- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Say this much for the Cleveland Cavaliers: They don’t take rejection lying down. A year after LeBron James jilted them for the Miami Heat, reducing a 61-win team to a 19-win team, they’re reportedly trying to regain their mojo with one bold move. ESPN The Magazine, citing NBA sources, says the Cavs want to acquire the second pick in the draft to go with the first (which they lucked into in the lottery).


To pull it off, according to the magazine, they’ll need the cooperation of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Detroit Pistons. It would work like this: The Cavaliers would take Richard Hamilton’s hefty contract off the Pistons’ hands — using the $14.6 million trade exception they received in the James sign-and-trade — and would get, in exchange, Detroit’s No. 8 pick. They would then package that pick with the fourth pick, which they also own, and ship them to the Timberwolves for the second pick.

Presto! A club that lost a record 26 straight games last season would be able to draft the top two prospects, Duke point guard Kyrie Irving and Arizona forward Derrick Williams. Think that might sell a few season tickets (and take some of the sting out of James’ departure)?

In case you were wondering, this has never happened. A team never has had the first two picks in the NBA draft. On several occasions, though, a club has had two high picks — say, two of the top five. There also have been clubs in other sports that have had two early picks (e.g. the Washington Redskins in 2000).

Which raises some questions: The Cavaliers‘ strategy looks good on paper, but will it get them where they want to go? What happened to those other teams that had a pair of high picks? Did they end up winning titles? Let’s take a look.

Here, for starters, are the last five NBA teams that have had two picks in the top five:

• Houston Rockets, 1983 — C Ralph Sampson (1), F Rodney McCray (3). Result: The Rockets went to the finals two years later, but only because they had the first pick in ‘84, too — Hakeem Olajuwon. They won back-to-back titles in ‘94 and ‘95, but by then Sampson and McCray were gone.

• Milwaukee Bucks, 1977 — C Kent Benson (1), F Marques Johnson (3). Result: Benson was pretty much a bust, but Johnson helped the Bucks get to the conference finals in ‘83 and ‘84.

• Atlanta Hawks, 1975 — F David Thompson (1), C Marvin Webster (3). Result: The hapless Hawks couldn’t sign either player, losing both to the Denver Nuggets of the rival ABA.

• Detroit Pistons, 1967 — G Jimmy Walker (1), F Sonny Dove (4). Result: Walker is probably better known for being Jalen Rose’s father than for anything he did in the NBA (such as playing in two All-Star Games). The Pistons were terrible before he and Dove arrived, and they remained terrible for years afterward.

• San Francisco Warriors, 1965 — F-C Fred Hetzel (4), F Rick Barry (5). Result: Hetzel, who graduated from Landon School in Bethesda and was Lefty Driesell’s first great player at Davidson, was just a journeyman pro. The Warriors struck gold, though, with Hall of Famer Barry. He led the Warriors to the finals in his second season and to a championship (over the Washington Bullets) in ‘75.

Interesting, no? Just one title — a decade later — out of the whole bunch.

Let’s broaden our research — just for fun — to the NFL and NHL. (In baseball, you can’t trade draft picks.)

• Redskins, 2000 — LB LaVar Arrington (2), OT Chris Samuels (3). Result: Both were Pro Bowlers, but the Redskins won only one playoff game while they were here.

Story Continues →