No. 2 Can Mean Distant Second In NBA





Life is a lot better on Draft night than in free agency for the fellows selected second each June.

That point was driven home again Thursday with reports that Hasheem Thabeet and Michael Beasley are headed to new teams, yet again, as they seek traction to their sputtering NBA careers.

You would think that getting picked just one spot from the top would yield happiness and security for lads like them and others, but it often doesn’t work out that way.

Thabeet, the No. 2 pick in 2009, will join his fourth team in four seasons when his modest two-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder becomes official next week. Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman has the details on the move for the reigning Western Conference champs:

The addition of Thabeet all but guarantees veteran center Nazr Mohammed will not return to the Thunder. If not, that paves the way for third-year center Cole Aldrich to step into the primary backup role behind starter Kendrick Perkins. Thabeet is expected to be the third-string center.

Adding Thabeet also helps the Thunder preserve precious salary cap space, most of which will go toward paying its young players. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook already are locked into maximum-allowable contracts. Harden, Serge Ibaka and Eric Maynor are all now eligible for extensions to their rookie deals.

What the Thunder is doing in bringing in Thabeet, 25, is taking a flyer on a one-time promising prospect without paying him much and hoping he can develop into the player he once was capable of being. If he does, the Thunder gets a steal. If not, the team will not have lost anything.

“Playing in that environment is positive,” said Thabeet’s agent, Bill Duffy. “Sam Presti has done a great job of not only building a winning organization but a culture that’s conditioned to developing and nurturing. So we think it’s a really good fit. So now the onus is on Hasheem to buy into that and to develop and to reach his potential.”

For Beasley, the Phoenix Suns will be team No. 3 after failed stops in Miami and Minnesota; the 6-foot-9 forward reportedly will sign a three-year contract worth about $18 million, after the Timberwolves declined to make an $8.1 million qualifying offer for 2012-13.

Beasley, who marvelous skills have been undercut by immaturity, got moved out of Miami in the free-agent frenzy of 2010. But he then failed to seize an opportunity with the Timberwolves, making himself expendable again. He has averaged 15.1 points on 13.4 field-goal attempts in 279 games. His rebounding, impressive in college, has been weak now that he’s playing farther from the basket and his defense and concentration lapses earn him more bench time than playing time.

Thabeet is a 7-foot-3 center drafted on potential that either still is untapped or never quite existed in a player whose drive hasn’t matched his size. He has averaged 2.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 10.3 minutes, and costs less than the veteran Mohammed.

Thabeet-to-OKC will fulfill a hiring that many expected three years ago, when the big fellow was coming out of UConn. Many believed the Thunder would grab him at No. 3 until Memphis intervened at No. 2. The Thunder had to settle for Harden, who has merely become the NBA’s top Sixth Man. But the Thabeet angle lingered, according to Mayberry of the Oklahoman:

Opinions varied on Thabeet, but everyone, it seemed, had one. One person I work closely with who shall remain nameless even remixed The Go-Go’s 80s hit “We got the beat” by circling the office crooning “Don’t draft Thabeet, don’t draft Thabeet, don’t draft Thabeeeeet. Don’t draft Thabeet.” The guy was just a polarizing player. But he had so much size, so much potential.

The Thunder was enamored with Thabeet and, clearly, still is to this day.

Life tends to go more smoothly for No. 1 picks, and the guys whose names stay on the board much  longer know they have their work cut out for them. But No. 2 has become a dicey spot both for those drafted and those drafting.

Dating back to the 2000 Draft, only two players picked second overall can be classified as complete successes:Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge (2006) and OKC’s Kevin Durant (2007). Two are out of the league: the Grizzlies’ Stromile Swift (2000) and the Bulls’ Jay Williams (2002).

Six more have moved around, playing for an average of 3.7 teams already in a search for the right fit: Tyson Chandler (2001), Darko Milicic (2003), Emeka Okafor (2004), Marvin Williams (2005), Beasley and Thabeet. Philadelphia’s Evan Turner (2010) has heard criticism from Sixers fans and hasn’t established himself as a starter or star, and Minnesota’s Derrick Williams (2011) had a dreary debut season and seems out of favor with coach Rick Adelman and management.

So history suggests that, well, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had better be taking notes and spending this summer in gyms, big-time.


8 Comments

  1. cjsamms says:

    I think Chandler’s a good example of people not valuing the right things. He was just named Defensive Player of the Year. He added toughness to a soft Mavericks team. Okafor is disappointing if you look at him as franchise players, but he was never thought to be a franchise player when he was drafted. He was a steady double-double guy you could count on. But he was drafted by the Bobcats who needed a Dwight Howard. OK, Marvin Williams didn’t turn out to be a great shooter. But he’s a decent defender, which I guess appeals more to Utah than Atlanta.

    Beasley, on the other hand, while he hasn’t exactly been a bust, he has been a knucklehead from Day 1 getting busted for pot at the rookie orientation meeting. And his play reflects the same kind of knuckleheadedness. He’s not alone on that front. There’s Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, or DeAndre Jordan, although none of them were No. 2 overall.

  2. Devon says:

    I thought Jay Williams was going to be an all-star. had he not gotten injured I think he would have been a very good player. The rest of the #2′s have been major busts.

