Prior to last year’s NBA Draft I wrote an historical review of how the 9th pick has performed, since the Pistons were picking 9th in 2012. Since Detroit is picking 8th this year, I thought I’d take a similar look at how the 8th pick has done. I’ve arbitrarily chosen to go back to 1999, and I’ve ranked the picks from best to worst. You are free to disagree with my rankings. (You are also free to marvel at how brilliant they are – but I won’t hold my breath!) But before you criticize any of them, be sure to carefully peruse who their competition is! Pick #8 has not been great. There’s not an All-Star in the bunch. Let’s hope the Pistons buck that trend with the 8th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft!
Here are the picks in draft year order, followed by my ratings:
|2002||LA Clippers||Chris Wilcox||PF|
|2005||New York||Channing Frye||PF/C|
|2009||New York||Jordan Hill||PF/C|
|2010||L.A. Clippers||Al Farouq Aminu||SF|
1st - Andre Miller: Cleveland drafted him in 1999 after a 4-year college career at Utah (15.8 points, 5.6 assists his senior year), where he helped lead the Utes to the NCAA title game (they lost to Kentucky). The AP named him First Team All-America. He entered the starting line-up for the Cavs as a rookie, finishing the year with averages of 11.1 points and 5.8 assists in 25.5 minutes, and made the All-Rookie First Team. In 14 years he’s played for 5 teams (twice with Denver), almost always as the starting PG. After starting 269 games for Denver from 2003-06, they traded him to Philadelphia for … Allen Iverson! (Fortunately for Denver, they were able to unload Iverson on another franchise in 2008.) Miller has been incredibly durable. In 9 seasons he’s played in all 82 games, and he’s only missed 6 games his entire career! It’s only in the last 2 years since he’s been back in Denver that he has served mostly as a backup PG. His best season was his 3rd – he averaged 16.5 points, 10.9 assists and 4.7 boards. He does not have 3-point range, but to his credit he knows this and seldom shoots them. His career averages are 13.8 points (45.9 % FGs), 7.1 assists, and WS/48 of .122. If the Pistons draft a PG, let’s hope he turns out to be at least as solid a pick as Trey … Andre Miller.
2nd – Rudy Gay: Houston selected him in 2006 after his sophomore year at Connecticut, where he contributed 15.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per outing. Two weeks later, the Rockets traded him and Stromile Swift to Memphis for Shane Battier. Gay became a starter for the Grizzlies as a rookie, and made the All-Rookie First Team. He blossomed into a star the next year (20.1 points on 46.1% FGs and 6.2 boards). His most efficient season was 2010-11, when he scored 19.8 points (47.1% FGs/39.6% 3s) with a WS/48 of .123. Unfortunately, he was injured in the Grizzlies’ 57th game and missed their playoff run in which they beat the Spurs 4-2 and lost to the Thunder 4-3. Since then Gay has had increasing confidence in his 3-point shot, but for no good reason (he’s only made 31.9%). Last year Memphis traded him to Toronto to avoid paying luxury taxes (he’s owed another $37 M on his 5 year, $82 M contract). For his career Gay has averaged 18 points (45% FGs), 5.8 boards and a WS/48 of .80. If the Pistons pick a SF, let’s hope they get a more multi-dimensional player than Shabazz … Rudy Gay.
3rd - Jamal Crawford: Cleveland grabbed him in the 2000 Draft and then swapped him to Chicago for Chris Mihm. He played just one year at Michigan, averaging 16.6 points and 4.5 assists. Crawford began his pro career mostly playing the point, but at 6-6 he has good size for a SG, the position he’s most often played. In his 13-year career he’s toiled for 6 teams. Crawford averaged 20.6 points and 5 assists for the Knicks in 2007-08, but shot just 41% (which is his career shooting average). The last 4 seasons he’s been a "hired-gun" who brings instant offense off the bench. His most efficient outing was 2009-10 with Atlanta (18 points per game, shooting 44.9% on FGs and 38.2% on 3s with a WS/48 of .143). Last season was also unusually efficient for him (43.8% FGs, 37.6% 3s) as he posted 16.5 points per game for the Clippers. For his career Crawford has averaged 15.4 points and 3.8 assists, with a WS/48 of .077. If the Pistons pick a SG, let’s hope he’s a prolific scorer like Ben … Jamal Crawford.
