NBA Rankings: Best Second Draft Pick Over Past Two Decades
In any sport that conducts the drafting of players, so much is often made of landing the number one overall pick. The NBA is no different.
The first pick of the draft is often regarded as the best player, or the one with the highest upside. And like every sport, it has had its fair share of hits, as well as misses.
But what about the next guy, the number two pick? You know the one that should have a chip on his shoulder because some front office executive thought he wasn’t good enough.
Well the number two pick of the NBA draft over the past two decades has had it’s fill of misses, but it’s also had its success of hits. And when I say hits, I’m speaking of the Hall of Fame variety.
Over the past two decades, the second draft pick has yielded four Rookie of the Year winners and seven All-Stars.
This group also has three players that are regarded as locks for the Hall of Fame when they become eligible. It could have as many as six depending on how the careers pan out for a few of the younger prospects.
The 20 players listed have filled our hearts with excitement as well as disappointment.
Regardless of what they have or haven’t accomplished, we owe them an amount of gratitude for without them, the today's game would cease to be.
So enjoy the rankings and I hope they invoke fond memories of the game so many of us have come to love.
20. Jay Williams - 2002 Draft
Jason David Williams aka “Jay” Williams was suppose to be the next great point guard.
Blessed with all the physical gifts and a stellar three-year tenure at Duke University, he was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the 2002 NBA Draft.
Williams would go on to play 75 games (54 starts) in his one year of NBA basketball.
His lone season was filled with inconsistencies as he struggled to adjust to the NBA level of play, but it was also filled with promise. He had 18 games scoring 14 or more points and 24 games with six or more assists.
Those numbers might not seem impressive, but keep in mind he was playing 26 minutes per game, as he split time with Jamal Crawford.
Ultimately, his demise came as the result of him violating a rule in his contract.
The Bulls had received word that Williams had a thing for motorcycles. The Bulls put in his contract that he wasn’t allowed to own or ride one.
Williams disregarded those rules and nearly lost his life in a June 2003 motorcycle accident in Chicago.
He would survive the ordeal but the act resulted in him losing his career.
Classic case of learning the hard way, and for that very reason, he is our biggest flop of number two picks over the past two decades.
19. Hasheem Thabeet- 2009 Draft
Hasheem Thabeet will be entering his second season come next year and his basketball story has yet to be written.
However, when you’re the number two pick in the 2009 NBA draft and you average just three points and two rebounds in 68 games played, you will be regarded as a bust until you prove otherwise.
Thabeet also spent time in the NBA D-League.
He will one day be a starting center in the NBA and won’t always be at the bottom of the No. 2 picks in NBA history.
Ultimately, he will have to seek employment elsewhere. His current club is the home of a future All-star center, Marc Gasol.
Thabeet will have to take his limitless potential to greener pastures if he wants to shed the label of NBA bust.
Until he does, he get’s the billing of 19th worst second pick in my pool of 20.
18. Darko Milicic - 2003 Draft
Darko Milicic will forever be tabbed with the label as the guy that got drafted ahead of Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh.
Like Thabeet he is far from a bust and has productive stops in Orlando and Minnesota, where he now resides. His numbers are not a reflection of a successful second pick in a NBA draft, unless it's the second pick of the second round.
Darko biggest problem was he got drafted to a team flooded with veteran front-line help. From Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Mehmet Okur, Elden Campbell and Corliss Williamson, Darko never had a chance in Detroit to get playing time.
Then he went to Orlando and had his best season as a pro, playing alongside Dwight Howard.
He quietly averaged eight points, six rebounds and two blocks over 80 games. He was thought to be the power forward of the future to play alongside Howard after the Magic made it to the playoffs.
But that wasn't to be, the Magic brought in Rashard Lewis and his All-Star backing to play with Howard and Darko was moved to Memphis.
Now he resides in Minnesota and prepares to be a starter for the first time in his career.
Maybe we'll see Darko climb up the rankings over the next few years.
17. Stromile Swift - 2000 Draft
Stromile Swift in no way shape or form should have been selected with the second overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft. But he shouldn't feel bad; eight of the top 16 picks aren't currently in the NBA. Heck, seven of them didn't play it to see four years in the league.
Stromile was what I like to call a "productive" bust. He had value and contributed to two 50-win Grizzlies clubs. In his first six seasons, he averaged over nine points, over five rebounds and over one block as a reserve player, usually to Paul Gasol.
