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Ranking the 50 Best Value NBA Draft Picks of the Past Decade

D.J. FosterContributor IJanuary 7, 2017

Ranking the 50 Best Value NBA Draft Picks of the Past Decade

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    Since ranking the 50 best draft picks of the past decade would result in me naming LeBron James over and over again like a Dave Chappelle skit, we're instead going to focus on value.

    Naturally, players that are drafted in the lottery are expected to provide value. That's why the "bust" label usually only applies to those players selected in the top 14.  

    For the sake of this exercise, we've eliminated any player that was selected in the lottery over the last ten years. That means no LeBron. Sorry, LeBron.

    Instead, we'll focus on the players who have outperformed their draft slot and provided exceptional value beyond what was expected of them.

50. Chase Budinger, Pick No. 44 in 2009

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    Chase Budinger may be the best basketball product out of San Diego county in the last decade, which is kind of humorous considering that volleyball was his best sport in high school.

    Budinger has put his bounce on display in the dunk contest and for the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves over the last four years, showing potential as a dangerous wing in transition who can also knock down shots from behind the arc.

    Budinger dealt with injuries last year, but he showed very steady improvement in his first three seasons in Houston. Once his skill level catches up with his athleticism, he could certainly rise up this list. 

49. Marcus Thornton, Pick No. 43 in 2009

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    Some may see Marcus Thornton solely as a shooting guard that's not good enough to start for the lowly Sacramento Kings, but let's focus on the positive.

    Thornton is nicknamed "Buckets" for a reason. Over his four-year career, he's averaged 19.4 points per 36 minutes with a relatively efficient true shooting percentage of 54.3 percent.

    Also boasting an above-average career PER of 16.9, Thornton has proven to be a very capable wing who can score in bunches, either as a starting two guard or as a sixth man who can really carry a second unit.

    When you look at the career stats and hype of Jamal Crawford or J.R. Smith, two award-winning sixth men, it's not hard to see Thornton filling a similar role should he ever escape from Sacramento and land on a winning team. For now, outplaying his second-round selection is still pretty impressive.

48. Ramon Sessions, Pick No. 56 in 2007

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    Ramon Sessions has terrible taste in basketball teams, but it's hard to hold that against him.

    Throughout his career, Sessions has been the rock for teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Bobcats, playing solid ball and acting as a stabilizing force in the backcourt.

    Although he's a solid floor general, it's Sessions' ability to penetrate and get to the rim that makes him an effective point guard. He's focused more on his scoring as of late, averaging a career high of 14.4 points per game last year for the hapless Bobcats.

    Sessions played extremely well in his limited time with the Los Angeles Lakers, so one could only hope he'll get the chance to play with more capable teammates again soon. As far as backup point guards go, he's one of the league's best, and that's not bad for a guy who almost wasn't selected back in 2007.

47. Jared Dudley, Pick No. 22 in 2007

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    One of the original "3 and D" guys in the league, Jared Dudley has crafted a role for himself despite lacking the prototypical athleticism for a wing player. 

    Dudley has long been one of the league's most efficient shooters, rarely forcing a look that didn't come to him within the flow of an offense. One of the holdovers from the Steve Nash era in Phoenix, Dudley excels at finding the cracks in a defense and using his smarts defensively to stay in front of quicker players.

    A good fit for almost any team playing any offensive scheme, Dudley has made a good portion of the 21 teams who passed him up regret it. He's the type of player winning teams all covet. 

46. Glen Davis, Pick No. 35 in 2007

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    Before he was pushing small children and roaring and drooling and just being a general delight, Glen Davis was "Baby Shaq", a woefully undersized big man who wasn't supposed to be able to overpower people on the NBA level.

    Big Baby was a little more nimble than his critics gave him credit for, however, and over the years, he's put together a nice career as a solid frontcourt scorer.

    Davis may rely on his jumper a little too much, and he may not be the best defender, but he did play a critical role on the 2008 Boston Celtics championship team, which more than justifies his value at pick No. 35 in the draft.

    And outside of Gilbert Arenas and Manu Ginobili, it's hard to think of another second-round pick who has provided us with more entertainment, isn't it?

