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NBA Draft History: Top Five 13th Picks

With the Suns having the 13th pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, it's time to take a look back at the greatest 13th picks.

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As you're no doubt aware, the Suns have the 13th pick in the June 23rd NBA Draft. You're also likely aware that what I'm best at is making lists of things that already happened. Thus with that perfect marriage consider this my first look at the NBA Draft.

To open I'm going to rank the Top 5 13th overall picks in the draft. I drew the line at drafts occurring since the ABA/NBA merger in 1976 basically as a means of ensuring that you'd heard of the guys. The only guy who would have made the best 5 if I'd let everyone in was Sixers star Hal Greer (1958) who scored over 20,000 points in a Hall of Fame career. I apologize in advance to Mr. Greer's grandchildren.

Honorable Mention:

  • Richard Jefferson (2001)
  • Corey Maggette (1999)
  • Mitch Kupchak (1976)

(5)   Sleepy Floyd: 1982, guard Georgetown (New Jersey Nets)


Eric "Sleepy" Floyd played on the Georgetown team that was "Jordan'd" in the 1982 National Championship game but he recovered well enough to be drafted by New Jersey. He was a slow starter in Jersey but when he was dealt to Golden State he took off. 

In his second full season with the Warriors he averaged a career high 19.5 points per game and in his third season there he was an All-Star. From a playing perspective his shiniest moment was in the 1987 playoffs when he scored 51 points in the Western Conference semifinals against the Lakers including standing NBA playoff records of 29 points in a quarter and 39 points in a half.

Floyd lasted in the NBA all the way until 1995 without falling asleep on the job. 

Notable Bad Pick Before Him: 

  • 10th pick - guard Keith Edmundson - 87 career games

(4)  Jalen Rose:  1994, guard Michigan (Denver Nuggets


Rose was a popular college star as perhaps the most brash member of Michigan's Fab Five so Denver knew what they were getting when they selected him in 1994.

Playing with a bad Denver team, Rose struggled to find his rhythm and was dealt to Indiana before his third season. With Indiana, Rose adjusted to mainly a bench role but was a key cog on a team that nearly took down Michael Jordan's Bulls in their final title run.

In his 6th season, Rose nearly doubled his scoring average (up to 18.2 points per game) and started on a Pacers team that made their first NBA Finals appearance. For his trouble, Rose claimed the 1999-2000 Most Improved Player award. 

4 different 20 point per game seasons followed for Rose but he played for a lot of losers. He finished his career as a bench warmer on the 2006-07 Phoenix Suns - falling for Mike D'Antoni's obviously fake offer of playing time.   

Notable Bad Picks Before Him: 

  • 11th pick - forward Carlos Rogers: 298 games
  • 12th pick - guard Khalid Reeves: 3.2 assists per game in 277 games

(3)  Dale Davis: 1991, forward Clemson (Indiana Pacers)  


A bruising power forward from Clemson, Davis spent his career doing basketball dirty work. He spent his first 9 seasons with Indiana and played on contenders. His peak season was his 1993-94 campaign when he averaged 11.7 points and 10.9 rebounds a game - his only double-double season. Though that was his best year he was actually an All-Star in 2000. 

Portland acquired him to help put their contending squad over the top (at the unfortunate cost of young Jermaine O'Neal) but that didn't work out. He retired after the 2006-2007 season, spending an impressive 16 seasons in the NBA. For his career he averaged a solid 8 points and 7.9 rebounds a game and finished 20th in NBA history in offensive rebounds.

Notable Bad Picks Before Him: 

  • 6th pick - forward Doug Smith - 296 games
  • 8th pick - guard Mark Macon - 251 games, 38.4% shooter

(2) Karl Malone:  1985, forward Louisiana Tech (Utah Jazz


In a draft where a pair of Dream Teamers went in the top 10 (Ewing, Mullin) the Jazz got themselves the guy who would go on to have the best career. Malone has a strong college career but coming out of Louisiana Tech he didn't quite have the Georgetown expectations of Ewing.

Fortunately for the Jazz, Malone was a wonder nearly from day 1. Teaming with 1984 draftee John Stockton, Malone helped lead the Jazz to 14 consecutive playoff berths including the 1997 and 98 NBA Finals. Individually, Malone was a 2-time MVP, 14-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA First Teamer, and the second all-time leading scorer in NBA history.

Frankly that's really only the highlights of his achievements. Malone is an absolute stone-cold lock Hall of Famer. Not bad for the 13th pick but not even his sweet wrestling career could get him the number 1 slot.

Notable Bad Picks Before Him

  • 11th pick - forward/center Keith Lee: 182 career games
  • 12th pick - forward Kenny Green: 265 career points

(1) Kobe Bryant:  1996, guard Lower Merion H.S. (Charlotte Hornets


One of only a handful of guys who can put themselves past Malone on a list like this - Bryant is one of them. Obviously the guy has never endeared himself to Suns fans but it just kind of is what it is.

Kobe was a celebrity even before setting foot on an NBA court - as a high schooler he took pop star Brandy to his prom. When he did make it to the NBA, the accolades started rolling in. He was drafted by the Hornets but dealt to the Lakers in exchange for Vlade Divac. Not a bad trade for LA. 

In two completely different forms he's helped the Lakers to a total of 5 NBA Championships - the first 3 with Shaquille O'Neal and the last 2 with Pau Gasol. He's won the Finals MVP in each of the last two titles.

Regular season wise, Bryant won the 2008 MVP, is a 9-time All-NBA First Teamer, and 13-time All-Star. What has always helped to separate him from his competition is the fact that he's also a great defender, to the tune of becoming a 9-time All-Defensive First Team selection. 

Hate the guy - but he's great. 

Notable Bad Picks Before Him

  • 11th pick - center Todd Fuller: 225 games, 833 points
  • 12th pick - center Vitaly Potapenko: 6.5 points per game average

I'll bring you the worst 13th picks next time. Please hold your breath.