NBA Roundtable

Bryan Colangelo’s Draft Record

In Draft on March 17, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Let’s start off with a recap of his draft history

1995 NBA Draft

Bryan Colangelo selected Michael Finley with the 21st pick, Mario Bennett with the 27th pick, and Chris Carr with the 56th pick.

1996 NBA Draft

Bryan Colangelo selected Steve Nash with the 15th pick. He then used two second round picks on Russ Millard (39th pick) and Ben Davis (43rd pick).

1997 NBA Draft

No first round pick, but the Suns did hold a pick in the middle of the second round. Bryan Colangelo selected Stephen Jackson with the 43rd pick.

1998 NBA Draft

No draft picks

1999 NBA Draft

Bryan Colangelo selected Shawn Marion with the 9th pick of the draft.

2000 NBA Draft

Bryan Colangelo selected Iakovos Tsakalidis with the 25th overall pick.

2001 NBA Draft

No first round draft pick, but the team held a low second round pick. Bryan Colangelo choose Alton Ford with the 51st pick.

2002 NBA Draft

Bryan Colangelo drafted Amare Stoudemire with the 9th pick, and then added Casey Jacobsen with the 22nd pick.

2003 NBA Draft

Bryan Colangelo held one mid first round draft, and traded a future first to pick up another pick in the first round. He used the Suns own draft pick, the 17th pick, on Zarko Cabarkapa. Colangelo then selected Leandrinho Barbosa with a late first rounder from San Antonio.

2004 NBA Draft

No draft picks used — the pick was traded on draft day for a future first rounder and some other pieces.

2005 NBA Draft

The Suns held two draft picks but traded both of them. Their first rounder was traded, along with Quentin Richardson, to the Knicks in return for Kurt Thomas and a draft pick which became Dijon Thompson (54th pick). While their late second rounder was sold to Orlando.

2006 NBA Draft

Bryan Colangelo used the first overall selection to draft Andrea Bargnani. He subsequently added PJ Tucker (35th pick) and Edin Bavcic (56th pick) in the second round.

2007 NBA Draft

No draft picks

2008 NBA Draft

The draft pick was traded in a multi-player package in order to acquire Jermaine O’Neal.

Quick Summary

Bryan Colangelo made

  • Three lottery picks — Andrea Bargnani (2006 — 1st pick), Shawn Marion (1999 — 9th pick), and Amare Stoudemire (2002 — 9th pick)
  • Two mid first round pick — Steve Nash (1996 — 15th pick), Zarko Cabarkapa (2003 — 17th pick)
  • Five late first round picks — Michael Finley (1995 — 21st pick), Iakovos Tsakalidis (2000 — 25th pick), Mario Bennett (1995 — 27th pick), Casey Jacobsen (2002 — 22nd pick), Leandrinho Barbosa (2003 — 28th pick)
  • A bunch of second round picks — Chris Carr (1995 — 56th pick), Russ Millard (1996 — 39th pick) and Ben Davis (1996 — 43rd pick), Stephen Jackson (1997 — 43rd pick), Alton Ford (2001 — 51st pick), Dijon Thompson (2005 — 54th pick), PJ Tucker (2006 — 35th pick), and Edin Bavcic (2006 — 56th pick)

Brief Analysis

That looks like a fantastic draft record to me … well, that is, when Bryan Colangelo actually has and uses a pick.

I thought he did an excellent job selecting Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire. Colangelo also did excellent work drafting Steve Nash, Michael Finley and Barbosa.

To me, there only seems to be two questionable first round picks — Andrea Bargnani and Zarko Cabarkapa — neither pick bothers me greatly but I know they bother other folks so they’re worth highlighting. The Cabarkapa pick was a mistake, a fairly bad one, but I did think he looked interesting at the time so I don’t judge Colangelo harshly for that pick.

Onto the second round, two excellent picks in Stephen Jackson and Chris Carr. One solid pick in PJ Tucker. Four players who I can’t for the life of me remember, and one other decent pick in Thompson.


When Bryan Colangelo keeps his draft picks, and uses them, he does a very good job.

  1. Dave,

    In comparison with whom and what exactly?

    for example …

    ‘95/Finley/#21 … Could’ve traded for K-Garnett/#5 [Min]
    ‘96/Nash/#15 … Could’ve traded up for K-Bryant/#8 [LaL]
    ‘97/Jackson/#43 … was a terrific pick
    ‘99/Marion/#9 … Could’ve traded up for L-Odom/#4 or R-Hamilton/#7
    ‘02/Stoudemire/#9 … C-Butler/#10, T-Prince/#23, J-Salmons/#23
    ‘03/Barbosa/#28 … Jo-Howard/#29

  2. Hey Khandor,

    This was only a short post. I didn’t have enough time to compare his picks to a bunch of other picks which he could have made.

