Picking First In the Second

As the New Jersey Nets look to rebuild themselves from their disastrous 12-win season, a lot of to-do has been made about the fact that in addition to their lottery pick, the Nets also have a second first rounder, and the first pick in the second round, which some consider has the potential to be “as good as a first rounder.”

Or is it?

Obviously, draft picks are a good thing for a rebuilding team, and almost every single draft has a few gems or solid rotations players in the second round – but history has shown that there’s generally something off about the player picked with the first pick in the second round.  Since the draft lottery era, the pick has only yielded one player who’s appeared in an all-star game, while producing far more players who have only played in one or two NBA seasons. In many cases, the pick has yielded players who have never played a single NBA minute. So when looking at mock drafts and imagining how that 31st pick might look in the rotation next season, keep your expectations low Nets fans.

1985: Mike Smrek (25th Pick, Portland Trailblazers)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Manute Bol (31st Pick, Washington Bullets), Tyrone Corbin (35th Pick, San Antonio Spurs), John “Hot Rod” Williams (45th Pick, Cleveland Cavs), Gerald Wilkins (47th Pick, New York Knicks).

Analysis:  With some decent NBA players taken after him, Smrek was a back-up center who averaged 2.7 points in 9.7 minutes in his eight NBA seasons. He peaked in 1988-89 with the Spurs, where he appeared in 43 games and averaged 14.7 minutes per game, totaling 4.3 points and 3.0 rebounds. He also appeared in 10 playoff games for the 1986-87 NBA champion LA Lakers.

1986: Mark Price (25th Pick, Dallas Mavericks, traded to Cleveland Cavs)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Dennis Rodman (27th Pick, Detroit Pistons), Larry Krystkowiak (28th Pick, Chicago Bulls), Johnny Newman (29th Pick, Cleveland Cavs), Nate McMilan (30th Pick, Seattle Supersonics), Jeff Hornacek (46th Pick, Phoenix Suns).

Analysis: It’s quite the rarity to have two of the generation’s best players in Price and Rodman picked in the second round. Meanwhile, there were also some very useful rotation guys picked and an all-star in Hornacek. Price is one of the NBA’s best all-time shooters, with a career line of 40 percent on threes and 90 percent on free throws. He averaged 15.2 points and 6.7 assists in his 12 NBA seasons.

1987: Steve Alford (26th pick, Dallas Mavericks)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Vincent Askew (39th Pick, Philadelphia 76ers), Brad Lohaus (45th pick, Boston Celtics).

Analysis: Alford’s NBA career wasn’t much to write home about, playing in just four seasons and peaking in 1988-89 when he averaged 5.5 points in 66 games for the Mavs and the Warriors. He’s now the head coach for the University of New Mexico.

1988: Rolando Ferreira (26th Pick, Portland Trail Blazers)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Vinny Del Negro (29th Pick, Sacramento Kings), Grant Long (33rd Pick, Miami Heat), Vernon Maxwell (47th Pick, Denver Nuggets), Steve Kerr (50th Pick, Phoenix Suns).

Analysis: While Maxwell and Kerr went on to play solid roles with NBA Championship teams respectively in Houston and Chicago, Ferreira, the first Brazilian-born NBA player, only lasted one season and scored 9 points in 12 games.

1989: Sherman Douglas (28th Pick, Miami Heat)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Clifford Robinson (36th Pick, Portland Trail Blazers), Dino Radja (40th Pick, Boston Celtics), Chuck Brown (43rd Pick, Cleveland Cavaliers), Haywoode Workman (49th Pick, Atlanta Hawks)

Analysis: “The General” had a solid NBA career as a point guard, averaging 11 points and 5.9 assists in his 12 NBA seasons, peaking in his second year in Miami, when he averaged 18.5 points,. 8.5 assists and 1.7 steals. Clifford Robinson meanwhile, was one of the NBA’s best sixth men.

1990: Les Jepsen (28th Pick, Golden State Warriors)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Toni Kukoc (29th Pick, Chicago Bulls), AJ English (37th Pick, Washington Bullets),  Jud Buechler (38th Pick, Seattle Supersonics), Bimbo Coles (40th Pick, Sacramento Kings), Antonio Davis (45th Pick, Indiana Pacers), Cedric Ceballos (48th Pick, Phoenix Suns).

Analysis: 1990’s second round produced some decent role players and Toni Kukoc, who played a key role in the Bulls second three-peat. Les Jepsen was not one of those solid guys, lasting only two seasons as a sparingly used backup center. Jepsen was packaged with Mitch Richmond in a trade to Sacramento for undersized center Billy Owens.

1991: Kevin Lynch (28th Pick, Charlotte Hornets)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Mike Iuzzolino (35th Pick, Dallas Mavericks), Doug Overton (40th Pick, Detroit Pistons), Richard Dumas (46th Pick, Phoenix Suns).

Analysis: Kevin Lynch, like a majority of his second round brethren, only lasted a couple of seasons in the NBA and did little of value. I would like to note, however, that Iuzzolino was included in my favorite arcade game of all-time, NBA Jam.

