7 of the Best Second-Round Picks in NBA Draft History

It is a habit for NBA fans, teams, and pundits alike to put too much value on the draft lottery. Because of that, there is great value put on earning a lottery pick, and even tanking to get the pick in the process. Good teams, however, have a knack for finding talent regardless of their draft position. The Spurs excel at it. So do the Warriors. While the lottery picks get all the glory in the NBA draft, the second-round picks often steal the show once their careers begin. These are some of the greatest second-rounders in the history of the NBA.

Draymond Green

Although Draymond Green has never really been the first or second option on a basketball team, his value on both ends of the court is in many ways the heart and soul of the Warriors. Because of that, he is one of the league’s most unlikely All-Star players. It is interesting, then, that he was overlooked by just about every team before the Warriors finally drafted him with the 35th pick in the 2012 NBA draft. Golden State picked him and cemented the final piece of the core trio that the Warriors rode to five straight NBA Finals appearances (so far).

Gilbert Arenas

After becoming the first pick of the second round in 2001, Gilbert Arenas famously took his number 0 because it was how many minutes people expected him to play in the NBA. He responded by becoming one of the best players in the NBA while leading his Washington Wizards teams to the playoffs for many years. Several off-court issues and injuries made his prime short-lived, but his impact during that time was undeniable.

Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman’s entire NBA career was unlikely. He started at community college, and he routinely made headlines for non-basketball things. Despite his sideshow antics, however, he was also one of the best defenders and rebounders that the NBA has ever seen, and he won multiple rings during his career. He even made the Hall of Fame! Not bad for the third pick in the second round.

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas took the title of “Mr. Irrelevant” and made it obsolete after being drafted with the last pick of the 2011 NBA draft. While experts believed the Sacramento Kings first pick, Jimmer Fredette, would be the star, Thomas quickly proved to be the better player. He became an MVP candidate for the Celtics before a hip injury put him back at the end of the bench.

Marc Gasol

The Lakers drafted Marc Gasol midway through the second round in 2007 even though he had no reputation other than being the brother of Pau Gasol. He didn’t arrive in the NBA for many years, and ironically, he was traded for Pau in the process. When he came into the league for the Grizzlies, however, he became an immediate star. He continues to show hints of this for the Toronto Raptors to this day.

Manu Ginobili

Many Ginobili is one of the best second-round picks in NBA draft history.
Many Ginobili is one of the best second-round picks in NBA draft history. | Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

San Antonio drafted Manu Ginobili in 1999 when he was nearly 23 years old, and he didn’t suit up for the Spurs until 2002, when he was 25. Despite being a second-round pick (and a late one at that), Ginobili proved to be one of the great steals in NBA draft history.

He evolved into a starter, an All-Star, and eventually one of the best sixth men that the NBA has ever seen. He had the talent to be a starter and a star, but he quickly embraced this bench role and cemented himself as one of the greatest team players in NBA history.

Nikola Jokic

Denver’s Nikola Jokic is still young, but he is one of the best young players in the NBA, and he just came off what may be the best season that a second-rounder has ever had.

In a league where speed and athleticism usually have the upper hand, Jokic has a knack for doing it all despite not having either of those things. He can pass, score, and even defend like a star when he wants to, and appears to be on pace to do so for years to come. Not bad for someone who went No. 41 overall in the 2014 NBA draft.