Since our Pistons are picking 9th in this year’s draft, I thought it would be interesting to research how other number nines have done. I’ve arbitrarily decided to only go back to the year 2000, and then rate the picks from best to worst. I’m sure some folks will disagree with my ratings, which is fine by me. What’s clear to me from looking at these 12 picks is that they’re all over the map – you’ve got some stars, some good players, some okay guys, and some complete busts (including our least favorite Rodney). What’s scary is that some of these guys were really good college players, but they were horrible pros. I considered matching each player with a 2012 draft prospect, but that was too depressing an idea, so I’ll leave that speculation to others.
Here are the picks in draft year order, followed by my ratings:
Year, Team & Player
2000 Houston Joel Przybilla
2001 Detroit Rodney White
2002 Phoenix Amare Stoudemire
2003 New York Michael Sweetney
2004 Philadelphia Andre Iguodala
2005 Golden State Ike Diogu
2006 Golden State Patrick O’Bryant
2007 Chicago Joachim Noah
2008 Charlotte D.J. Augustin
2009 Toronto Demar DeRozen
2010 Utah Gordon Hayward
2011 Charlotte Kemba Walker
1st Amare Stoudemire: Chosen out of high school by Phoenix in 2002, he’s the only one to have won Rookie of the Year (he beat out #1 pick Yao Ming and # 10 pick Caron Butler). He averaged over 13 points and nearly 9 rebounds as a rookie, and then, except for the lost 2005-06 season when he had microfracture knee surgery, he posted seven straight seasons of averaging over 20 ppg. He’s been selected to play in the NBA All-Star game six times. Is he worth the $20 million a year the Knicks are paying him? I doubt it, but every other #9 pick has to be measured against what Stoudemire has achieved.
2nd Andre Iguodala: The Sixers selected him out of Arizona after a sophomore year when he’d averaged about 13 points, 8 boards, and 5 assists. While he’s become a better scorer, his all-around game is still what’s most evident in Iguodala’s game. He’s a strong defender, and has averaged 1.7 steals a game during his 8 years in Philadelphia. His scoring has declined every year since his high of 19.9 ppg in 2007-08, but that seems mostly because he’s taking fewer shots. He shot over 39 % on threes this past season – a personal high. I don’t know if he’s worth $13 million a year, but he’s certainly a star player.
3rd Joachim Noah: The Bulls picked up the Florida center after a junior campaign in which he’d helped the Gators win a second straight NCAA title. It took him a couple years to find his way, but ever since he’s been a consistent double-double threat. Noah’s jump shot is awful looking, but he only uses it when’s he wide open. He’s got a relentless motor, passes well and blocks shots. If he were a guard, Noah would be Rondo; if Rondo were a center, he’d be Noah. I’d be thrilled if the Pistons could pick up a similar player at #9 in this year’s draft.
4th Joel Przybilla: Houston drafted him in 2000 after his sophomore year at Minnesota, where he’d averaged over 14 points, 8 boards, and almost 4 blocks. He’s enjoyed a long, if not distinguished career, based on his ability to rebound and block shots at a decent clip – averaging over 6 boards and almost 1.5 blocks in 20 minutes a game. A man has got to know his limitations, and he clearly does – he’s never averaged as many as 5 shots a game, and never attempted a three-pointer. From both the floor and the line he’s a career 55 % shooter. The Pistons reportedly offered him $29 million in 2006 to replace Ben Wallace, but he decided to stay in Portland. Przybilla proves that being a back-up center is a pretty good gig, as he’s made over $43 million in his 12-year career.
5th D.J. Augustin: Drafted out of Texas (he played with Kevin Durant) by the Bobcats in 2008, he’s toiled four seasons for them. His best campaign came in 2010-11, when he averaged over 14 points and 6 assists and shot over 41 %. Last year he shot under 38 %, his worst year yet. Darryl Gerard Jr. actually shot 43 % his rookie year (and 43.9 % on threes!), so he’s proof that a player’s shooting can get worse with experience. But perhaps coming back from an injury and splitting time with Kemba Walker (another #9 pick by Charlotte) hurt his confidence.
6th Demar DeRozen: The Raptors selected him coming off a freshman year at USC where he averaged almost 14 points and 6 rebounds. He shot almost 50 % from the field his rookie year, but his shooting percentage has declined as he’s jacked up more shots – only 42 % last year. DeRozen is not a three-point threat – he shot just 26 % last year. Fortunately he only attempted 1.5 a game this past year. He probably won’t ever be a very efficient scorer, but might be a valuable reserve on a good team.