    That said, while I didn’t write out that analysis, I did factor it in (off loose recollections of the draft) when saying whether I thought the pick was bad/good/very good/excellent.

    I think you’ll find, or have found in the past, that you are far more demanding than I am when it comes to evaluating the draft and how GM’s are doing.

    As for your examples:

    (1) I think your first example is unreasonable. A 21st pick trading up for the fifth pick in the draft? That’s unreasonable in my book.

    (2) This one may have something to it. Kobe was actually the 13th pick and only two selections away from where Nash was taken. Other notables — Peja the 14th pick, and Jermaine O’Neal was the 17th pick. Still, the Lakers gave up Vlade Divac to land that pick and Kobe’s agent was driving the negotiations to LA … could Phoenix have gotten in on that? Maybe but it’s not clear, and frankly I doubt it.

    (3) Fully agree

    (4) I’d rather have Marion than either Odom or Rip.

    (5) Amare Stoudemire was the second best player in the draft, and I’d rather have him than Butler, Price or Salmons.

    (6) Josh Howard was an excellent player and in my top 10 picks prior to the 2003 draft. I think 20 teams missed the boat on this guy … and I’m not going to tear somebody apart when two thirds of the league screws up. As for the mistake, I’d criticize the Zarko pick and relate that to Howard and leave the Barbosa pick alone.

    Four Notes

    Khandor, I felt it would be helpful for you to know the following, so you can understand why I rate a pick highly or not, and how strongly I feel about that pick:

    Note One: If we talked more about past drafts, you’d find I rarely judge GM’s harshly on high school picks. I think they’re far tougher to evaluate and very difficult decisions as a result. I’ll give criticism, but generally won’t be that harsh.

    Note Two: You’d also find that I’m still very happy if a GM makes a very good pick with 10th selection, despite there being a better player at the 12th selection. The fact there may be a better player will decrease my happiness with the pick, but not eliminate it. If I really liked the player that came with the 10th selection, I may still call it an excellent pick despite their being a better option there. Now if there are several better picks than the guy I like at #10 …. then I get a little angsty about the situation.

    Note Three: I am quite forgiving to GM’s who make mistakes based on their willingness to take risks on players who they feel have large potential. For example, a GM who takes a young prospect who he believes has massive potential — a success story like Dwight Howard, or major mishap like Darko Milicic. I’ll give Orlando’s GM (Weisbrod? I forget the name. NHL guy wasn’t it?) a lot of credit for hitting a home run, but while I’d say Joe D made a mistake I wouldn’t be that harsh against him (despite missing Wade, Melo and Bosh as a result) — I like it when GM’s are willing to make tough choices like this and expect them to fail some of the time, part of the cost of doing business.

    Note Four: The Josh Howard situation above — Manu Ginobili was the 57th pick in the 1999 draft but I’d now rate him as the best player in that draft. I won’t criticize all 56 prior picks for missing out on him … I’ll only supply huge credit to the team that did eventually select him — I view the Josh Howard situation in the same light.

    Anyway, I just thought you may find those notes useful in order to understand how I view past draft picks. Might save some time and create some understanding down the road.

    Khandor, I don’t expect you to agree with those four notes, in fact I’d be very surprised if you did … I just thought it be useful for you to know where I’m coming from.

  3. Dave,

    * Those are good points and improve others understanding of what you wrote originally.

    * Seems like when I wrote my original two comments that I confused Kobe’s original #8 uniform with his actual #13 draft order position. Now that’s kind of funny. 🙂

    * re: trading up or down in draft to get the best player available

    Major credit, in my book, to those who are capable of pulling this off without crippling their team in return. IMO, it takes a special eye for NBA level talent AND a certain hutzpa to do this.

    In 1995, moving from #21 to #5 in order to get a special player like Garnett would have fit into this category, in my book.

    In my book, it’s a cop out to say …

    “the is the Draft Number we’ve got, and this is the best palyer available at this position, so by taking him and having him turn out okay, then, we’ve had a solid day at the office … but, in the process, let another team we’re competing with snag a one-in-a-lifetime player like the BIg Ticket, ahead of us.”

    [not that this is what you did, IMO]

    I liked Finley an awful lot but the fact is … he was a former US National Player of the Year candidate at Wisconsin U who was a known commodity and has had a solid career in the NBA. IMO, however, the person with the best eye for NBA level talent that particular draft was the man who selected KG in the #5 slot.

    When a team has the #1 slot and is intent on drafting a player like Lebron James then it isn’t reasonable, IMO, to suggest that others COULD have pried that specific pick away from them. Taking a massive chance and striking GOLD with KG, in ’95, would’ve fit into a different category altogether.

