Oftentimes, picking at No. 4 means taking the best of whoever remains after the top teams have raided the elite prospects.
But some drafts turn out sensational talents such as Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. Other years, however, teams are left with pieces that may not fit.
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2000 No. 4 Pick: Marcus Fizer (Chicago Bulls)
In one of the weakest drafts in history, it was a surprise to see both Stromile Swift and Darius Miles taken ahead of Fizer, who averaged more than 22 points in his final year at Iowa State. But he never lived up to that promise in four seasons in Chicago and has been out of the NBA since 2006.
Could have taken: Mike Miller (fifth), Jamal Crawford (eighth)
NBAE/Getty ImagesGlenn James
2001 No. 4 Pick: Eddy Curry (Chicago Bulls)
The Bulls envisioned Curry and Tyson Chandler as the cornerstones around which to rebuild their franchise in the post-Michael Jordan era. While Chandler won the respect of his peers and a championship ring in 2011 with the Dallas Mavericks, Curry's career was far less distinguished. He put up decent stats with the Bulls and the New York Knicks, but those all came with bad teams.
Could have taken: Shane Battier (sixth), Joe Johnson (10th)
NBAE/Getty ImagesLayne Murdoch
2002 No. 4 Pick: Drew Gooden (Memphis Grizzlies)
Drafted by the Grizzlies, he was traded before the end of his rookie season to the Magic and averaged 14 points and 12 rebounds in their first-round playoff series against the Detroit Pistons. He has been with eight other teams and helped the Washington Wizards reach the Eastern Conference semifinals this year for only the second time since 1979.
Could have taken: Nene (seventh), Amar'e Stoudemire (ninth)
NBAE/Getty ImagesJoe Murphy
2003 No. 4 Pick: Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors)
Compared with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, Bosh was an unknown quantity in that year's draft -- although certainly not as much of a gamble as Darko Milicic, who went second overall to the Detroit Pistons. Being James' teammate with the Miami Heat the past four years can make it easy to forget Bosh averaged more than 22 points in each of his final five seasons with the Raptors.
Could have taken: Dwyane Wade (fifth)
NBAE/Getty ImagesRon Turenne
2004 No. 4 Pick: Shaun Livingston (Los Angeles Clippers)
Livingston's comeback from a grotesque knee injury in February 2007 while with the Clippers has been nothing short of remarkable. He started in a career-high 54 games last season for the Brooklyn Nets and was part of a playoff team for the first time since 2006. He will likely go down as the last player to be taken with the No. 4 pick straight out of high school.
Could have taken: Luol Deng (seventh), Andre Iguodala (ninth)
NBAE/Getty ImagesNoah Graham
2005 No. 4 Pick: Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets)
Almost a decade later, the question remains: Why in the world did the Atlanta Hawks draft unproven forward Marvin Williams out of North Carolina instead a proven point guard out of Wake Forest? Paul has led the NBA in assists twice and in steals five times while being chosen to play in the All-Star Game the past seven years. Who else could the New Orleans Hornets have taken back then? In hindsight, nobody.
USA TODAY SportsGary A. Vasquez
2006 No. 4 Pick: Tyrus Thomas (Portland Trail Blazers)
The forward out of LSU is a cautionary tale of the risks of falling in love with a player based on his showing at the scouting combine. Thomas' tremendous upside after just one year in college was part of the reason the Chicago Bulls sent LaMarcus Aldridge to Portland to get him on draft day, and Thomas' shot-blocking prowess was evident during the 2008-09 season. But he never became much of a scorer or rebounder.
Could have taken: Brandon Roy (sixth), Rudy Gay (eighth)
NBAE/Getty ImagesRocky Widner
2007 No. 4 Pick: Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies)
Compared with No. 1 pick Greg Oden, Conley was regarded as the "other" prospect from Ohio State that year in the draft. But in seven seasons with the Grizzlies, he has been everything they could want in a point guard. Conley led the NBA in steals in 2012-13 with 174, and he averaged a career-high 17.2 points this past season.
Could have taken: Jeff Green (fifth), Joakim Noah (ninth)
Justin Ford-USA TODAY SportsJustin Ford
2008 No. 4 Pick: Russell Westbrook (Seattle SuperSonics)
Oklahoma City's march to the 2012 NBA Finals let the nation see there was more to the Thunder than Kevin Durant. But the past two years have been a mixed bag as Westbrook's talents at point guard have been overshadowed at times by his tendency to take more shots than this year's MVP and to let his temper get the best of him.
Could have taken: Kevin Love (fifth)
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY SportsMark D. Smith
2009 No. 4 Pick: Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings)
After winning Rookie of the Year honors by a fairly wide margin, Evans has seen his career gradually go downhill. It's not a good sign when a player's scoring and minutes averages drop in each of his five years. Evans was traded by Sacramento to New Orleans last summer and was slowed by problems with his right knee that required surgery a few weeks ago.
Could have taken: Ricky Rubio (fifth), Stephen Curry (seventh), DeMar DeRozan (ninth)
USA TODAY SportsKelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
2010 No. 4 Pick: Wesley Johnson (Minnesota Timberwolves)
In the span of four years, he has gone from Minnesota to Phoenix to the Los Angeles Lakers and has never averaged more than 9.1 points a game for non-playoff teams. The 6-7 forward is a decent 3-point shooter but not much of a rebounder and seldom gets to the free-throw line. Other than John Wall, there wasn't much to choose from in this draft.
Could have taken: DeMarcus Cousins (fifth), Paul George (10th)
Many eyebrows were raised when Cleveland took him, but Thompson has averaged close to a double-double the past two seasons for the Cavaliers. Perhaps best of all, he has started all 82 games two years in a row. And after making less than half of his free throws during his one year at Texas, he shot 69.3 percent from the line this past season.
Could have taken: Jonas Valanciunas (fifth), Kemba Walker (ninth), Klay Thompson (11th)
David Richard-USA TODAY SportsDavid Richard
2012 No. 4 Pick: Dion Waiters (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Waiters was considered a reach going this high to the Cavaliers after averaging less than 10 points a game over his two years at Syracuse. While there have been moments of brilliance, the rumblings toward the end of last season about him clashing with Kyrie Irving could raise doubts about how long it will be before he's traded.
Could have taken: Damian Lillard (sixth), Andre Drummond (ninth)
David Richard-USA TODAY SportsDavid Richard
2013 No. 4 Pick: Cody Zeller (Charlotte Bobcats)
The 7-footer from Indiana was one of two rookies to play all 82 games in 2013-14, and he helped the Charlotte Bobcats (now the Charlotte Hornets) make the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history. But averaging six points in 17 minutes are numbers almost identical to those of the Magic's Kyle O'Quinn, the 49th player drafted in 2012.
Could have taken: Trey Burke (ninth), Michael Carter-Williams (11th)