1992: Marlon Maxey (28th Pick, Minnesota Timberwolves)

Notable second rounders chosen later: PJ Brown (29th Pick, New Jersey Nets), Sean Rooks (30th Pick, Dallas Mavericks), Reggie Smith (31st Pick, Portland Trail Blazers), Popeye Jones (41st Pick, Houston Rockets), Matt Geiger (42nd Pick, Miami Heat).

Analysis: Some solid second rounders here, including PJ Brown, a Nets pick who is probably the best of the bunch. Maxey, continuing a trend, lasted just two NBA seasons, playing in 98 games and averaging 4.9 points and 3.7 rebounds in his limited time.

1993: Lucious Harris (28th Pick, Dallas Mavericks)

Notable second rounders chosen afterwards:  Gheorghe Muresan, (30th Pick, Washington Bullets), Nick Van Exel (37th Pick, Los Angeles Lakers).

Analysis: Not a great second round, though Nick Van Exel was a steal for LA (the Nets bypassed him for John Best, who never played an NBA game). Harris meanwhile, lasted 12 seasons in the NBA and was a key bench player in the Nets back-to-back NBA Finals years in 2002 and 2003. For his career he averaged 7.2 points on 35 percent shooting from three. His best season came with the Nets in 2002-03 when he averaged 10.3 points per game.

1994: Deon Thomas (28th Pick, Dallas Mavericks)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Howard Eisely (30th Pick, Minnesota Timberwolves), Voshon Lenard (46th Pick, Milwaukee Bucks).

Analysis: Big Ten followers may have remembered Thomas for his role in a recruiting scandal at Illionis when he was allegedly recorded accepting  a car and cash from the university. He never played in a single NBA game.

1995: Lou Roe (30th Pick, Detroit Pistons)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Eric Snow (43rd Pick, Milwaukee Bucks)

Analysis: Another yucky year in the second round, Roe lasted two seasons in the NBA despite a promising college career. Snow went on to have a nice a NBA career, playing point for the 2001 Eastern Conference champs in Philadelphia.

1996: Othella Harrington (30th Pick, Houston Rockets)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Jeff McInnis (37th Pick, Denver Nuggets), Malik Rose (44th Pick, Charlotte Hornets)

Analysis: Harrington’s Georgetown PG teammate, Allen Iverson, was picked first overall.  Harrington’s 12 season NBA career saw him come off the bench for the majority of it, though he did start 82 games for 99-00 Vancouver Grizzlies. He averaged 13.1 points and 6.9 rebounds that season and 7.4 ppg and 4.4 rpg for his career. What’s more interesting are the players who went undrafted the season, including Ben Wallace.

1997: Serge Zwikker (30th Pick, Houston Rockets)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Marc Jackson (38th Pick, Golde State Warriors), Anthony Johnson (40th Pick, Sacramento Kings), Stephen Jackson (43rd Pick, Phoenix Suns)

Analysis: Stephen Jackson seems to be the biggest start of this second round, but the first pick of the second round was another bust. Zwikker may have made a name for himself backing up Rasheed Wallace at UNC, but he hasn’t logged a single minute in the NBA.

1998: Ansu Sesay (30th Pick, Golden State Warriors)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Ruben Patterson (31st Pick, Los Angeles Lakers), Rashard Lewis (32nd Pick, Seattle Supersonics), Rafer Alston (39th Pick, Milwaukee Bucks), Cuttino Mobley (41st Pick, Houston Rockets).

Analysis: Sesay’s career was marred with injuries and questions about his attitude, resulting in four professional seasons for the 6’9” forward, where he averaged 3.2 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Rashard Lewis is a former all-star, while Alston started at PG for an NBA Finals team.

1999: John Celestand (30th Pick, Los Angeles Lakers)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Todd MacCulloch (47th Pick, Philadelphia 76ers), Rodney Buford (53rd Pick, Miami Heat), Manu Ginobili (57th Pick, San Antonio Spurs).

Analysis: I think it’s pretty easy to see who the steal of the second round was. Celestand at least was able to retire with an NBA ring to his credit, but the 6’4” guard from New Jersey only played 16 games for the Lakers in their 99-00 season and hasn’t been heard from in the NBA since.

2000: Marko Jaric (30th Pick, Los Angeles Clippers)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Eddie House (37th Pick, Miami Heat), Eduardo Najera (38th Pick, Houston Rockets), Michael Redd (43rd Pick, Milwaukee Bucks).

Analysis:  What is considered by many to be one of the worst drafts in NBA history actually produced a fair share of solid NBA ballers in the second round including an all-star in Redd and Eddie House, a valuable part of the 2008 Boston Celtics championship team. Jaric lasted seven years in the NBA, where he averaged 7.1 points, 3.6 assists and 2.7 rebounds.

