The 2012 NBA Draft is set to take place this Thursday night, June 28th. Every year teams, media and fans a like spend a lot of time talking about the guys taken a top of the draft board in the first round and rightfully so… Who is going to be the next this or that? The spotlight shines brightly on the Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James of the world. And in the same light the Kwame Brown and Sam Bowie of the world as well. But what about the sleepers? Those guys that were never supposed to make it, that had something wrong or scouts just didn’t know but maybe they could be something someday down the line.
Over the history of the NBA Draft there have been many great players and even Hall of Famers that have come from the second round of the draft. Here are just a few of the people that the “experts” slept on.
10: Manute Bol
Standing 7’7″ should be enough to get you in the first round. Might have been if it was more modern day. But Manute Bol slipped to the 2nd round of the 1983 draft and was taken 31st overall by the then Washington Bullets. Averaging 3.34 blocks per game, Bol ranks second all-time and first all time with 8.6 blocks per 48 minutes played. Bol went on to play for 4 different NBA franchises during his career and remains the only player in NBA history with more blocks than points scored.
Bonus was pairing 7’7″ Manute Bol with 5’3″ Mugsy Bogues.
9: Alex English
In 1976, the Milwaukee Bucks took a chance on a swing man from out of the University of South Carolina. That player would go on to score 25,613 points in his NBA career.
While mostly a backup in Milwaukee (who was rebuilding after the loss of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), English’s career took off after he found his way to Indiana and eventually the place he is known most for… Denver. He is the Nuggets all-time leading scorer.
Alex English was an 8 time all-star and NBA scoring champ in 1983.
8: Toni Kukoc
When you think of Toni Kukoc you might be remiss if you didn’t bring up the assault by fellow Bulls on a then little known Croatian player in the Olympics. But Toni Kukoc who was taken 29th overall in the 1990 NBA Draft didn’t let that stop him.
When word spread through out the locker room that then GM Jerry Krause had a new golden child that was going to be drafted but not come over to the states for a couple of seasons, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen famously decided to go to him. Feeling slighted at the time by their GM and with anomousity in the locker room and front office, Jordan and Pippen set out to make an example out of young Kukoc. While that example was harsh, in fact the Bulls duo completely shut down and embarrassed the young Croatian, Kukoc would eventually go onto join the Bulls in 1994.
Maybe not coincidently Kukoc joined the Bulls after Jordan’s first retirement, but he quickly became the number 2 guy behind star player Scottie Pippen. And when Pippen refused to check in during the clutch moments of a game, Kukoc put himself on the map with a game winner versus the New York Knicks in game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
Kukoc was a star in both Europe and in the US and would go on to play for 13 seasons in the NBA with 4 different teams.
7: Mark Price
Hands down one of the best pure shooters in NBA history. That’s what the stats will say about Mark Price.
Taken by the Mavericks 25th overall in 1986 and then traded on draft day to Cleveland. Cleveland was the perfect fit for Price who came out of Georgia Tech. Price would go on to shoot 90.4% from the free throw line which is still an NBA career mark as well as being one of only 2 players to ever shoot 50% from the field, 40% from 3 and over 90% from the line. The other guy? Larry Bird. Not bad company to be in… not bad at all.
Injuries would slow Price late in his career and he even briefly played with his brother Brent in Washington.
6: Hal Greer
Greer was taken 13th overall… wait? 13th? Yes, in 1958 that was considered the 2nd round. Hal Greer was selected by the then Syracuse Nationals aka Philadelphia 76ers. Greer would go on to become one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players ever.
Averaging over 19 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists a game in his career, Greer was doing what few were able to do during his era. He was a 10 time all-star and has the mark for most games played in a Philadelphia 76er uniform. Greer went on to score 21,586 points in his career.
5: Dennis Johnson
Drafted 29th overall in 1976 by the Seattle Supersonics, Dennis Johnson is one of the few players to win titles with both the Sonics and Celtics. DJ was the heart and soul of the Larry Bird led Celtic teams of the 80’s.
