Draft History: Best Picks Below 9, 2002-2012

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2002

May 13, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies small forward Tayshaun Prince (21) prepares to take a shot in game four of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder at FedEx Forum. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Tayshaun Prince (selected 23rd by the Detroit Pistons)
Prince was drafted out of Kentucky and became a staple role player of the Pistons for 10 years, winning a title in 2004 and being selected for the All-NBA defensive 2ndteam 4 years running (2005-2008). Fun fact – Prince wore the number 22 with the Pistons because that’s how many teams passed on him in the draft.

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May 6, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer (5) during the first half against the Miami Heat in game one of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Boozer (selected 35th by the Cleveland Cavaliers)
Boozer was drafted out of Duke in the 2ndround and found his footing pretty quickly, averaging a double-double his sophomore season. He really flourished in Utah though, after signing in free agency two years later. Perhaps he was too loud and obnoxious for the Cavs, but he’s had a very successful NBA career and now plays for Chicago.

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2003

Jun 1, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers power forward David West (21) holds the ball while defended by Miami Heat center Joel Anthony (50) and point guard Norris Cole (30) during the first half in game six of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

David West (selected 18thby the New Orleans Hornets)
West was drafted out of Xavier after 4 years and is currently one of the hottest free agents on the market. His dominant post game helped lead the Indiana Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals this year, where they narrowly lost to the Miami Heat in 7 games. West is a two time All-Star just like Blazer power forward, LaMarcus Aldridge.

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Apr 17, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Utah Jazz point guard Mo Williams (5) brings the ball up court during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden–USA TODAY Sports

Mo Williams (selected 47thby the Utah Jazz)
Williams was drafted out of Alabama and gradually developed into a scoring guard and a deadly 3-point threat. He made the All-Star team in 2009 while running point for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the LeBron era. He’s since traveled around the NBA and landed back in Utah, where he aided their late season run at the playoffs after returning from injury.

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2004

Mar 27, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (25) is defended by Phoenix Suns center Jermaine O

Al Jefferson (selected 15thby the Boston Celtics)
Jefferson was drafted straight out of high school (the first high school draftee in Celtics history) and spent two years developing before drawing the starting job in 06-07. Since then, he has never averaged fewer than 16 points a game. Jefferson is another big name free agent this year, and may end up with a new home as his current team, the Utah Jazz, might not be able to afford him.

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Apr 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith (5) drives to the basket against the Indiana Pacers in game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Smith (selected 17thby the Atlanta Hawks)
Smith was drafted out of high school as well (before the 2005 CBA required players to attend one year of college) experienced fairly immediate success. He was a starter his rookie season and within 3 years he was Atlanta’s second best player behind Joe Johnson. Now he is a top 10 power forward, and the best at his position on the free agent market.

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2005

Nov 16, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum (33) during the third quarter against the Utah Jazz at the Wachovia Center. The Sixers defeated the Jazz 99-93. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Bynum* (selected 10thby the Los Angeles Lakers)
Bynum was drafted out of high school (again, before the 2005 CBA took effect in the 2006 season) and gets an asterisk because of his current injury predicament. It’s difficult for me to rank a perpetually sidelined man-child among the best mid-range picks of the last decade. Still, when healthy, he is a top 2 center in the NBA alongside Dwight Howard.

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Feb 28, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger (33) dribbles on the perimeter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Danny Granger (selected 17thby the Indiana Pacers)
Granger was drafted out of New Mexico and eventually became the face of the Pacers (before the improvement of teammate, Paul George, during Granger’s absence due to injury). Granger became and NBA All-Star in 2009, winning the Most Improved Player award and leading the Pacers with an impressive 25.8 points per game.

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Honorable mention: David Lee (selected 30thby the New York Knicks)

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2006

Jan 22, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (9) is helped to his feet in the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Rajon Rondo (selected 21stby the Phoenix Suns)
Rondo was drafted out of Kentucky and was immediately traded to the Boston Celtics with Brian Grant for Cleveland’s 2007 1st round pick and cash. Rondo piloted the Celtics’ ‘Big 3’  during the 2008 championship and took over Ray Allen’s place in the trio after contributing to Allen’s departure with sour behavior and childish demeanor.

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Apr 9, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz power forward Paul Millsap (24) looks to pass during the second half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at EnergySolutions Arena. The Thunder won 90-80. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Millsap (selected 47thby the Utah Jazz)
Millsap was drafted out of Louisiana Tech late in the 2nd round. He is now Utah’s second leading scorer after the previously mentioned Al Jefferson. In 2009, the Trail Blazers signed Millsap to an offer sheet, but the Jazz matched it one week later and were able to retain his services. The Blazers successfully stole Wesley Matthews from the Jazz the following year.

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Honorable mention: Kyle Lowry (selected 24thby the Memphis Grizzlies)

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