    [i.e. What Jerry West did with the #13 Pick, in 1996, is simply LEGENDARY. 🙂 ]

    * Swings and misses are relatively meaningless, in my book … provided that the ones you DO hit, go yard. 🙂

    * The giant bugaboo in any discussion of Steve Nash, in relationship with Phoenix, is THE FACT that the Suns’ management team actually decided to TRADE him away after drafting him in the first place. This FACT alone then becomes a giant qualifier, in my book, as the Suns were extremely LUCKY that Nash simply chose to return to Phoenix on his own volition when Cuban made the correct decision to let him go. That’s right. IMO Mark Cuban made the correct to let Nash go when he did, as IMO:

    i. The Mavs improved immensely once they made that specific move;
    ii. The Mavs would not have reached the NBA Finals with a team that had Nowitzki and Nash … two weak defensive players … in their Starting 5;
    iii. Steve Nash would never have become the NBA’s MVP if he had not hooked up with a coach like Mike D’Antoni, which is what was able to happen for him with the Suns. Nash is simply not a League MVP player if he isn’t playing in a 4 Out/1 In offensive system that’s committed to a brand of ball like SSOL. He’s a very good player that needs that system to excel at the highest level possible, unlike, say, Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant or Magic Johnson or Larry Bird or Kareem or Oscar or Hakeem or Tim Duncan or Bill Russell, etc.

    * re: Marion vs Odom or Rip

    Lamar Odom and/or Richard Hamilton are better basketball players than Shawn Marion … and, it’s not close.

    * re: Stat vs Caron Butler or Tayshaun Prince or John Salmons

    I might be willing to make others the wager that either Butler or Salmons will end with a NBA title on his mantle before Amare does.

    Tay Prince already has one of those up on Stat, in addition to a Gold Medal from the 2008 Olympic Games.

    Putting a championship team together involves acquiring a high talent and, then, so much more than that, as well.

    Until Stat is able to help create that situation with the team he’s on or be fortunate enough to be moved into a situation that will allow him to contribute in way which helps to bring that about, he is going to have a page missing in his hoops’ scrap, IMO, given the lack of quality D & Rebounding he brings to the table as a Quality BIG in the NBA, who’s been a key piece of some very good but not yet great teams in this league.

    * re: Josh Howard

    Just because others miss the boat with you doesn’t mean that you’re still not left at the dock waiting for a ship that’s already sailed. You’re just not alone standing there; that’s all.

    Personally, I want the GM who is sailing on that boat, steering the ship I’m on, as an owner in the NBA or a loyal fan … not one in the company of others, standing on the dock and waving good-bye. 🙂


    Always a treat to read your work, whether we agree or not. 😉

  4. Khandor,

    Lots of great stuff in that post Khandor.

    Amare Stoudemire

    I agree with you on his flaws, but I don’t think they’re difficult to work around. His offensive game is incredible and adds huge value. If he doesn’t play on a title winning side it’ll be because GM’s failed to build a proper side around him.

    Trading Up or Down in the Draft

    I think it’s excellent when GM’s actively try to maneuver into the area of the draft where they can select the player they want most. Absolutely excellent — and I give GM’s extra credit for making those situations happen.

    But when they don’t happen … that’s a cloudy situation. I need to see some level of proof, or reasoning, that it was possible for them to get the pick/player before I’d criticize the situation. Somewhat similar to how I view non-trades, except I think these possibilities are more difficult to show — also because these situations are more specific than some non-trades which can have a large number of potential options.

    Nash and Phoenix

    The initial trade doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Phoenix had a young point guard in Jason Kidd who many already rated as the best in the game, who was simply in Nash’s way. I don’t think they trade him if Kidd wasn’t there.

    They also picked up a clear lottery pick in the trade, and that pick became Shawn Marion. Which I think is good work. Plus at the time of the trade, Nash was still two years away from becoming a high level starting point guard.

    Nash and Dallas

    I am undecided over whether Dallas made the right decision or not. I go back and forth on it. Regardless, I have no problem with Cuban’s decision to let him leave.

    I see your point on how it aided Dallas, and at times I’ve agreed with that line of thinking. Then at other times, that lack of perimeter playmaker bothers the heck out of me and I wonder if they couldn’t found another way to shore up their weaknesses while keeping Nash … and I think there’s a case to be made there too. In the end, I don’t think there’s a clear answer about whether it was the right or wrong decision.

    I fully agree that Nash doesn’t become an MVP if he doesn’t land in Phoenix under D’Antoni. I think Nash would have continued as a borderline All-NBA player if he stayed in Dallas or went elsewhere.

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