Making the playoffs is something that every executive in the NBA is hoping for at the start of the season. The only downside to this is picking outside of the lottery. For those teams that make the playoffs, they land in the 15-30 position in the draft, which can be a tough place to pick on draft night. Some teams draft for need, while others still employ the best player available this late in the first round. We thought it would be interesting to take a look and breakdown the top players selected in this range of the draft since 2004 (When the NBA expanded to 30 teams).
Kawhi Leonard-15th Pick (Spurs)
All Star Selections-2 Seasons-8
Career Stats-17.1 Points/6.3 Rebounds/2.3 Assists/1.8 Steals
Leonard was likely hurt by playing for San Diego State in college, but other than that there actually is not much of a reason that he was not selected in the top ten of the draft. He didn’t put up superstar numbers in college, but it was obvious that if he ever put it all together offensively, to go with his elite defense, he would be a star. He has been a finals MVP, a 2 time first team All-NBA, and a 2 time defensive player of the year. All of these accomplishments, and Leonard is still only 27. If your team is picking outside of the lottery this season, just remember that players like Leonard exist.
Jimmy Butler-30th Pick (Bulls)
All Star Selections-4 Seasons-8
Career Stats-16.6 Points/4.9 Rebounds/3.4 Assists/1.6 Steals
Drafting Butler at No. 30 is about as good as you can expect so late in the first round. He has turned out to be one of the best players in the NBA, being an efficient scorer and an elite defender on the wing. The pick ultimately did not turn out as the Bulls had hoped with Butler being traded to the Milwaukee after 5 1/2 seasons with Chicago, but it had great value given his time in the windy city.
Rajon Rondo-21st Pick (Celtics)
All Star Selections-4 Seasons 13
Career Stats-10.4 Points/4.8 Rebounds/8.5 Assists/1.7 Steals
Despite the fact that Rondo was coming from powerhouse Kentucky, Rondo was passed up by over half of the teams in the league. One of the main concerns scouts had with Rondo was his lack of a consistent jump shot, which has been the case throughout his professional career. What scouts and team executives did not take into account, was that when you combine a player like Rondo with other elite players, he is highly effective in leading the team on the floor.
Kyle Lowry-24th Pick (Grizzlies)
All Star Selections-4 Seasons-13
Career Stats-14.4 Points/4.2 Rebounds/6 Assists/1.3 Steals
The Grizzlies selected Mike Conley Jr. the year after they selected Lowry, and in the team’s mind that led to Lowry playing the back-up role for 2 1/2 seasons in Memphis. He was traded to Houston and played decently well, but it was not until he was traded once again, this time to Toronto that he began to see real success. He has been selected to 4 straight all star games, and is one of the better point guards in the league. Not bad for a late first round pick who has been traded twice.
Giannis Antetokounmpo-15th Pick (Bucks)
All Star Selections-2 Seasons-6
Career Stats-17.9 Points/7.9 Rebounds/4 Assists/1.2 Steals/1.3 Blocks
The pace at which Antetokounmpo has adjusted to the NBA game has been very impressive, especially given his age and the fact that he is was an international prospect. His Points per game starting with his rookie season are: 6.8,12.7, 16.9, 22.9, 26.9, 26.3, and his assists and rebounds just keep going up as well. Simply put, he has rapidly become one of the top ten players on the planet and he is 24 years old. A lot of teams want a re-do on the 2013 draft, we are looking at you Cleveland.
Al Jefferson-15th Pick (Celtics)
All Star Selections-0 Seasons-14
Career Stats-15.7 Points/8.4 Rebounds/1.5 Assists/1.2 Blocks
It is surprising given the numbers that Al Jefferson put up, that he never was selected to an all star game. He was a risky selection our of high school, but all in all, his career was a solid one. Jefferson did not have many years in contention of any kind of team accomplishments
Danny Granger-17th Pick (Pacers)
All Star Selections-1 Seasons-10
Career Stats-16.8 Points/4.9 Rebounds/1.9 Assists/1 Steal
Granger had a strange career arc, but nonetheless was a very good pick at No. 17 in 2005. His college statistics were solid at New Mexico, after transferring from Bradley University. By his third year in the league, Granger was averaging 19.6 ppg. He peaked in his 4th and 5th season, and then it took a turn for the worse with injuries as the main driving force to the decline of his career. However it ended, for the time he was healthy, Granger proved he should have gone higher in the draft.
Jrue Holiday-17th Pick (76ers)
All Star Selections-1 Seasons-10
Career Stats-15.3 Points/3.9 Rebounds/6.4 Assists/1.5 Steals
One of three holiday brothers in the league, his first and only season at UCLA was far from impressive, so it was no surprise when the former 5 star recruit was taken with 17th pick based on future potential. Holiday played well enough his first few seasons in the league to get traded to the Pelicans for Nerlens Noel and a first round pick. Injuries have derailed him somewhat, but is currently is currently the starting point guard for New Orleans, and has played at a borderline star level the last two seasons. Well worth the pick at No. 17.
David Lee-30th Pick (Knicks)
All Star Selections-2 Seasons-12
Career Stats-13.5 Points/8.8 Rebounds/2.2 Assists
After being drafted to the Knicks, Lee was never apart of a team in New York that won more that 32 games (5 Seasons). It is always tough to analyze a player putting up solid numbers on a bad team. He shot a good percentage while on the Knicks, so we will give him the benefit of the doubt. Lee did average 18 and 9 on a young warriors team that won 51 games, ultimately losing his spot to the Warriors small ball preference. However, those years in Oakland proved he was a smart pick at No. 30.
Rudy Gobert-27th Pick (Jazz)
All Star Selections-0 Seasons-6
Career Stats-10.5 Points/10.2 Rebounds/1.3 Assists/2.2 Blocks
Gobert is not the type of player to put up numbers that are going to jump out at you, but he is type of player you draft late in the first round as your building a team that can contend for a title. An absolute steal at No. 27, Gobert has improved every season offensively, and was defensive player of the year last season maintaining his standing as one of the best rim defenders in the game.