Currently, Swift is out of the NBA and no one understands why, he's only 30-years-old and has never missed a season. Apparently his career has run it's course and teams don't see him as being an asset to a team.
It's sad that he was picked so high, I still can't figure out what made the Grizzlies draft him over Mike Miller.
But then again, that entire 2000 Draft class was weak. Only three players made the All-star team in their career. Kenyon Martin, Michael Redd and Jamal Magloire.
I guess Stromile can smile about that.
For now, he sits at number 16 and could drop in the coming years.
16. Shawn Bradley - 1993 Draft
Shawn Bradley spent 12 seasons in the NBA. During that time he would play for three NBA franchises.
Of all the busts throughout the history of the NBA, Bradley actually managed to have one of the longest careers. He played in 832 games (484 starts) and was the starting center for five Dallas Maverick playoff teams.
His career highlight came at the expense of being dunked on by Tracy McGrady, and dunked on he was!
I’m getting goose bumps just looking at the picture.
Bradley biggest problem may have lied in his 7’6” 235lb frame. He was never able to get in shape and pack on the needed muscle to be a real dominant presence in the painted area.
His career averages of eight points and six rebounds per game are not the stuff dreams are made of.
At 7’6” his career was a bit of a nightmare when one regards his lofty draft selection status.
And to think this dude was the tallest player in the league most years, yet he still only managed a 46 percent field goal rating. Talk about underachieving.
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t have him ranked number twenty; I honestly don’t know why either…LOL!
15. Tyson Chandler - 2001 NBA Draft
Tyson Chandler is currently a nine-year pro, yet is only 27-years-old. His biggest problem has been his inability to stay healthy.
He has played less than 52 games in three of his nine seasons and never once playing a full 82 games.
His career numbers are 58 percent from the field, eight points per game, nine rebounds per game, and one block per contest in 28 minutes per game. Not eye popping numbers but history has seen worst.
Chandler has twice lead the NBA in total offensive rebounds and has only six seasons of shooting better than 53 percent from the field. He finished second in field goal percentage, 2007-08.
The dude also has finished third in total rebounds, back-to-back seasons no less.
Highly regarded as a one of the top defensive centers in the NBA, when healthy. His offensive game is piss poor but he's efficient when he does attempt to score.
Tyson does have a skill set that is worthy of being a first round draft pick, he just should not have been the second overall pick. Anything below pick No. 10 would have been logical.
For those reasons, Tyson Chandler is No. 15 on my list.
14. Marvin Williams - 2005 NBA Draft
Marvin Williams’ story is a very interesting one. His career numbers would suggest bust, but if you've ever watched him play, one would think anything but.
Out of his five seasons in the NBA, he’s averaged 34-plus-minutes on three separate occasions.
In each of those seasons, he put up over 14 points, over five rebounds, one steal, one block, and shot better than 44 percent from the field.
The guy is also a stellar defender and consummate teammate. Yet for all the good he does, he still gets bad pub because he doesn’t dominate the game from an offensive stand-point.
Well that might be changing; rumors have Williams being moved to Cleveland in a sign and trade deal for Shaquille O’Neal. If this happens, we may very well get to see a very different Marvin Williams.
One who hopefully will shed his unmerited bust label?
For now, he sits at No. 14 on my list.
13. Emeka Okafor - 2004 NBA Draft
Emeka Okafor has been the model of consistency. The former Rookie of the Year has been solid if nothing else.
After his rookie season, he struggled to stay healthy the next two. For the past three seasons, however, he’s managed to play all 82 games.
After shooting below 45 percent in both of his first two seasons, he has shot above 53 percent for four consecutive seasons.
Emeka would serve to better his team and his career numbers if he improved his conditioning. In six seasons, he’s only played more than 34 minutes per game once. His minutes per game dipped all the way below 29 minutes per game and have been on the decline for three consecutive seasons.
He’s being paid over $10 million a year, so he might want to try and live up to those numbers.
All in all, Okafor has had a respectable career. And had it not been from his second year injury, his career might reflect that of Dwight Howard, if not better.
Only time will see if the 27-year-old can salvage his career and get back on the right track.
12. Michael Beasley - 2008 NBA Draft
Michael Beasley, Michael Beasley...Michael Beasley??? Where does one start with this young man, Mr. Controversy himself?