45. Kyle Korver, Pick No. 51 in 2003

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    Let's be clear: Kyle Korver is one of the best three-point shooters to ever play. Over the past decade, Korver has shot nearly 42 percent from behind the arc, knocking in over 1,300 three-pointers in the process. 

    Finding one of the league's best anything with pick #51 in the draft is incredible value, but Korver isn't just a shooter. Despite not possessing a whole lot of athleticism, Korver is a sneaky good defender who isn't afraid to get physical. He hurts you much, much less than some other pure shooters do. 

    Maybe it's because of where he started, but Korver always seems to be undervalued. If he gets on a team that spaces the floor and runs screens for him this season, watch out.

44. Louis Williams, Pick No. 45 in 2005

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    Are there a lot of scorers on this list because their value is easier to identify, or are there a lot of scorers on this list because their value wasn't always easy to identify? It's a real chicken-and-the-egg situation.

    Regardless, Louis Williams belongs here as an electric sixth man who can create scoring opportunities for himself by the handful. Williams modeled his game after Allen Iverson, and it shows when he breaks off a flashy crossover and sticks a jumper in the face of a big defender.

    Williams tends to be the forgotten man in Atlanta since tearing his ACL early last season, but the Hawks have a nice young core to build from with him, Jeff Teague and Al Horford. With a 17.5 PER, some gaudy per-36 scoring numbers and a very reasonable contract, Williams just keeps on providing value for his teams.

43. Kyle Lowry, Pick No. 24 in 2006

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    You won't find many players in the league more enigmatic than Kyle Lowry. He's a little unpredictable with his emotions and isn't considered a leader by any stretch, but he sure does play with a fiery intensity when he's motivated.

    Lowry can be up and down, but he has insane range from behind the arc, he's a good on ball defender and he's a surprisingly good rebounder despite his lack of size. Lowry has all the skills of a really good point guard, but he's also the rare player who has outperformed his draft position, yet failed to fulfill his potential.

    Lowry might be running out of chances, but if he can properly harness his intensity and play with more consistency, he's capable of being great. We'll have to wait and see.

42. Tobias Harris, Pick No. 19 in 2011

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    The sample size is small, and it's still awfully early in his career, but Tobias Harris sure seems to have some serious potential.

    After he was traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Orlando Magic, the 20-year-old forward really went to work. Harris averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game for Orlando after the trade deadline, displaying natural scoring instincts in a big, athletic frame. 

    Considering his age, skills and size, there's no reason to think that Harris can't be a stretch 4 going forward. Out of every player on this list, Harris probably has the chance to climb the highest. He just has to prove that his performance with Orlando was sustainable, and not some sort of, uh, magic. 

41. J.R. Smith, Pick No. 18 in 2004

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    J.R. Smith is one of the league's premier natural talents. He can drive, he can handle, and he can shoot from anywhere. His gifts can be a curse in regards to ignoring teammates and using questionable shot selection, but Smith made some nice strides with the New York Knicks this season in that regard.

    The reigning Sixth Man of the Year winner is definitely coming off his best season, scoring 18.1 points per game while averaging career highs in rebounds and assists.

    Smith is a nice example of the type of player you can get outside of the lottery. He was talented enough to be a top-14 pick, but he had enough character issues to fall in the draft.

    While every GM should be hesitant to hand Smith a big deal after the equivalent of a contract year, it's pretty clear now that Smith has outplayed his original draft position quite a bit. 

40. Ersan Ilyasova, Pick No. 36 in 2005

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    Late bloomers, step right up! Ersan Ilyasova didn't always play like this, but now he has one of the most unique set of skills in the NBA.

    Ilyasova is a stretch 4 with range who also does very well on the offensive glass, which is something only a few other players can claim. Ilyasova really broke out during the 2011-12 season, earning a pretty decent contract like many of the other second round picks on this list did.

    If Ilyasova can continue to shoot with high percentages while scoring at the rim on putbacks a little more frequently, he could make for a great offense-defense pairing with Larry Sanders going forward.

    Although he certainly needs help on the defensive side of the floor, Ilyasova will always have a place in the league as a big man with a pretty shooting touch. Those guys usually don't make it past the first round, but Ilyasova is the exception.

39. Jameer Nelson, Pick No. 20 in 2004

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    Jameer Nelson is certainly on the tail-end of his career now, but let's go back to the brighter days.

