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NBA Daily: The Best And Worst Of The Last NBA Draft Decade

The NBA Draft is often hit or miss, and Steve Kyler looks at the lottery picks of the past decade.

Steve Kyler

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The Best And Worst

With the NBA Draft just around the corner and ever-increasing debate on where a certain player should be ranked, it seemed relevant to take a look back at the last decade of lottery picks and highlight some of the better decisions as well as some of the not so great decisions made on draft day.

If you want to see the complete history of every draft picks, check out the History of the NBA Draft – By Pick.

In looking at the draft history, two factors were used. We looked at whether the player was more or less than an average NBA player and whether he blossomed on a traditional track. Some drafted players found their groove well after their normal draft window and have had reasonable NBA careers, but many of those didn’t live up to their draft hype or draft status.

Let’s take a look:

The #1s

The Studs

2016: Ben Simmons, Louisiana State – Philadelphia 76ers

2015: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky – Minnesota Timberwolves

2014: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas – Cleveland Cavaliers

2012: Anthony Davis, Kentucky – New Orleans Hornets

2011: Kyrie Irving, Duke – Cleveland Cavaliers

2010: John Wall, Kentucky – Washington Wizards

2009: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma – L.A. Clippers

2008: Derrick Rose, Memphis – Chicago Bulls

The Duds

2013: Anthony Bennett, UNLV – Cleveland Cavaliers

The #2s

The Studs

2016: Brandon Ingram, Duke – Los Angeles Lakers

2015: D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State – Los Angeles Lakers

2013: Victor Oladipo, Indiana – Orlando Magic

The Duds

2012: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky – Charlotte Bobcats

2011: Derrick Williams, Arizona – Minnesota Timberwolves

2009: Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut – Memphis Grizzlies

2008: Michael Beasley, Kansas State – Miami HEAT

The #3s

The Studs

2017: Jayson Tatum, Duke – Boston Celtics

2016: Jaylen Brown, California – Boston Celtics

2014: Joel Embiid, Kansas – Philadelphia 76ers

2013: Otto Porter, Georgetown – Washington Wizards

2012: Bradley Beal, Florida – Washington Wizards

2009: James Harden, Arizona State – Oklahoma City Thunder

The Duds

2015: Jahlil Okafor, Duke – Philadelphia 76ers

2008: O.J. Mayo, USC – Minnesota Timberwolves

The #4s

The Studs

2015: Kristaps Porzingis, Baloncesta Sevilla – New York Knicks

2014: Aaron Gordon, Arizona – Orlando Magic

2008: Russell Westbrook, UCLA – Seattle Supersonics

The Duds

2012: Dion Waiters, Syracuse – Cleveland Cavaliers

2010: Wesley Johnson, Syracuse – Minnesota Timberwolves

2009: Tyreke Evans, Memphis – Sacramento Kings

The #5s

The Studs

2010: Demarcus Cousins, Kentucky – Sacramento Kings

2009: Ricky Rubio, Spain – Minnesota Timberwolves

The Duds

2015: Mario Hezonja, FC Barcelona Basquet – Orlando Magic

2014: Dante Exum, Australia – Utah Jazz

2013: Alex Len, Maryland – Phoenix Suns

2012: Thomas Robinson, Kansas – Sacramento Kings

The #6s

The Studs

2014: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma St. – Boston Celtics

2012: Damian Lillard, Weber State – Portland Trail Blazers

2008: Danilo Gallinari, Italy – New York Knicks

The Duds

2013: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky – New Orleans Pelicans

2011: Jan Vesely, Czech Republic – Washington Wizards

2010: Ekpe Udoh, Baylor – Golden State Warriors

2009: Jonny Flynn, Syracuse – Minnesota Timberwolves

The #7s

The Studs

2017: Lauri Markkanen, Arizona – Minnesota Timberwolves

2016: Jamal Murray, Kentucky – Denver Nuggets

2014: Julius Randle, Kentucky – Los Angeles Lakers

2012: Harrison Barnes, UNC – Golden State Warriors

2010: Greg Monroe, Georgetown – Detroit Pistons

2009: Stephen Curry, Davidson – Golden State Warriors

2008: Eric Gordon, Indiana – L.A. Clippers

The Duds

2015: Emmanuel Mudiay, Guangdong Tigers – Denver Nuggets

2013: Ben McLemore, Kansas – Sacramento Kings

2011: Bismack Biyombo, Congo – Sacramento Kings

The #8s

The Studs

No Studs in the last decade.