He’s not the first NBA to be accused of being a pot head, Latrell Spreewell and those burnt lips of his were always a hot topic. Yet so much was made of the young man and his offseason debacle, this past year.
Beasley was arguably the second pick that landed in the worst case possible scenario over the past decade. Some say Beasley was doomed to fail, knowing the history of Riley and the high standard to which he holds rookies.
Yet Beasley, through all his wows and troubles, manage to finish as the second scorer on a playoff team in both his NBA seasons.
Often maligned because of his defense, Beasley finished third on the Heat in rebounds and steals; he also finished fourth in blocks.
The 21-year-old averaged 14 points and six rebounds in 27 minutes per game.
Among his draft mates, Beasley currently ranks 11th in minutes per game, yet still he manages to rank sixth in scoring per game. Yet folks will still label him a bust, goes to show the intelligence of most folks.
He was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves this offseason and will get the chance to do more. He is hungry and will open the eyes of a lot of folks, folks who may still want to hate on the kid.
He finally has an audience all to himself, now we’ll see if he can make them clap.
11. LaMarcus Aldridge - 2006 NBA Draft
LaMarcus Aldridge has quietly improved in each of his four seasons in the league. He is an emerging young man that many like to compare to Rasheed Wallace, the former Trailblazer.
LaMarcus is mainly noted as a versatile low block scorer. His abilities have allowed him to average better than 17 points per game for three consecutive seasons.
He’s also a skilled shot blocked and has averaged better than a block for three consecutive seasons. He’s also adapt at creating turnovers as he’s averaged nearly a full steal over his past three years.
What he doesn’t do well for a player of his physical abilities is rebound. Only once he’s averaged eight or more rebounds per game. This is not acceptable for a guy playing over 35 minutes per game in the past three seasons.
He’s only 24-years-old and time will tell how great he really becomes.
10. Antonio McDyess - 1995 NBA Draft
Antonio McDyess was all set to be one of the most explosive players of his era. He was a factor from day No 1.
His first six seasons in the NBA saw him average better than 18 points and seven rebounds on four different occasions. You can add a steal and two blocks par game also.
Whatever the Denver Nuggets asked of him, he gladly delivered and fans and opposing players respected him for it.
The NBA was a better brand of ball because of McDyess and he was rewarded with an All-Star berth in the season of 2000-01.
He was quickly becoming his era’s version of Charles Barkley. He had no flaws in his game. He was solid in the post, could run on the brake and he could knock down jumpers. Plus he was blessed with all the physical gifts and the determination to compete every night.
But all that ended late in his sixth season when he suffered a serious knee injury, requiring season-ending surgery.
McDyess struggled to play through the injury, re-aggravating it several times and going through additional surgeries over the next few seasons.
He would never regain his double digit scoring but he would regain his ability to contribute to a winning club after two seasons of struggling in New York and Phoenix.
He’s now a member of the Spurs finishing out his career, still hungry for a Championship.
The days of him being a high flyer are long gone, but the spirit of the warrior still remains. It’s a shame that a guy like him got dealt such a bad deck.
But one would never know it, the dude is always smiling. A lot of these new-age players could learn a lot from his story.
And now you know why this career scorer of 13 points and eight rebounds per game is ranked this high up.
9. Keith Van Horn - 1997 NBA Draft
Keith Van Horn was the guy drafted after Tim Duncan. When I say that, it’s not to belittle him as a player, it’s because Duncan made everyone forget about most of his draft class very quickly.
But this is about Keith Van Horn and his inability to achieve greatness.
Keith Van Horn was so talented and skilled that he actually had mock draft boards that displayed him going ahead of such players like Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, Chauncey Billups and Stephen Jackson.
He was suppose to be the next great “white” scorer since Larry Bird. He did not disappoint either, putting up 19 plus points and six plus rebounds over his first three seasons.
He struggled his first two seasons with injuries but by his third season, he seemed to have worked himself into NBA shape, but he returned to the 50 game or less player he was in his first two seasons.
However, that wasn’t the biggest concern which folks had about him. His scoring dropped every year since his third season. And no one knew why.
Most viewed it as he lost passion for the game because of so many wanting him to be the next big “white” thing. He just wanted to be a player.