    For a small window, Nelson was considered one of the best point guards in the league, and it was justified. Nelson was having one of the best shooting campaigns ever in 2008-09 (61 percent true shooting!) before it was cut short by injury.

    Nelson's durability has been a huge issue throughout his career, and the injuries have worn him down. An All-Star in 2009, Nelson might be considered the second-best player next to Dwight Howard during his era in Orlando, which is pretty impressive when you think about how good those teams were.

    Nelson's name may not carry the weight it once did, but 38 percent career three-point shooting is nothing to sniff at, either.

38. JaVale McGee, Pick No. 18 in 2008

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    Do not try and understand JaVale McGee. It is impossible, and it will only hurt your head.

    The 18th pick back in 2008 has shown equal flashes of unreal athleticism and stunning unawareness, making him a total boom or bust player on a night-to-night basis.

    Despite his terrible decision making, McGee is an elite finisher and shot-blocker, and that combination alone has provided tremendous value over the years. The good tends to outweigh the bad with McGee, and as a young center with all the natural athleticism in the world, he'd be terrifying if he could ever truly piece it together. 

    Patience is required, but a team that could rise out McGee's mistakes could see tremendous dividends in the next few years.

37: Nikola Pekovic, Pick No. 31 in 2008

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    Nikola Pekovic is so old school it hurts.

    Big, plodding centers who bully their opponents on the block and score with post moves are almost totally extinct, but Pekovic is a young center keeping the breed alive.

    He may have taken two years to come over, but Pekovic is paying immediate dividends, which seems to be a rarity with young centers today. Pekovic is a monster of a man and a potential double-double machine, though his fit with Kevin Love defensively is shaky at best.

    Pekovic needs someone to help him protect the rim, as he's more of a space-eater. Although he may be a tad high maintenance as big man who needs post touches to have an impact, Pek was more than worth the wait, and the 31st pick. 

36. DeAndre Jordan, Pick No. 35 in 2008

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    DeAndre Jordan, believe it or not, was projected to be the first pick in the draft at one point. After a rough first year in college, Jordan slipped all the way to the Clippers in the second round, who happily snatched him up. 

    Since then? Jordan has been an athletic marvel who helped coin "Lob City" in Los Angeles, but his development hasn't been as rapid as some would like. Buried on Vinny Del Negro's bench most of last year, Jordan could use a fresh start and have the chance to outperform his expected production once again. 

    Quitting on Jordan at this stage in his career probably isn't wise. A very good shot-blocker and finisher around the rim, Jordan has the size and vertical ability to impact the game in a way very few others can. In the right defensive system, he could flourish. 

35. Carl Landry, Pick No. 31 in 2007

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    If your second unit has a scoring problem, Carl Landry can come to the rescue.

    The bruising power forward with a sweet touch has bounced around quite a bit over his career, but his low-post scoring abilities have never wavered.

    Hampered by bad teams most of his career, Landry got the chance to show off his skills with the Golden State Warriors during their epic playoff run, simultaneously serving as a floor-spacer and a post threat.

    Constantly under-appreciated due to his lack of vertical ability, Landry will probably see a nice payday this offseason. 

34. Taj Gibson, Pick No. 26 in 2009

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    Taj Gibson is probably the best defensive backup forward in the NBA.

    Sure, it doesn't hurt that he plays in Tom Thibodeau's wonderful defensive system in Chicago, but Gibson's versatility allows him to bang with post players and even go out to the perimeter and give big small forwards trouble.

    Gibson's age (he was 24 on draft day) seemed to scare away a lot of teams, but his legs have plenty of bounce. Remember his poster dunk on Dwyane Wade? This guy can make complete game-changing plays.

    Projecting defensive players on the next level can often be difficult, and Gibson falling all the way to pick No. 26 is a perfect example of that. 

33. Marcin Gortat, Pick No. 57 in 2005

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    Second-round picks have an uphill battle in the NBA. That was especially true for Marcin Gortat, who landed behind Superman in Orlando.

    Getting playing time over Dwight Howard would be nearly impossible, but Gortat regularly played well when Howard got in foul trouble. Over three seasons, he pieced together enough potential to be traded to the Phoenix Suns, where he's largely been hit or miss. 

