In 2011, 59 NBA hopefuls were selected ahead of current star point guard Isaiah Thomas. In 1999, four time champion, potential NBA Hall of Famer, and guaranteed bald spot Hall of Famer, Manu Ginobili, had to hear 56 names called on draft day before he was picked. How do NBA scouts and GM’s consistently draft players like Anthony Bennett and Kwame Brown, yet miss out on talented prospects like Thomas and Ginobli?.
To pay respect to these once underappreciated athletes, here are the best possible starting lineups comprised of second round picks from each draft class since 2000. Which five draft classes had the most talented second round picks?
PG: Mo Williams: 47th overall pick (17.4 PPG 2006-09)
While LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh hogged all of the spotlight during this draft, the 2013 second rounders are no chumps. LeBron fans who claim that the “King” never had any help in his first tenure in Cleveland seem to ignore the fact that Mo Williams was a talented point guard and an All Star in his 2008-09 season.
SG: Willie Green: 41st overall pick (career 8.3 PPG)
While his name may sound like a rare and frightening STD, Green actually had a very solid NBA career. He was a double digit scorer twice, and could be an excellent complement to Mo Williams in the backcourt.
SF: Kyle Korver: 51st overall pick (fourth all-time in three-point field goals made)
Even at 36 years old, Korver is still a huge threat from deep. He is perhaps the most stereotypical white basketball player of all time, but a legendary shooter off the catch for sure.
PF: Zaza Pachulia: 42nd overall pick (career 7.0 PPG 5.9 RPG)
Zaza can play underneath while Bonner cashes threes from outside. He has never been stellar, but the overflowing support he gets from his home country of Georgia in the form of all star votes the last couple of years makes him endearing. He also has championship experience.
C: Matt Bonner: 45th overall pick (career 41.4% 3P%)
As a seven footer, Bonner is one of the pioneer big men being dangerous beyond the arc. Paired with Korver, this combo is a much more awkward, yet perhaps equally dangerous, version of the “Splash Brothers.”
2003 First Round Busts: The Infamous Darko Milicic (2nd overall pick, 10 seasons 6.0 PPG), Reece Gaines (15th overall pick, 71 GP 1.7 PPG), and Troy Bell (16th overall pick, 6 GP 1.8 PPG).
PG: Mario Chalmers: 34th overall pick (career 8.9 PPG 35.3% 3P%)
Chalmers is a solid offensive threat, and was a super valuable, irreplaceable, integral member of those Miami Heat championship teams. And ever since his miracle buzzer-beater at Kansas, Chalmers will always be known as a clutch player.
SG: Goran Dragic: 45th overall pick (17.3 PPG 4.9 APG in 2017-18)
Dragic is the piece that makes this lineup work. In his 2013-14 and 2016-17 seasons, Dragic averaged over 20 points per game. Beyond that, he is also a skilled passer who can run the offense and feed the two monsters down low.
SF: Luc Mbah a Moute: 37th overall pick (career 6.3 PPG 4.2 RPG)
Mbah a Moute was probably passed up on in 2008 because owners refused to hear David Stern try to pronounce his name, but he is a lengthy athlete who can play stellar defense.
PF: Nikola Pekovic: 31st overall pick (career 6.7 RPG 0.6 BPG)
Perhaps the strongest defensive team on this list, the 2008 second rounders would rely on their size and strength. Pekovic can rebound and create in the post.
C: DeAndre Jordan: 35th overall pick (14.2 RPG 1.7 BPG since 2013)
Between Jordan and Pekovic, scoring inside on this team is a frightening endeavor. Jordan is one of the few dominant traditional centers left in the league.
2008 First Round Busts: Joe Alexander (8th overall pick, 67 GP 4.2 PPG), J.R. Giddens (30th overall pick, 38 GP 1.9 PPG).
PG: Isaiah Thomas: 60th overall pick (career 19.1 PPG 5.1 APG)
I.T. was famously selected with the very last pick in this 2011 draft class, yet the All-Star point guard is not the only talented player in this lineup.