The Duds

2014: Nik Stauskas, Michigan – Sacramento Kings

2013: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia – Detroit Pistons

2011: Brandon Knight, Kentucky – Detroit Pistons

2009: Jordan Hill, Arizona – New York Knicks

2008: Joe Alexander, West Virginia – Milwaukee Bucks

The #9s

The Studs

2012: Andre Drummond, Connecticut – Detroit Pistons

2011: Kemba Walker, Connecticut – Charlotte Bobcats

2010: Gordon Hayward, Butler – Utah Jazz

2009: DeMar Derozen, USC – Toronto Raptors

The Duds

2014: Noah Vonleh, Indiana – Charlotte Hornets

2013: Trey Burke, Michigan – Minnesota Timberwolves

The #10s

The Studs

2013: C.J. McCollum, Lehigh – Portland Trail Blazers

2010: Paul George, Fresno State – Indiana Pacers

2008: Brook Lopez, Stanford – New Jersey Nets

The Duds

2015: Justise Winslow, Duke – Miami HEAT

2011: Jimmer Fredette, BYU – Milwaukee Bucks

The #11s

The Studs

2015: Myles Turner, Texas – Indiana Pacers

2011: Klay Thompson, Washington State – Golden State Warriors

The Duds

2013: Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse – Philadelphia 76ers

2010: Cole Aldrich, Kansas – New Orleans Hornets (Draft rights traded to OKC Thunder)

2009: Terrence Williams, Louisville – New Jersey Nets

The #12s

The Studs

2015: Trey Lyles, Kentucky – Utah Jazz

2014: Dario Saric, Croatia – Orlando Magic

2013: Steven Adams, Pittsburgh – Oklahoma City Thunder

The Duds

2012: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut – Houston Rockets

2011: Alec Burks, Colorado – Utah Jazz

2010: Xavier Henry, Kansas – Memphis Grizzlies

2008: Jason Thompson, Rider – Sacramento Kings

The #13s

The Studs

2017: Donovan Mitchell, Louisville – Denver Nuggets

2015: Devin Booker, Kentucky – Phoenix Suns

2014: Zach LaVine, UCLA – Minnesota Timberwolves

2013: Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga – Dallas Mavericks

2011: Markieff Morris, Kansas – Phoenix Suns

The Duds

2016: Georgios Papagiannis, Greece – Phoenix Suns

2012: Kendall Marshall, UNC – Phoenix Suns

2009: Tyler Hansbrough, UNC – Indiana Pacers

2008: Brandon Rush, Kansas – Portland Trail Blazers

The #14s

The Studs

2017: Bam Adebayo, Kentucky – Miami HEAT

2014: TJ Warren, NC State – Phoenix Suns

2011: Marcus Morris, Kansas – Houston Rockets

2010: Patrick Patterson, Kentucky – Houston Rockets

The Duds

2013: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA – Utah Jazz

2009: Earl Clark, Louisville – Phoenix Suns

2008: Anthony Randolph, LSU – Golden State Warriors

If a drafted player is not listed he was neither a Stud or a Dud, that player was deemed simply an average NBA player or hasn’t logged enough time to practically be considered either way.

If you are curious how your favorite team has fared in the draft process, Basketball Insiders also has the History of the NBA Draft – By Team.

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, @mike_yaffe, @MattJohnNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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NBA Daily: Who Is Cam Reddish?

An underwhelming season at Duke casts a shadow over Cam Reddish, who oozes talent and potential. Shane Rhodes looks to answer the question: Who is Cam Reddish?

Shane Rhodes

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“I’m Cam Reddish.”

Cam Reddish gave the tongue-in-cheek response Thursday at the 2019 NBA Draft Combine when asked “who he is” as a basketball player.
But who is Reddish?

A former high school phenom, five-star recruit and projected top pick, Reddish was expected to flourish at Duke University under the watch of Mike Krzyzewski. When R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson later followed him to Durham, North Carolina, the three were expected to take the NCAA by storm.

Things didn’t quite go as planned.

While he is still a projected lottery pick, the jury is out on just who Reddish is and how his game will translate to the NBA. A dominant force in high school, the reserved 19-year-old took a backseat to Barrett and Williamson as the three tried but failed to capture a National Championship in their lone season together at Duke.

When compared to the sky-high expectations that were set for him, Reddish underwhelmed mightily as a Blue Devil, and that played a major part in their failure. Relegated to the role of a spot-up shooter and the third option on offense, Reddish averaged an okay, not good 13.5 points on just 12 attempts across 36 games. He managed a meager 35.6% from the field (33.3% from three) and dished out just 1.9 assists per game. When he had the ball, he often deferred to Barrett and Williamson, too often for some.

The focal point of his high school team at Westtown School, Reddish was lauded for the ability that made him a top recruit. He oozed (and still oozes) athleticism – Reddish, who weighed in at 208 pounds, was measured as 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot wingspan at the Combine – and is as versatile as they come. At Westtown, Reddish ran the point, while he spent most of his time at the two-guard or in the front-court at Duke. He was an aggressive, efficient scorer that had no problem getting what he wanted on the floor with the ball in his hands.

