Luck and good fortune smiled down on the Toronto Raptors for the first time in what feels like forever, as they ended up getting the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft despite just the seventh-best odds at earning the top selection and comparatively unlikely odds at gaining a selection in that rarified air.
The Raptors haven’t had a pick this high in 15 years, when they took Andrea Bargnani with the top selection in the 2006 draft. While they won’t get that level of control over the draft, they are in a perfect position to add some talent.
The No. 4 pick has been one of the best ways to add a franchise cornerstone, as several Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers got their start in the pros after being taken with this pick. Could the Raptors add another?
These 15 players are the best NBA stars that have had a No. 4 pick bestowed upon them. If the Raptors play their cards right, they can take whomever they end up with at No. 4 and turn them into an NBA star.
Toronto Raptors: Top 15 No. 4 draft picks of all time
Lamar Odom (1999) was a lethal scorer for the Clippers and a champion Lakers team, but he just missed the cut, as did three-time champion Byron Scott (1983). Chuck Person (1986) was a tremendous shooter, and Xavier McDaniel (1985) remains one of the most underrated players ever, but neither of them made the cut.
Sam Perkins (1984) played at an above-average level for 17 years, but the man drafted after Michael Jordan and before Charles Barkley never played like a superstar.
15. Jamal Mashburn (1993)
Because his career ended prematurely due to injury, an entire generation of fans has forgotten what a dominant scorer Mashburn was. After scoring 20 points per game as a member of “Triple J Ranch” in Dallas, the former Kentucky star embarked on a career in which he started for some quality Heat teams and proved his quality while leading the Hornets before injuries.
In his career, Mashburn averaged 19.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game, but he made just one All-Star team in his career near the end of his Hornets tenure.
Mashburn was really ahead of his time, as he was a 6-8 forward who could bully opponents in the low post while using his ability to shoot and pass to become a focal point on offense. While his lack of longevity cost him in these rankings, any opportunity to examine one of the most underrated players in recent NBA history.
14. Mike Conley (2007)
When Conley arrived in Memphis out of Ohio State, they were completely rudderless and trading Pau Gasol halfway through his rookie year. Conley was instrumental in establishing the “Grint n’ Grind” Grizzlies while putting up consistently elite production that was overlooked by the NBA media.
Conley has averaged 14.9 points and 5.7 assists per game in his career, and while he has just one All-Star game nod in his career, picked up this year, he has been underrated for his entire NBA life.
Conley is starting to get his flowers thanks to a solid run as the point guard in Utah, as he has quietly been an upper-tier point guard for a decade. History will look back on Conley’s accomplishments and see that playing in small markets for his whole career did him and his numbers a disservice.