Best second round draft picks in NBA history

Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili is one of the NBA Draft's great success stories. Photo from Pounding The Rock.

Some of the great NBA stories center around the best NBA second round picks of all-time… 

It’s been an uncomfortable NBA subject for the last few decades, but it’s pretty apparent that front offices do utilize tanking as a strategy to improve their draft standing.

This tactic is usually done to improve the odds of getting a higher pick in the ensuing NBA Draft. This increases the likelihood that a team will be in position to select a premier college or international prospect.

However, it doesn’t mean that organizations can’t find talent after the lottery picks have been finalized. There have been many NBA second round picks who became stars, and important contributors to successful teams. The most successful second round picks in NBA history often had character concerns, perceived on-court limitations that were overcome.

Best NBA second round picks

Let’s take a look at the best NBA second round picks. Teams are already trying to uncover diamonds in the rough for the 2022 Draft.

With all due respect to Tiny Archibald and Spencer Haywood, they were not included in consideration for this list, as the number of teams in the NBA in the early 1970’s and prior bumped second round picks into a range that most fans consider to be first round selections today.

Nikola Jokic

Even though he’s only played six years in the NBA, it’s already fair to anoint Nikola Jokic as one of the best second round picks in league history. He’s only 26 years old. Jokic has made himself a superstar caliber player in an era that has devalued the contribution of centers. Fresh off of winning the NBA MVP award in 2021, his ability to affect multiple facets of the game has been a sight to see.


At 6’11” and 284 pounds, he’s not the most nimble or athletic player we’ve ever seen. Yet, Jokic’s skill level and ability to use his body to shield off defenders has made him nearly impossible to stop.

The days of running offense through a center were supposed to have been over. However, Jokic’s passing ability makes the Nuggets’ perimeter players consistent threats to cut back door. At the rate he’s going, he might end up in the pantheon of the greatest big men to ever play the game.

Gilbert Arenas

In so many words, Gilbert Arenas was a prototype of the variety of star guards we see in the league today.

Before Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry decided that pulling up for three from 30 feet was a good idea, Arenas was busy showcasing that range in the prior decade.

His game was not quite as refined as the aforementioned duo. He also played during a time when those types of shots were viewed as bad offensive possessions.

Nicknamed “Agent Zero”, Arenas was an elite offensive player in the NBA for a stretch in the mid 2000’s. Arenas made three All-Star teams, and three All-NBA teams throughout his career.

Manu Ginobili

Manu Ginobili’s accomplishments as a winner, a competitor, and an extremely talented player speak for themselves on the NBA and international stage.

He won four championships as one of the lynchpins of the San Antonio Spurs dynasty. His unique style of play was never boring to watch.

Ginobili’s passion and love for the game was apparent each time he set foot on the court. He always seemed to be able to make something happen during his frenetic drives to the basket.

Surprisingly, he only won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award once in his career. Despite that, he will forever be remembered as one of the best sparkplugs off the bench in history.

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About Andrew Pistone 75 Articles
Andrew is a contributor to Franchise Sports, who believes that Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's no look pass while being facemasked against the Las Vegas Raiders was better than any Magic Johnson assist on the fast break.

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