    Gortat was genuinely one of the best centers in the league in 2011-12, posting a 21.2 PER while proving to be a reliable scorer. After Steve Nash left, however, Gortat struggled with tighter coverage and didn't react well to playing on a bad team for the first time in his career.

    Can Gortat turn it back around? The jury is out, but either way, finding a quality big man with pick No. 57 was one heck of a steal.

32. Isaiah Thomas, Pick No. 60 in 2011

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    The best "Mr. Irrelevant" of the last decade with ease, Isaiah Thomas has far surpassed what the Sacramento Kings were likely expecting with the 60th pick in the draft.

    Thomas is one of the smallest players in the league at 5'9", so it's not hard to see why so many teams passed on him. In the NBA, however, he's been a very good scorer and surprisingly decent defender, posting a career PER of 17.6.

    It's hard to dismiss that sort of production from a player in their first two years, especially considering how bad the Kings have been. Not overlooking Thomas paid off once before, and it might again. He can really play. 

31. Arron Afflalo, Pick No. 27 in 2007

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    There's a concern that Arron Afflalo has gone the route of Trevor Ariza, going from a killer role player to a guy who feels the need to be a star and can't snap out of that mentality. 

    Afflalo built his game on defense initially, and he soon became one of the best perimeter defenders in the game. His outside shot also became a serious weapon, as he put up great percentages in his three seasons with the Denver Nuggets.

    When Afflalo went to Orlando, however, he became "the man," and his true shooting percentage dropped nearly 10 percentage points from his best days in Denver. Afflalo's defense has also fallen off in the process, and it's a legitimate concern that it won't come back as he focuses on scoring. 

    Afflalo's season in Orlando is a cause for concern. That said, Afflalo still has the skills to be one of the best role players on the wing for a good team in the future, should he choose to accept his role. 

30. George Hill, Pick No. 26 in 2008

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    George Hill was groomed in the perfect place, and then he found his perfect home.

    Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs loved George Hill, and they ultimately made him another in a long line of successful late picks (Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, etc.). Hill played both guard spots extremely well for the Spurs, but he was swapped for Kawhi Leonard in a draft-day deal that made sense for both teams.

    Hill will never wow you, but he's a very good defender with incredible length. He was a huge part of Indiana's top-ranked defense this year, and he's a solid decision-maker who gets his guys the ball in the right spot without taking unnecessary risks. 

    Hill is unlikely to ever win any awards, but he'll be a solid point guard for a long, long time in this league.

29. Kenneth Faried, Pick No. 22 in 2011

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    Rebounding translates. It's one of the few college stats you can rely on in the pros, and Kenneth Faried has made it his calling card early on in his career. 

    Faried averages nearly 12 rebounds per 36 minutes on his career, and there's no reason to think he won't be a double-double machine with true starter's minutes in the future. A perfect fit for the high altitude in Denver, Faried is a non-stop energy guy who always goes a million miles per hour.

    To take the next step, Faried will have to work on adding a jumper. But even if that never happens, the back-end of the first round is great value for an elite rebounding and hustle-play presence. 

28. Avery Bradley, Pick No. 19 in 2010

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    We have officially entered the "super-athletic guard" portion of our list.

    Avery Bradley was a player without a true position headed into the draft, but he's shown the ability to play both backcourt spots in the NBA.

    Bradley's ability to mesh with Rajon Rondo was most impressive, especially offensively. Bradley really makes a home of the baseline, where he cuts backdoor and keeps defenses on their toes.

    Maybe the best on-ball defender in basketball, Bradley pesters guards and plays an extremely physical style of basketball that causes a ton of mistakes.

    Combo guards tend to scare teams away, but as you'll see from this list, the ones who have elite skills often produce regardless.

27. Iman Shumpert, Pick No. 17 in 2011

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    Iman Shumpert blends in pretty well, which isn't something you'd normally say about someone with a six-inch flattop. 

    Shumpert was originally thought of as a point guard but has played more away from the ball with the New York Knicks, and he's made the transition pretty seamlessly. Shumpert is a very good defender who can cover all three perimeter spots thanks to his size, but he's also an improved spot-up shooter on the wing. 

    Although you probably would have never guessed it, Shumpert has made himself into a "3 and D" guy who rarely gets to the rim but brings it every night defensively. Some may want a star at pick No. 17, but finding a role player with upside like Shumpert isn't easy there, either.

