I watched last night’s NBATV documentary on the ’84 Draft in hopes of some mention of the matter in our title. Unfortunately, there was none. Of course, as the legend goes, Portland had offered Houston the #2 pick along with Clyde Drexler (the #14 pick in ’83) for Ralph Sampson; Houston already owned the ’84 #1 pick. The Rockets could have used that #2 pick to team Michael Jeffrey Jordan alongside Akeem and Clyde. They declined, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In hindsight, the Rockets obviously made the wrong decision. You don’t need me to explain that. But I’ve come across people who argue that regardless of hindsight, the team should have taken the Portland offer. What?
Imagine you had Anthony Davis and had the chance to draft Joel Embid. Someone then offers you Michael Carter Williams* and the chance to draft Andrew Wiggins in exchange for Davis. No chance in hell you do that trade.
*Carter Williams was the closest comparison I could think of for a second year Clyde Drexler in terms of ‘trade value potential’ and even that is being extremely generous in that a) Clyde was coming off a year where he averaged just 7ppg whereas Carter Williams just won the ROY, though in a historically weak draft class, on a Philadelphia team where he took all of the shots. But you could make the plausible case that Carter Williams has more potential than Clyde was thought to have before blossoming. b) Carter Williams is a point guard thus mitigating in our scenario one of the biggest concerns with a Drexler-Jordan pairing: positional overlap.
Someone on Twitter responded that Wiggins is no Jordan. Thanks, Sherlock. I don’t really need to go into the breakdown of logic on that one.
But the greater point is that Jordan is perhaps the greatest aberration in the history of sports. No one could have ever expected he would become close to what he became. His realistic ceiling coming out was probably Clyde Drexler’s actual career. In fact, Jordan’s trajectory raises an interesting point about Lebron James: has anyone, ever, been so hyperbolically hyped and then actually matched the hype? Not only is he every bit as good as he was said to one day become, but he’s responded to every single criticism of his game from becoming the best postup player in the league to becoming a good jump shooter. Unbelievable.
But back to my main point: Anthony Davis with Embid? Game over. You’re thinking ring party for the next decade. And that’s what the Rockets had in ’84.