Warriors could have had Yao Ming with 2002 NBA Draft Lottery luck

Drew Shiller
·2 min read

In an alternate universe, the Warriors would have found out their 2020 NBA Draft position Tuesday night, because that's when the draft lottery was supposed to be held.

But the coronavirus pandemic has changed everything, and it's possible the lottery gets pushed back until August.

So for now, let's go back in time to exactly 18 years ago.

The Warriors, who finished tied for the league's worst record (21-61) with the Chicago Bulls, entered the lottery with the best chance (22.5 percent) at securing the No. 1 overall pick.

In the end, the Houston Rockets, who had the fifth best odds (8.9 percent), vaulted to No. 1 and drafted Yao Ming.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Ming's career was cut short because of foot and ankle issues. But the 7-foot-6 Chinese native was named All-NBA five times over a seven-year span, as he averaged 19.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.

The Warriors, meanwhile, finished third in the lottery and selected Mike Dunleavy Jr., who now is an assistant general manager with Golden State (the Bulls went with Jay Williams at No. 2).

Dunleavy's best season with the Dubs came in 2004-05 when he averaged 13.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists and shot nearly 39 percent from deep.

In January 2007, he was traded to the Indiana Pacers in the deal that brought Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington to the Bay.

[RELATED: Why Klay's dad believes Warriors will regret not doing doc]

Now let's fast forward to today. The Warriors who have the worst record in the NBA at 15-50, virtually are guaranteed to enter the lottery tied with the best odds (14 percent) of landing the No. 1 overall pick (and can't finish worse than No. 5).

Eventually, we will find out if they end up with the top pick for the first time since 1995, when they took Joe Smith.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

Warriors could have had Yao Ming with 2002 NBA Draft Lottery luck originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area