Ranking the Best Second-Round NBA Draft Picks of the Last Decade
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Countless articles, podcasts and television segments are devoted to analyzing the first round picks of the NBA draft. Yet teams spend as much, if not more time, scouting potential second-round picks. Many second-round picks have developed into All-Stars or key contributors on playoff-caliber teams over the past decade.
Prospects fall to the second round for a variety of reasons.
Some players do not test or measure well at the draft combine. An inch or two in height can be the difference between being drafted in the first or second round.
Other athletes are still on the board in the second round because they are considered unproven commodities. Teams are reluctant to use a first-round pick on a talented kid if his game is still raw after just one year of college or a prospect who excelled against weak competition in a small conference.
Some international players who possess first-round talent slip to the second round because they are not able to join the NBA right away due to contractual obligations with European clubs. In other instances, teams draft foreigners in the second round with the intent of allowing them to continue to develop overseas.
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Anderson Varejao was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first pick in the second round of the 2004 draft and his rights were immediately traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He is an excellent post defender and has averaged 10.6 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career.
Danny Green just set an NBA record for most three-pointers in an NBA Finals. Not bad for the 46th pick in the 2009 draft. Green was cut by the Cleveland Cavaliers (the team that drafted him) and the San Antonio Spurs, although they eventually reacquired him. He is a career 44.5 percent shooter from downtown.
Marcin Gortat was selected 57th overall in 2005 by the Phoenix Suns. He spent his first three-and-a-half seasons with the Orlando Magic before being traded to the Suns, where he had a career-year in 2011-12, averaging 15.4 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.
Mario Chalmers slipped to fourth in the second round after leading the Kansas Jayhawks to a national championship in 2008. The Minnesota Timberwolves selected him and then shipped his rights to the Miami Heat. Chalmers is the starting point guard for the two-time defending champions.
Lou Williams took a few seasons to become acclimated to the league after the Philadelphia 76ers selected him with the 45th pick in 2005. He eventually developed into a spark plug off the bench and has averaged over 14 points per game in each of the past two seasons.
10. DeAndre Jordan
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DeAndre Jordan was viewed as an athletic freak with tremendous upside when he entered the 2008 draft after his freshman season at Texas A&M University. He fell to the Los Angeles Clippers with the fifth pick in second round due to his poor fundamentals and questions about his commitment to defense.
The verdict is still out on Jordan after five seasons.
He has thrown down thunderous dunks in the Clippers' up-tempo offense and is averaging 2.4 blocked shots per 36 minutes for his career.
On the flip side, Jordan has yet to develop a jump shot or any semblance of a post game. Former Clipper coach Vinny Del Negro benched him down the stretch of close games because of his atrocious free-throw shooting (42.4 percent for his career) and lack of focus on defense.
Jordan is just 24 years old and may still mature as a person and player. Worst case scenario, he can give a team extended minutes as an athletic shot-blocker off the bench.
9. Mo Williams
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Mo Williams left the University of Alabama after his sophomore year and was selected by the Utah Jazz with the 47th pick in the 2003 draft. Williams signed with the Milwaukee Bucks after one season with the Jazz.
He soon emerged as the starting point guard.
The 6'1'' guard broke out in his third season with the Bucks, averaging 17.3 points and 6.1 assists per game. He was named to the All-Star team as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2008-09 season, in which he scored a career-high 17.8 points per game.
Williams spent two-and-a-half seasons in Cleveland before being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in February, 2011. He returned to Utah last summer as part of the four-team deal that sent Lamar Odom to the Clippers, and he is a free agent this summer.
Over his 11-year career, Williams has averaged 13.8 points and five assists per game.
8. Ersan Ilyasova
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It took Ersan Ilyasova a while to find his groove in the NBA.
The Turkish forward spent an entire year in the Developmental League after the Milwaukee Bucks drafted him with the 36th pick in 2005. Then he played in Spain for two years after one season in Milwaukee.
Ilysaova returned for a second stint with the Bucks in 2009 and took his game to new heights during the second half of the 2011-12 season. No. 7 averaged 15.1 points and 9.1 assists, connecting on 54 percent of his three-point attempts over the last 15 games.
He developed into an ideal stretch-4, someone who could put the ball on the floor or spot up from behind the arc. Milwaukee inked him to a new five-year, $40 million deal last summer.
Ilyasova struggled mightily early in the 2012-13 season under the weight of his new contract. He was even benched at one point by then-Bucks coach Scott Skiles. But the forward turned it around late in the year, averaging 17.9 points and 9.8 rebounds over the Bucks' last 15 games.
7. Chandler Parsons
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Chandler Parsons was selected 38th by the Houston Rockets in 2011. If the draft were done over again, he would likely be a lottery pick.
The former Florida Gator averaged 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in his second season. He also knocked down 39 percent of his three-point attempts. Parsons scored a career-high 32 points on 12-of-13 shooting, including six-of-seven from downtown, against the Dallas Mavericks on March 3. And the young forward has just scratched the surface of his offensive potential.
Parsons has great mobility for his size (6'9''), a nice stroke from deep and possesses excellent court awareness. Coach McHale can use him in a variety of ways, including as a stretch-4 in smaller lineups.
6. Goran Dragic
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The San Antonio Spurs selected Goran Dragic with the 45th pick in 2008 and then traded his rights to the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix intended to groom the lefty to be the eventual successor to Steve Nash.
