NBA Draft: Best No. 2 Picks in Draft History
With the second pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Derrick Williams out of Arizona.
Although there was much speculation surrounding the state of this pick prior to this selection, David Kahn and the rest of the Wolves brass decided to invest in the 6'8" forward. Only time will tell if this pick pays off for Minnesota, but it seems as if the future is indeed a bright one for Williams.
As the second overall pick, guys usually lose some of the spotlight to the honorable players selected right before them at the No. 1 spot. It's always going to happen.
And sure, there have been some flops taken with the second overall pick. Individuals such as Sam Bowie, Darko Milicic, Jay Williams, and the late Len Bias never touched the potential their respective teams wish they did.
But with some failure comes more success at the second pick. Here are the top ten players selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the history of the NBA Draft.
10. Gary Payton
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Drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in 1990
Career Averages: 16.3 PTS, 6.7 AST, 3.9 REB, 1.8 STL
Achievements: 2006 NBA Champion, 1996 Defensive Player of the Year, 9-Time All-Star, 2-Time All-NBA First Team, 9-Time All-Defensive First Team
The "Glove" Gary Payton kicks off the list at the 10 spot. Payton, drafted by Seattle from nearby Oregon State, was taken after Derrick Coleman in 1990.
Through his 18-year career in the NBA, "The Glove" racked up numerous accolades including a record 9-Time All-Defensive First Team selections. He ranks seventh on the all-time assists list with 8,966 dimes and third on the steals list with 2,445.
Gary Payton is undoubtedly one of the best point guards ever to step on an NBA court and is perhaps the most complete player in the history of the position.
9. Earl Monroe
Drafted by the Baltimore Bullets in 1967
Career Averages: 18.8 PTS, 3.9 AST, 3.0 REB
Achievements: 1973 NBA Champion, 4-Time All-Star, 1968 Rookie of the Year, 1969 All-NBA First Team, Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee
Whether it was "Earl the Pearl," "Black Magic" or "Black Jesus," Earl Monroe was simply one of the best ever to play the game. Selected out of Winston-Salem State by Baltimore, the flamboyant guard already carried over a legacy that stretched from Division II ball in North Carolina to the playgrounds in Philadelphia.
After spending his four impressive seasons in Baltimore, Earl was traded to the New York Knicks just three games into the 1971-1972 season.
Despite some pessimistic speculation, Monroe's transition was a successful one. He led the Knicks to the 1973 NBA title as one half the "Rolls Royce Backcourt" alongside fellow guard Walt Frazier.
8. Bob McAdoo
Drafted by the Buffalo Braves in 1972
Career Averages: 22.1 PTS, 9.4 REB, 1.5 BLK
Achievements: 1975 Most Valuable Player, 2-Time NBA Champion, 5-Time All-Star, 3-Time Scoring Champion, 1973 Rookie of the Year, 1975 All-NBA First Team, Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee
The 6'9" forward/center with a jumper comes in at the eight spot on the list. Bob McAdoo was taken with the second pick by Buffalo in 1972 after just one year as a North Carolina Tar Heel.
As one of the most dominant scorers of his time, McAdoo could either post-up down low for a bucket or choose to snipe you from the outside with his perimeter shooting.
In just his second season ('73-'74) in the NBA, McAdoo became the latest player to average at least 30.0 points and 15.0 boards.
In his most notable year of his NBA career, McAdoo averaged 34.5 points, 14.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks during the 1974-1975 season. And to nobody's surprise, Bob captured the league's Most Valuable Player award the very same year.
McAdoo went on to play for New York, Boston, Detroit, New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia after his stint with in Buffalo. He then finished off his playing career in Italy, playing for three different clubs from 1986 to 1993.
Although he never found a stable home, Bob McAdoo is one of the most skilled big men to ever play the game.
7. Wes Unseld
Drafted by the Baltimore Bullets in 1968
Career Averages: 10.8 PTS, 14.0 REB, 3.9 AST
Achievements: 1969 Most Valuable Player, 1978 NBA Champion, 1978 NBA Finals MVP, 1969 Rookie of the Year, 5-Time All-Star, 1969 All-NBA First Team, Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee
The big boy Wes Unseld was drafted with the second pick in 1968, and with good reason. In his three seasons playing at the University of Louisville, Wes averaged 20.6 points and 18.9 rebounds. He led the conference in rebounding all three years and carried the Cardinals to a few NCAA tourney appearances.
