Phoenix Suns: The History Of The No. 13 Pick In The NBA Draft

Dec 28, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) handles the ball against Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) during the first quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 28, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) handles the ball against Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) during the first quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /

Last night, the Phoenix Suns were spurned by Lady Luck once again in the 2015 NBA Draft Lottery. The Suns hadn’t moved up in the draft lottery since 1987, and that trend continued for another year as Phoenix nabbed the 13th overall pick — the exact selection they were projected to have.

Now, with about five weeks until the 2015 NBA Draft, the question becomes: what should the Suns do with the No. 13 pick?

Starting today, we’ll be taking a look at individual prospects with Phoenix Suns 2015 NBA Draft Profiles, but it’s worth taking a look back at NBA Draft history first in order to manage expectations.

Since the very first NBA draft in 1947, back when the NBA was known as the Basketball Association of America, there have been a grand total of 19 championships, 45 All-Star appearances, 36 All-NBA selections and three Hall of Fame honorees (with a fourth undoubtedly on the way soon) among the 14 most recognizable names who were taken 13th overall.

Unfortunately, most of those accolades come from a select few in that group of 14 players.

In 1949, there was Jack Coleman, a one-time All-Star and two-time NBA champion. In 1956, the Boston Celtics added K.C. Jones with their No. 13 pick. Jones would become an eight-time champ, a Hall of Famer and have his jersey retired by the Celts.

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Two years later, the Philadelphia 76ers drafted their future all-time leading scorer at No. 13 in Hal Greer. Greer helped lead the Sixers to a championship, was a 10-time All-Star and earned seven All-NBA selections.

In the 1963 NBA Draft, one-time All-Star Jim King was selected 13th overall. The famous Mitch Kupchak went 13th in the 1976 NBA Draft and went on to become a three-time champion.

NBA All-Star Sleepy Floyd went 13th in the 1982 draft, but our first major standout to be taken with the No. 13 pick was Karl Malone in 1985. The Mailman went on to win two MVP Awards along with 14 All-Star appearances and 14 All-NBA selections during his Hall of Fame career.

Indiana Pacers fans from the 90s should remember the gritty play of Dale Davis, who was selected 13th in the 1991 NBA Draft. They may also remember Jalen Rose, though he was taken 13th overall by the Denver Nuggets in 1994.

Two years later (don’t cringe TOO hard, Suns fans), Kobe Bryant went 13th in the 1996 NBA Draft. The Black Mamba went on to win five championships, two Finals MVP Awards and one regular season MVP, not to mention his 17 All-Star appearances and 15 All-NBA selections.

Since that ’96 draft, the only other notable names around the league to emerge from that 13th spot in the draft are Corey Maggette (1999), Richard Jefferson (2001), Thabo Sefolosha (2006) and Ed Davis (2010). In the other 54 drafts, the 13th pick was pretty much forgettable.

Of course, the Suns are pretty familiar with the No. 13 pick as well. This year will make the fourth time Phoenix has had the 13th overall pick, and if history tells us anything, it’s that it might be safer to set expectations at a reasonable level for this year.

In 1984, the Suns used their No. 13 pick on Jay Humphries, a 6’3″ guard from Colorado. He was No. 6 on my list of the 10 worst draft picks in Suns franchise history, and the selection looked even worse since the Utah Jazz wound up with a Hall of Famer in John Stockton at No. 15 in that same draft.

Humphries wasn’t exactly a bust, averaging 11.1 points and 5.5 assists per game during his 11-year NBA career. But he spent only two seasons in Phoenix before the Suns traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks.

More recently, the Suns took Markieff Morris with the 13th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Keef has developed into an excellent one-on-one scorer and improved a lot of areas to his game during his first full season as a starter. But his off-the-court troubles (calling out the fans, technical fouls and pending legal issues) have many fans yearning to see him traded.

It’s too early to give up on Keef, but considering he was selected ahead of Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Vucevic, Iman Shumpert, Tobias Harris, Kenneth Faried, Reggie Jackson, Norris Cole, Jimmy Butler AND Chandler Parsons in that draft, he’ll have to REALLY work both on and off the court to turn his image around.

Finally, in 2012, the Suns squandered their 13th selection on Kendall Marshall from North Carolina. Marshall was a horrendous defender and shooter (37.1 percent) his rookie season, and the Suns traded him to the Washington Wizards in the deal that shipped away Marcin Gortat. First, there was Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Then (for Suns fans at least), there was Forgetting Kendall Marshall.

In three of the last five drafts, the Suns have picked 13th overall. In six of the last eight drafts, their first round pick has come in the 13-15 range. Considering how Earl Clark (No. 14 in 2009) and Robin Lopez (No. 15 in 2008) panned out, this is not Phoenix’s happy place — although T.J. Warren, the Suns’ No. 14 pick last year, could change that by continuing his progress.

In a draft that’s deep with talent at the power forward and center positions, the Suns will be able to find a player, on paper, to address some of their problem areas. The only question is whether or not they can find the right player to buck the league (and team) trend of mostly missing out on high-impact players at No. 13.

Next: Phoenix Suns: 10 Worst Draft Picks In Team History

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