A bad season can get you a lottery pick, but smart drafting takes your team out of the basement and into the playoffs. The keys to smart drafting are: don’t draft for need, draft the best available player, stay away from projects (if you don’t have the coaching staff or minutes to allocate to them), don’t throw away picks, and finally luck.
No team hits a home run on every pick, and given the value of picks since the success of the process you can’t overlook the pressure a team is under when the clock starts. Teams that continuously draft poorly risk compiling subpar talent.
Looking at the Suns for example you would think they need a center or maybe another guard. But that’s not the case. When you finish last or close to it you need the best player available.
The best player available at any given slot gives a team the talent base necessary to build a team. Think Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. Was Greg Oden a better player? No. Did Portland need a center? Yes. Enter Greg oden. That didn’t work out well did it.
Projects are good and bad. This draft had a few, and if the team has the resources plus the right time to invest, the payoff is big. See Greek freak as an example.
When the resources aren’t there a team just hopes a guy shows up and plays. That doesn’t work out. See Anthony Bennett on that one. I’m a Canadian, and had to go there. But Cleveland reached on him and just didn’t really give him the tools to succeed.
Adding future draft picks onto trades seems like a great idea but it could sink your team a few years down the road if your gambles don’t pay off. Brooklyn mortgaged their future and ended up gifting picks to Boston amongst others to field a team that didn’t put a single worthwhile banner in the rafters. Years later there is some light there, but it will be hard to get a franchise player without a lottery pick.
Finally, luck is a good thing for drafts. Particularly when you have players fall down the board that end up as all-stars.
So heading out of the draft, hope that your favourite team doesn’t end up making a few of the mistakes above.