Curtis Borchardt. Oleksiy Pecherov. Mirsad Turckan. None of those names are very familiar to most NBA fans. But all three were picked 18th in the NBA Draft, providing both them and their respective teams only brief moments of promise.
Joe Dumars. Ricky Pierce. Theo Ratliff. Those names are still recognizable to many, even though two were drafted in the 1980s and the most recent (Ratliff) was chosen in 1995. In fact, Dumars is undoubtedly the best 18th pick ever, and was an indispensable participant in the Pistons’ three NBA titles.
Dumars played his college ball at McNeese State before Detroit nabbed him in 1985. The Hall of Famer played in six All-Star games, was First Team All-Defense four times, and won the Finals MVP Award when the Pistons took home their first NBA championship in 1989. Dumars averaged 16.1 ppg, 4.5 assists, and shot .382 percent from three for his 14-year career.
Drafted in 1982 after playing college ball at Rice University, Pierce only played one season in Motown before he was traded to the San Diego Clippers. He enjoyed his greatest success in Milwaukee, where he twice won the Sixth Man of the Year Award. He was an All-Star in 1991. For his 15-year career, the 6-4 shooting guard averaged 14.9 points per game with a .573 True Shooting Percentage.
Selected out of the University of Wyoming in 1995, Theo Ratliff played over two seasons for Detroit before being sent to Philadelphia in December of 1997 as part of the trade that brought back Jerry Stackhouse. Three times he led the league in blocks per game and he played in the 2001 All-Star game. Ratliff enjoyed his greatest success in Philadelphia and Atlanta during a 16-year career in which he averaged 7.2 ppg, 5.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.
The record of the other number 18 picks has been more mixed, and the jury is still out on career potential of the last several selected. What follows are short summaries of the 10 players taken at this spot going back to the 2006 NBA Draft:
2015: Sam Dekker, Wisconsin (6-9, 230 SF) – Houston Rockets
Dekker was drafted after playing three seasons for a Wisconsin team that lost to Duke in the NCAA championships his last year. He averaged 13.9 ppg and 5.5 rpg during the regular season. He saw extensive preseason action with the Rockets, but played sparingly once the 2015-16 season began. Then he underwent back surgery in mid-November, and was only cleared for full basketball activity in May.
2014: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse (6-3, 194 PG) – Phoenix Suns
Ennis was drafted after one season at Syracuse, and logged most of his rookie playing time in the D-League before he was sent in February to Milwaukee as part of a three-team trade that also landed former Piston Brandon Knight in Phoenix. Last year he averaged 4.5 ppg and 2.1 apg in 46 appearances (14.2 minutes per game). He was not particularly effective in his seven starts, and has done nothing yet to ameliorate the concerns about his shooting from his college play. But he will not turn 22 until August, so he is not a finished prospect.
2013: Shane Larkin, Miami (5-11, 175 PG) – Atlanta Hawks
Larkin has already made the rounds, as the Hawks traded him the day they picked him to Dallas, which traded him the following summer to New York. After one season they did not retain him, and he signed with Brooklyn last July. Last season was his most productive (7.3 ppg, 4.4 apg, .361 three-point shooting), and in 17 starts he posted averages of 9.5 ppg and 5.8 apg. Larkin will turn 24 in October.
2012: Terrence Jones, Kentucky (6-9, 252 PF/C) – Houston Rockets
Jones spent most of his rookie year playing in the D-League, but started 71 games his second season, averaging 12.1 ppg and 6.9 rpg. Since then he has been plagued with injuries and has started only 35 games in two seasons. Nevertheless his career averages of 10.4 ppg and 5.8 rpg in 24.1 mpg look promising for a guy who is just 24. He will be a Restricted Free Agent this summer.
2011: Chris Singleton, Florida State (6-8, 230 SF/PF) – Washington Wizards
A productive player for the Seminoles in his three years in college, Singleton’s best NBA season was his first – 4.6 ppg and 3.5 rpg in 21.7 mpg, with 51 starts. His playing time declined sharply the next two years and the Wizards let him go. He signed a contract with Indiana in September of 2014, but they waived him the following month.
2010: Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky (6-1, 190 PG) – Oklahoma City Thunder
Drafted by the Thunder after one season with the Wildcats, Bledsoe was traded on draft night for a 2012 first round pick to the Clippers. He immediately established an important role in the Los Angeles rotation, and by his third year it was clear he was destined for more than backing up Chris Paul. Bledsoe was obtained by Phoenix in a three-team swap in 2013 and has been a starter ever since, though injuries have caused him to miss 90 games in his three seasons as a Sun. He signed a five-year/$70 million deal with them in September of 2014. For his career Bledsoe has averaged 11.6 ppg and 4.3 apg with a TS% of .540.
2009: Ty Lawson, UNC (5-11, 195 PG) – Minnesota Timberwolves
A three-year star for the Tarheels, Lawson was sent packing after he was picked to Denver, in exchange for a 2010 first round pick. He became Chauncey Billups’ backup and then took over the starting role for the Nuggets when "Mr. Big Shot" was traded to New York in February of 2011. In his six seasons in the Mile High City, Lawson averaged 14.2 ppg and 6.6 apg with a .561 TS%. His well-publicized problems with alcohol have since derailed his career; he was not very effective for either Houston or Indiana last season.
2008: JaVale McGee, Nevada (7-0, 270 C) – Washington Wizards
McGee has tantalized with his potential, but has never been able to fully realize it. After almost four seasons in which he averaged 8.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 1.8 blocks in 21.3 mpg, the Wizards decided to move on and dealt him to Denver as part of a three-team trade that gave them veteran big Nene Hilario. McGee signed a three-year/$32 million contract with the Nuggets in 2012, but never grew into a larger role commensurate with his salary. He played for Dallas last season.
2007: Marco Belinelli, Italy (6-5, 210 SG) – Golden State Warriors
Belinelli played two seasons for Golden State before they traded him to Toronto for Devean George. After a year they sent him to New Orleans, which did not re-sign him after two productive seasons (11.1 ppg with a .543 TS%). After a season in Chicago, he next signed a two-year deal with San Antonio. Last summer he signed a three-year/$19 million contract with Sacramento. His career averages are 9.5 ppg in 23.0 mpg with a .543 TS%.
2006: Oleksiy Pecherov, Ukraine (7-0, 232 C) – Washington Wizards
Pecherov waited until 2007 to come to the States, and played minimally for the Wizards for two years before being traded to the Timberwolves, where he also played very little for one season. For his career he averaged 3.9 ppg and 2.4 rpg in 9.4 mpg.
As this quick review shows, the 18th pick is not a "sure thing." It is too soon to evaluate the value of the more recent picks (Dekker and Ennis), but so far we can say that two of the 10 (Pecherov and Singleton) were minimally productive and two have become stars (Bledsoe and Lawson). Four (Belinelli, Jones, Larkin, McGee) have become at least solid rotation players on their teams.