But at Duke, that player that Reddish was, the aggressiveness and ease at which he operated, seemed to disappear for long stretches. Those struggles have cast a large shadow over someone that had the look of a future superstar, and Reddish’s draft stock has taken a hit as a result. While some still stand behind him and his talent, plenty of others have faded Reddish in favor of other prospects.

But, at the Combine, Reddish isn’t dwelling on what was or what could have been at Duke. He just trying to learn and get back to being that do-it-all force that he was.

“I’m just trying to learn about the NBA process,” Reddish said. “I’m just trying to get back to who I can be, who I am.”

But that begs the question: who, exactly, is Reddish, and what could he do at the NBA level?

“I feel like I can do everything,” Reddish said. “I was more of a shooter this year – I don’t want to classify myself as just a shooter. I feel like if I just go out there and play my game, I can do a variety of things.”

“Once I show that, I should definitely move up [draft boards].”

There were plenty of flashes of that player during his short stint at Duke. Reddish, at times, seemed to will the ball into the basket, while his shooting stroke appeared to be as good as advertised. He had a knack for performing in the clutch, with multiple shots to win or tie the game for Duke, or keep them in it down the stretch when the others started to fade. The wing managed double-digit points in 23 games, 15 of which he posted 15 or more points (with 20 or more points in eight of those). Reddish managed 18 multi-steal performances and recorded a block or more in 16 games as well.

Wrap all of that up with his plus-defensive ability, and Reddish could very well prove the type of player that could do a little bit of everything for an NBA squad. But he can bring more than that, not only on the court, but off the court as well.

While some may perceive his passiveness alongside Barrett and Williamson as a negative, a lack of “mamba-mentality” or killer instinct that many teams hope for in their top draft picks, Reddish could (and probably should) just as easily be applauded for his willingness to share the ball and step into an ancillary role on a team loaded with talent. As we saw this season with the Boston Celtics, who were projected by many to go challenge the Golden State Warriors for the Larry O’Brien trophy but flamed out against the Milwaukee Bucks after a season fraught with discontent, that can be hard to do on the biggest stage.

And, while he is the quiet type, Reddish made it a point to say that evaluators shouldn’t confuse that for laziness or lack of effort.

“I’m kind of reserved – my personality is kind of reserved – some people might take that as lazy or too laid back. But that’s not just who I am, I’m just a naturally reserved, calm guy.”

There were certainly issues, however.

Despite flashes, Reddish wasn’t the player he could be on anywhere near a consistent basis, even in a smaller role. His time at Duke revealed some major deficiencies in his game and presented some serious causes for concern; a penchant for bad shots, struggles close to the basket and the inability to maximize his athletic gifts. On more than one occasion, he looked to have turned the corner, only to drop another underwhelming performance soon after.

All of that doesn’t exactly bode well for Reddish’s transition to the NBA, regardless of the team that picks him on draft night.

But, the potential is there for him to be great. Now it’s on Reddish to capitalize on that potential.

Reddish could very well prove the most polarizing prospect in the 2019 Draft Class. His ability to maximize his natural talent and recapture the aggressiveness that pushed him to the top of his recruiting class could prove the difference between him becoming the next Jeff Green or the next Paul George

Or, should he really find himself at the next level, he could become the first Cam Reddish.

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NBA Daily: Grant Williams: Household Name In The Making

On Friday, Tennessee’s Grant Williams announced that he would stay in the NBA Draft — but this is just the beginning for the collegiate standout, writes Ben Nadeau.

Ben Nadeau

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On Friday, Grant Williams made the most important decision of his young career.

After a strong three-year stint at Tennessee, Williams has elected to remain in the selection pool, a choice that will undoubtedly culminate in celebration next month at the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7, Williams effortlessly presents the type of well-rounded skillset that has had scouts drooling all week at the NBA Draft Combine. As Tennesse climbed the NCAA’s power rankings this past collegiate campaign — even standing as Division-I’s No. 1 team for four weeks — Williams’ name and stature deservedly rose too. The Volunteers eventually suffered a heart-breaking overtime loss to Purdue in the Sweet 16 this springtime but by then the damage had been done: Williams was somebody worth watching.

In that late March Madness loss to the Boilermakers, Williams racked up 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks on 56.3 percent. A few days prior, during the Round of 32, the high-intensity junior stuffed the box score for 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three blocks and four steals. And if those numbers seem impressive — and don’t worry, they are — that’s because Williams practically averaged a similar line all season en route to his second consecutive SEC Player of the Year award.

But that’s not the only reason why Williams has first round-worthy plaudits either, showing promise as a flexible defender and hardcore challenger this week alone.

“Just the improvement that I had throughout my career, showing that I progressively got better — I think teams value good guys and value competitors, so then that really helped me over the course of my career,” Williams told Basketball Insiders on Thursday. “And coach Barnes, like I said, those guys that put me in the best position to help win as well as become a better player.”

