Ranking the Last 25 Years of Draft Picks: The Best No. 10 Selections
In the past 25 years, 225 players were off the board before the teams holding No. 10 picks were on the clock.
When you think of it that way, it's easy to see why the No. 10 pick is mostly unremarkable.
After all, after you get nine picks deep into a draft, it's not like there's a Michael Jordan sitting around. There isn't even a Michael Olowokandi.
Can a No. 10 pick ever even be considered a bust? How about a sleeper? A steal? I guess in some cases.
Out of the past 25 No. 10 draft picks, only five players have made an All-Star Game. Of the 18 All-Star appearances these five players have totaled, two players have comprised 12 or 67 percent of them.
Both of these players were drafted by the Boston Celtics.
Both are big guard/small forward-types of comparable height and weight.
Both have first and last names that begin with the same letter.
Both are in this slideshow.
Coincidentally, the other tandem in this slideshow to be drafted by the same team, was drafted by--you guessed it--the Los Angeles Lakers.
Only two players in this slideshow are under 6'6". In other words, think thrice before you add a No. 10-selected guard to your fantasy team.
Seven of the 25 players attended Pac-10 schools. Only two made the slideshow; none were from UCLA.
One player's name was Mouhamed Saer Sene. He was an African who played professionally in Belgium. Now he's in France... I think.
Yeah, he didn't make the slideshow.
I could go on forever but I think you get the point. There's nothing special about the No. 10 draft position except for those who have made it look good.
Here they are...
1996: Erick Dampier
Out of the 58 selections in the 1996 Draft, only Derek Fisher, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash have appeared in more games than Dampier.
Career averages of 7.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game aren't strikingly impressive, but think big picture and you'll be able to appreciate Dampier a bit more.
The big man from Mississippi State will quietly go down in NBA history as a top-40 offensive rebounder and shot blocker.
Not bad considering the 9th, 11th and 12th picks were Samaki Walker, Todd Fuller and Vitaly Potapenko, respectively.
2005: Andrew Bynum
Crazy Fact of the Day: When Bynum turns 23 years old in late October of this year, he will be entering his sixth season in the NBA.
Why then does it seem like he just entered the league yesterday? Well, the 7-foot, 285-pound center has missed 132 games over the past five years due to various injuries.
In 2010, Bynum appeared in and started 65 games, posting career-best, per-game averages of 15 points and eight rebounds.
There's no question the New Jersey high school product was the right choice in the 2005 Draft; Bynum is a force when healthy, and his game is constantly improving.
However, at an annual salary of $14.5 million, one has to wonder for how much longer the Lakers will be patient with him.
2009: Brandon Jennings
I'm against crowning guys before they've earned the accolades, but what Jennings showed his rookie season deems him worthy of making this list ahead of a few more-accomplished names.
Not only did the diminutive lefty with the Gumby cut average nearly 16 points and six assists per game, but also led a Milwaukee Bucks team that had no business winning 35 games--let alone 46--to a near-upset of the Atlanta Hawks in the First Round of the Playoffs.
Jennings finished third in Rookie of the Year voting, behind winner Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry, but no rookie was more valuable to his team this season than the 20-year-old kid from Italy via Compton.
2008: Brook Lopez
Based on what we've seen from Lopez his first two seasons in the league, it's obvious not only was he the steal of the 2008 Draft but also one of the biggest steals in NBA history.
The Stanford graduate's combination of size, skill, IQ, and durability is something you see in a big man just a handful of times during a decade.
At 7'0" and 260 pounds, with a 7'5.5" wingspan, Lopez is a true center. He can score with his back to the basket. He can face-up and hit jumpers.
He can get to the foul line, where he shoots over 80 percent. He can defend in the paint. He hasn't missed one of his first 164 games.
There isn't much not to like about Lopez. It should come as no surprise he averaged just under 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocks per game as a 21-year-old, second-year player on a horrible team that was decimated by injuries.
The two players selected before him in the draft were D.J. Augustin and Joe Alexander.
2002: Caron Butler
The 2002 Draft was one of the more disappointing drafts in NBA history.
No. 2 pick Jay Williams crashed and burned... literally.
No. 5 pick Nikoloz Tskitishvili fell off the face of the Earth (maybe he returned to being an extra in the original Goldeneye video game for Nintendo 64).
No. 6 pick Dajuan Wagner was last seen playing in Poland two years ago.
