With the NBA Draft quickly approaching, it is always nice to go back and see where the players that are in the league today got drafted in their respected year in which they were drafted in. I always am interested in looking back and seeing where a team went wrong with their pick, and seeing who they missed out on that has been a serious talent in the NBA. It is always nice to look back and to be able to critique general managers on how they have drafted prospects to try and help make their team better for the future. Even better when the prospect they draft is still on the team after their rookie contract is expired.
My favorite pick to look at in the NBA Draft is hands down the number two overall pick. They are guys that have the talent that could be the potential number one overall pick, but were selected at the number two overall pick. Some of these players selected at number two were better than the player that was drafted before them at number one, others struggled with being able to compare to the player that was drafted before them. The past fifteen years (2002-2016) there have been some great all-around players that have been drafted at the number two slot, and there have been some serious busts that have come out of the number two slot. Here are my rankings of the previous 15 players that were taking number two overall in their respective drafts.
15 Jay Williams (2002)
Jay Williams was drafted after Yao Ming in the 2002 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls. The former Duke Blue Devil had all the potential upside entering the league, and had an ok rookie season. In 75 games he averaged 9.5 PPG, while adding 2.6 RPG, and 4.7 APG which are alright numbers for a rookie season, but he was not so lucky after his rookie season. In June of 2003 Jay Williams got into a motorcycle accident that basically ended his professional basketball career before it even got the chance to take off. He suffered a severe nerve damage in his leg, which included a fractured pelvis, three dislocated ligaments in his left knee including the ACL. He will always play the “what if” game on what could have been a successful NBA career.
14 Hasheem Thabeet (2009)
Man did Memphis miss big time when they drafted Hasheem Thabeet second overall in the 2009 NBA draft. The Memphis Grizzlies passed on James Harden, Stephen Curry and other prospects that were available in the draft in 2009. Thabeet bounced around from 2009 to 2014 by having short stints with Memphis, Houston, Portland, and Oklahoma City. He played in over 60 games only twice in his five-year career, and put up some embarrassing stats for his career. His career numbers were 2.2 PPG, while adding 2.7 RPG in his 224 games that he played in the NBA. Thabeet has been one of the biggest busts in NBA history, and was the first and only player that was drafted from Tanzania. He was one of those tall players that just could not find his groove in the NBA.
13 Darko Milicic (2003)
Detroit really swung and missed when they drafted Darko Milicic number two overall in the 2003 NBA Draft. In a class that was very heavy and had the likes of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony, Detroit really messed up with this selection. Even though the Pistons won the NBA Finals in 2004, and Milicic happened to be on that team, he didn’t contribute on a consistent basis. Darko played 10 seasons in the NBA, and played for six different teams (Detroit, Orlando, Memphis, New York, Minnesota, and Boston). He could not find a home in the NBA, and his play wasn’t great enough for him to continue to have a spot on an NBA roster. Milicic appeared in 468 games while averaging 6.0 PPG, and 4.2 RPG, while the others that were drafted after him (Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade) have gone on to have successful careers.
12 Derrick Williams (2011)
Derrick Williams was taken second overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2011 NBA Draft. He has bounced around in his six-year career so far as he has played for Minnesota, Sacramento, New York, Miami, and Cleveland (which he plays for currently). Williams has not found his groove so to say at the NBA level as he has yet to stay on a consistent team for longer than two years. When he was at the University of Arizona he was one of the best players at the collegiate level, and since entering the pros he has struggled to put a solid season together. In his six seasons in the NBA he is averaging 8.9 PPG, while adding 4.0 RPG, and it doesn’t help that he has not played well enough where a team has wanted to keep him since the 2012-13 season.
11 Brandon Ingram (2016)
Ingram was drafted number two overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2016 NBA Draft. He has not lived up to the comparisons that he was getting coming out of Duke, and his numbers have myself to believe that he is going to struggle tremendously at the professional level. In his rookie campaign he averaged 9.4 PPG, with 4.0 RPG, while shooting 40 percent from the field and 29 percent from three. He was a 41 percent three-point shooter his one year at Duke, and he struggled with his jump shot all year long. Ingram still has plenty of time to turn things around, as he is still only 19 years old, but the way that he played this season has made myself think that he will not be able to live up to the expectations in which he received before even playing a game.
10 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2012)
The former Kentucky wildcat was the second Kentucky player taken off the board in the 2012 NBA Draft when the then known as the Charlotte Bobcats drafted Michael Kidd-Gilchrist second overall. Having been teammates with Anthony Davis at Kentucky it really made you have to think about how good was Kidd-Gilchrist actually. In his five years in the NBA he has played in 283 and started in 279 of them. For his career numbers, he is averaging 9.1 PPG, while adding 6.4 RPG. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has shown flashes of potential every now and then, but he has struggled to be able to put together a season full of his potential. He still is only 23 years old and has time left to branch out his game and finish with a solid career, he just has to put in the extra work.
9 Emeka Okafor (2004)
Emeka Okafor was taken with the second overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Bobcats (who are now the Charlotte Hornets). If Okafor was healthy his whole career you could see how gifted that he really was. You saw it from 2007-2010 as he only missed one game in those three seasons and put up solid numbers that he was expected to put up. When he was not healthy his numbers slipped a little bit, but not significantly. In his 9 seasons in the NBA Okafor averaged 12.3 PPG, while adding 9.9 RPG. If he was healthy for the majority of his career he would be higher on this list because of the impact that he made on the floor, but unfortunately, we will never know how truly dominant he could have been in the NBA.
