will the Wizards be able to draft the first All-Star 8th pick in 30 years? Seems like a hard task, but if the new front office pulls this off, they will have gotten off to a fantastic start.