26. Jeff Teague, Pick No. 19 in 2009

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    Jeff Teague reminds me a lot of Tony Parker, which might be scary now that former San Antonio Spurs coach Mike Budenholzer is running the show for the Atlanta Hawks.

    Teague's biggest asset is his speed, but he also possesses a nifty floater and improved range on his jumper. While he might never be an elite shooter, Teague can get in the paint almost at will and create a ton of havoc as a distributor and as a scorer once he's in there.

    It's understandable that Teague fell as far as he did in maybe the deepest point guard draft ever, but nevertheless, he's still providing plenty of value as a solid starting point guard with huge upside for the Atlanta Hawks.

25. Eric Bledsoe, Pick No. 18 in 2010

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    Eric Bledsoe is another victim of height. He's a killer defender, rebounder, and shot-blocker, but that still wasn't enough to land him minutes at a position of need for the Los Angeles Clippers last year.

    Bledsoe's production is tantalizing, especially when you consider the bump in production players see when they play next to Chris Paul. With Doc Rivers now in Los Angeles, Bledsoe is a prime candidate to be a breakout player, especially if Rivers uses him like he used Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley in Boston.

    A crazy athlete who has a knack for gaining extra possessions, Bledsoe has the potential to be one of the best guards in the game. You don't usually say that about guys picked outside of the lottery, but with a passable jumper, Bledsoe could be unstoppable. 

24. Danny Green, Pick No. 46 in 2009

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    He couldn't get off the bench for the Cleveland Cavaliers and he spent time in the D-League, but Danny Green has provided the San Antonio Spurs with plenty of value over the last two seasons.

    You've seen plenty of "3 and D" guys on this list so far, but Green may be the best of them all. A lanky defender who works his tail off, Green often takes the toughest assignment the other team has to offer and shuts them down.

    After setting an NBA Finals record for most three-pointers made, you're probably aware of his shooting, as well. It seems a little unfair that Green will make less than $4 million next season, but the Spurs are pretty good about finding undervalued players and maximizing them for everything they have. 

23. Tony Allen, Pick No. 25 in 2004

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    Defensive players are often undervalued come draft day, and Tony Allen is a nice example of a player who worked himself into one of the best defenders the game has to offer.

    Since Allen's "Trick or Treat" days with the Boston Celtics, he's become a much more reliable offensive player, toning down the crazy layup attempts while maintaining the ferocity that makes him such a great player. 

    There isn't a wing player that Allen can't go heads up with and really make work for every bucket, and his aggressiveness in passing lanes has made the Memphis Grizzlies one of the best teams in the league at turning over their opponents for the last few seasons. 

    Allen used to be unpredictable, but there's no doubt that you're getting elite perimeter defense with him every game. Whichever team lands him this offseason should be very happy. 

22. Omer Asik, Pick No. 36 in 2008

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    Just because the Houston Rockets are chasing Dwight Howard doesn't mean that Omer Asik isn't a really, really good center.

    Only a handful of big men combine the ability to defend the pick-and-roll and protect the basket like Asik does, and his ability to wipe the glass clean often sparked Houston's fast-break game. Asik is a perfect fit for what Houston wants to do, so the center spot is more of a desired upgrade than a need.

    Asik's points per game jumped up to double-digits in his third year, and it's not hard to see him improving even more. Asik misses a ton of bunnies around the rim, so even converting a higher percentage of those could bump him up into the 13 or 14 points-per-game range. There's a ton of potential here.

21. Al Jefferson, Pick No. 15 in 2004

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    Al Jefferson is the mayor of the left block. He's a true post-up big with an incredible amount of polish, which is surprising given the fact that he came straight out of high school.

    Jefferson has always had a lot of nuance to his game, relying on clever pump fakes and footwork rather than raw strength or athleticism. That's one of things that has made Jefferson a 20-and-10 type player for a long time in the league, and that's nothing to take for granted.

    Jefferson struggles to defend the pick-and-roll or protect the rim, but pair him with a defensive big man and you've got yourself a solid frontcourt.

    There's an old saying that centers that aren't worth a lottery pick aren't worth a pick at all, but that wasn't the case with Jefferson. 

