Unlike baseball and football, the NBA does not have countless rounds after rounds dedicated to drafting the next crop of professional sports talent. The NBA draft consists of only two rounds each year. And with only two rounds to pick players from the entire college basketball system, as well as the whole overseas market of players, it can be assured that every player taken in the NBA draft is a talented prospect with serious potential to have a long career in the NBA. That being said, no matter how hard it is for a prospect to be drafted into the NBA, it is pretty common for fans to overlook players drafted in the second round. The second round often consists of very good college players and overseas young players that could make a difference in the next 3-5 years. However, sadly and more often than not, players drafted in the second round never make it to be household names and find themselves on no team's NBA roster in October.
But not every player taken in the second round of the NBA draft has been a bust. In fact, there have been plenty of players drafted in the second round who have become solid NBA rotational players, All-Stars, and even NBA legends.
You most likely won't even remember what year these guys were drafted, but they were all taken as afterthoughts in the second round of an NBA draft and they all turned out to be better than expected. Sit back, relax and enjoy as you check out the top 15 NBA Second Round Draft Picks.
29 Toni Kukoc
Toni Kukoc was drafted in the 1990 draft as the 29th pick in the 2nd round. He was drafted way behind some well known NBA players like Derrick Coleman, Gary Payton and Jayson Williams, but Toni was easily the best value pick in this draft. The 6'11 Croatian lefty was as multi-dimensional of a player as you could find in the 90's. Toni could shoot from distance, make plays for others, and finish at the rim. Toni's awards as a player are quite impressive. He was a 3 time NBA champion with the Bulls in 1996-1998, the NBA 6th Man of the Year in 1996, and MVP of the 1990 FIBA World Championship. Toni's time in the NBA was highlighted by his great years with the Chicago Bulls when he played with another player that made this list. Any guesses? Toni's career averages of 11.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game are good enough to land him the #15 spot on this list.
27 Michael Redd
Redd was the 43rd pick in the 2000 NBA draft and was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks. That means that players like Marcus Fizer and Darius Miles were drafted before him. Redd made a name for himself in the NBA with his ability to light up the scoreboard with his deadly 3 point shots from all over the court. Although he never won many awards, Redd was able to tally some seriously impressive seasons scoring the ball. During the 2006-2007 season, Redd averaged 26.7 points per game. Pretty impressive for a second round draft pick out of Ohio State.
25 Gilbert Arenas
Due to his off the court antics, Gilbert's career ended quicker than it maybe should have, but his years in the NBA were quite impressive-especially for someone drafted with the 31st pick in the 2001 NBA draft. The 3 time NBA All-Star and the NBA's most improved player in 2003 was the leagues deadliest scoring point guard in the NBA from 2004-2007. Averaging 25+ points per game during his prime, Arenas put the Washington Wizards back on the map and into NBA relevancy. Arenas has recently made news for breaking into Lakers guard Nick Young's house and playing a prank on him. Not too shocking for those familiar with the Arena's saga. Nevertheless, the guy was a hell of a players and proved that being anyone picked in the NBA draft can be a star.
23 Marc Gasol
In the same draft night that the NBA saw Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, and Greg Oden get drafted in the first round, Marc Gasol slipped to the 48th overall pick in the 2007 draft. Destined to make a name for himself in the NBA and no longer live under the shadow of his older brother Pau's success, Marc chose defense as his NBA calling card. The 2013 NBA Defensive Player of the Year has solidified himself in the NBA as a premier defensive center. Not for his shot blocking, but more for his ability to run a defense, get defensive rebounds, and control the paint with his size and body positioning. Gasol is also more than just a defender. He has never averaged less than 10 points per game in a season, and had a career best average of 17.4 points per game during the 2014-2015 season. Gasol will never put up the staggering numbers that his big brother has in the NBA, but he has certainly made a name for himself in the NBA and proven his worth as the 48th pick in the draft. Not to mention, the $110 million dollar contract he received from the Memphis Grizzlies in 2015 is a pretty nice payment for his services.
21 Nick Van Exel
Van Exel played 13 great seasons in the NBA after being drafted with the 37th overall pick in the 1993 draft. Known for his 3 point shooting and ability to score in bunches, Van Exel was a scoring threat as soon as he entered the NBA-averaging 13.6 points per game as a rookie. Van Excel was a career 36% 3 point shooter, and a lefty stroke that pierced nets across the league, He was able to a average 21.4 points and 8.1 assists during the 2001-2002 season. Van Exel never was able to win a championship as a player, but he could still win one as a coach as he has begun coaching in the NBA and is currently an assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies.
19 Carlos Boozer
Basketball fans in Utah will remember when Carlos Boozer was one of the most feared forwards in the league. Drafted with the 35th overall pick in the 2002 draft, Boozer was instantly effective in the NBA. His quickness to the rim and his ability to shoot 15 foot high arcing jump shots with accuracy made him a tough cover for most big men in the NBA. During his prime, Boozer was a stat stuffing machine for the Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls. His lack of defensive efforts and declining athleticism led to a pathetic exit from the league in 2015, but needless to say, Boozer was a stud for the majority of his career. Career averages of 16.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game make him a lock for this list of the NBA's best second rounders.
17 Mark Price
Mark Price was about as pure of a shooter that has ever player in the NBA, and he has the stats to prove it. During the 1988-1989 season, Price was the first player since Larry Bird to shoot 90% from the free throw line, 50% from the field, and 40% from the 3 point line. Price was a 4 time NBA All-Star and a 2 time NBA 3 Point Champion. After being drafted out of Georgia Tech by the Dallas Mavericks in 1986 during the 2nd round (25th pick overall), Price managed to put together 12 strong seasons and finished his NBA career averaging 15.2 points per game in the regular season, and 17.4 points per game in the playoffs. Like many other former great NBA players, Price is now a head coach. He most recently was the head coach of the Charlotte 49ers in 2015. Additional props to Price for having his #25 jersey retired by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1999.