After transitioning into the NBA, the 6'7", 245-pound forward continued to intimidate the opposition with both his stature and his play.
In his 13 seasons, Unseld averaged a career double-double with 10.8 points and 14.0 boards despite being an undersized big man. He headed the Bullets to four NBA Finals and captured the 1978 title.
The 1978 NBA Finals MVP prematurely retired at the age of 34 after spending his entire playing career with the Bullets. However, Unseld still cemented his place in NBA history as one of the best rebounders of all time.
6. Jason Kidd
Drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 1994
Career Averages: 13.2 PTS, 9.1 AST, 6.5 REB, 2.0 STL
Achievements: 2011 NBA Champion, 1995 co-Rookie of the Year, 10-Time All-Star, 5-Time All-NBA First Team, 4-Time All-Defensive First Team
Jason Kidd was taken out of Cal with the second pick in 1994 and hasn't looked back since. In his rookie season as an NBA point guard, Kidd averaged 11.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 7.7 assists with the Mavericks.
The California product led the NBA in triple-doubles that year as a rookie. He was later traded to the Phoenix Suns after three seasons in Dallas.
Kidd continued his stellar play in Phoenix and through New Jersey from 1996 to 2008. He then returned to Dallas in a trade with the Nets 55 games into the '08 season. Jason has recently captured his first NBA title with the Mavs after two unsuccessful Finals appearances in Jersey.
The sure-fire Hall of Famer ranks second all-time on the career assists list and ranks third on both the three-point field goals list and triple-doubles list.
Although Kidd isn't exactly a knock-down shooter, his positioning on the three-pointers list is a true testament to his longevity.
5. Rick Barry
Drafted by the San Francisco Warriors in 1965
Career Averages: 24.8 PTS, 6.7 REB, 4.9 AST
Achievements: 1975 NBA Champion, 1975 NBA Finals MVP, 1966 Rookie of the Year, 8-Time NBA All-Star, 5-Time All-NBA First Team, Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee
Don't make fun of grandma when she attempts a free throw. She is only trying to exact the form of the game's greatest free throw shooter, Rick Barry.
Barry was drafted by the Warriors from the University of Miami with the second pick in the 1965 draft. The pick instantly translated into success for San Francisco as Barry won Rookie of the Year honors in 1966 and led the team to the 1967 NBA Finals.
Although the Warriors failed to win the title, Barry proved he was one of the game's best scorers after averaging 40.8 points in the series including a 55-point onslaught in Game 3.
Propelled to jump ship by a monetary dispute, Barry moved over to the ABA from 1968 to 1972. However, he later returned to the NBA in 1972 with the Golden State Warriors and finished off his amazing career with the Houston Rockets from 1978 to 1980.
Rick Barry knew how to put the ball in the basket, period. He is and always will be the only player to lead the NCAA, ABA, and NBA in scoring for a season.
4. Isiah Thomas
Drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1981
Career Averages: 19.1 PTS, 9.3 AST, 1.9 STL
Achievements: 2-Time NBA Champion, 1990 NBA Finals MVP, 12-Time All-Star, 3-Time All-NBA First Team, Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee
Thankfully for Detroit, Isiah Thomas was a player in 1981, not an executive. Had he been a part of the Piston brass, Thomas may have traded that second pick for a worthless center. But he wasn't and he didn't. That's why Isiah's legacy remains in his playing career.
After winning an NCAA in Indiana under the iconic Bob Knight, made the jump to the league and became 1981's second overall pick. And what a pick it was.
Thomas helped Detroit to the 1988 NBA Finals in his sixth season. Unfortunately for Isiah and the rest of the Pistons, the showtime Lakers grabbed the '88 trophy after trailing the series 3-2 going into Game 6.
Fueled by the Lakers upending them a year earlier, Isiah Thomas led Detroit to two consecutive NBA titles in 1989 and 1990. The "Bad Boys" had ruled over the league and the 6'1" point guard was the remarkable driving force.
3. Bob Pettit
Drafted by the Milwaukee Hawks in 1954
Career Averages: 26.4 PTS, 16.2 REB, 3.0 AST
Achievements: 1958 NBA Champion, 2-Time Most Valuable Player, 1955 Rookie of the Year, 2-Time Scoring Champion, 11-Time All-Star, 10-Time All-NBA First Team, Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee
Bob Pettit was and still is an NBA legend, to say the very least.
