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The best second-round NBA draft picks of the last 15 years

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Armed only with a second-round pick in this year’s NBA draft, the Toronto Raptors don’t exactly have the most exciting of evenings lined up for them Thursday.

Yes, the pick is early in the second round and there are plenty of options for Toronto to choose from, but when selecting in the second round, the odds of finding a game-changing star is a rarity.

With that said, it’s not like there isn’t precedent for it happening, particularly over the last 15 years.

Over the course NBA history there have been many perceived second-round duds that turned out to be certified studs, something the Raptors will be on the lookout for when they pick 33rd overall.

Though it's a rarity for second-round NBA draft picks to become stars, gems like Nikola Jokic, Marc Gasol, Draymond Green, Dillon Brooks and more have bucked the trend. (Getty)
Though it's a rarity for second-round NBA draft picks to become stars, gems like Nikola Jokic, Marc Gasol, Draymond Green, Dillon Brooks and more have bucked the trend. (Getty)

Here’s a look at the 11 best second-round picks since 2007.

As a quick note, the reason why we’re taking from the last 15 years is because that’s provided us with a greater selection to choose from.

Of course, this isn’t to say there haven’t been great second-round talents before then, with players from the modern era such as Toni Kukoc, Manu Ginobili, Gilbert Arenas, Kyle Korver, Lou Williams and Paul Millsap standing out, in particular.

Malcolm Brogdon, 36th overall, 2016

Still the only second-round selection since the league adopted its modern form of the draft in 1989 to win the NBA’s rookie of the year, Brogdon also became just the eighth player in NBA history to record a 50-40-90 season during the 2018-19 campaign.

Dillon Brooks, 45th overall, 2017

Some Canadian content. Over the span of five seasons, Brooks has become one of the best young two-way guards in the NBA. The Mississauga, Ont., native has built a reputation as a hard-nosed guy who plays on the edge, making him a classic “love him if he’s on your team, hate him if he’s your opponent” type of player.

Goran Dragic, 45th overall, 2008

Though his reputation has taken a hit of late (particularly north of the border), there’s little denying Dragic’s NBA credentials. An understudy of Steve Nash with the Phoenix Suns before taking the reigns there and making a brief stint with the Houston Rockets before returning to Phoenix where he was named to the All-NBA Third Team in 2014, Dragic was also selected as an All-Star in 2018 during his long, memorable run with the Miami Heat.

Marc Gasol, 48th overall, 2007

Gasol was a three-time All-Star, an All-NBA First and Second Team selection, a Defensive Player of the Year, and was an instrumental piece to the Toronto Raptors’ 2019 championship run as a trade-deadline acquisition. Simply put, Marc Gasol isn’t just one of the greatest second-round picks ever, he’s one of the greatest basketball players ever.

Danny Green, 46th overall, 2009

Green is one of the biggest winners in NBA history, and is part of some elite company as one of just three players to win a championship with three different teams, joining the likes of Robert Horry, John Salley and LeBron James. Green won titles with the San Antonio Spurs (2014), Raptors (2019) and Los Angeles Lakers (2020).

Draymond Green, 35th overall, 2012

Love him or hate him, Green is among the most decorated players in NBA history, let alone for a second-round selection. He’s now a four-time champion, is a four-time All-Star, has been named to the All-NBA Second and Third teams, was a Defensive Player of the Year, and has seven times been named to an NBA All-Defensive team, four of which coming on the first team. His resume is impeccable.

Nikola Jokic, 41st overall, 2014

When it’s all said and done, Jokic just might go down in history as the greatest second-round pick ever. He’s already a two-time (back-to-back) MVP, a four-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA First Team selection, and he’s only 27 years old having just recently completed his seventh season in the NBA. The league’s seen its fair share of talented big men, but very few that combine the combination of size, strength, finesse, touch, ball skills, vision, basketball IQ and clutch ability that Jokic has demonstrated through his career so far.

DeAndre Jordan, 35th overall, 2008

Though now a shell of what he formerly was, during the mid 2010s Jordan was a force to be reckoned with as part of those fun and flawed “Lob City” Clippers teams alongside Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Between 2013 and 2017, Jordan was a two-time rebounding leader, a two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, a two-time All-NBA Third Team pick, an All-NBA First Team pick, made an All-Star team and ended Brandon Knight’s life (figuratively).

Khris Middleton, 39th overall, 2012

A three-time All-Star and among the most important parts of the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2021 championship, Middleton is among the best basketball players in the world today. His game isn’t flashy and he doesn’t overwhelm his opponents with athleticism, but he can shoot the hell out of the ball, is big and crafty and can get to his spot whenever he so pleases as a result.

Patty Mills, 55th overall, 2009

The kind of player every team hopes they’re getting when they take a player in the second round, Mills is a reliable competitor with an always-in-demand skill as a great shooter. He helped the Spurs win a title in 2014.

Isaiah Thomas, 60th overall, 2011

Never forget, for a brief two-season stint in 2016 and 2017, Thomas was legitimately one of the best players in the world as he earned a pair of All-Star nods and came away with some of the finest performances in Boston Celtics postseason history when, in 2017, he led Boston to the Eastern Conference final — including a 53-point masterpiece in Game 2 of the Celtics’ second-round series with the Washington Wizards.

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