Dragic turned in a stupendous performance against the Spurs in Game 3 of the 2010 Western Conference Semifinals, bringing the Suns back from a fourth quarter deficit by scoring 23 of his 26 points in the quarter. Surprisingly, Phoenix gave up on him less than a year later, sending the Slovenian and a first-round draft pick to the Houston Rockets for Aaron Brooks.
Dragic seized his opportunity with the Rockets in March of 2012 when starting point guard Kyle Lowry was sidelined with an infection. He averaged 18.9 points and 8.1 assists as a starter over his last 20 games.
Recognizing that they made a mistake in dealing the young point guard, the Suns brought Dragic back to Phoenix as a free agent last summer on a four-year, $30 million deal. He proved to be a capable starter over the course of an entire season, contributing 14.7 points, 7.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
5. Omer Asik
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The Portland Trail Blazers selected Omer Asik, a seven-foot center out of Turkey, with the 36th pick in the 2008 draft, immediately trading his rights to the Chicago Bulls. Asik signed with the Bulls prior to the 2010-11 season and was effective in a limited role as part of a crowded frontcourt during his two seasons in Chicago.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau loved Asik's defense, but wary of the looming luxury tax hit, the Bulls chose not to match the three-year, $25.1 million offer Asik received from the Houston Rockets last summer.
For Houston, it was money well spent.
Asik averaged a double-double on the year (10.1 and 11.7 rebounds.) According to basketball-reference.com, he grabbed 31 percent of the total defensive rebounds when he was on the floor, second in the league behind Reggie Evans.
Asik's greatest impact was on the Rockets' team defense.
He is an excellent help defender who excels at contesting shots without leaving his feet or fouling. Houston's defensive rating skyrocketed from 101.3 when he was on the court to 107.0 when he was not, and opponents averaged over eight fewer free-throws per 48 minutes when he was on the court (18.4, compared to 26.6).
4. Nikola Pekovic
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Nikola Pekovic might have been a lottery pick in the 2008 NBA draft if he had not signed a deal with Panathinaikos in Greece months earlier. NBA teams were no longer willing to select him in the first round because they could not pay him much as the Greek powerhouse under the rookie salary cap.
The Minnesota Timberwolves snatched up the Serbian with the first pick in the second round. Two years later he crossed the Atlantic and made Minnesota his home.
Pekovic is a throwback center who relies on his 6'11'', 290-pound frame to bully his way to the hoop. He has a soft touch around the basket and moves surprisingly well for a player his size on the defensive end.
The big man did not play much in his rookie year. He was inserted into the T-Wolves' starting lineup when Darko Milicic was injured during the 2011-12 season and has been a fixture there ever since.
Pekovic averaged 13.9 points on 56 percent shooting in '11-12. His 21.4 PER ranked 20th in the league and he finished third in the voting for Most Improved Player. The Wolves' center was even more impressive this past season, contributing 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
3. Paul Millsap
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During his tenure at Louisiana Tech University, Paul Millsap became the only player to lead the nation in rebounding three times. His stock plummeted when he measured at 6'7'' at the combine.
Teams viewed the bruising big man as a power forward but wondered if he could play the position in the NBA at his size. He slid all the way to the Utah Jazz with the 47th pick in the 2006 draft.
Millsap revised his game, shedding some bulk and increasing his mobility. He quickly became a valuable bench player for the Jazz and moved into the starting lineup in 2010-11 after Carlos Boozer signed with the Chicago Bulls.
Millsap's production spiked with the increased playing time. He averaged 17.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 2010-11 and 16.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals the following since. The seven-year veteran will cash in this summer as an unrestricted free agent.
2. Monta Ellis
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Monta Ellis made the quantum leap from Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi, to the NBA in 2005, the last year that high school players were permitted to go straight to the NBA. The Golden State Warriors selected him with the 40th pick, and the youngster was in the starting by the end of his rookie season.
Ellis is a blur with the basketball and quite effective at knocking down difficult shots. He averaged over 20 points per game four times, including a career-high 25.5 in 2009-10. He also dished out six assists per game in each of the last two seasons and is typically among the league leaders in steals.
Despite his scoring prowess, coaches have struggled to figure out how to utilize Ellis most effectively. He is a very good passer, but his shoot-first mentality and poor shot selection are not ideal qualities for a point guard. At 6'3'' he is small for a 2-guard.
Ellis has failed to develop chemistry with the two scoring point guards he has played with, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks.
His game may be best-suited for a role off the bench.
Still, Ellis will draw plenty of interest as a free agent this summer. Teams are always in the market for a player who can break down a defense and put the ball in the hole.
1. Marc Gasol
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The Los Angeles Lakers picked Marc Gasol 48th overall in the 2007 draft. Less than a year later, they included his draft rights in a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies for his older brother Pau. It remains the only time in NBA history that brothers were traded for each other.
Gasol started in his first season with the Grizzlies and within a couple of years was among the top centers in the game. Standing 7'1'', Gasol prefers to operate on the left-block where he can unleash his sweeping hook shot.
In recent seasons he has spent more time in the high-post, allowing Zach Randolph to operate on the low-block. The Spaniard has developed a solid mid-range jumper and is an excellent passer for a big man.
Gasol's greatest strength is his defense. What he lacks in athleticism and leaping ability he makes up for with intelligence and timing. He is an excellent help defender and mobile enough to hold his own against perimeter players when forced to switch on pick-and-rolls.
Gasol had his best season in 2012-13, averaging 14.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and a career-high 4.0 assists. He was selected to his first All-Star game, named to the All-NBA Second Team and voted Defensive Player of the Year.