The NBA Draft is more an art than a science, a phrase which has been uttered throughout the years as many times as "crazy upside" and "NBA-ready" have. But the cliche rings true year after year. And though teams go through months of scouting, film study, interviews and workouts, trying to uncover the next important piece to their respective franchise's roster, the draft is sometimes just about luck.
But history has also shown certain trends to remain true over the years, and recently that trend has been that it's a fairly safe bet — if there is one in the draft — to take a chance on the reigning Naismith Player of the Year. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise, as college basketball's best player from the previous year usually has a solid chance of making a different at the next level. But again, the draft is an art, not a science. What worked in college won't always translate to the next level (looking at you, Adam Morrison, Hasheem Thabeet, Johnny Flynn and countless others).
In the Bulls' case, their trade for Doug McDermott marked the third time they had selected or acquired a college hoops player of the year. It worked out (to say the very least) when they took North Carolina's Michael Jordan third overall in the 1984 NBA draft, and Duke's Elton Brand averaged 20 and 10 in two seasons with the Bulls after they made the 1999 Naismith Player of the Year the first overall pick.
Going back 10 draft classes, here's a look at each year's player of the year in college basketball and how their NBA career has turned out thus far. What's interesting to note is all 10 players, dating back to 2004, are still in the NBA. That's not as easy a task as it sounds, as the Nos. 6, 8, 10 and 12 picks from the 2004 draft are out of the league, while Nos. 9, 11, 12, 13 and 14 from the 2005 draft are no longer on an NBA roster. Even from 2006, six of the top 10 players drafted are out of the league and one player from the 2008 draft lottery (Joe Alexander) are gone.
But the Naismith Players of the Year are all intact. Some are mere role players, while others have gone on to All-Star games, won MVPs and are on track to become future Hall of Famers. What the list below proves it that, while the NBA draft is always a gamble, taking college basketball's best player is as sure a bet as there is, and should make Bulls fans even more hopeful that McDermott will thrive in the Association.
2013: Trey Burke, Michigan, No. 9 overall
Last year's stats: 12.8 points, 5.7 assists, 90.3 FT% ; Career PER: 12.6
Skinny: The Michigan point guard missed the start of his NBA career with a broken finger but turned in a solid rookie campaign and projects as the floor general of the future in Utah, presuming its first round pick this year, Dante Exum, plays more off the ball.
2012: Anthony Davis, Kentucky, No. 1 overall
Last year's stats: 20.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.8 blocks ; Career PER: 24.4
Skinny: The no-brainer first overall pick two years ago is off to a blazing start and is arguably a top-10 player in the league already.
2011: Jimmer Fredette, BYU, No. 10 overall
Last year's stats: 5.6 points, 47.6 3FG%, 10.6 minutes ; Career PER: 13.2
Skinny: The only real dud on the list, Fredette's outside shot is still deadly but his undersized frame, defensive struggles and one-dimensional skill set mean he'll be, at best, an end-of-the-bench guy the rest of his career.
2010: Evan Turner, Ohio State, No. 2 overall
Last year's stats: 14.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists ; Career PER: 12.0
Skinny: The talented wing had a solid start to his 2014 campaign in hopeless Philadelphia, and while the verdict's still out on him his time in Indiana was less than stellar.
2009: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma, No. 1 overall
Last year's stats: 24.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists ; Career PER: 22.9
Skinny: After sitting out his entire rookie season with a torn ACL, Griffin has become one of the game's best power forwards.
2008: Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina, No. 13 overall
Last year's stats: 4.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 47.4 FG% ; Career PER: 15.2
Skinny: He struggled in Toronto this year and has never blossomed into a true talent, but his defensive energy and above-average mid-range game will keep him in the league.
2007: Kevin Durant, Texas, No. 2 overall
Last year's stats: 32.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists ; Career PER: 24.5
Skinny: The league's second best player and reigning MVP, Durant could go down as one of the all-time great scorers in NBA history.
2006: J.J. Redick, Duke, No. 11 overall
Last year's stats: 15.2 points, 2.1 3-pointers, 2.2 assists ; Career PER: 14.1
Skinny: After a slow start to his career, Redick has transformed his game while maintaining his worth on the perimeter, and last year acted as a crucial second-unit player for the Clippers.
2005: Andrew Bogut, Utah, No. 1 overall
Last year's stats: 7.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks ; Career PER: 16.8
Skinny: While he hasn't lived up to his first-overall selection, Bogut is still one of the better interior defenders in the league.
2004: Jameer Nelson, St. Joe's, No. 20 overall
Last year's stats: 12.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 7.0 assists ; Career PER: 15.5
Skinny: The Magic point guard has started all but one game the last eight seasons and, in that span, has averaged at least 10 points and five assists, this past season averaging a career-best seven dimes per contest.