8 D’Angelo Russell (2015)
The Los Angeles Lakers selected D’Angelo Russell second overall in the 2015 NBA Draft. He is the future of the Lakers Organization, and has been so far so good for the Lakers. Yes, they haven’t played in the post season yet without him, but he is going to be one of the leaders of the Lakers for the future. He has been one of the bright spots for the Lakers, besides the whole incident between him and Nick Young from his rookie season. In his two years in the league Russell is averaging 15.6 PPG, while adding 3.5 RPG, and 4.0 APG. Those are some consistent numbers on a team in the rebuilding phase, and expect them to get even better once he has played his whole career through. Look for Russell to help lead the Lakers to the promise land in the near years to come.
7 Jabari Parker (2014)
Imagine what Jabari Parker’s numbers would look like if he could stay healthy for a full season. I am sure Milwaukee is thinking the exact same thing right now as we speak. With that being said Parker was drafted number two overall in 2014 by the Milwaukee Bucks, and has the potential to become a superstar in this league. He just needs to find a way to stay on the floor, as he has had the worst luck since entering the NBA. Jabari has had two surgeries on the same left knee since entering the league and you can’t help but to feel bad for him. In his three seasons Jabari has played in 152 games while averaging 15.8 PPG, while adding 5.6 RPG to go along with it. If healthy Parker could have been higher on this list, but let us see if he can turn his luck around for the rest of his career.
6 Michael Beasley (2008)
Michael Beasley was drafted by the Miami Heat in the 2008 NBA Draft with the number two pick. Unfortunately, his time in Miami didn’t work out, as he only lasted two seasons before being traded to Minnesota for draft picks to clear up cap space for the Heat to sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh in the 2010 offseason. Beasley showed a great scoring ability from time to time and is still a big reason why he is in the league today.
He has played nine seasons in the NBA and has played for Miami, Minnesota, Phoenix, went back to Miami, then left for China to only come back to Miami later on that year, to go back to China the year after only to sign with Houston, then got traded to Milwaukee. In his nine-year career Beasley is averaging 12.6 PPG, while adding 4.7 RPG, which are solid numbers and what a few years left in his tank look for him to try and add on to them.
5 Evan Turner (2010)
One of those draft picks that makes you shake your heads because you can’t tell if he is good or not. None the less Evan Turner was drafted number two in the 2010 NBA Draft, as has been a consistent solid player even though his numbers are not anywhere near what people thought their numbers were going to be in the NBA. The seven-year veteran small forward/point guard has played for four teams in his career (Philadelphia, Indiana, Boston and Portland), and has been a consistent role player or starter for every single team in his tenure with them. In his seven years, he is averaging 10.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 5.0 APG, which are good for a guy who splits time between small forward and point guard as weird as that sounds. Turner does the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet which are huge for coaches in the league today.
4 Marvin Williams (2005)
Marvin Williams to some people is labeled as a bust, but to me he is one of the most underrated players since entering the league in 2005. The former North Carolina Tar Heel was drafted by Atlanta second overall in the 2005 NBA Draft. He came into the league as a 19-year-old and did not make the impact that many expected him to make, but he has been a consistent role player throughout his whole career. Yes, he has not carried a franchise during his career, but he has been an all-around talent for Atlanta, Utah, and Charlotte. In his 12-year career, he is averaging 10.6 PPG, while adding 5.3 RPG which are solid numbers for the role that he has played throughout his career.
Williams who is now 30 years old was a huge part of Atlanta turning their team around, and helped Utah and Charlotte make the playoffs at least once.
3 Victor Oladipo (2013)
Victor Oladipo has been a solid player since entering the NBA in 2013, and he was drafted by the Orlando Magic second overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. He was/ still is the best player to come out of the 2013 NBA Draft and his numbers and style of play can prove that statement. He has played four seasons in the NBA and for his career he is averaging 15.9 PPG, while adding 4.4 RPG, and 3.7 APG. Coming out of college he was the best prospect at perimeter defense, and still is a top ten defender in the league today. His defensive skills don’t get much appraisal, but he has been one of the most consistent underrated lockdown defenders since he has entered the league. Look for Oladipo to show how good he truly is with the amount of years that he has left in him.
2 LaMarcus Aldridge (2006)
The Chicago Bulls will forever regret the trade that sent Aldridge to the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2006 NBA Draft. LaMarcus Aldridge has been a solid and consistent player in the league since 2008. Once he got the starting role in Portland he took off, since then he is a five-time all-star and changed the basketball culture for the Portland Trail Blazers. In his 11 year career, he is averaging 19.1 PPG, while adding 8.3 RPG, and those numbers for the majority are from when he was the number one option in Portland. Aldridge averaged more than 21.0 PPG for five straight years, and has been a great scoring option throughout his whole career. Now in San Antonio he doesn’t have to be the only guy scoring, but he doesn’t struggle with the second option role he is striving with it.
1 Kevin Durant (2007)
The hands down best number two overall pick in not only the past 15 seasons, but potentially the best number two overall pick of all time. Kevin Durant was drafted by the then known as Seattle Supersonics (Oklahoma City Thunder) in the 2007 NBA Draft, and man oh man does that franchise look at that pick and say are we happy we did not screw that pick up. Durant is a former NBA MVP (2013-2014) 8-time all-star, and a former rookie of the year. In his ten-year career, he is averaging 27.2 PPG, while adding 7.2 RPG and 3.8 APG. He is looking for that illustrious ring that he so much deserves/desires, with the signing of Golden State this previous offseason. Durant will be one of the best from this generation.