20. Goran Dragic, Pick No. 45 in 2008

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    First off, let's get something straight. The Phoenix Suns shouldn't be allowed to play in any jersey that's not their black throwback. That's one of the best jerseys in sports.

    Now that we're clear on that, let's focus on Goran Dragic. The Suns made the ultimate "we messed up" free-agent signing by bringing back Dragic, and he looks well worth the investment. 

    With Dragic, the Suns have at least one spot of their future solidified. A creative scorer and a really annoying defender, Dragic is capable of putting up some big nights and thriving in the halfcourt or in transition. 

    With plenty of time left in his career, it wouldn't be surprising if Dragic is remembered as one of the best second-round steals in NBA draft history. 

19. Mo Williams, Pick No. 47 in 2003

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    Did you know Mo Williams made an All-Star game? That's a real thing that happened in 2009, back when LeBron James was creating easy shot after easy shot.

    Williams may not be a great starting point guard in terms of distributing or defending, but you won't find very many shooters better than him. A 38.6 percent career three-point shooter, Williams has made a living from spreading the floor and hitting tough pull-up jumpers.

    You have to give Williams credit for really sticking with it. Utah, the team that drafted him at pick No. 47 in 2003, didn't bother to bring him back after just one season. From there, Williams really worked on his game and eventually became a very good scoring point guard in the league.

18. Monta Ellis, Pick No. 40 in 2005

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    Everyone's favorite Moped enthusiast is one of the most polarizing figures in the league. Some view him as a star who can get his own bucket at anytime. Others view him as an inefficient chucker who only cares about getting his own bucket all the time.

    Undersized, pure scorers coming straight out of high school have a tough hill to climb, but to be fair to Ellis, he appeared to make some pretty big strides last season playing next to J.J. Redick. Perhaps Ellis just needs the right backcourt partner.

    Ellis is pretty tough to get a handle on, but he's certainly outplayed his draft position of pick No. 40 back in 2005. 

17. David Lee, Pick No. 30 in 2005

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    Look out! It's a run on players who may or may not make a positive net impact on their teams!

    Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee is great rebounder, passer, and overall player from the high post, but he may give up just as much defensively as he earns offensively.

    The Warriors' playoff performance without Lee didn't do his reputation many favors, but Lee does have a career PER of 19.2 and two All-Star selections to his name.

    He may not be a very good defender, but his impact offensively in many different areas seems to make him worth it, and at the very least, well worth the 30th pick by the New York Knicks back in 2005. 

16. Anderson Varejao, Pick No. 31 in 2004

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    It's easy to forget just how good Anderson Varejao is, mainly because he never seems to be on the floor anymore. Varejao has suffered through three straight seasons of injuries, and his lack of durability has made his stock plummet.

    But when he's healthy? Oh man, is he good. Varejao is one of the most active players in the league, blowing up pick-and-rolls with ease and rebounding (14.4 per game) at crazy rates. His work ethic is infectious. 

    Varejao was a true steal in the second round back in 2004, and one can only hope that he stays healthy enough to be more of an asset than a tease going forward.

15. Danny Granger, Pick No. 17 in 2005

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    Another former All-Star, Danny Granger had a run where he was one of the best scorers in all the land. In the 2008-09 season, Granger averaged 25.8 points per game at just 25 years old. You know, if you're averaging more points per game than your age, that's almost always a good thing.

    It's fair to question if we'll ever see that Granger again after all the injuries, but it's scary to think of how Indiana could have done against Miami this season with a healthy Granger providing extra scoring pop.

    Paul George has ascended as the man in Indiana, but there's still plenty of room for a balanced scorer who can do a little bit of everything offensively. 

    Draft value comes in lots of different ways, but this ensuing run of small school studs should probably teach us a lesson. 

14. Kevin Martin, Pick No. 26 in 2004

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    Is Kevin Martin the best active player never to make an All-Star game? There's certainly a case for him. Martin has been one of the league's most efficient scorers for a long time, averaging 17.8 points per game over his career on nearly 60 percent true shooting. 

    Although he's limited elsewhere, Martin is a great isolation scorer who is more than just a spot-up shooter. With a herky-jerky shooting motion, Martin draws a ton of fouls and isn't afraid to go to the rim despite his thin frame.

    Injuries have limited Martin throughout his career, but he was just another in a long line of great picks from a really deep draft in 2004. 

