Second-round draft picks are really valuable…or so Sixers fans tell themselves shortly before crying themselves to sleep. In all seriousness, a lot of second rounders don’t pan out, and many never even reach the NBA, but that doesn’t mean a player taken in the second round can’t prove to be a valuable player. Indeed, several of the better players in today’s NBA came off the board after the first 30 picks. With that in mind, let’s look at the best second-round picks of the last 15 years. Two important things to note here: Manu Ginobili is not eligible for the list because he was drafted in 1999, and we’re looking exclusively at 21st-century drafts. Frankly, he would’ve been a super-obvious No. 1, so leaving him off the list makes things a bit more dramatic.
Secondly, I thought about Hassan Whiteside (who was selected 33rd overall by the Kings in 2010) for awhile, but ultimately decided to leave him off because sure, he’s playing well now, but he initially fell out of the league. It’s hard to look at someone as truly being a good pick when they’re playing in China two years after being drafted. Plus, his resume is pretty small at this point, and no one’s totally sure if he’s destined for a lengthy NBA career. Now then, on to the fun!
15. Amir Johnson – 56th overall pick (2005) – Pistons
The tricky thing about Amir is that while he certainly wasn’t bad as a Piston, it feels like he reached his ceiling after being traded to the Raptors. If we’re being honest, we didn’t really start noticing how good he was until 2013-14, when the post-Rudy Gay Raptors began thriving with Johnson as their starting power forward. He’s a low-usage, high-efficiency player with a solid mid-range game (he’s also become an adequate three-point shooter) who knows exactly what his strengths and weaknesses are. Maybe that’s not something to get super-excited about, but getting this kind of value with the 56th pick in the draft is definitely worth celebrating.
14. Danny Green – 46th overall pick (2009) – Cavs
Green doesn’t average a ton of points a game, but what he gives the Spurs is clearly invaluable, as he ranks as one of the best three-and-D guys in the league. Green is as reliable of a three-point shooter as you’ll ever find, and in San Antonio’s brilliant, motion offense, he’s never short on wide-open looks. Green re-signed with the Spurs for a four-year, $44 million deal this summer. He likely could have gotten a lot more, but he recognized the unique opportunity the Spurs give him, and took a hometown discount.