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Who Are the Lottery Picks Among NBA Analysts?

“With the first pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs select…” 

We’ll be hearing Commissioner Adam Silver make that announcement Thursday night, when the lives of young men will be changed forever. Multi-million-dollar contracts await the next wave of superstars in the league. The stage has been set by those that came before these next great group. 

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Many of those former players, made a very good living on the court with their play and off it with endorsements and shoe deals. Some have even made the step into television booths across the country, for local networks and for the national broadcasts of the NBA. Some have made a smooth transition, carved out a niche and made themselves stars. Others have struggled and didn’t meet expectations and fizzled out before they could shine. Just because you were a great player, there is no guarantee you’ll be a great broadcaster. The opposite is true as well.  

So, with the NBA Draft on the horizon, I thought it might be fun to look at these former players turned broadcasters as “lottery picks”. The only criteria is that the former players need to be active members of either a television network’s coverage of the NBA or a local television analyst or co-host. There are 14 lottery picks, so there will be 14 of these analysts ranked and “selected” in order. 

With the first pick in the former NBA player turned NBA analyst draft:

#1 Charles Barkley

Years Active: 2000-Present

Network: TNT/Inside the NBA

Drafted in 1984 by Philadelphia, 1st round, 5th overall pick 

Scouting Report

Barkley to me is hands down the #1 pick in this draft. Even if he thinks play-by-play sports on the radio is stupid, he’s really good at what he does on air. He’s controversial without apology and is never afraid to step out on that ledge, if he believes in something. Barkley isn’t afraid to poke fun at himself either. If he makes a stupid mistake and is called out by any of his teammates on Inside the NBA, he may fight it at first, but in the end, he’ll have a laugh at his own expense. 

As I wrote last year, “Barkley makes you think, scratch your head or laugh. Sometimes all of those things happen at the same time. Barkley’s commentary is usually the stuff that floods the internet that night, and is the talk of your office, or friends the next day. Seemingly if you miss it, you’re a little behind the times.” Barkley is a game changer and is a top flight analyst. 

#2 Grant Hill

Years Active: 2013-present

Network: NBA-TV, CBS

Drafted in 1994 by Detroit, 1st Round, 3rd overall pick

Scouting Report:

Hill admittedly was not ready for his big shot when he moved from NBA-TV over to the CBS/Turner coverage of the NCAA Tournament. He was only a couple of years removed from his playing days and was thrust into a new and high-profile situation. Hill has quickly climbed the charts as an analyst, showing why some took the chance on him early. He has the credentials and basketball IQ to be very successful. Hill is now as at ease behind the mic as he was on the court for his NBA career. While not as flashy as the top pick in this “draft”, Hill has a quiet charisma about him and he is on the rise and very worthy of the 2nd pick. 

#3 Reggie Miller

Years Active: 2005-present

Network: TNT

Drafted in 1987 by Indiana, 1st Round, 11th overall pick

Scouting Report:

Miller has kind of grown on me over the years. His candor is refreshing. Some analysts will get to an opinion, but will couch it with fluff and a veiled compliment, Miller does not. He rarely apologizes for his opinions either. Miller is fair in his assessment of players and game plans alike. Every once in a while, he’ll poke fun at himself, which I like to see. It makes him more human. His credentials also back up his thoughts and make them impactful.  I have dogged him in the past for not sounding well prepared, but it seems like he’s stepped up his game in that category. Miller works well with his play-by-play announcers and it makes for an excellent broadcast. He is in that elite tier these days. 

#4 Kenny Smith

Years Active: 1998-Present
Network: TNT/Inside the NBA

Drafted in 1987 by Sacramento, 1st Round, 6th overall pick

Scouting Report:

Known as the “voice of reason” on the set of Inside the NBA. Smith is in the middle of Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal’s outlandish and sometimes off the wall commentary. That’s what they are there to do and Smith tries to bring it all back to reality. Smith has a way of getting really serious at times in trying to make points, but also loves to have some fun. Smith plays well off of Barkley and isn’t always lured into a fruitless argument. He picks his spots rather than just battle Barkley for the sake of the argument. Lost in all of it is the fact that Smith is very knowledgeable and it shows in his analysis of players and teams. Not many are able to play the role of “second fiddle” and thrive. Smith does. 

#5 Mark Jackson

Years Active: 2007-2011, 2014-present

Network: ABC/ESPN

Drafted in 1987 by the New York Knicks, 1st Round, 18th overall pick

Scouting Report:

The man who uses, “Hand down, man down” and “Mama there goes that man” is next on the list of selections. Jackson is able to navigate the complexities of a three-man booth, with Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy, without any trouble. Jackson is a man with opinions and is pretty matter of fact with them. Every once in a while, the former coach in Jackson comes out. More often, his perspective as a former point-guard comes through. Jackson can see things that other analysts may not because of his career at that position. Jackson is a solid pick here.  

#6 Bill Walton

Years Active: 1990-Present
Network: NBC, ESPN

Drafted in 1974 by Portland, 1st Round, 1st overall pick

Scouting Report:

There’s normally at least one pick in the first round that causes a lot of head shaking. This might be that selection.  Walton is quite a polarizing figure. It’s interesting because I was going through some old VHS tapes (yes, I still have a VCR) of the Bulls and Jazz NBA Finals and Walton was part of the broadcast crew. He was pretty good. He rambled on like he does today, but it was about basketball. It was kind of jarring to hear and see. Today, I’m not sure what the heck he’s talking about most of the time. He’s become more of an entertainer, or sideshow, but people tune in. Walton tests the metal of all the play-by-play people he works with, that’s for sure. Sticking with this pick, every team needs a big man!

