The second pick in the NBA draft is a highly coveted draft slot. Yet, when you look at the recent history of second overall picks, it is a very uninspiring bunch of players. Looking specifically over the past twenty years, even the better players to have been selected have not been that great. Here is why the second overall pick is cursed.
The Second Overall NBA Draft Pick is Cursed
When you look at the last decade of second overall picks, it doesn’t take long to realize how disappointing this one draft slot has been. There have been three players so far to come from this group that have made an all-star team. Brandon Ingram and D’Angelo Russell both have made the all-star team one time. Victor Oladipo (2x all-star) is the only player from this decade to have made more than one all-star team. While all three have had good NBA careers to this point, neither of these players are even the best player on their current team. Players that have not lived up to the hype from this decade include Evan Turner (2010), Derrick Williams (2011), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2012), Jabari Parker (2014), and Marvin Bagley (2018). A silver lining is that Ja Morant (2019) looks like he has perennial all-star potential.
The two names that immediately stand out from these ten players are Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge is a seven-time all-star that is averaging 19 points and 8 rebounds for his career. Durant is a three-time champion, a two-time finals MVP, and one of the greatest players to have ever played. This proves that there are exceptions to every rule. The remaining eight players leave a lot to be desired. Some include Hasheem Thabeet (2009), Stromile Swift (2000), Darko Milicic (2003), and Marvin Williams (2005). Tyson Chandler (2001) made an all-star team and was a defensive player of the year winner, but was mostly an above-average center during his career. Emeka Okafor (2004) won the rookie of the year award but never became the star many believed he could be. Jay Williams (2002) struggled as a rookie before a motorcycle accident ended his career.
The 1990s: The Outlier
To emphasize how bad the second overall picks have been over the last twenty years, it is important to look at what they were before that point. From 1990 to 1994, five out of six players that made one all-star appearance were drafted. The players were Gary Payton, Kenny Anderson, Alonso Mourning, Jason Kidd, and Antonio McDyess. Steve Francis (1999) was the other all-star player from this decade. Even the “bad” second overall picks from this decade had solid careers. Marcus Camby (1997) won a defensive player of the year award. Keith van Horn (1997) and Mike Bibby (1998) both had solid NBA careers as role players. Shawn Bradley (1994) led the league in blocks one season and played over ten years in the association.
Could all of this be a coincidence? Maybe. Players such as James Wiseman (2020) and Jalen Green (2021) are still early in their careers. However, neither player has had a good start to their career so far. Excluding the draft class from this season, five out of 20 players have made an all-star team from this draft slot over the past 20 years. That’s 25 percent. To put things in perspective, the third overall pick had a 50 percent all-star rate (10/20) and the first overall pick had a 60 percent all-star rate (12/20). Looking even more closely, there are so far only two players that will most likely make the hall of fame from this group (Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge). That is only a 10% success rate. It is safe to say the second overall pick is cursed.
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