SG: E’Twaun Moore: 55th overall pick (13.1 PPG in 2017-18)
The other member of this lineups backcourt, Moore, has recently transformed himself into a much better scorer.
SF: Chandler Parsons: 38th overall pick (career 13.3 PPG 4.7 RPG)
Parsons is an overpaid yet respectable scorer who can take some of the weight off of Isaiah’s surprisingly broad shoulders.
PF: Bojan Bogdanovic: 31st overall pick (career 11.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG)
Bogdanovic is a talented shooter who can spread apart the defense, and knock down the deep ball (38.5% 3PTFG% in 2017-18).
C: Jon Leuer: 40th overall pick (10.2 PPG 5.4 RPG in 2016-17)
Leuer is a serviceable big man who has shown flashes of promise. At the very least, he is a big body down low who can grab boards.
2011 First Round Busts: Nolan Smith (21st overall pick, 84 GP 3.3 PPG) and JaJuan Johnson (27th overall pick, 36 GP 3.2 PPG).
PG: Lou Williams: 45th overall pick (career 13.4 PPG)
Williams is one of four career double digit scorers in this lineup. At 31 years old, he’s currently averaging a career high 23.3 points per game and has emerged as one of the focal points of the Clippers offense.
SG: Monta Ellis: 40th overall pick (career 17.8 PPG)
Before the Warriors were the Warriors, the backcourt of Curry and Ellis were lighting things up in the Golden State. Ellis unfortunately missed out on being part of a dynasty, but he was a prolific scorer for 12 seasons.
SF: C.J. Miles: 34th overall pick (41.3 3PTFG% in 2016-17)
Miles also adds a threat from deep. The left-handed sharpshooter is so confident that in Indiana he infamously trusted himself to take the last shot over a four-time All Star and franchise player.
PF: Ersan Ilyasova: 36th overall pick (career 11.0 PPG)
The man called “Turkish Thunder” according to Basketball Reference, Ilyasova came into the league as a 19-year-old. He has since turned into a very solid and reliable NBA power forward.
C: Marcin Gortat: 57th overall pick (10.3 PPG)
A frontcourt composed of “Turkish Thunder” and “The Polish Hammer” conjures up images an Eastern European Thor. I don’t particularly know what that would look like, but I certainly wouldn’t want to go up against it.
2005 First Round Busts: Fran Varquez (11th overall pick, 0 NBA minutes), Yaroslav Korolev (12th overall pick, 34 GP 1.1 PPG), and Julius Hodge (20th overall pick, 23 GP 1.2 PPG)
PG: Will Barton: 40th overall pick (13.9 PPG 5.0 RPG 3.3 APG from 2015-18)
Despite a slow start to his young career, Will Barton is turning into something impressive. In his seventh season, Barton has tripled his scoring average since his rookie year.
SG: Khris Middleton: 39th overall pick (17.2 PPG 4.3 RPG 3.9 APG in 2015-18)
Though he has been plagued with injuries in his young career, Middleton has proven to be an underappreciated star player when healthy.
SF: Jae Crowder: 34th overall pick (12.2 PPG 4.7 RPG 1.7 APG 2015-18)
Crowder’s career has been full of ups and downs. But despite a few very solid years in Boston, he did not do enough to earn himself a video tribute.
PF: Draymond Green: 35th overall pick (11.8 PPG 8.4 RPG 7.3 APG 2015-2018)
A two-time All Star and NBA champion, Draymond is the best player in this lineup and arguably the best second round pick on this list. As an additional value, if things get out of hand and you need an opposing player to get kicked in the groin, Draymond is your guy.
C: Kyle O’Quinn: 49th overall pick (7.0 PPG 6.0 RPG 59.7% FG%)
All three of those figures above are career-bests for O’Quinn. The young center is a big body whose career is trending upwards.
2012 First Round Busts: Royce White (16th overall pick, 9 minutes played, 0 points), and Jared Cunningham (24th overall pick, 84 GP, 2.3 PPG).