The kid had the complete game. He was athletic, long, could shoot and was smart. He just never seemed to display the drive needed to push all that talent over the top.
His story is one of disappointment because he cheated the game by not taking advantage of the skill that he had worked so hard to attain.
He currently ranks third in his draft class in regards to points per game, only Tracy McGrady and Tim Duncan have done better than Van Horn in his nine seasons.
As one of my all-time faves, I hated the way he allowed his career to turn.
8. Mike Bibby - 1998 NBA Draft
Mike Bibby has had a pretty solid NBA career. Not one that should be associated with being the second overall pick of a draft, but also one that shouldn’t be frowned upon.
He’s managed to guide his clubs to the playoffs in eight of the twelve seasons he’s played.
He has a weird history with his health; he usually plays less than 50 games in a season than goes the next three seasons of playing 80 or more games.
One of the best mid-range shooters or his era, Bibby also had a pretty decent deep shot, as he’s made over 100 three pointers in seven of his twelve seasons.
He averaged better than six assist for five years, nothing to brag about for a guy averaging better than 35 minutes per game.
Bibby could have done more but always did enough; he especially had a knack for showing up in big games as one of the best clutch performers in the early half of this decade.
I did find it odd that the 41st pick of his draft, Cutino Mobely, has a higher career per game scoring average.
7. Marcus Camby - 1996 NBA Draft
Marcus Camby was supposed to do more than become career 10 points and 10 rebounds per game guy. Especially after averaging 20 point per game his last year of college.
After scoring 14 per game his rookie season, he would average 12 or less for 12 consecutive seasons and counting. Eight of those seasons have been double figure numbers.
What he has been known for defense and rebounding, seven straight seasons of 10 or more rebounds per game. He also has 11 years of averaging two or more blocks per game, while leading the league four of those seasons.
Camby also was awarded the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2006-07.
He was once one of the most disliked players while a member of the New York Knicks, but now he’s considered one of the classiest players in the game.
He’s also a winner, being a part of nine playoff teams.
6. Kenny Anderson - 1991 NBA Draft
Kenny Anderson story is one of the greatest underachievers in NBA history. He had the skills and talent to end up in the Hall of Fame, but sadly he lacked the desire.
Kenny Anderson just couldn’t seem to find a home, plating for nine teams in his 14 NBA seasons. His longest stop was New Jersey where he played four and a half seasons. His most successful years were his first four in New Jersey.
Along with Derrick Coleman, the first overall pick in the previous NBA draft, Kenny Anderson was to help form the East coast version of the Utah Duo [John Stockton and Karl Malone]. But the two would only make it to the playoffs in two of the three seasons they started together.
In the fifth season of his career, the Nets would get rid of him to make way for Sam Cassel.
He would finally wind up in Boston where along with Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker, he would lead the Celtics to an Eastern Conference Finals. Yet the next season he found himself splitting time in Seattle and New Orleans because of money issues.
Kenny Anderson was a brilliant attacking point man when he wanted to be and even made an All-Star game. He also was pretty talented at forcing turnovers by playing passing lanes and usually jumping guys that weren’t as quick of feet as he was. He currently ranks 39th all-time in steals per game.
However injuries and an inability to fit in caused him and his overall legacy on the game.
Some would say he cheated himself more than anything else. It’s sad but so is the life of so many NBA players.
5. Kevin Durant - 2007 NBA Draft
Kevin Durant is preparing to enter his fourth season and has only once led a club to a winning record and a playoff birth. He also only has one All-Star berth.
So why is he ranked so high?
Well we could start with him being one of only four Rookie of the Year winners, or we can start with him being the only scoring champ in these current rankings. And then there's the fact that he is the only one in the group to average at least 20 points per game in each seasons he has played.
The biggest reasons I have Durant ranked so high is his undeniable ability and the undoubtedly fact that he will achieve great things in this league. He’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime talents.
It remains how great Durant will be, but most think he has a shot at being the greatest second overall pick in NBA history.
Though he has been overrated in some regards, the argument has been made; you can’t find seven more productive players in today's game.
I guess we’ll all find out in these next few seasons. I wouldn't bet against the kid fulfilling his potential, his foundation is too solid.
4. Steve Francis - 1999 NBA Draft
Before there was Dwyane Wade, there was Steve Francis. The original "SG" of this decade...and no "SG" doesn't stand for shooting-guard. It stands for Super Guard!