15 Gus Williams
Gus Williams may be one of the most under talked about players in NBA history. The 6'2 Williams was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 1975 and was named to the NBA All Rookie team that season. Williams was a two time NBA All-Star. More impressive than that, he was an NBA champion. The man who was nicknamed "The Wizard" led his team, the Seattle SuperSonics to the 1979 NBA title by averaging an outrageous 28.6 points per game during the finals. Williams finished his career with career averages of 17.1 points, 5.6 assists, and 2 steals per game. Those numbers were good enough to have his number, #1, retired by the Seattle SuperSonics in 2004.
13 Dennis Johnson
Johnson was the 29th overall pick in the 1976 draft. He was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics and at the time no one had any idea that he would become the player that he did. The 3 time NBA champion (1979, 1984, 1986) and one time Finals MVP in 1979 was a defensive stud and was no scrub when it came to scoring either. Johnson has career averages of 15 points, 5 assists, and almost 2 steals a game. In 2010 he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and in his #3 jersey has been retired by the Boston Celtics.
11 Draymond Green
Not many people would have predicted that a undersized big man from Michigan State that was picked in the second round of the NBA draft could not only be a superstar, but help revolutionize how the entire league creates their lineups. As the 35th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Green watched as players named Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, and even Festus Ezeli were picked before him. In only four years in the NBA, Green has become maybe the most versatile big man in the NBA. He can rebound very effectively, bring the ball up the court, facilitate his team's offense, shoot three pointers with accuracy, and defend almost any position with ease. Green won his first NBA championship in 2015 with the Golden State Warriors and the splash brothers (Steph Curry and Klay Thompson) and if not for a Game 7 late three pointer from the Cleveland Cavalier's Kyrie Irving, Green (who played tremendously-32 points and 15 rebounds in Game 7) would have had himself a second ring and possibly even a Finals MVP award. At only 26 years old, Green has a lot of time to keep doing his thing, and hopefully move up on this list as time goes on.
9 Maurice Cheeks
Solid defense and the will to win. That is how most people remember Mo' Cheeks. Cheeks was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1978 with the 36th overall pick. Cheeks was a pesty defender that always seemed to have a knack for stealing the ball from your favorite player. During his 15 years in the NBA, Cheeks totaled 2,310 steals (about 2.1 a game). He was a 4 time NBA All-Star and a 4 time All Defensive player during the 80's. Most recently Cheeks has worked as an assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
7 Manu Ginobili
Ginobili is arguably the greatest sixth man of all time, although he has only won the award once in 2008. The 4 time NBA champion and 2 time NBA All-Star was drafted with the 57th overall pick in the 1999 draft. Coming straight from Argentina, Ginobili joined the San Antonio Spurs where he would team up with NBA legends Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Although always happy to play a sixth man role, Ginobili was never shy of putting up big numbers. During his prime years of 2004-2011, Ginobili almost always averaged 15+ points per game, and was always playing a large role on a dominant Spurs team. In 2015 the trio of Ginobili, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker became the most winning-est trio in NBA history when they achieved 541 wins together. That number has since grown and that record seems like it will stand for quite a while.
5 Dennis Rodman
Everyone remembers Dennis Rodman, but not everyone remembers his path to the NBA. Rodman, who grew up with family issues, was not considered to be a great NBA talent coming out of Southern Oklahoma State University (a small NAIA school). Nevertheless, the Detroit Pistons saw him at a pre-draft camp, and with the 27th overall pick in the 1986 draft, Dennis Rodman became an NBA player. Rodman was unlike any player that the NBA had ever seen. On the court he was a rebounding and defensive machine. He was a 2 time defensive player of the year, 5 time NBA champion, and 7 time NBA rebounding champion. How great was Rodman at rebounding? During the 1991 season with the Detroit Pistons, he averaged 18.7 rebounds per game! Two championships with the Detroit Pistons and three more with the Chicago Bulls makes Rodman an all time NBA legend, which was further proved when we was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
3 Alex English
Drafted with the 23rd pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1976 draft, English was a scoring machine that took the NBA by storm in the early 80's. Early in his career he was forced to play behind NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar, however after leaving the Bucks in free agency in 1978, English instantly showed the league that he was the real deal. From 1980-1989, English's points per game went as follows: 21.3, 23.8, 25.4, 28.4, 26.4, 27.9, 29.8, 28.6, 25.0, 26.5. Consistently managing to put up those scoring numbers is similar to what what current NBA fans are seeing players like Kevin Durant and James Harden do on a nightly basis. English's career may be overlooked since he was never able to win a championship, but it is hard to ignore anyone that could score the way English did. To this day, English remains the Denver Nuggets all time scoring leader.
1 Willis Reed
Winning multiple NBA Finals MVP awards (1970 & 1973) will automatically make you an NBA legend, and doing so after being drafted in the 2nd round (although he was the 8th overall pick) makes the story even better. The 7 time NBA All-Star is a New York Knick legend. Drafted by the Knicks in 1964, Reed made an instant impact in the NBA. In his rookie season, Reed scored 46 points in a game against the Lakers, it was the second highest scoring outing for a Knicks rookie at the time. He only played 10 seasons in the NBA, but he made the most of them. His career averages are 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds per game. Not bad for a 6'9 power forward/center. In 1996 Reed was named to the 50 Greatest Players of All Time list. Reed is the perfect example on why you can never discount someone simply because of their draft order.
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