2001: Trenton Hassell (30th Pick, Chicago Bulls)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Gilbert Arenas (31st Pick, Golden State Warriors), Brian Scalabrine (35th Pick, New Jersey Nets), Mehmet Okur (38th Pick, Detroit Pistons), Bobby Simmons (42nd Pick, Seattle Supersonics).

Analysis: It’s hard enough to get one all-star in the second round, but 2001 produced two in Arenas and Okur, along with a Most Improved Player in Simmons and a guy who’s nicknamed “veal” in Scalabrine. Makes grabbing Hassell seem like a busted pick, but Tennesseee has held up longer than many other second rounder first picks, primarily making a name for himself as a defensive stopper. He’s made it through 10 seasons in the NBA and has been a true professional on some lousy teams in the swamp the past three seasons, earning him some brownie points from this writer.

2002: Steve Logan (30th Pick, Golden State Warriors)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Roger Mason (31st Pick, Chicago Bulls), Carlos Boozer (35th Pick, Cleveland Cavs), Ronald Murray (42nd Pick, Milwaukee Bucks), Matt Barnes (46th Pick, Memphis Grizzlies), Luis Scola (56th Pick, San Antonio Spurs).

Analysis:  I bet the team that’s going to offer Boozer a max contract this summer wishes they could have just plucked him in the second round, right? Logan was a 5’10” point guard who never appeared in an NBA game and has spent more time arguing for a contract than playing ball. So, he’s a bust.

2003: Maciej Lampe (30th Pick, New York Knicks)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Jason Kapono (31st Pick, Cleveland Cavs), Luke Walton (32nd Pick, Los Angeles Lakers), Zaza Pachulia (42nd Pick, Orlando Magic), Mo Williams (47th Pick, Utah Jazz).

Analysis:  Despite being the youngest player in Phoenix Suns history to appear in a game, Lampe has had an undistinguished five year career where he’s totaled 3.4 points and 2.2 rebounds despite bring projected as a lottery pick for some. Meanwhile, Mo Williams is yet another all-star to fall into the second round.

2004: Anderson Varejao (31st Pick, Orlando Magic)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Chris Duhon (39th Pick, Chicago Bulls), Trevor Ariza (44th Pick, New York Knicks).

Analysis: One of the few cases where this pick has yielded probably the best player of the second round. Varejao has made a living being a pain in the neck to opposing teams. After being drafted by the Magic, he was traded to Cleveland where he’s played his entire career, averaging 7.0 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 52 percent from the floor.

2005: Salim Stoudamire (31t Pick, Atlanta Hawks)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Brandon Bass (33rd Pick, New Orleans Hornets), Monta Ellis (40th Pick, Golden State Warriors), Lou Williams (45th Pick, Philadelphia 76ers), Andray B latche (49th Pick, Washington Wizards), Amir Johnson (56th Pick, Detroit Pistons).

Analysis: This seems more like it. Though Stoudamire wasn’t terrible, he only lasted three seasons in the NBA, averaging 8.0 points per game, shooting 37 percent on threes.  Meanwhile, there are some nice players drafted later, including Monta Williams.

2006: James White (31st Pick, Portland Trail Blazers)

Notable second rounders chosen later:  Daniel Gibson (42nd Pick, Cleveland Cavs), Paul Millsap (47th Pick, Utah Jazz), Leon Powe (49th Pick, Denver Nuggets).

Analysis: White has had a hard luck career, getting traded to the Pacers, then cut, picked up by the Spurs and then sent to the D-League. He made his NBA debut in 2007 with the Spurs, appearing in six games before being cut and never seen in the NBA again.

2007: Carl Landry (31st Pick, Seattle Supersonics)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Glen Davis (35th Pick, Seattle Supersonics), Marc Gasol (48th Pick, Los Angeles Lakers).

Analysis: While some may prefer Big Baby or Gasol, Landry is off to a good start in his NBA career and is coming off his best season in 2009-10 where he averaged 16.1 points and 5.5 rebounds in 52 games with the Rockets before being traded to the Kings where he averaged 18.0 points and 6.5 rebounds for the remainder of the season.

2008: Nikola Pekovic (31st Pick, Minnesota Timberwolves)

Notable second rounders chosen later: Mario Chalmers (34th Pick, Minnesota Timberwolves), Chris Douglas-Roberts (40th Pick, New Jersey Nets), Sean Singletary (42nd Pick, Sacramento Kings).

Analysis: Well, any second round with CDR automatically makes it the greatest second round ever, right? Oh, I kid the CDR defenders. Pekovic hasn’t played in the NBA yet due to a contract dispute with his current team in Europe, but he is expected to make the jump over this coming season. At 6’11”, some draft experts say he has top 10 talent.

2009: Jeff Pendergraph (31st Pick, Sacramento Kings)

Notable second rounders chosen later: DeJaun Blair (37th Pick, San Antonio Spurs), Jonas Jerebko (39th Pick, Detroit Pistons).

Analysis: Obviously hard to judge after one season with most of these guys. Pendergraph’s draft rights were traded to the Blazers, where he played in 39 games and started 4, averaging 2.7 points and 2.4 rebounds.