13. Paul Millsap, Pick No. 47 in 2006

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    A small school undersized rebounder? Paul Millsap is your prototypical draft-day sinker, but he's paid huge dividends to the Utah Jazz for taking a chance on him. 

    After leading in rebounding at Louisiana Tech, Millsap translated that and a nice scoring punch to the pros almost immediately. Although he never has and seemingly never will generate much buzz, Millsap is a free agent who could have a big impact this offseason. 

    Millsap is the rare second-round pick who made an immediate impact and stuck around to play with his original franchise. He's provided tremendous value over the years. 

12. Jrue Holiday, Pick No. 17 in 2009

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    Jrue Holiday saw his draft stock drop after a year at UCLA, but he still became one of the league's best point guards and an All-Star despite being picked in the second half of the first round in the great point guard draft of 2009.

    Holiday proved to be every bit as advertised as a defender, but his offense has been much better than expected. Holiday has learned to create his own shot quite well, averaging a career high 17.7 points per game last season.

    At just 23 years old, Holiday has time to become even more effective as an offensive player.

    And if he gets some teammates who can actually shoot around him? Watch out.

11. Ty Lawson, Pick No. 18 in 2009

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    Ty Lawson was taken with the pick before Jrue Holiday, so it's only fitting he checks in a pick before Holiday on this list as well.

    Lawson is another player who fits perfectly in Denver's plan, as there may not be a faster player in the open court than him.

    Over the last four seasons, Lawson has steadily improved both as a distributor and a scorer, and he's learned to defer less in the clutch and call his own number more frequently.

    It will be interesting to see how Lawson plays under someone other than George Karl, but he has the chops to be an extremely difficult cover for any opposing point guard.

10. Nicolas Batum, Pick No. 25 in 2008

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    Nicolas Batum made one of the strangest jumps of any player last season by becoming a really good distributor. After averaging 1.4 assists per game the previous year, Batum tallied 4.9 a game last season with the Blazers.

    That's just an example of how much further Batum can come as an offensive player. If he improves his scoring off his own dribble and continues to work on his jumper, Batum can be an incredible third option offensively next to Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

    Batum's defense isn't quite what it used to be, but when he's locked in and focused, he can still make a huge impact. Already a quality performer, Batum's development doesn't appear to be close to done.  

9. Larry Sanders, Pick No. 15 in 2010

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    It may be surprising to see Larry Sanders ranked so high already, but he might already be one of the best rim protectors in basketball.

    Over three seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, Sanders has averaged 3.6 blocks per 36 minutes. That doesn't include all the shots he alters, and it doesn't mention his ability to still dominate the defensive glass like he did last year. 

    Every great defense needs an elite center, and Sanders is it for the Bucks going forward. He's a work in progress on the offensive end, but Sanders is also a pretty good finisher and has a nice little jumper that could develop into something special. He could be very scary for opposing teams going forward.

8. Roy Hibbert, Pick No. 17 in 2008

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    Centers usually take a bit to develop, and Hibbert is a good example of why it's worth it to wait. 

    You wouldn't think that a 7'2" guy with a nice jumper could fall out of the lottery, but Hibbert did. He was seen as too stiff, too weak and too immobile to make a difference in the league, but Hibbert anchored the league's best defense this season by turning away opponents left and right. 

    Hibbert started the season very slow offensively, but there was some regression to the mean later in the year. If he remains an efficient scorer who can stretch the D a bit, he's a top-five center for years to come. Those guys shouldn't be available at pick 17. 

7. David West, Pick No. 18 in 2003

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    Roy Hibbert's frontcourt partner in crime is a product of a simpler time, where NBA general managers were ultra-sensitive to a power forward's height, irregardless of his wingspan.

    David West's arms go on forever, and with an incredibly high release, he can get his shot off pretty much anytime. Pick-and-pop big guys who are also incredibly tough on the glass and on the block are a rarity, but West is such a skilled offensive player that he makes it all work together easily.

    After spending a few years as Chris Paul's running mate in New Orleans, West has continued his success with the Indiana Pacers as one of the league's most criminally underrated power forwards. He's the definition of solid. 