Pettit was drafted in 1954 by the then-Milwaukee Hawks after dismantling the entire NCAA field at Louisiana State. In his rookie year, Pettit scored 20.4 points per game, grabbed 13.8 boards per game, and was awarded the league's Rookie of the Year honors.
He carried over his dominant play throughout the rest of his career, completely ripping up the time period between 1958 and 1961.
Bob averaged, at the time, an NBA-record 29.2 points and went on to average 20.3 rebounds per game during the '60-'61 season. Pettit's rebounding performance makes him only one of five players to ever average 20 or more boards in a season.
Pettit made the NBA All-Star each of his 11 seasons and pulled in a record four MVP awards in those games.
Everyone he went, anywhere he played, Bob Pettit was always the most commanding player on the court.
2. Jerry West
Drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1960
Career Averages: 27.0 PTS, 6.7 AST, 5.8 REB
Achievements: 1972 NBA Champion, 1969 NBA Finals MVP, 1970 Scoring Champion, 14-Time All-Star, 10-Time All-NBA First Team, 4-Time All-Defensive First Team, Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee
"The Logo" himself, Jerry West, is number two on this list of number two's.
The promising product from West Virginia was snatched up by the Lakers with the second pick in 1960. West earned the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors in 1959 and two All-American selections at WVU.
There was no slowing down the 6'2" guard when he hit the NBA scene, as "Mr. Clutch" proceeded to throw his name into the game's best.
As the "Mr. Outside" to Elgin Baylor's "Mr. Inside," West catapulted the newly relocated franchise into playoff contention in 1961. West became the league's best shooting guard and the league's best scorer behind the great Wilt Chamberlain in the following years.
Jerry West and the Lakers reached the Finals in 1969 and faced off against the unbeatable Boston Celtics. En route to yet another championship, the Celtics prevailed over Los Angeles in a riveting seven-game series.
Although the Lakers did not win the title, Jerry West became the first and only player to receive NBA Finals MVP honors as a member of the losing team. The sour taste of the 1969 Finals was eventually ridden out in 1972 as West led the Lakers to the promised land.
Jerry West is one of the NBA's most decorated individuals in its history. He achieved success through his well-balanced play and remains one of greatest two-way players to step on the hardwood.
1. Bill Russell
Drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1956
Career Averages: 15.1 PTS, 22.5 REB, 4.3 AST
Achievements: 11-Time NBA Champion, 5-Time Most Valuable Player, 12-Time All-Star, 3-Time All-NBA First Team, 1969 All-Defensive First Team, Hall of Fame Inductee
As if there was any doubt, Bill Russell owns the No. 1 spot on this list. Unless you were unaware that he was a second pick, you sniffed this out from a mile away. The 6'10" center out of the University of San Francisco is unquestionably the greatest second pick in NBA Draft history.
So where do we start? How about we go with the bling?
During his 13 seasons in the NBA, Russell has led the Boston Celtics to an unbelievable 11 titles. That's right, 11. That means he has enough rings to fit both hands and still has one to spare. This man hardly knows the definition of "lose."
In fact, I'm pretty sure Russell's picture is alongside Charlie Sheen's in the dictionary next to the word "win." And in another startling fact, Russell is 11-0 in deciding games and averages 18.0 points and 29.5 rebounds in those situations.
From a statistical standpoint, the success only continues. Russell is the all-time leader in total and average rebounds in the NBA playoffs and owns a handful of other rebounding feats such as most rebounds in a half with 32.
As a result of his dominant play, Bill won MVP honors five times and saw himself playing in the league's All-Star Game 12 times.
His defensive tenacity, his game-time intensity, and his high basketball intelligence makes Bill Russell not only one of the best centers ever to play, but one of the best overall players to pick up a ball.
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Kevin Durant- Seattle SuperSonics (2007)
Antonio McDyess- Los Angeles Clippers (1995)
Alonzo Mourning- Charlotte Hornets (1992)
Kenny Anderson- New Jersey Nets (1991)
Rik Smits- Indiana Pacers (1988)
Terry Cummings- San Diego Clippers (1982)
Phil Ford- Kansas City Kings (1978)
Dave Bing- Detroit Pistons (1966)