The Best Ten NBA Players Drafted Where the Rockets Pick Thursday Night
Daryl Morey's ability to find gems later in the draft will be on display Thursday night.
The events of the past 72 hours have reinforced my long-held belief about the NBA's calendar — that the postseason is typically the best part of that calendar, but after that, the period in between the end of the Finals and the first week of free agency is definitely the second best part. Hell, with what Golden State did to the rest of the league this postseason, you could argue that this year, the offseason is actually the best portion of 2017 in the NBA.
Consider for a moment that in the past three days, we've seen the following:
1. Paul George told the Pacers brass that he would not be re-signing with them after his contract is up next summer, touching off a mini eBay session between now and the draft to see if the Pacers can send George to either the Lakers (his presumed desired destination) or some other team (Boston? Houston? Cleveland?) on what might be a one-year rental.
2. Phil Jackson, continuing his complete sabotage of the New York Knicks, began the process of shopping 21-year-old phenom Kristaps Porzingis, meaning that a possible 2020 All-NBA player might be getting moved while still on his rookie deal.
3. Cleveland chose to part ways with general manager David Griffin, significant because a) if you want to trade for, say, Paul George or Jimmy Butler, it helps to have a GM, and b) LeBron James REALLY liked Griffin. Also, LeBron found out with the rest of us about this decision, owner Dan Gilbert didn't tell him (not even a text in Comic Sans!). Oh, and LeBron's deal is up after the 2017-2018 season.
Throw in Dwight Howard getting traded for a Plumlee (THAT HAPPENED), and it's been a good week. Now comes the draft on Thursday, and the Rockets are lying in the weeds with two second-round picks, the No. 43 and No. 45 selections. If you're looking to get fired up about either of those picks, first, God bless you, and second, know that miracles do happen. Also, Daryl Morey is really good at general managing.
To that end, let's allow history to pump us up — here are the five best players taken at both 43 and 45 during the NBA's lottery era (since 1985)...
FIVE BEST PLAYERS TAKEN AT PICK #43
5. CHUCKY BROWN, Cleveland, 1989
The numbers, most notably the 12 NBA teams that he played for, designate Brown as the ultimate journeyman, and there may be more talented players than Brown taken with the 43rd pick who didn't crack this Best 5, but dammit, if you're part of the Clutch City title teams (Brown was a sometimes-starting forward on the 1995 champs), you're making this list!
4. MARCUS THORNTON, New Orleans (via Miami), 2009
Rockets fans will remember Thornton for his 47-game stint during the first half of the wretched 2015-2016 campaign, but he's spent time with six other teams in his eight-year career! Marcus Thornton loves to share himself with the basketball world! His crowning achievement was averaging 21.3 points per game in 2010-2011, and duping the Kings into giving him a four-year, $32 million deal.
3. ERIC SNOW, Seattle (via Milwaukee), 1995
Snow was the far less heralded backcourt mate of 1995 first-round pick Shawn Respert at Michigan State. Showing that you never know how things will work out, Snow wound up starting in the NBA Finals in 2001 while Respert was in his second season playing overseas. Snow would go on to play all 82 games for Cleveland in 2006-2007, a season in which they went to the NBA Finals.
2. TREVOR ARIZA, New York Knicks, 2004
No player has carved out a better living as an athletic wing while only being able to dribble with one hand than Trevor Ariza. He won a ring with the Lakers in 2009, and is on his second stint with the Rockets, who have signed him to contracts worth, thus far, about $58 million of the $69 million he's earned in his career.
1. MICHAEL REDD, Milwaukee, 2000
Redd is the most decorated of the platers taken with the 43rd pick, and it's really not close. He was named to the all-NBA third team in 2003-2004, the same season in which he made his only All-Star appearance, and he averaged more than 25 points a game in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. Redd also was a member of the national team that won the gold in 2008 in Beijing.
FIVE BEST PLAYERS TAKEN AT PICK #45
5. BRYON RUSSELL, Utah, 1993
Russell, unfortunately for him, is probably best known for getting
tossed to the ground crossed over by Michael Jordan for the series-clinching shot in the 1998 NBA Finals, but the totality of his impact for the Jazz was as a solid mid-card player, averaging 11 points per game from 1996 through 2002.
4. LOU WILLIAMS, Philadelphia, 2005
Hey, ANOTHER ROCKET! We love Sweet Lou in Houston, and he's carved out quite the niche for himself as a streaky scorer off the bench, averaging 12.8 points per game for his career, while starting just 90 of the 782 games that he has played in.
3. JOHN "Hot Rod" WILLIAMS, Cleveland, 1985
Williams, who tragically passed away from a bout with cancer not long ago at age 53, was best known as the third wheel to Brad Daugherty and Mark Price on those formidable late-’80s Cavaliers teams. Mostly a sixth man, Williams averaged double-digit points per game his first nine seasons in the league.
2. ANTONIO DAVIS, Indiana, 1990
After going to Europe for the first three years of his professional career, Davis returned to the United States in 1993 and became a key piece on Pacers teams that pushed the Knicks and Bulls in some classic postseason series. Davis would move on to Toronto in a trade in 1999, and would make his first and only All-Star Game at age 32 in 2000-2001.
1. GORAN DRAGIC, Phoenix (via San Antonio), 2008
It's only appropriate that we close out with another player with Rocket ties. Dragic is the only 45th pick in this era to garner All-NBA honors, making the third team in 2014. Dragic has steadily grown into one of the steadier point guards in the league, and has three years left on a five-year, $86 million deal.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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