6. Josh Smith, Pick No. 17 in 2004

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    Josh Smith is as talented as is he is infuriating, which is saying something. Smith has always relied on his jumper way too much, but his court vision, athleticism, rebounding and shot-blocking ability are all top-notch. 

    It's not that Smith isn't a smart basketball player. He understands angles and his timing and feel for the game are incredible, but he just has no filter offensively. He desperately wants to be a perimeter player, and while he has some skills to do that, his shot has never followed along.

    Smith has spent his whole career with the Atlanta Hawks, so there's still hope he can harness all that ability into something more productive, even though he's had a very good career to this point. 

5. Chandler Parsons, Pick No. 38 in 2011

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    Chandler Parsons is a new-age forward. He can play either spot effectively, allowing his team to go big or go small based on matchups. He can put the ball on the deck and play drive-and-kick basketball. He can shoot with range. He can make plays for others. He can run.

    You get the point. Chandler Parsons is very good, and it seems almost unfair that Daryl Morey was able to snatch him up in the second round. The flexibility he allows is tremendous, and although he's not a great defender, he doesn't hurt you on that end, either.

    Parsons made a huge jump in his second year, and with all his talents offensively, it's not hard to see him reach an All-Star level sooner rather than later. He's a matchup nightmare. 

4. Kawhi Leonard, Pick No. 15 in 2011

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    It's early, but it's easy to see that Kawhi Leonard is special. Is he the best athlete? No, not at all. Is he creative? Not really. But Leonard is incredibly efficient, almost like a machine. He's Tim Duncan in small-forward form.

    Leonard is the perfect player to carry the San Antonio Spurs torch from a personality standpoint, but he has the game to back it up. An elite defender with great length and huge hands, Leonard can cover four different positions realistically while cleaning up the defensive glass in the process.

    Leonard didn't get many plays called for him this year, but that will change soon. He's already made himself into a good shooter, and you can see the scoring instincts around the bucket are there.

    Honestly, there's very little wrong with Leonard's game. He may not be a star in the traditional sense, but he'll provide ridiculous amounts of production. 

3. Serge Ibaka, Pick No. 24 in 2008

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    Serge Ibaka brings a very specific set of skills to the table, but they're perfect for what Oklahoma City needs. 

    Ibaka has made the NBA All-Defensive First Team two years in a row, and there might not be a better weak-side shot-blocker than him in the whole league. Ibaka's rim protection has played a huge role in Oklahoma City's success as a defense, but it's his jumper that allows the Thunder to thrive.

    By spacing the floor for Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant with his mid-range jumper, Ibaka is the perfect third wheel to the star tandem on both ends. Although it's hard to see how Ibaka gets significantly better, the more he hits that jumper, the more dynamic the Thunder become.

    Leading the NBA in blocks three straight seasons is a pretty good return of investment on the 24th pick.

2. Rajon Rondo, Pick No. 21 in 2006

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    It's easy to see how Rajon Rondo scared teams off in 2006. He couldn't shoot from anywhere. He was a little moody. He had a limited body of work available. 

    No matter. Rondo obliterated his projected value by becoming one of the best distributors in all of basketball. Rondo's creativity and confidence helped the Boston Celtics win a title, which is no easy task for a young point guard.

    Rondo has turned up the heat offensively as time has gone on, showing off his scoring chops when he has to in the playoffs. Nabbing a four-time All-Star with pick No. 21 in an otherwise lackluster draft is already one of the best draft values ever, and who knows how what else Rondo will accomplish for the rest of his career. 

1. Marc Gasol, Pick No. 48 in 2007

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    Remember when the Memphis Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers? And everyone said it was the worst trade in NBA history?

    Well, at the time it sure looked awful. But in hindsight? Great deal, Memphis!

    Marc Gasol may not be the most decorated player on this list, but the 2012-13 All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year has slowly rounded into one of the most complete basketball players on the planet.

    Is there anything Gasol can't do? He can shoot, pass, play in the high or low post, defend on the ball and off it, rebound on both ends and do it all from a position where that kind of production is uncommon. 

    At pick No. 48, Gasol wasn't that far off from going undrafted. As one of the best centers and players in the league today, he could challenge Manu Ginobili and a few others for the title of best second-round draft pick to ever play.

    We'll have to wait and see on that, but for now, Marc Gasol is the best value pick in the last decade. 

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