Did The Warriors Ruin The Dynasty By Blowing The Draft? Part 9: Comparing the Shaq-Kobe and Kobe-Pau Lakers
The drama circus of 2000s Los Angeles
We laid out the constraints and boundaries of this analysis in the series master post, Did The Warriors Ruin The Dynasty By Blowing The Draft? An In-Depth Series. This also has links to all the articles in the series.
For the rest of the series, we will look at how other dynasties drafted. All modern NBA dynasties face the same problems: they draft very late for several years in a row and they are constrained by the salary cap from trading for high draft picks. The whole salary cap and draft / lottery system is built to erode and destroy dynasties.
How well did the Dynasty Kobe-Pau Lakers draft?
This was Kobe’s second Dynasty (and Phil Jackson’s fourth). Kobe Bryant demanded a trade from the Lakers, feeling they were putzing away his prime by slowly building around Andrew Bynum. The Lakers shocked the NBA by somehow trading, essentially, Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol. (A decade later, that trade actually seems pretty fair, as the Grizzlies also landed Marc Gasol, but at the time he was some random draft-and-stash and Pau’s little brother.) This launched a three Finals run from 2008 (steamrolled by the Big 3 Boston Celtics), 2009 (whacking the Dwight Howard Orlando Magic), and 2010 (squeaking out a Game 7 thriller over the Big 3 Celtics).
Let’s look at the drafts.
#28. Traded to MEM to acquire Pau Gasol.
#58. Joe Crawford. He was waived after pre-season and sent to the D-League, and moved on to the Knicks.
#29. Toney Douglas, but traded to NYK for a 2011 2nd and cash.
#42. Patrick Beverley. He’s made a name for himself with hustle and hard work and being damned annoying, but LAL traded him on draft night to Miami for a 2011 2nd and cash.
#59. Chinemelu Elonu. A draft-and-stash in Spain. Elonu wouldn’t play for the Lakers until 2012 Summer League, and never got NBA minutes.
#28. Traded to MEM to acquire Pau Gasol.
#43. Devin Ebanks. Sent to the D-League and didn’t play any real minutes for LAL until 2011 after the championship window closed.
#58. Derrick Caracter. Also sent to the D-League and never played real minutes for the Dynasty Lakers.
I believe the team was so loaded up on salary that they didn’t think they could pay for marginal players in their lineup, thus explaining the complete punting on the 2009 draft. The most important outcome of the drafts was that two draft picks allowed them to acquire Pau Gasol (2680 Playoff Minutes for the Dynasty Lakers). Six players were drafted and none of them played meaningful minutes, even in the regular season, for the Dynasty.
The Warriors used Dynasty-era draft picks to acquire key player Andre Iguodala (2851 Playoff Minutes). But they also landed Kevon Looney who eventually was an important role player, and Jordan Bell, Patrick McCaw and Damian Jones who ultimately disappointed but played important spot minutes in the playoffs.
Verdict: The Warriors drafted better than the Kobe-Pau Lakers.
That was so easy and fast, let’s also consider the Shaq-Kobe Lakers in this article.
How well did the Dynasty Shaq-Kobe Lakers draft?
This dynasty clicked immediately with Phil Jackson and ran off three championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. In 2003 they were tripped up by the Spurs, but came back in 2004 with Karl Malone and Gary Payton to make another Finals where they got thumped by a great defensive Pistons team.
#29. Mark Madsen. He contributed a token 227 Playoff Minutes in 57 games for 4.0 Playoff Minutes Per Game (reference: less than Jordan Bell or Patrick McCaw).
#54. Cory Hightower. This is an odd case where the Lakers shelled out two future 2nd round picks to SAS to grab Hightower, so they clearly loved him. But then they cut him after Summer League and he played for the CBA and then the Harlem Globetrotters and never played in the NBA.
#27. Traded to NYK early in the 2000-01 season as part of dumping Glen Rice and Travis Knight and receiving Horace Grant, Greg Foster, Emanual Davis and Chuck Person. Horace Grant was a contributor to the 2000-01 LAL, starting as PF all season. Obviously, Phil Jackson valued Grant’s expertise in the triangle offense from their Bulls days. But they got just the one good year, as Grant left as a free agent the next season after tallying 423 Playoff Minutes in 16 games.
#56. Traded to SAS in the Hightower trade.
#20. Kareem Rush. Ended up as #28 in Win Shares for his draft class, and #46 in Value Over Replacement Player. Even though he was hated by advanced stats, he carved out a career as a role player and contributed a respectable 12.2 Playoff Minutes Per Game, 379 Playoff Minutes in 31 games.
#27. Traded to TOR for #20, also getting Tracy Murray and 2003 2nd for Lindsey Hunter and 2003 2nd.
#56. Traded to SAS in the Hightower trade. (SAS picked some guy named Luis Scola, who only turned out to be one of the great international players for years and #8 in Win Shares for his draft class. What a steal… but not for the Lakers.)
#24. Brian Cook. A backup big who played minor minutes. He played garbage time minutes in the 2003-04 playoffs, but hung around long enough to contribute a few minutes to the playoff runs before the Kobe-Pau Dynasty (78 then 51). For the Dynasty Years, he totaled 46 Playoff Minutes in 22 games for 2.1 PMPG.
#32. Luke Walton. This underrated player hung around long enough to contribute spot minutes for the Shaq-Kobe Dynasty (134 Playoff Minutes in 22 games for 6.1 PMPG) and then again for the Kobe-Pau Dynasty (781 Playoff Minutes in 67 games for 11.7 PMPG). This prepared him for his eventual destiny of leading the 2015-16 Warriors to their blazing 24-0 start while Steve Kerr was injured.
#52. Traded to TOR (see 2002 #27 trade).
In four drafts, LAL drafted five players who played a total of 786 Playoff Minutes for the Shaq-Kobe Dynasty. They also used draft picks to trade for one year of Horace Grant, who was a major contributor to the 2001 championship, chipping in 423 Playoff Minutes in 16 games (26.4 PMPG).
In four drafts, the Warriors got Kevon Looney, Damian Jones, Patrick McCaw, Jordan Bell and Jacob Evans for a total of 1353 Playoff Minutes, and made the sign-and-trade for Andre Iguodala (2851 Playoff Minutes) possible.
Even if you include the minutes Luke Walton played for the next dynasty four years later (781 Playoff Minutes), you get 1567 Playoff Minutes, which is in the same ballpark as the Warriors net. And Horace Grant was important, but not as important as Andre Iguodala.
Verdict. The Warriors drafted better than the Shaq-Kobe Dynasty Lakers.
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I think one thing this series has confirmed for me is that if you want playoff minutes from draft picks, you're usually best off trading the picks for a known quantity.
That said, I'm pretty excited about all the young draft picks we've got on the Warriors right now, and it feels like the team is pretty well positioned to compete for at least the next 5 years. Maybe I'll feel differently about things if the season starts off a little rough, but... even if Wiseman still isn't ready, Looney's a finished product as he is now, and Mannion stays in Italy indefinitely... feels like by the time Stephen Wardell Curry retires from the league either Kuminga or Wiseman may have blossomed into a legitimate star, and they'll have a pretty reliable cast of rotation guys they've built up chemistry with to continue into the next generation.
Hartenstein to Clips.
Well, here's to Looney, Wiseman, and Bjelica holding up at the 5 spot...