7th Gordon Hayward: The Jazz picked him up in 2010 after he’d helped Butler make it to the NCAA Finals. Last year he started 58 of their 66 games, averaging nearly 12 points and over 3 rebounds and 3 assists per game. He struggled mightily in their playoff series against San Antonio, shooting under 19 % and going scoreless in game four. But I hear the Spurs are good at that defense thing. While he’s not a great athlete, Hayward still probably has some upside to his development as an NBA pro.
8th Kemba Walker: Charlotte drafted him after his junior year at Connecticut, where he led the Huskies to the 2011 NCAA title. Walker started 25 games for the Bobcats this year, mostly when Augustin was out. He put in over 12 points, plus over 4 assists and 3 boards in about 27 minutes a game. But he shot under 37 % from the floor, which means that many nights he and D.J. were in a bricklaying contest. Still, I’d guess that he has some upside – at least until Charlotte drafts another point guard at #9 in 2014.
9th Michael Sweetney: The Knicks drafted him out of Georgetown in 2003, after a stellar college career. He averaged nearly 23 points, over 10 rebounds, and over 3 blocks for the Hoyas his junior year! At 6-8 and 270 he was a stud in the paint. Unfortunately, his abilities didn’t translate as well to the NBA. His second year was probably his best – he averaged over 8 points and 5 boards in almost 20 minutes a game. The next year he was shipped to Chicago for Eddy Curry (they also swapped some other players and some future first round picks), where his shooting efficiency dropped appreciably. He played one more year for the Bulls (2006-07), where his stat line mirrored his rookie year. Sweetney played for the Erie Bayhawks of the D-League during the 2009-10 season, averaging over 13 points per game. Last December the Celtics signed him as a free agent, but they waived him after 10 days.
10th Ike Diogu: Golden State drafted him out of Arizona State in 2005. He had an outstanding college career, putting in over 22 points, pulling down almost 10 boards, and blocking over 2 shots a game his junior year. With production like that you’d expect him to be a good pro, but he wasn’t. He appeared in 69 games and started 14 his rookie year, averaging 7 points and over 3 rebounds – and that was his high water mark. It’s mostly been downhill ever since, as he’s made brief appearances for Indiana, Portland, Sacramento, Los Angeles (the Clippers, of course) and most recently – San Antonio! That’s right – he appeared in two games for the Spurs in January. Then they waived him, and there went his shot at an NBA title! He has made nearly $11 million during his NBA career, so I won’t shed too many tears on his behalf.
11th Rodney White: He was drafted in 2001 after playing one year of college ball for UNC at Charlotte, where he averaged nearly 19 points a game. He played just one year in Detroit, where he only appeared in 16 regular season games. In nine playoff games his rookie year, he got off the bench for a total of 2 minutes. But then we did have Michael Curry to man the small forward spot, so what more could you expect of this guy? The following October, White was traded to Denver, where he toiled for almost three seasons. In his first season with the Nuggets he played in 72 games, averaging 9 points in almost 22 minutes. He also grabbed three boards a game with 2.2 turnovers. His playing time declined the next two seasons. Denver sent him to Golden State (where basketball players go to die) in February of 2005, where his stat line was almost identical to the one he achieved in Detroit. The Warriors waived him in June of 2005. White was paid over $7 million dollars during his NBA career, so I hope he invested it wisely.
12th Patrick O’Bryant: Having whiffed on Ike Diogu the previous year, the Warriors swung for the fences again in 2006 when they drafted the 7-foot sophomore center from Bradley. He scored over 13 points and grabbed over 8 rebounds a game for the Braves, and led them into the Sweet Sixteen. But in two seasons he scarcely played for the Warriors, so they let him go. After an impressive workout in July of 2008, the Celtics signed him to backup Kendrick Perkins. But he once again under performed, so they sent him off to Toronto, where he actually started three games! The following year he appeared in just 11 games for the Raptors. Since then he’s played in China and Europe, and this year he’s played for a team in Puerto Rico. For his meager efforts the NBA has paid him over $7 million, which ain’t too shoddy for 90 games and averages of 2.1 points and 1.5 rebounds.