All things considered, Butler, a UConn underclassmen, was a gem of a pick by the Miami Heat at No. 10.
The 30-year-old forward, a two-time All-Star, has posted career per-game averages of 16.6 points and six rebounds.
1999: Jason Terry
Hersey Hawkins, Ricky Pierce, Andrew Toney, Eddie A. Johnson, Jeff Hornacek...these are the names that come to mind whenever I think of Terry, the former Arizona star.
You know, great players who averaged 16 points per game and helped their teams win, but didn't get enough shine to garner national attention.
The same guys whom their coaches would call MVP but meanwhile couldn't get selected for the All-Star Game.
The kind of players who would never make an All-NBA team but would most likely have their jersey retired by a team.
In 11 seasons, Terry has averaged 16 points and five assists per game while shooting .45/.38/.84.
Only one player from the 1999 Draft has played more games (Andre Miller); none has scored more points.
1994: Eddie Jones
Jones is another forgotten man who had a great pro career, playing with five different teams over 14 seasons, and appearing in the playoffs 11 times.
How good was Jones' career? Of the 54 players selected in the 1994 Draft, which featured Jason Kidd, Glenn Robinson and Grant Hill, Jones ranks 4th in games, 3rd in minutes, 5th in points, 7th in rebounds, and 4th in assists.
No. 9 pick Eric Montross, No. 11 pick Carlos Rogers, and No. 12 pick Khalid Reeves combined to score 7,721 fewer points than Jones despite playing 86 more games.
Athletic at 6'6", with a long wingspan, Jones excelled defensively, making Second-Team All-Defense three times. He ranks 23rd overall in steals in the history of American pro basketball.
In addition, the native Floridian and Temple guard was named to three All-Star Games.
1987: Horace Grant
Of the 161 players drafted in 1987--yes, you read that right--here's how Grant ranks:
FG percentage: 4th
In his 17-year career, Grant went to the playoffs 13 times and appeared in five Finals. He won three titles with the Chicago Bulls, lost one with the Orlando Magic and then won one with the Lakers.
The former Clemson standout only made one All-Star game was but named Second-Team All-Defense four times.
The Bulls picked Grant instead of Reggie Miller (selected No. 11) because they already had Michael Jordan, as well as a deal in place to trade Olden Polynice (No. 8 pick) to Seattle for Scottie Pippen (No. 5 pick).
2001: Joe Johnson
The argument can be made that Johnson, at 6'8" and 225 pounds, and with the ability to play positions one through three, possessed more potential than any player to ever enter the league through the No. 10 slot in the Draft.
Nine seasons and 699 games later, the former Arkansas Razorback has made only one All-NBA team (Third-Team, 2010), and failed to finish in the top ten in any major statistical category aside from points per game (ninth in 2007) and three-pointers made (eighth in 2005).
In addition, he has floundered in all three trips to the playoffs with the Atlanta Hawks.
But at age 29, Johnson still has time to show he can get over the hump and take that next step into elite two-guard territory.
Considering Kwame Brown, Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler, Eddie Griffin, DeSagana Diop and Rodney White were drafted ahead of him, Johnson was a steal at No. 10.
1998: Paul Pierce
Forget the past 25 years; Paul Pierce is the greatest player to have ever been selected No. 10 in the NBA Draft.
After spending the bulk of his career single-handedly carrying an average Celtics organization on his back, Pierce's prayers were answered when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen came to town.
That meant, for the first time in his career, he would have a supporting cast that didn't feature Antoine Walker as the team's second-best player. Or Ricky Davis. Or Tony Delk. Or a 36-year-old Gary Payton.
And what happened? Pierce and his new mates won Boston its first basketball championship since 1986.
In the Finals, Pierce outplayed Kobe Bryant, was named Finals MVP and soon after made this declaration:
"I don't think Kobe is the best player... I'm the best player."
Over a month later, Pierce was asked again if he still felt the same way.
"I felt I've played against the best over the years and feel right now that I'm the best player in the world."
Pierce, who will turn 33 in October, has enough in the tank for one or two more All-Star-caliber seasons. After that, both "the rafters" and Hall of Fame await.
It's easy to look back now and say Boston made the right choice selecting the Kansas Jayhawk back in 1999.
However, it should be noted Rick Pitino, the Celtics president at the time, would have taken Dirk Nowitzki had the German forward not been snatched at No. 9.