Over the past 10 years, the 30th pick in the NBA draft has been mostly an end of the bench-type player, a stash in Europe, or a G-League kind of player. Only one player stands out above the rest as a certifiable steal as the last pick in the first round. Here are the last 10 years of picks and where they rank.
2017 – Josh Hart Current Rank Incomplete – Potential Rank – 3
Hart had a slow start to the season for the Lakers, but after a brief stint in the G-League, Hart has found a nice little place in the Lakers rotation as an energy guy who is trying to find his role as a 3 and D guy. It’s too early to tell, but he’s got the potential to be a low-end starter, but likely not much more than that.
2007 – Petteri Koponen Current Rank 10 – Potential Rank – 11
Koponen never played in an NBA game so his inclusion on this list is merely a formality. He has had a reasonable career in Europe, averaging nearly 10 points a game over several seasons
2013 – Nemanja Nedovic Current Rank 9 – Potential Rank – 10
Nedovic had a cup of coffee for Golden State in the 2013-14 season, but actually did play reasonably well for the Santa Cruz Warriors (14.9 ppg, 4.2 apg), but unfortunately that never translated to the NBA game.
2009 – Christian Eyenga Current Rank 8 – Potential Rank 7
Eyenga’s NBA career actually split into two different seasons, including a few starts for the Cavs. He averaged a modest 6.3 ppg, but perhaps in a better system, he might have been able to make a real impact.
2010 – Lazar Hayward Curent Rank 7 – Potential Rank 9
Hayward spent a little time in the NBA but has never made an impact. His time spent in the G-League has been just as uneventful. Hayward doesn’t offer much in terms of scoring, rebounding, or 3 point shooting. He probably will never return to the NBA.
2008 – J.R. Giddens Current Rank 6 – Potential Rank 6
Giddens was a great athlete who never really found his footing in the NBA. He came into the league with the reputation of being able to shoot the 3, but he only shot 33% in the G-League, and never hit a 3 in his limited time in the NBA. He play fairly well in the G-League, but like a lot of 30th picks, that was never able to translate to the NBA.
2015 – Kevon Looney Current Rank 5 – Potential Rank 8
Looney has actually started to get some run with the Warriors. Any other team, and he might not be getting rotational minutes, but there has to be some value to you if you’re getting minutes for Golden State… I just don’t see it.
2016 – Damian Jones Current Rank 4 – Potential Rank 4
Realistically, it makes no sense to rank Jones 4th currently. He hasn’t played in many games and in those games, he hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire. What Jones has been doing, is killing it in the G-League. Jones is averaging over 17 points per game, a shade over 8 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. He is profiling as a guy who could be a solid rotational big, or even that Zaza Pachulia-type starting center who isn’t expected to provide much offense but is expected to bring the hammer defensively.
2012 – Festus Ezeli Current Rank 3 – Potential Rank 5
Ezeli was a key contributor to the Warriors first title run, backing up Andrew Bogut. He brought an energy and toughness off the bench and turned that into a 2 year-$15 million contract (though the Blazers have released him). Unfortunately for Ezeli, knee surgery has sidelined him and he hasn’t played in a few years. He has probably seen his best days, but during his short run, he made enough of an impact to find his spot in my rankings.
2014 – Kyle Anderson Current Rank 2 – Potential Rank 2
Anderson’s career started slow, but he fell into a great situation to be able to come along slowly with the Spurs. He showed what he can do in the G-League, averaging over 20 points per game and has been able to translate some of that into the NBA. If Anderson had gone to any other team, he probably would have washed out, but getting an opportunity to learn from the culture of one of the best franchises in the league. He has also benefited from Jonathon Simmons leaving for Orlando, as it opened up that extra playing time and Anderson hasn’t looked back.
2011 – Jimmy Butler – Current Rank 1 – Potential Rank 1
Butler was by far the easiest player to rank. Butler is a 3-time All Star, as well as a 3-time member of the All-Defense 2nd team. Butler isn’t just a strong defender, he also has averaged over 20 points per game each of the past few seasons and is near that mark again in his first season in Minnesota. Butler will continue to lead this group until the next Diamond in the Rough is found.