After basically holding his own draft rights hostage, Steve Francis took the NBA by storm.
Fast, strong, quick, confident, and ultra cocky in his abilities, Francis embarrassed any point guard that dared challenge him, I mean everyone.
From John Stockton to Gary Payton. The young man often refered to as the "franchise" dominated everyone.
He made his name for with his high-light crossovers and epic above-the-rim battles with the so called “big men" of the game. Doing whatever his Rockets team needed of him.
For four consecutive seasons the player coined he averaged 18 points, five rebounds and five assists. He had become a household name and fan favorite from day one.
In his first four seasons he was voted to start three consecutive All-Star games.
But oddly enough, his career faltered because of a teammate being traded away.
Steve Francise, the man, had become so close with Cutino Mobley, who was traded with him to Orlando, that he actually lost love for the game when Mobley got dealt to the Clippers. Francis would end up in New York in another trade and would later suffer a knee injury that basically has been the end of his career.
Probably one of the five most physically gifted point guards in NBA history. Francis had the talent to be an all-time great, and his stats were pointing him down a path of the top 10 greatest floor generals of all-time.
It's a shame that Francis was such an emotional player, he really cheated himself, but at least we got six great years of basketball out of him.
3. Gary Payton - 1990 NBA Draft
Gary Payton was the one player that every player hated as a person but respected the heck out of his game. Some regarded him as much a competitor as Jordan was.
Along with Jordan, he's one of only two guards to win a Defensive Player of the Year award. He also has eight seasons of averaging better than two steals per game, and finished his career with the third most of all-time.
He had nine All-Star berths, two of which were starts. He was the leader of a Seattle team that went to eight consecutive playoffs, and 10 in of his first 12 seasons.
He would finish his career playing for the Heat after helping them win their only title in franchise history.
The non-stop motor mouth is considered to be the greatest on-ball defender in NBA history, no one is going to be forgetting the "Glove" anytime soon.
2. Alonzo Mourning - 1992 NBA Draft
Alonzo Mourning is one of the classiest players in NBA history; he’s also one of its fiercest warriors. Mourning is easily a top 10 all-time center.
Very few have had his all-around statistics or the success that he's had with his teams.
From the word go, the player known as “Zo” was a 20 point, 10 rebound and three blocks per game center who also shot above 50 percent. He would maintain these numbers for eight consecutive seasons.
Over that time frame, he was selected to seven consecutive All-Star games. He also captured two Defensive Player of the Year awards and led the NBA in blocks for two consecutive seasons.
He led his basketball clubs to 12 playoff appearances in 15 seasons. The final three were mainly as a reserve to Shaquille O’Neal.
He was a two time All-NBA team member and a two time All-Defensive team member, as well as a Olympic Gold medalist.
In 2006, with the Miami Heat, he would win a title with the franchise he laid the foundation for.
Zo career numbers of 53 percent shooting, 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks would be better if not for a kidney ailment he suffered late in his 10th season and the knee injury he suffered in his eighth.
But the warrior known to most as “Zo” never complained. He simply put on his hard hat and went to work. Definitely worthy of the Hall of Fame when he is eligible.
We’ll see how much credibility the good old folks in Springfield, Massachusetts have very soon, as Zo is now retired and has begun his countdown.
Here’s to hoping that they do right by him.
1. Jason Kidd - 1994 NBA Draft
We have finally arrived at our destination. Jason Kidd, the former Co-Rookie of the Year in 1994-95, and often regarded as the greatest floor general in NBA history.
Say whatever you want about Jason Kidd the man, but you can't say anything about the Jason Kidd the competitor. He is the best No. 2 pick of the past two decades.
His ability to get the most out his teammates offensively is darn near unrivaled in NBA history.
He has lead the NBA in assists on four different occasions, and has recorded eight or more assists per game for 16 consecutive seasons.
Kidd is third all-time in career triple doubles during regular season play.
He has started 14 consecutive seasons on playoff clubs, two of which he guided to NBA Final berths.
Kidd has nine seasons of being on All-NBA defensive teams, and six seasons of being a member of All-NBA team. Plus he has 10 All-Star selections.
You name it, and Kidd has probably done it. One of the all-time greats, it’s amazing that he never gets mention for the top 20 greatest players of all-time.
It’ll be a long time before we see another player of his caliber.