4th – Chris Wilcox: The LA Clippers grabbed him in 2002 after his sophomore season at Maryland, where he’d averaged 12 points and 7.1 rebounds. He played sparingly as a rookie, but posted decent numbers in a reserve role the next 2 years (8+ points and 4+ boards in about 20 minutes). Wilcox was shipped off to Seattle in 2006, where he had his best years in a mostly starting role (13+ points and 7+ rebounds in about 30 minutes). In 2006-07 he actually played in 82 games! For most of his career he’s battled injuries, missing much of the season, which is also what he did during his 2 years as a Piston. For his 11-year career, Wilcox has played for 5 teams. He’s started in fewer than half the games he’s played; on average he’s played in less than 60 games a season. His career averages of about 8 points and 5 caroms in 20 minutes show that he can be productive if and when he’s healthy; his WS/48 for his career is .103. If the Pistons pick a PF, hopefully he’ll be less of an injury risk then Anthony … Chris Wilcox.
5th – Channing Frye: New York selected him out of Arizona in 2005, after a senior year in which he averaged 15.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. His rookie year (12.3 points and 5.8 boards in 24.2 minutes) was arguably his best; his career averages are lower. He has played for 3 teams in 7 seasons and has started a little over half of the games he’s played. After coming to Phoenix in 2009-10, Frye reinvented himself as a 3-point shooter; he’s now made 39% for his career. His shooting efficiency dropped off quite a bit in 2011-12, and he sat out last season after mandatory NBA heart tests revealed a life-threatening condition. Frye’s career averages are 9.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and WS/48 of .094. If the Pistons pick a PF/C, let’s hope he’s more of a bruiser than Cody … Channing Frye.
6th – Brandan Wright: Picked by Charlotte in 2007 after his promising freshman year at North Carolina (14.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks), they promptly traded him to Golden State. He was solid in a very limited role for the Warriors for 3 years. Then they traded him to New Jersey in 2011, and he became a free agent at the season’s end. Wright signed with Dallas in December of 2011, and has been a very productive backup at PF/C (8.5 points, 4.1 boards, 1.2 blocks in 18 minutes last season). While he’s barely started over 20% of the games he’s played in his 5 seasons, his career WS/48 of .162 would indicate that he deserves a larger role. If the Pistons pick a PF/C, let’s hope he’ll be a productive athlete like Nerlens … Brandon Wright.
7th – Jordan Hill: He was taken by New York in 2009 after his junior year at Arizona, where he posted 18.3 points, 11 boards and 1.7 blocks. He played sparingly for the Knicks as a rookie, and they traded him to Houston in February of 2010. He was a reserve for the Rockets for 2 years, and then was traded to the Lakers in March of 2012. He was a key contributor off the bench, reaching career highs in points (6.7) and rebounds (5.7) in less than 16 minutes a game. Then a hip injury in January that required surgery knocked him out for the remainder of the season. He returned to play in the Lakers playoff series against the Spurs, scoring 8 points and grabbing 4 caroms in 15 minutes in L.A.’s game 4 loss. Hill’s career numbers are 5.6 points and 4.5 rebounds, with a WS/48 of .104. If the Pistons pick a PF/C, let’s hope he’s more ready to produce right away than Lucas … Jordan Hill.
8th – Al Farouq Aminu: The L.A. Clippers took the Wake Forest sophomore in the 2010 draft. He’d averaged 15.8 points and 10.7 rebounds his 2nd year of college. His rookie year was not very impressive, as he shot under 40% on FGs and made 31.5% of his 3s (1.8 attempts in 17.9 minutes per game). Packaged as part of the Chris Paul trade, he went to New Orleans the following year, where his playing time and performance improved modestly. Last season he started 71 of 76 games (27.2 minutes) and provided 7.3 points (47.5%) and 7.7 boards. Aminu also attempted a lot fewer 3s (124 less than his rookie year), which was a wise choice for a guy without much range. His Per36 rebounding average of 10.2 was the best by any SF last season. His career WS/48 is .050, but it was a much improved .073 last season. If the Pistons pick a SF, they could do worse than Otto … Al Farouq Aminu.
9th – T.J. Ford: Milwaukee nabbed him in 2003 (the year we picked Darko 2nd) after his sophomore year at Texas, where he’d averaged 15 points and 7.7 assists. He immediately became the Bucks starting PG, averaging 6.5 assists and 7.1 points (38.4% FGs). A career threatening injury in February caused him to miss the rest of the season and all of his second year. Ford returned to a starting role in 2005-06. Then the Bucks sent him to Toronto (probably because he was a 40% shooter) in return for Charlie Villanueva. His first year with the Raptors, Ford started, averaged 14 points (43.6% FGS) and 7.9 assists, and helped lead them into the playoffs. The following season he suffered another major injury that knocked him out of play for almost 2 months. During that time Toronto’s backup PG, Jose Calderon, played so well that Ford never regained his starting job. He was traded to Indiana the summer of 2008, where he alternated starting at PG along with Jarrett Jack, and averaged 14.9 points and 5.3 assists. His playing time declined the next 2 years, and after a brief stint with San Antonio in 2011-12, Ford retired. His career averages are 11.2 points, 5.8 assists, and WS/48 of .068. If the Pistons pick a PG, let’s hope they select a more efficient one than Michael … T.J. Ford.