Johnson was a 3 time NBA champion and a 5 time all-star. While his numbers didn’t always reflect how valuable he truly was, his MVP award from the 1979 NBA Finals did. Johnson was known for his fiesty defense and court generalship. He was the engine behind Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish, much in the same way that Rajon Rondo is today with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
4: Manu Ginobili
Taken 57th overall in 1999, little was known about this lenky Argentine player. The Spurs however were rewarded with a player that would be key to their 3 championships in the 2000’s. For those wondering, Ginobili was drafted after the Spurs won in 1999.
Ginobili takes the honor of the only active player on this list and he has earned it. While his accomplishments have him as one of Europe’s 50 greatest, his heart and stats have him on this list here. Manu has the rare talent of being effective starting or off the bench. He’s been NBA 6th man of the year (2008), a 2 time all-star and one of the most clutch NBA players of all-time.
And if that isn’t enough to persuade you then just ask Charles Barkely… “Giiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnooooooooooooobbbbbbbbbbbbbblllllllllllllliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!”
3: Nate “Tiny” Archibald
Not too many guys get taken out of UTEP in the first round, so it was of little surprise that Nate Archibald had to wait for the Cincinnati Royals aka Sacramento Kings to announce his drafting 19th overall in the 2nd round of the 1970 NBA Draft.
Being a 6 time all-star and a member of the NBA’s 50 greatest, Tiny went on to win a title in 1981 with the Celtics, score 16,481 points and dish out 6,476 assists. In 1972-73, Archibald became the only player in NBA history to lead the league in scoring and assists in the same season (Wikipedia note: (In the 1967-68 season, Oscar Robertson led the NBA in points and assists per game but did not win the titles because they were based on totals rather than averages at the time).
2: Dennis Rodman
If someone told you that you could have the NBA’s leading rebounder 7 years in a row but he had green or red or maybe purple hair, would you take him? The Pistons didn’t know what they were getting when they took the “Worm” Dennis Rodman 27th overall in the 1986 draft, and it was long after Detroit that Dennis really came out of his shell.
Coming out of college, Rodman was a scorer, rebounder… heck he could do it all at Southeastern Oklahoma State. The Pistons figured at the very least they had a talented defender and rebounder. No one was really sure if he could score at the NBA level the same way.
In the end, it didn’t matter what color his hair was… Didn’t matter if he wore wedding dresses either. Dennis Rodman was a 5 time NBA champion with the Pistons and Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls. He led the league for an impressive 7 straight seasons in rebounding and he was a 2 time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
While he rarely showed his scoring ability in the NBA, he did rebound better than anyone, play shutdown and occassionally dirty defense and overall had maybe the most underrated career in NBA history. Rodman had 11,954 rebounds in his career.
1: Willis Reed
Believe it or not, 8th overall was the second round of the 1964 NBA Draft when the New York Knicks selected Willis Reed out of Grambling. While being on this list is debatable because he was taken so high, Reed’s career left nothing for debate.
The 1970 NBA MVP was a Rookie of the Year, 2 time NBA champion, 7 time all-star and one of the NBA’s 50 greatest. Oh and if that’s not enough, he helped the Knicks win an NBA title in 1970 with a torn muscle in his thigh. That my friends is why legends call Willis Reed a legend.
Doc Rivers (31st, ATL), Steve Kerr (50th, PHO), World B. Free (23rd, PHI), Spencer Haywood (30th, Buffalo), Jeff Hornacek (46th, PHO), Maurice Cheeks (36th, PHI), Calvin Murphy (18th, San Diego) and George McGinnis (22nd, PHI).
And of course there are this generation’s players that might someday be on this list including one of the highest paid players (overpaid?) Rashard Lewis, Monta Ellis, Gilbert Arenas, Carlos Boozer, Michael Redd and Stephen Jackson.