In the NBA, finding a diamond in the rough in the second round of drafts is a rare occurrence. Most of the value falls within the first 15 or so choices in most basketball drafts, so adding a valuable player near the end of the draft is something to be proud of in this league.
From the year 2000 to present, I'll list the top NBA players who were drafted in the second round (keep in mind some of these players did not remain with the team that drafted them).
I would also like to thank all of the fans who kept me on my toes by suggesting players to add to the list.
The Milwaukee Bucks got tremendous value with the 43rd overall pick in 2000, drafting Ohio State University shooting guard Michael Redd.
Redd was an All-Star in 2004, and has averaged 20 points per game for his career. He also holds the NBA record for most three-pointers made in one quarter, making eight of them on February 20, 2002, against the Houston Rockets.
Sadly for Bucks fans, Redd is a frequent visitor to the injured reserve. The Bucks were dealt a devastating blow in 2009 when Redd tore both his ACL and MCL. He returned from the injury the following season only to re-tear both ligaments in the same knee.
The now 32-year-old Redd is still the highest paid player on the Bucks.
"Agent Zero" was drafted in the second round out of the University of Arizona. A three-time all-star and 2003 NBA Most Improved Player Award winner, Arenas came into the league with a chip on his shoulder and immediately became an elite talent.
Arenas averaged a career high 29.3 points per game in the 2005-06 season with the Washington Wizards.
Arenas' career has taken a turn for the worse in recent years however. A recurring knee injury that has plagued Arenas since 2007 has kept him from staying on the court. In addition, Arenas got into some hot water by bringing unloaded firearms into the locker room, and was charged with carrying a gun without a license.
The problem was escalated when Arenas and former teammate Javaris Crittenton got into a heated argument about gambling debts.
Arenas was traded to the Magic for Rashard Lewis last season, and now wears the No. 1 as a tribute to his favorite player, Penny Hardaway.
The Detroit Pistons made a great choice drafting the 6'11" center out of Turkey.
Okur was a productive contributor to the Pistons' 2004 championship team, but only lasted two seasons in Detroit before signing a six-year, $50 million contract with the Utah Jazz.
Over the course of the 2005-06 season with the Jazz, Okur averaged 18 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game, and 2.4 assists per game, all career highs.
The following season Okur made his first and only All-Star team, and has been a key part of his team's multiple playoff appearances.
(Side note: Can we please just make New Orleans the Jazz again? It makes no sense that Utah gets that name...)
Carlos Boozer was drafted after draft duds Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Melvin Ely, Dan Dickau, and others.
Boozer seemed to be a solid second option for the Cavaliers in his only season playing alongside LeBron James, but was offered a bigger contract by the Utah Jazz, which the Cavs decided not to match.
Cavs fans have to wonder how different things might have turned out if Boozer remained in Cleveland.
Boozer was a member of the Utah Jazz from 2004-2010 until going to the Chicago Bulls in a sign-and-trade deal.
The former Duke Blue Devil received harsh criticism in the playoffs last season as a member of the Bulls. Boozer averaged 12.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in the postseason for the Bulls (both career lows for him in the playoffs). Just a season before as a member of the Jazz, Boozer averaged 19.7 points and 13.2 rebounds per game in the playoffs.
Boozer is a two-time all-star and an Olympic gold medalist.
Although Luis Scola was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in 2002, a sticky buyout situation with Scola's Euroleague team prevented him from becoming a member of the Spurs.
It wasn't until July 2007 that Scola's rights were traded to the Houston Rockets and he was finally able to enter the NBA.
Scola has proven to be a great asset to the Rockets, averaging double digits in scoring in all four seasons with the team. Last season, Scola averaged a career high 18.3 points per game, and scored a career high 44 points in a game against the New Jersey Nets.
Drafted late in the second round by the Utah Jazz, Mo Williams initially had a hard time gaining traction in the NBA with the team that drafted him.
However, after being released by the Jazz, Williams was picked up by the Milwaukee Bucks and ran with the opportunity to be a starting point guard in the NBA.
Williams has averaged double digits in points in every season since his rookie year, and made his first and only all-star team in 2009 as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Last season, Williams was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers along with Cavaliers teammate Jamario Moon, in exchange for Baron Davis and a first-round pick.
The New York Knicks drafted Trevor Ariza out of UCLA with the 43rd overall pick in 2004. Ariza played in 80 total games for the Knicks in his rookie season and even ended up starting 12 games for head coach Larry Brown.
Ariza had a pretty slow start to his career, but became an integral part of the Los Angeles Lakers 2009 championship team.
