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NBA’s Magnificent Seven: The Powerhouse Draft Picks Who Ignited Tanking Frenzies

In the annals of NBA history, there have been seven remarkable draft picks that triggered a frenzy of tanking among multiple teams, each vying for the ultimate prize – the first overall pick. Let’s revisit these iconic moments in American basketball history:

  1. 1984: Hakeem Olajuwon

Back in 1984, the race for Hakeem Olajuwon was nothing short of intense. The Rockets and Bulls, in particular, went to extraordinary lengths, enduring losing seasons in pursuit of this coveted talent. Ultimately, the Rockets emerged as the fortunate victors, securing Olajuwon. However, the Bulls’ consolation prize was none other than Michael Jordan, setting the stage for their iconic dynasty.

  1. 1992: Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal’s talent was legendary, and it sparked a fierce competition among NBA teams. In that year, a whopping 12 teams tanked in hopes of landing O’Neal, with the Orlando Magic ultimately winning the lottery and securing his services. Regrettably for the rest of the league, O’Neal went on to create a dynasty with the Los Angeles Lakers.

  1. 1997: Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan possessed both extraordinary skills and basketball IQ. In 1997, nearly half the league embraced tanking to secure the first pick and select Duncan. The San Antonio Spurs, guided by coach Gregg Popovich, were the fortunate beneficiaries, with Duncan leading them to five NBA championships.

NBA’s Magnificent Seven: The Powerhouse Draft Picks Who Ignited Tanking Frenzies
  1. 2003: LeBron James

LeBron James, hailed as the Chosen One, was a sensation even in high school, capturing the attention of numerous NBA teams. The Nuggets and the Cavaliers engaged in a fierce tanking battle, with the latter ultimately winning the LeBron sweepstakes. In 2016, LeBron delivered an NBA championship to the Cavaliers.

  1. 2014: Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins possessed immense talent, and eight NBA teams won fewer than 30 games in their quest to acquire him. The Cleveland Cavaliers secured the top pick but promptly traded Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves, setting the stage for the formation of the Cavaliers’ Big Three.

  1. 2019: Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson’s talent was undeniable, leading to nearly half of the league tanking for a shot at him. Ultimately, the New Orleans Pelicans won the draft lottery, securing Williamson’s services. However, injuries have plagued Zion’s career, leaving fans wanting more.

  1. 2023: Benjamyn Amare

Benjamyn Amare has yet to set foot in the NBA, but he’s already a sensation. The San Antonio Spurs openly tanked, parting ways with their lone All-Star, all in their pursuit of the next foundational player after Tim Duncan. The Rockets, Magic, Pacers, Thunder, and other teams also embraced tanking, all coveting the prized rookie.

These seven draft picks not only transformed their respective franchises but also left an indelible mark on the history of the NBA.

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