When he was named Rookie of the Year in 2013, Damian Lillard laid out a plan for bigger and better things.
“I want to do a lot more,” the Portland Trail Blazers guard told reporters at the time. “I want to win a championship, be an All-Star, be an MVP in this league.”
Those accomplishments would vault Lillard into another stratosphere of NBA stardom, but already he’s in rare company.
As the Pelicans prepare to make the sixth selection in Thursday’s NBA draft, Lillard is the contemporary best-case scenario. The Trail Blazers star — the No. 6 pick in the 2012 draft — is averaging 21.4 points and 6.3 assists per game in his career. He’s one of four No. 6 picks in NBA history to be voted Rookie of the Year.
History suggests it’s unlikely there will be a Lillard available at No. 6 on Thursday. Still, that spot has produced All-Stars, NBA championship contributors and a three-time MVP.
A look at some of the peaks and valleys of the No. 6 pick:
Cream of the crop
Larry Bird (Boston, 1978): A three-time MVP, Bird entered the league in 1979 — a year after the Celtics drafted him – and led Boston to three championships. Among 66 all-time players drafted sixth, Bird ranks second in career points (21,791), rebounds (8,974) and assists (5,695).
Adrian Dantley (Buffalo, 1976): No player drafted sixth has scored more than this former Rookie of the Year, who finished with 23,177 points and averaged 24.3 points per game in his career.
Lenny Wilkens (St. Louis, 1960): He became better known as a coach, but Wilkens’ 7,211 career assists rank 13th all-time and are the most among players drafted sixth. He also scored 17,772 points.
Antoine Walker (Boston, 1996): In the lottery era (since 1985), Walker leads all No. 6 picks in points (15,647) and rebounds (6,891), and he’s second in assists (3,170).
Damian Lillard (Portland, 2012): Since the league adopted the lottery, no sixth pick has averaged more points or assists than Lillard currently is posting.
Hersey Hawkins (L.A. Clippers, 1988): The Clippers traded Hawkins to Philadelphia for Charles Smith, and Hawkins went on to score 14,470 points in his career.
Highs and lows
Brandon Roy (Portland, 2006): Roy was Rookie of the Year in 2007 and averaged 18.3 points per game in his career, but a degenerative knee condition forced him into early retirement in 2011, and a 2012 comeback was short-lived.
Kenny Smith (Sacramento, 1987): Smith averaged 12.8 points and 5.5 assists for his career and was a crucial piece of back-to-back NBA titles in Houston in 1994 and ’95. But Sacramento could have drafted hometown kid — and current mayor — Kevin Johnson, who went seventh and averaged 17.9 points and 9.1 assists in 12 seasons.
Wally Szczerbiak (Minnesota, 1999): Would you rather have had No. 7 pick Rip Hamilton or No. 9 Shawn Marion? Maybe, but Szczerbiak averaged 14.1 points per game in his 10-year career.
Jonny Flynn (Minnesota, 2009): Flynn averaged 13.5 points as a rookie but had hip surgery the following summer and never reached that level again. He lasted only three seasons in the NBA. With the seventh pick, Golden State selected two-time MVP Stephen Curry.
Jan Vesely (Washington, 2011): The high-flying forward averaged 3.6 points in 162 NBA games before returning to Europe. Among the players the Wizards could have selected instead: Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard.
Calbert Cheaney (Washington, 1993): Cheaney was the NCAA Player of the Year, but he had a quiet NBA career, averaging 9.5 career points, and the then-Bullets could have fared better at shooting guard. Allan Houston went five picks later.
Joe Kleine (Sacramento, 1985): Kleine had a solid 10-year career, making the playoffs each season. But the players still available when he was drafted included Chris Mullin, Detlef Schrempf, Charles Oakley and a kid from Louisiana Tech named Karl Malone.
A look at the career averages of No. 6 picks selected since 2000 shows one active star, some contributors and a few flameouts:
Year Pick PPG RPG APG
2015 Willie Cauley-Stein 7 5.3 0.6
2014 Marcus Smart 8.4 3.7 3.1
2013 Nerlens Noel 10.5 8.1 1.8
2012 Damian Lillard 21.4 3.8 6.3
2011 Jan Vesely 3.6 3.5 0.6
2010 Ekpe Udoh 4.0 3.2 0.7
2009 Jonny Flynn 9.2 1.9 3.9
2008 Danilo Gallinari 14.9 4.6 1.9
2007 Yi Jianlian 7.9 4.9 0.7
2006 Brandon Roy 18.8 4.3 4.7
2005 Martell Webster 8.7 3.1 1
2004 Josh Childress 9.1 4.7 1.6
2003 Chris Kaman 11.2 7.6 1.3
2002 Dajuan Wagner 9.4 1.4 1.9
2001 Shane Battier 8.6 4.2 1.8
2000 DerMarr Johnson 6.2 2.2 0.9