With the salary cap and luxury tax leveling the playing field and promoting parity in the NBA, the hallmark of almost every elite team with staying power is a solid draft record. Trades and free agency can help a team get over the hump, but young (and more importantly, cheap) talent is usually what keeps a team in contention year after year.
The San Antonio Spurs are an excellent example of this rule. They won their first title in 1999 on the backs of former No. 1 overall picks David Robinson and Tim Duncan, but Duncan couldn't have led the team to titles two, three and four without the contributions of former late picks Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Once a team moves into the league's upper echelon, finding bargains late in the draft like the Spurs have done becomes a necessity. Last year, the Utah Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers were two contenders who struck gold in the second round by drafting Paul Millsap and Daniel Gibson, respectively.
So who will be this year's Millsap or Gibson? I made a case for four players -- read the rest to find out who -- though in the end it'll be decided by luck and opportunity, which is often a function of how many players further up the food chain go down with injury.