10th – Brandon Knight: Detroit selected him in 2011 after a freshman year at Kentucky where he led his team to the Final Four, averaging 17.3 points and 4.2 assists. Injuries to his Pistons backcourt mates gave him the opportunity to start 60 games as a rookie, and he started all 75 of the games he played last year. As a rookie he averaged 12.8 points and 3.8 assists and made the All-Rookie First Team. He’s primarily played PG, but the February trade for Jose Calderon moved Knight to SG. While his play has been under whelming and inconsistent, the team still appears positive about his future as a combo guard. Last year his averages ticked up ever so slightly to 13.3 points and 4.0 assists. His career WS/48 is .025, reflecting his turnover problems and mostly inefficient scoring. If there was a silver lining last year, it’s that Knight got to the foul line more and had more games in which he scored in double figures (49), with a career high of 31 against Orlando. If the Pistons choose another PG, let’s hope they select a more reliable one than Dennis … Brandon Knight.
11th – Terrence Ross: Toronto took him in 2012 after his sophomore year at Washington, where he posted 16.4 points and 6.4 boards. Ross averaged 6.4 points, appearing in 73 games and averaging 17 minutes, with a WS/48 of .034. Ross also won the Slam Dunk Contest at the All-Star Weekend. Over 40% of his shots were 3s, but he only connected on 33.2%. He made 37.1% his last year with the Huskies, so the Raptors hope that’s indicative of his potential. His high game was 26 points against Portland, and he made 6 of 9 3s. He had 22 double-digit scoring nights. If the Pistons pick a SG, let’s hope he’s a better shooter than Kentavious … Terrence Ross.
12th – DeSagana Diop: Cleveland selected him in 2001 out of Oak Hill Academy, where he was a McDonald’s All-American. In 4 years with the Cavs he failed to make a significant impact, so he signed with Dallas as a free agent in 2005. He actually started in 45 games that year, and in 2 ½ seasons with the Mavs he averaged about 18 minutes per game. Traded in February of 2008 to New Jersey, he came back to Dallas as a free agent that summer. They signed him to a 5 year/$32 million contract. Then in January of 2009 the Mavs traded him to Charlotte, where he is well paid but seldom played. For his 12-year career, Diop has averaged 2 points and 3.7 rebounds in 14 minutes, with a WS/48 of .073. His blocks average Per36 is 2.7, which indicates that his primary value is as a defender. If the Pistons pick a C, hopefully he’ll be able to do more than Rudy … DeSagana Diop.
13th – Joe Alexander: Milwaukee grabbed him in 2008 after his junior year at West Virginia, where he’d averaged 16.9 points and 6.4 boards. As a rookie he appeared in 59 games, giving the Bucks 4.7 points and 1.9 rebounds in 12.1 minutes. In 2010 he was traded to Chicago, where he appeared briefly in only 8 games. The Bulls let him go at season’s end, and he signed with New Orleans before the start of the 2010-11 season. But Alexander was waived in mid-November without having played a game. He did have a solid campaign in the D-League, playing in their All-Star Game. Alexander played in Russia the following season during the lockout. It’s doubtful if he’ll ever make it back into the NBA. His career averages are 4.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, and WS/48 of .030. If the Pistons pick a SF, we certainly want him to be better than Sergey … Joe Alexander.
14th – Rafael Araujo: The Brazilian big man was picked by Toronto in 2004 after his second year at BYU, where he’d scored 18.4 points and grabbed 10.1 rebounds. He actually started 41 games for the Raptors as a rookie, but in 12.5 minutes per game he scored 3.3 points (43.4% FGs) and hauled in 3.1 boards. His minutes declined slightly his second year, and then he was sent packing to Utah in 2006. There he played an even smaller role, only appearing in 28 games. His NBA career averages are 2.8 points (40.5% FGs), 2.8 rebounds, and WS/48 of - .013. If the Pistons pick a C, I sure hope he’s not an international dud like Alex … Rafael Araujo.
Whether you agree with how I’ve ranked these players or not, I think it’s clear that history does not teach us to have high expectations for our second 8th pick in the last two drafts. Of course, more recent picks like Knight and Ross could move up if they become more reliable contributors in the next few years. Aminu has improved every year; if he could develop a jump shot he’d become a very good SF. Big men like Wright and Hill have become valued reserves, and are young enough to carve out larger roles in the near future. While Crawford and Gaye have often been inefficient shooters, both have shown the ability to be dependable scorers. While he has not been an All-Star, Miller is a player who has consistently helped his team. Let’s hope that the 8th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft brings us a player of his caliber.