#7 Jalen Rose

Years Active: 2007-Present
Networks: ESPN, TNT, Fox Sports

Drafted in 1994 by Denver, 1st Round, 13th overall pick

Scouting Report:

I covered Rose the one and a half seasons he played for the Bulls and remember how sharp and personable he was. It’s not surprising that he went on to a career in television. Rose certainly knows the game and has the ability to break down players and plays with ease. There’s a confidence and swagger when Rose makes a point or expresses an opinion. Much in the same way he guided 6 NBA teams, and of course, the Fab Five Michigan teams in the 90’s. The other thing I appreciate about Rose is the way he sticks to his thoughts and doesn’t waiver despite what others on the panel of NBA Countdown may say or think. Rose is underrated in that realm and that makes him a good, solid ‘sneaky’ pick inside the top 10. 

#8 Vince Carter

Years Active: 2020-present

Networks: ESPN

Drafted in 1988 by Golden State, 1st Round, 5th overall pick

Scouting Report:

“Vinsanity” is a relative newcomer to the NBA Analyst game. He played 22 seasons in the league. Leading up to his hiring as a full-time analyst on ESPN, Carter put in the time to show he really wanted to continue an association with basketball on television. He went through the Players Association’s “Sportscaster U” camp to get prepared. Carter speaks from experience, and lots of it in the NBA. He presents a more “x’s and o’s” style, being analytical and breaking down players and plays. Carter hasn’t jumped on the “let’s be loud and bombastic to get noticed train.” 

#9 Shaquille O’Neal

Years Active: 2011-Present
Network: NBA-TV/TNT/Inside the NBA

Drafted in 1992 by Orlando, 1st Round, 1st overall pick

Scouting Report:

As daunting as he was as a player, Shaq is pretty soft spoken on television, but it really works for him. He’s the definition of a personality. Shaq is funny and like a little kid when poking fun at Barkley, Smith or EJ on Inside the NBA. Some find it disappointing that he isn’t louder or more controversial on the show, but what he’s doing really works for the chemistry of the show. Don’t change a thing big man. 

#10 Walt Frazier

Years Active: 1997-PresentNetwork: MSG Network

Drafted in 1967 by the New York Knicks, 1st Round, 5th overall pick

Scouting Report:

Walt “Clyde” Frazier is an institution in New York. He’s the first “local” broadcaster selected. One of the best all-time players in the organization, he’s parlayed that into a nice second career with the team. Knicks fans have come to appreciate his sense of fashion, with his colorful and stylish suits that he loves to display on camera. Frazier is old school personified, but has adapted to the modern game very well. Phrases like “posting and toasting”, and “tenacious D” are some of his signatures. Every team needs experience.

#11 Dennis Scott

Years Active: 2016-presentNetwork:TNT

Drafted in 1990 by Orlando, 1st Round, 4th overall pick

Scouting Report:

Another great NBA talent in his playing days, “3D” made the transition to television and radio after setting the standard for 3-point shooting in the 1990’s. Scott seems very at ease when on camera, using some of that confidence as a shooter to his advantage. He comes across as a fan when he’s analyzing. Scott also has a great personality, he’s funny and is an encyclopedia of knowledge. 

#12 Jim Jackson

Years Active: 2007-presentNetwork:TNT, Fox Sports, Big Ten Network, CBS

Drafted in 1992 by Dallas, 1st Round, 4th overall pick

Scouting Report:

Jackson played for 12 teams throughout his NBA career and now juggles several jobs in the media world. When entering the field, he got advice from his Ohio State contacts like Clark Kellogg. Jackson also hired a coach to go over video of his on-air work. Pretty dedicated, which is why I have him here as a lottery pick. Jackson was a smart basketball player and uses his experience to provide that kind of insight in his broadcasts. 

#13 Richard Jefferson

Years Active: 2018-presentNetwork:ESPN

Drafted in 2001 by Houston, 1st Round, 13th overall pick

Scouting Report:

Jefferson has burst onto the scene at ESPN as one of their best personalities/analysts. Jefferson played in the NBA for 18 seasons and is using that experience to help him along the way. He brings some comedic value to the set with him, but it doesn’t get in the way of his basketball knowledge. The information is fair and accurate even when talking about former teammates. 

#14 Stacy King

Years Active: 2006-Present
Networks: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-TV

Drafted in 1989 by Chicago, 1st Round, 6th overall pick

Scouting Report:

King is the second of the “local” broadcasters to make the lottery here. King is one of the more creative and entertaining analysts. Chicago wants its broadcasters to back their teams and King doesn’t disappoint. He gets excited like a fan would. With King you get vocal imitations, and catchphrases. “Gimme the Hot Sauce” is one of his favorites. He’s turned the phrase into a podcast as well. 

Andy Masur
Andy Masur
Andy Masur is a columnist for BSM and works for WGN Radio as an anchor and play-by-play announcer. He also teaches broadcasting at the Illinois Media School. During his career he has called games for the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox. He can be found on Twitter @Andy_Masur1 or you can reach him by email at [email protected].

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