Anthony and Gasol are generally recognized as two of the league's best players today; Billups is regarded as one of the game's best floor generals; Hill's all-around skills helped him have a solid career which might've been spectacular if not for injuries, and McHale teamed with Larry Bird and Robert Parrish as Boston's "Big Three" that led the Celtics to three NBA championships in the 1980s.
Baron Davis, Jerry Stackhouse, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Sean Elliott and Buck Williams were all No. 3 draft picks who have each enjoyed a high level of success in the NBA. And, to a lesser extent, so have Ben Gordon, Mike Dunleavy, Raef LaFrentz, Billy Owens, Charles Smith, Chris Jackson (Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf), Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway and Rodney McCray.
Christian Laettner, a No. 3 pick behind Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning in 1992, came into the league with a lot of fanfare a la BYU's Jimmer Fredette this year, but he didn't live up to those lofty expectations. The same could be said of another No. 3 pick, Benoit Benjamin.
And the jury's still out on more recent No. 3 picks like Al Horford, O.J. Mayo, James Harden and Favors, who have each shown glimpses that they could become solid NBA players someday.
And then, there are the clunkers — No. 3 draft choices who washed out, were huge disappointments and generally rank among the biggests busts anyone's seen since Pamela Anderson.
Guys like former Gonzaga star Adam Morrison, who was taken No. 3 by Memphis in 2006 and is now a man looking for a team — four seasons of shooting under 40 percent from the floor will do that to a guy. But, hey, he got a couple of NBA championship rings with the Lakers.
Or Darius Miles, a high school phenom taken by the L.A. Clippers in 2000. He fought with his coach, had injury problems, substance abuse issues and played for four teams in eight years, never living up to his potential.
Or Dennis Hopson, another No. 3 pick (New Jersey, 1987) who lasted just five seasons in the NBA before taking his talents to Spain, France, the Philippines, Turkey, Israel, Venezuela and ... well, you get the picture..
But the biggest bust of all time at No. 3, and one of the biggest in all of NBA Draft history, is Chris Washburn. The former N.C. State big man on campus (who seldom attended class) was drafted by Golden State in 1986. And, after just 72 games over two NBA seasons in which he averaged a whopping 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, his career went down the drain almost as fast as the cocaine went up his nose. Washburn was banned from the NBA for life in 1989 after failing three drug tests in three years.
So, as you can see, there's no guarantee that the Jazz will get a terrific impact player at No. 3 on Thursday night.
Sure, with Christmas coming six months early for Jazz fans, they could find a great gift in their stockings. Or, as teams sadly found out with Washburn and Morrison, they could wind up with a lump of coal instead.
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