After his performance for the Lakers in the playoffs, Ariza signed a five-year, $33 million contract with the Houston Rockets. The athletic forward averaged career highs in points per game: 14.9, rebounds per game: 5.6, and steals per game: 1.8, in his only season with the Rockets.
Ariza was traded to the New Orleans Hornets in a five-player trade before last season.
Elite scorer Monta Ellis was, believe it or not, a second-round draft pick.
The Golden State Warriors bagged a diamond in the rough with Ellis, who entered the draft out of Lanier High School in Jackson, Miss.
Ellis won the NBA's Most Improved Player Award in 2007, and is averaging 19.4 points per game for his career.
Last season, Ellis averaged 24.1 points per game, 5.6 assists per game, and 3.5 rebounds per game.
Ellis has spent his entire career with the Warriors.
Gortat spent four seasons with the Magic, gaining notoriety as "the best backup center in basketball" behind starter and perennial All-Star Dwight Howard.
The Suns were able to re-acquire the "Polish Hammer," along with Vince Carter and Mickael Pietrus, in a 2010 trade that sent Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Earl Clark to the Magic.
Gortat became an efficient pick-and-roll partner for point guard Steve Nash, averaging 13 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in his first year as a member of the Suns.
Despite having to play behind Utah Jazz power forwards Carlos Boozer and Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap has been a very productive player for the Jazz.
Drafted out of Louisiana Tech University, Millsap turned a lot of heads during his rookie season, leading all rookies with six double-doubles.
Millsap had a career year for the Jazz last season, averaging 17.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in 76 games played.
Hard to believe that Marc Gasol was passed on 47 different times in the 2007 draft. Gasol was picked after players like Alando Tucker, Acie Law, Morris Almond, Gabe Pruitt and others.
In 2008, the Lakers traded Marc Gasol, Javaris Crittenton, Kwame Brown, Aaron McKie, two first-round picks and cash to the Memphis Grizzlies for Marc's All-Star older brother, Pau Gasol.
At the time, the trade seemed grossly one-sided in the Lakers favor (at least in my opinion). The Lakers went on to win the 2009 NBA championship with Pau.
It took three years, but now the trade seems as if it may have favored the Grizz.
Marc Gasol had a great year for the Grizzlies leading them to an improbable playoff run, ousting the San Antonio Spurs and forcing a seven-game series with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The younger Gasol averaged 15 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 2.15 blocks per game during the playoffs.
Marc outplayed his older brother in every way during the 2011 playoffs. Pau Gasol crumbled in the postseason after another fantastic regular season campaign with the Lakers.
Inexplicably, Pau averaged just 13.1 points per game and shot only 42 percent from the field (more than ten percentage points lower than his season average of 52.9 percent field goal shooting).
I doubt Lakers fans would want to undo the Gasol for Gasol trade after winning a championship in '09, but it probably crossed a lot of fans' minds watching Marc play great ball for the Grizzlies in 2011.
Although all 36 picks prior to DeJuan Blair could justify their argument for not drafting him with the unsettling fact that Blair does not have anterior cruciate ligaments in either knee, I bet they'd still want a do-over.
The Spurs were the only team brave enough to take a chance on Blair and it worked out beautifully for them.
Blair played in all 82 games his rookie season, and 81 games last season. It doesn't appear that having no ACL in either knee is bothering him at all.
The last person chosen in the 2011 NBA draft, I don't expect this "Mr. Irrelevant" to be so irrelevant.
Maybe I'm biased because I'm 5'6" and I tend to gravitate toward shorter NBA players. Thomas stands at just 5'9".
Nevertheless, I truly think that Isaiah Thomas out of the University of Washington will be a solid NBA point guard at some point in the future.
Here are the awards Thomas accumulated in just three college seasons:
2009 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, 2009 Second Team All Pac-10, 2010 and 2011 First Team All Pac-10 and Pac-10 Tournament MVP.
That's quite an impressive resume. I watched Thomas play a lot during his college career, as I'm a student at the University of Arizona.
I still remember Thomas' amazing 28 point performance against U of A last season in the Pac-10 Tournament.
Thomas buried a game-winning buzzer beater against my school to win the Pac-10 Tournament against a stacked Wildcat team. (The 2011 Wildcats, led by eventual No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams, crushed No. 1 seed Duke in the NCAA Tournament on their way to an Elite Eight appearance).
The bottom line is that I'd want Thomas on my team any day of the week, and I believe he will succeed at the NBA level.