    As a jazz fan, I’m hoping Marvin Williams can rejuvenate his career in Utah. He is still young and can pull it together.

    • Dave says:

      There’s a guy named Kevin Durant or something like that that was a #2 pick selection… yes a BUST…

  3. Travis says:

    I like Beasley however the guy is not dependable he’s the type of guy that will score 50 one night and score 2 the next night logging in the exact same minutes. Beasley in my opinion needs to man up he’s the perfect example of what an NBA salary does to certain players. Beasley needs a lot of time in the D league I think that might wake him up I would never spend any money Beasley until he proves to me he’s worth it!

    • berkamore says:

      You nailed it. Beasley has the skills to be a great NBA player but you just don’t know what to expect from him on a nightly basis.

      Shows you what NBA vets are talking about when they refer to the mental approach to the game. I hope Beasley gets it together one day. Would be a waste if he didn’t…………..

  4. dattebayo says:

    Are we mocking players being drafted 2nd overall now? Because they can’t meet the expectations other people set way too high for them?
    Many players don’t turn out to be allstars or players that can accumulate accolades like its nothing. Milicic had 2-3 great games, but otherwise disappointed throughout the season. Evan Turner had a solid postseason while struggling with his jumpshot against a great Boston defense. Beasley had to fight injuries and those can limit you severely, just ask Bynum, Roy, Oden, Ford or any other player who had an injury plagued season or even a season or career ending injury. Chandler and Okafor are great defensive Centers, Turner, Williams and Kidd-Gilcrist are still young and can add to their game. Do you think it is easy for a rookie to make this step into the NBA during a shortened season with no training camp, having to learn almost everything on the fly? It took many rookies a while to get productive (Rubio, Thomas, Faried, …)

    And just to top this rant of, none of them is a Grant Hill or Vince Carter, who were supposed to be the next Michael Jordan. And none of them is a Kwame Brown.

    • Bret says:

      I don’t think its any big secret that the #2 pick has historically led to disappointment for the team drafting them. Its not always the players fault, its not always the teams fault, it just seems to be a trend that the #2 pick doesn’t pan out as anticipated. Funny that you should mention Michael Jordan, who was the #3 pick after one of the most notable #2 picks of all-time, Sam Bowie. No, he’s not notable for anything he did on the court, he’s notable for being picked over Michael Jordan. Bowie was the right pick at the time for the Blazers, but injuries hampered his career…and the other guy turned into one of the greatest players of all-time. This article did fail to mention another major bust at #2 in Shawn Bradley. He’s a lot like Thabeet in that his size and potential led to his high draft pick, but he just never fulfilled that potential. Of course, there are the #2 picks that did pan out, most notably Isiah Thomas. Of course, if he’d been drafted as a GM, he would’ve also made the list of busts. lol And the article isn’t saying that other draft positions don’t lead to busts, like you mentioned Kwame Brown and you can’t forget about Greg Oden. I bet the Blazers would like a do-over on that pick, Kevin Durant seems to be working out nicely for the Thunder. And hey, LaMarcus Aldridge was a #2 pick but he was traded by Chicago for the #4 pick Tyrus Thomas. And you can’t forget about the #3 picks that have been major busts such as Adam Morrison. And being a Timberwolves fan my entire life, I know a thing or two about disappointing draft picks! Drafting Christian Laettner #3 was the right choice, but still disappointing because of how much better Shaq and ‘Zo turned out!
      It seems that the #2 pick tends to end up a bust because the #1 pick is so often unanimous and #2 pick is either trying to guess who’s the best of the next tier, like this year with Kidd-Gilchrist, or because they’re the unanimously next best choice, ala Derrick Williams a year ago. Marvin Williams is a productive player, but he hasn’t lived up to expectations. However, his draft position is criticized even further by the success of Deron Williams and Chris Paul drafted after him. Darko Milicic has been a bust in every sense of the word and looks even worse compared to the others drafted after him.
      I don’t think this article is mocking players drafted at #2, just pointing out the obvious: that expectations are high for such a high pick and that history has shown that a lot of players don’t live up to the expectations. The draft is exciting time for the draftees, teams, and fans. As fans, we have a right to criticize teams when they make mistakes, just as we enjoy those picks that work out! For the Wolves, I’m thinking that they should try and draft in the fifth spot as often as possible as that position has yielded some of their best players: Isiah Rider, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love (via trade), and Ricky Rubio. Heck, even Ray Allen was the #5 pick for the Wolves, that the traded for eventual head-case Stephon Marbury. When they drafted Wes Johnson at #4, they were widely criticized for not drafting Demarcus Cousins, but if they’d had the #5 pick, they would’ve probably ended up with him anyways, but then they would’ve been taking the best player available. Of course, its not an exact science, remember Shelden Williams and Nikoloz Tskitishvili were both #5 picks, fortunately just not for the Wolves. As I’m actually moving to Charlotte, I hope Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t another #2 pick that doesn’t pan out, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he flops. He just seemed to be a reach at #2 and for a team with so many holes, they would’ve been wise to trade down. I bet the haul that the Rockets got in the draft looks pretty good right now, especially since Jeremy Lamb fell to them at #12. But then again, we’ll see how it all works out soon enough!!