How trading the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft works out: A brief history

The NBA world was rocked Friday afternoon with reports indicating the Boston Celtics are in serious talks to deal the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft to the Philadelphia 76ers for a package centered around the No. 3 pick. 

It goes without saying that this would be a major deal, and also a rare one, as there has only been six instances of the No. 1 pick being dealt before the beginning of the season. Ahead of this potential deal, let's go back in time for a brief history of those cases -- a few of which also included the Celtics. 

1950: Chuck Share

Trade: In the 1950 NBA Draft, Chuck Share was drafted No. 1 overall by the Boston Celtics, though he never played for them, and the next year was traded to the Fort Wayne Detroit Pistons in exchange for Bill Sharman. 

Outcome: Share ended up playing nine seasons, three with the Pistons, and then six with the Atlanta Hawks in both Milwaukee and St. Louis. He had some solid seasons with the Hawks and won the 1958 title with them, but never made an All-Star Game. Meanwhile, Sharman excelled with the Celtics, going to eight All-Star Games, making seven All-NBA teams, and helping them to four titles in his Hall of Fame career.

Winner: Celtics

1957: Hot Rod Hundley

Trade: The Rochester Royals took Hundley with the No. 1 pick in the 1957 Draft, and immediately dealt him to the Minneapolis  Los Angeles Lakers along with Bob Burrow, Ed Fleming, Monk Meineke and Art Spoelstra for Clyde Lovellette and Jim Paxson.

Outcome: Hundley ended up making two All-Star Games during his time with the Lakers, but played just six seasons before retiring at the age of 28 due to knee injuries. As for the Royals, they got one season out of the future Hall of Famer Lovellette before dealing him to the Hawks in exchange for Wayne Embry (another Hall of Famer, who made five All-Star Games with the Royals). Paxson also played just one season with the Royals before retiring. 

Winner: Royals

1980: Joe Barry Carroll

Trade: The Boston Celtics sent the No. 1 pick (Carroll) to the Golden State Warriors along with the No. 13 pick (Rickey Brown) in exchange for the No. 3 pick (Kevin McHale) and Robert Parish. 

Outcome: Carroll made the All-Rookie team in his first season with the Warriors, later made the All-Star Game in 1987, and during his seven seasons with the Warriors averaged over 20 points per game. He was a good player, but of course everyone knows the history of McHale and Parish's success in Boston, as they won three titles together along with Larry Bird, including one in their first season with the club. McHale also went to seven All-Star Games, made six All-Defensive teams, one All-NBA team, and won two Sixth Man of the Year awards during his 13-year career, while Parish went to nine All-Star Games and made two All-NBA teams in his 14 years with Boston.

Winner: Celtics  

1986: Brad Daugherty

Trade: Ahead of the 1986 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers traded Daugherty to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Roy Hinson. 

Outcome: Daugherty had a very solid career with the Cavs, going to five All-Star Games and making an All-NBA team in 1992, but had to retire after eight seasons due to back injuries. He averaged 19 points and 9.5 rebounds for his career. As for Hinson, he was coming off a strong campaign in 1986, in which he put up about 20 points and 8 rebounds a night. He would never have another season quite that good, however, and Philly traded him less than two seasons later in 1988 for Ben Coleman and Mike Gminski. 

Winner: Cavaliers

1993: Chris Webber

Trade: The Orlando Magic held the No. 1 pick (Chris Webber) in the 1993 Draft, and sent it to Golden State in exchange for the No. 3 pick (Penny Hardaway), a first-round pick in the 1996 Draft (ended up being Todd Fuller), a first-round pick in the 1998 Draft (ended up being Vince Carter ), and a first-round pick in the 2000 Draft (ended up being Mike Miller ).

Outcome: OK, so this deal ends up being extremely convoluted due to the multitude of subsequent moves. 

Let's start with Chris Webber. He won Rookie of the Year for the Warriors in 1994, but never got along with coach Don Nelson and was then dealt early the next season to the Washington Bullets in exchange for Tom Gugliotta and three first-round picks -- two of which (1996 and 1998 first-rounders) were the picks the Warriors had sent to the Magic the previous year, which the Magic had then sent to the Bullets in a Scott Skiles trade.

So you can basically look at it as the original trade being Penny Hardaway for Tom Gugliotta. The Warriors, however, traded Gugliotta after just 40 games for Donyell Marshall, who had a few pretty good seasons for the Warriors but was mostly a role player. 

Hardaway, on the other hand, went to four All-Star Games and made three All-NBA teams in his six seasons with Orlando, as he teamed up with Shaquille O'Neal to form an electrifying young duo. 

Winner: Magic

2014: Andrew Wiggins

Trade: The Cavaliers took Wiggins with the No. 1 pick in the 2014 Draft, but after LeBron James announced he was returning to Cleveland, the Cavs dealt Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves along with Anthony Bennett in exchange for Kevin Love . Philadelphia was involved as a third team in the deal, but Wiggins and Bennett for Love was the only transaction between the Cavaliers and Wolves.

Outcome: Wiggins won Rookie of the Year in 2014, averaged over 23 points per game last season at age 22, and, along with Karl-Anthony Towns , is a key part of the Wolves' future. Bennett, unfortunately, is no longer in the league, and played just one season in Minny. Love, of course, has been part of the Cavs' Big Three along with James and Kyrie Irving , and has helped them to three straight trips to the Finals, including the 2016 title. 

Winner: Both

Of the six instances in which the team has traded the No. 1 overall pick, really only the Philadelphia 76ers in 1986 have regretted it. All the other trades actually worked out for the team that dealt the top pick. 

It will be years before we're able to know if trading the No. 1 pick this year would be a good idea -- if the Celtics trade it at all -- but history does tell us that teams have had success making that move. 

(h/t to Adi Joseph, whose tweet about the same topic I was alerted to while working on this piece.)

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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