Category Archives: Rankings

The top 10 players from the 1994 NBA Draft

The recent retirements of Grant Hill and Jason Kidd brought me back to the first basketball video game I ever played: NBA Live 95 for Windows 95. (Here’s the cover and the back listing all the cool features!) Though much of it is a blur, I still a remember a handful of things from that game:

1. The ugliness I thought of Seattle’s jerseys. No worries, I love them now.

2. The flat top of Alonzo Mourning. Even with the graphics back then, Mourning stuck out like a sore thumb.

3. How confused I was when Michael Jordan wasn’t in the game. My parents bought me the game in 1996, though the version of me back then didn’t remember a time when Jordan wasn’t in the NBA. Naturally, I threw a hissy fit when the Chicago Bulls’ starting lineup featured Will Perdue and B.J. Armstrong. It super sucked. (Something I said, probably.)

4. I thought Greg Anderson, the center for the Atlanta Hawks in 1995, was the same Greg Anderson who was my next door neighbor. He wasn’t.

5. The fun I had with my friends playing the game (and also NBA Live 97 and 98) with no rules. The shoving you could do with players was hysterical.

Both Jason Kidd and Grant Hill were rookies during the 1994-95 season, but I didn’t know they existed when I was ballin’ out on NBA Live 95. In an attempt to make up for that, I decided to acknowledge their impact on the league by making a 10-player Big Board and use it to rank the best players from the 1994 NBA Draft:

1. Jason Kidd – Drafted 2nd by the Dallas Mavericks

His passes were a lot like LeBron’s. They were so good so often there came a point when you took them for granted. Also have to credit him for winning a gold medal for USA Basketball two separate times and eight years apart. He’ll be in the Hall of Fame, just like…

2. Grant Hill – Drafted 3rd by the Detroit Pistons

He could’ve been a better version of Scottie Pippen had his entire career been like his first six seasons. Like what’s already been said many times though, Hill continued playing, despite other opinions from his doctors, and carved out a solid career by transforming his game.

3. Eddie Jones – Drafted 10th by the Los Angeles Lakers

Another one of my favorite players from the ’90s, but I never really paid attention to Jones after the Lakers traded him. He also was featured in this commercial from 1997, starring Shaq. It was way better than Kazaam.

4. Juwan Howard – Drafted 5th by the Washington Bullets

Hoop Dreams, the Fab Five, the cabbage patch, a web site devoted to his overreactions; solid career, Juwan Howard.

5. Glenn Robinson – Drafted 1st by the Milwaukee Bucks

Every time I look at his basketball-reference page I can’t get over his 30 point-10 rebound average in his last year at Purdue. Robinson also signed the richest rookie contract in NBA history at 10-years, $68 million. Money in the bank.

One of the best mid-range shooters in his prime, Robinson was a two-time All-Star and one of my favorite players of the 90s. I still remember his basketball card and the rest of the Dream Team II in a Sports Illustrated for Kids issue. They were literally made out of cardboard, but I pretended it was gold.

6. Jalen Rose – Drafted 13th by the Denver Nuggets

A versatile player in his prime who could play point forward, Rose played for six NBA teams, though I only remember him on three of them (Indiana, Chicago, and Toronto).

7. Brian Grant – Drafted 9th by the Sacramento Kings

One of the best energy players in his prime with some of the best hair the NBA will ever see. Google Images, man. Google Images.

8. Donyell Marshall – Drafted 4th by the Minnesota Timberwolves

He has a soft spot in my heart because Minnesota traded him for the Googs, Tom Gugliotta.

And then there’s this:

Chill out, LeBron James.

9. Wesley Person — drafted 23rd by the Phoenix Suns.

When I first came across him in NBA Live 97, I thought it was so cool that his last name was actually Person.

10. Lamond Murray – Drafted 7th by the Los Angeles Clippers

My favorite Clipper of the 90s for no real reason other than he never missed a three-pointer for me in NBA Live 97.

Honorable mention: Eric Piatkowski – drafted 15th by the Indiana Pacers

He was the real-life Billy Hoyle from White Men Can’t Jump.

The NBA Spelling Bee

via Flickr

Peter Rukavina | Flickr

With the Scripps National Spelling Bee concluding last night, I thought I’d give winner Arvind Mahankali the challenge of spelling some of the toughest names in the NBA. Spelling words like humuhumunukunukuapua’a and knaidel can’t be that much harder than spelling Kevin Love, right?

All we need now is a “Roundball Rock” remix and name it Roundball Spelling.

I divided the spelling contest into four levels, sort of like a video game where it (hopefully) gets more difficult after each one. I apologize in advance for not researching the definitions of names, alternate pronunciations, language of origins, and how they’re said in a sentence. I don’t have all day and I’m sure neither do you.

Here are the names I came up with:

First Level: Sneaky first names

  • Antawn Jamison
  • Dwyane Wade
    • The easiest way to tell if someone is a Lakers or Heat bandwagoner is if they spell these two names incorrectly.
  • Greivis Vasquez
    • I feel like this causes more trouble among writers and journalists than I think, or maybe it’s just all in my head. Spelling: it’s a mental game.
  • Aron Baynes

    • Just weird. Pronouncing the ‘ron’ part of his name like Ron Artest would make him sound like a total badass.
  • Marreese Speights
    • One of the underrated media nightmares is Marreese Speights. The first two letters are easy shmeezy, but then it’s a murderer’s row from there. Scary stuff.

Second Level: Tricky last names

  • Andrew Goudelock

    • Pronouncing his last name might be more difficult than spelling it, but it’s still questionable enough to place Goudelock on the list.
  • Tim Ohlbrecht

    • Another weird one with some silent letters.
  • Jonas Valanciunas

    • Just a totally normal U.S. first name mixing with a totally normal overseas last name. No big deal.
  • Rodrigue Beaubois

    • Knowing a Rodrigue from college made this a little easier to spell. Beaubois sounds like some awesome foreign meat or something else that’s utterly delicious.

Third Level: Confusing mix of both

  • Timofey Mozgov

    • Whenever I read or hear his name I imagine he has two super-sized front teeth.
  • Luc Mbah a Moute

    • Most underrated part of this is that it’s four words. Note: Serge Ibaka’s name would trump all if he stuck with entire eight-word name. Twitter would have to double the maximum amount of characters to tweet just to fit his name in.
  • DeSagana Diop

    • Diop. Jeeop. Jeep? French for Jeep? Probably, and DeSagana reminds me of lasagna which, when looking at Diop’s year-by-year stats, there’s a legitimate chance he ate a few servings five minutes before every game. Michael Beasley knows what that’s like.

Fourth Level: Names from the Google-less, grammatical hell

  • Tornike Shengelia
    • Close, but not exactly related to Darius Songaila. I can’t help but say Shengelia in a Dr. Evil voice though. Don’t ask.
  • Donatas Motiejunas
    • If I saw his name as the author of a sappy romantic novel, well, I would definitely spend a rainy day reading it with a bottle of wine.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
    • Pat yourself on the back if you can spell that name in one try.
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