When it comes to the NBA Draft, let’s be honest, we care about the following in this order — first overall pick, lottery picks, the wild and wacky suits worn by draftees, the rest of the first round, the wild and wacky (read: usual) suit worn by Craig Sager and the second round picks. Just like Rodney Dangerfield, second round picks get no respect.
Well, allow me to be the defender of their honor as I take a look back at the past 20 drafts and select the top 10 players in descending order. Then I’ll select a few projected second rounders from this year’s draft who have the potential to leapfrog in value, which can be evaluated a few years from now.
10. Marc Gasol, 2007 48th overall pick, Los Angeles Lakers
Gasol has only played three seasons, but he’s shown a lot in that bit of time. More importantly, despite taking a dip in production this past season (it’s hard to blame Zach Randolph though), Marc has made his own name in the NBA and shouldn’t only be considered “Pau Gasol’s little brother” anymore. With career averages of 12.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.4 BPG and shooting 54.5 percent from the floor — as well as a very respectable 17.6 PER — Gasol should have a productive career for the next several seasons. Time to pay up, Memphis Grizzlies.
9T. Paul Millsap, 2006 47th overall pick, Utah Jazz
Millsap is coming off a career season (17.3 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.4 SPG, 53.1 percent field-goal shooting, 19.8 PER) after finally garnering enough burn on the deck (34.3 MPG). Millsap first showed a lot of promise when filling in for an injured front line (Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko) a couple of seasons ago for the Jazz. At only 25-years-old, Millsap will have the opportunity to work his way up this list. Unless Derrick Favors decides to make some noise.
9T. Mo Williams, 2003 47th overall pick, Utah Jazz
Williams has had several productive seasons in his career and at his best is a 17 points, six assists, a couple of treys and excellent from the charity stripe type of player. He still has a couple of productive seasons ahead of him, but unfortunately, his very good statistics starting in 2006 will be put on the backburner of people’s minds behind two things. One, for catching feelings when LeBron James decided to play with the Miam Heat instead of coming back to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. And two, becoming part of the trade to the Los Angeles Clippers that netted the Cavs the first overall pick in 2011 and in likelihood, dynamo point guard Kyrie Irving.
8. Luis Scola, 2007 56th overall pick, San Antonio Spurs
Scola was hailed as yet another great pick by the Spurs late in the draft. However, he never donned the silver and black having been traded to the Houston Rockets for a second round pick since the cash-conservative Spurs and Scola’s European squad couldn’t agree on a buyout. The Rockets have benefited ever since, as Scola is a consistent performer with a motor. He’s not a defensive stalwart, but Scola is durable and has the potential for some 18-8 campaigns for the next few seasons.
7. Rashard Lewis, 1998 32nd overall pick, Seattle SuperSonics
The two-time All-Star was once one of the NBA’s top three-point shooters. Lewis can still snap the twine from beyond the arc, but he’s getting older and needs to get his groove back after being traded mid-season. He’s owed almost $46 million over the next two seasons and is drastically overpaid, but during his prime, Lewis was a 20+ point scoring threat, carried the Sonics and was worth the gamble coming out of high school.
6. Stephen Jackson, 1997 43rd overall pick, Phoenix Suns
Jackson came out of Butler County Community College, fought his way into the NBA and has aged like fine wine. Jackson was apparently born a traveling man, never staying with one team for three full seasons. He received a degree of infamy during his time with the Indiana Pacers, being one of the key pugilists at the Malice at the Palace. However, Captain Jack turned things around playing for the feel-good Golden State Warriors and continues to produce across the board.
5. Carlos Boozer, 2002 35th overall pick, Cleveland Cavaliers
Boozer isn’t one of the more dominant players in the league, but he always seems to get his numbers, a consistent double-double performer and 20-10 threat. After being drafted by the Cavs and playing well with LeBron James during the latter’s rookie season, Boozer was to become a part of a 1-2 punch in the Cavs’ frontcourt for years to come. Instead, Boozer left and received the ire of Clevelanders, which oddly enough was a foreshadowing of things to come for Cleveland.
4. Gilbert Arenas, 2001 31st overall pick, Golden State Warriors
Sure Arenas is now a shell of the man he used to be, but he was simply awesome. He didn’t only wow fans with his on-court play, but had an unmistakable infectious personality. Agent Zero. Hibachi. Lowering the oxygen levels in his house. His own NBA.com blog. Arenas was a media darling, but then he shot (pun intended) himself in the foot. The physical tools still seem to be there, but the mentals seems to be missing. Maybe a full season with the Magic will help him regain that former spark that once upon a time shone so brightly.
3. Monta Ellis, 2005 40th overall pick, Golden State Warriors
Over the past several seasons, Ellis has become the most unknown scoring threat in the NBA, much in the same way that Latrell Sprewell was. However, Ellis is due his respect, averaging 20+ points in three of the past four seasons and averaging 19.0 PPG that one year. While he is primarily a scorer and a respectable shooter for a guard (46.9 percent career field-goal percentage), Ellis can drop dimes (5.5 average the past two seasons) and rip rocks (2.2 over the past two). He’s only 25-years-old and has a lot more buckets to score. However, he’ll probably never get the recognition from the mainstream NBA fan.
2. Michael Redd, 2000 43rd overall pick, Milwaukee Bucks
The past few seasons for Redd have been hell as he’s been mired in the unwanted land of injury. He’s only played 61 total games the past three seasons, but for six seasons before that, he averaged 20+ points per contest. He was considered by some as the left-handed Ray Allen thanks to his sweet jumper. He may never be the same at this late point in his career, but Redd has already achieved a lot in the L, including helping the United States gain back its international props with a 2008 gold medal win.
1. Manu Ginobili, 1999 57th overall pick, San Antonio Spurs
Ginobili is part of the Spurs’ Big Three that won NBA championships in 2003, 2005 and 2007. He’s a notorious flopper that makes Vlade Divac yell at his television in disgrace when he watches Spurs games. However, there’s no denying the talent and fearlessness that Ginobili plays with when on the court. He doesn’t have any gaudy stats, but he produces across the board, a veritable jack-of-all-trades. Ginobili is the paragon of every late pick the Spurs have ever made that has succeeded.
Now, a few players projected to go in the second round this year that could someday find their way onto the list above:
- Keith Benson, Oakland: A big man that bloomed late. He can run the floor and finish on the break, is still a bit raw, but has shown some nice moves down in the post.
- Malcolm Lee, UCLA: Combo guard with length, quickness and good defensive instincts. He could produce better than first thought in the NBA as the more recent UCLA guards (Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday) have.
- Jeremy Tyler, Japan: Big man with big talent that left high school to play professionally overseas. He’s kind of an unknown, but his size and skills are enticing.
Don’t sleep on the second round, folks! And don’t sleep on the genius of Dennis’ Twitter either! HIBACHI!