If you’re like I am, you probably have heard of the Ted Stepien Rule but know little about the man or the rationale for the rule. As an owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1980s, Stepien made numerous boneheaded trades. In all, the incompetent owner traded away five early first-round picks from the 1982-86 drafts (used to select James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Derek Harper, Roy Tarpley, and Detlef Schrempf) without getting anyone of value in return. His seemingly irrational decisions decimated the team. In response, the NBA enacted a rule prohibiting any team from trading away first round picks in consecutive drafts. Ergo, the Ted Stepien Rule.
On June 24, 1998, Dallas Mavericks’ GM Don Nelson masterminded two trades which converted the team’s 1998 and 1999 first round draft picks into Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash. In one night, the fortunes of the NBA’s perennial doormat started to change. This post examines the rise of the Mavericks from a disfunctional loser (phase 1) to a consistent winner (phase 2) to NBA Champions (phase 3). Both Nowitzki and Nash helped the team escape from phase 1 to phase 2 while Nowitzki put the team on his back to take it to phase 3.
Influenced by impressive combine results, the St. Louis Rams took Baylor OT Jason Smith with the #2 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Despite high expectations, Smith ended his four-year career as the least productive offensive lineman ever taken with a top 5 overall pick. While he seemingly deserves to be labeled a Top 10 Bust, his lack of production can be attributed to a history of serious head injuries. In particular, he suffered two season-ending concussions during his first three years in the league. Smith recovered from the first one, but never started again after the second. It’s uncertain how good he might have been without the injuries, but it’s unfair to label him as an all-time bust because of them.