Being a second-round pick in the NBA comes with no cheering, not much love, and no glory. Most times when someone is drafted in the second round, it’s the first time the NBA world is hearing their names. There’s a much higher percentage to become a player that records DNPs on a nightly basis than someone who becomes a role player, solid contributor, or even a star in the second round.
Being a second-round pick is not a death sentence, however, because for every No. 1 overall pick spent on a Kwame Brown, there is a second-round pick spent on a Manu Ginobili. Here we have 30 players who turned their second round draft status into a career to be remembered.
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30. PAUL MILLSAP, 47th pick in 2006
At 6-8 and 245 pounds, Millsap has the unique ability to be able to play both the SF and PF positions at the NBA level. Over his seven-year career so far, Millsap has averaged 12.4 PPG and 7.0 RPG while shooting 52 percent in only 27.4 MPG. Millsap has always been a consistent and hardworking player that’s clearly reflected in his solid numbers in limited minutes. He has developed a knack for being able to be good at multiple things on the court, which the Atlanta Hawks recognized and awarded the free agent with a two-year, $19 million contract this offseason. Since being the 47th pick in 2006, Millsap has established an impressive career so far that will continue this year in Atlanta.
29. ANDERSON VAREJAO, 30th pick in 2004
Anderson Varejao will be entering his 10th year in the league when the 2013 NBA season tips off. For a second-round pick, Varejao deserves credit for lasting in the league for this long. The more surprising factor is that Varejao is coming into his prime this late into his career. Varejao had his season cut short last season by injury, only playing 25 games, but was averaging 14.1 PPG and 14.4 RPG before his season-ending injury. In the past two seasons, Varejao has averaged a combined 12.5 PPG and 13.0 RPG. Amazing numbers, especially in the rebound category, for a player drafted in the second round. Varejao used to be known as a sidekick to LeBron James, but now the former second-round pick is making his own name in Cleveland.
28. TONI KUKOC, 29th pick in 1990
Kukoc was one of the most accomplished European players ever when he finally came over to the NBA in 1993. With the Bulls, he was a key member of three championship squads, sacrificing individual numbers to become a utility player who could provide scoring off the bench or a matchup nightmare as a starter. He won the Sixth Man of the Year in 1996, and then had his best individual season in 1998-99 by averaging a solid 18.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. Of course, that season saw the Bulls fall apart without Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and Jackson but it still counts for something. Kukoc could hoop. Think of a perimeter version of Pau Gasol.
27. RASHARD LEWIS, 32nd pick in 1998
While Rashard Lewis is now riding the coattails of LeBron James to win NBA championships, there was a time where he was a major component on an NBA Finals Orlando Magic squad. Lewis has spent 15 seasons in the NBA, definitely exceeding the life expectancy of a 32nd pick in the draft. Lewis is a career 39 percent shooter from three-point land and has career averages of 15.5 PPG and 5.4 RPG. Plus, how many second-round picks can say they have inked six-year, $118 million contracts in their career? Earning a max deal is a thought that most second-round picks can’t even formulate, but Lewis made it a reality. The 32nd pick in the 1998 NBA Draft has had quite the career for himself, earning him a spot on this list.
26. STEPHEN JACKSON, 43rd pick in 1997
Stephen Jackson always seemed be in the news for something that his team wouldn’t enjoy, rather than the opposite… like when he recently choked Steve Francis at a nightclub when the two had a disagreement. However, anytime a second-round selection can last 13 seasons in the NBA and average 15.3 PPG, it was great value for the pick. Even if Jackson was a headache, he was worth the numbers he was putting up, which explains why he lasted so long in the NBA. Going from a second-round pick to making over $68 million in his career, Jackson proved himself as a capable NBA player. Jackson even captured an elusive NBA championship with the Spurs in 2003. Teams knew exactly what they would get with Jackson, but they always took the risk, which makes him a steal as a second-round selection.