As a capable three-point marksman (32.6 percent) and an underrated passer (3.2 assists), Williams fit flawlessly into that modern big man mold that every front office has chased in drafts for the last half-decade. The sample size is a tad small at just 1.2 attempts per game from deep in 2018-19, but many will see Williams as a two-way positive — a high-percentage offensive contributor with lockdown capacity on the opposite end.

During the combine, Williams was adept at switching in the pick-and-roll, a skillset that bodes well for defending multiple positions at the next level too. Even more impressive, back in January, he went 23-for-23 from the free throw line to propel Tennessee past Vanderbilt in overtime — aberration, it was not, as he hit at 81.9 percent for the entire season to boot. But Williams believes that his ability to draw fouls could offer a unique glimpse at more of his NBA-ready strengths.

“Maybe, [but] fouls are different in the league, I think it’s more physical of a game — so you might not get those certain calls,” Williams said. “But it’s just a matter of showing your toughness and being able to be that guy that isn’t pushed around and can hold his own.”

Ultimately, Williams is the complete package — all he’s missing now is the household name.

Soon that will change too.

Williams’ massive choice to remain in the draft likely reinforces that his first-round projections were too good to turn down. In Basketball Insiders’ latest Consensus Mock Draft, two writers sent Williams to the Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 26, while the other pair selected him one pick later at No. 27 for Brooklyn. Elsewhere, The Athletic recently plugged him in at No. 27 too and The Ringer went even higher at No. 17.

Yahoo! Sports, CBS and ESPN all have ranked Williams somewhere within that range too, while Andy Katz — longtime draft analyst — openly gushed about the Volunteer on national television.

Unsurprisingly, Williams’ list of honors is much longer than we can feasibly print but the highlights simply prove that the 20 -year-old has reigned atop Division-I for nearly a full year. NCAA Unanimous First Team All-American, 2019 and 2018’s SEC Player of the Year, All-SEC First Team — in both AP and coach-led versions — and plenty of conference-given Player of the Week awards decorate Williams’ budding trophy case. Today, the Volunteers’ Twitter account made the most succinct point of them all: “Plain and simple, one of the best to ever wear the Orange & White.”

And even though he believes that his day one performance wasn’t quite up to snuff, Williams is determined to prove that the best is yet to come.

“Just the defensive consistency as well as knocking down the shot,” Williams told Basketball Insiders. “I didn’t shoot the ball well [yesterday], I tested well, I think, I had 20 on the bench press and stuff like that before I played. I think that [today] is going to be a better day to show more.”

Of course, Williams could’ve been lured back for a final, year-long curtain call at Tennessee — but without Admiral Schofield and, potentially, Jordan Bone, that thought became a much more difficult torch to bare alone. Leaving that guaranteed money at the wayside, particularly so without his All-SEC teammates, would have been a tough ask — particularly so if Williams is now destined to hear his name called in the first round.

Still, Williams is built differently and watching him play for five minutes, whether in an NCAA Tournament game or combine scrimmages, quickly confirms that notion.

On Thursday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski joined the analyst’s desk to share a gem he’d picked up from Kendrick Perkins, one of the coaches working at the combine, noting that Williams, out of nowhere, naturally assumed a leadership role throughout the scrimmage portion of the afternoon.

“Williams came in with his team, started organizing the team right away, talking to guys about their strengths, how they could come out here and play well, play to each other’s strengths,” Wojnarowski mentioned. “[Perkins] said it’s kind of rare to see that leadership, that type of initiative in the combine process.”

For Tennessee and their fans, however, that’s just a normal day with Williams, their beloved three-year standout who is finally ready to make his jump to the professional level.

But when asked about what’s he’s getting out of the NBA Draft Combine, Williams offered up a refreshing slice of perspective.

“[I’m] enjoying it, just enjoying the process, as well as enjoying the opportunity because not many guys get this opportunity to be here,” Williams told Basketball Insiders. “And that’s part of the reason why I played [in the scrimmages], I wanted to go through the full experience.”

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NBA Daily: Ja Morant Aims To Continue Rising

Not many people knew who Ja Morant was last year, but they do now – and the Murray State star believes it’s not going to end there, writes Matt John.

Matt John

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One year ago, not many in the basketball industry knew the name of Temetrius Jamel “Ja” Morant. Coming into his sophomore year at Murray State, the 19-year-old was slated to be the third option on a team that did not appear in the NCAA preseason rankings.

By garnering minimal attention at the season’s start, Ja Morant used it to his advantage to get to where he is now.

“It’s been a big motivation,” Morant said at the 2019 NBA Draft Combine. “Honestly, coming from under the radar, not being paid much attention to, I can say it made me play with this chip on my shoulder.”

Following a consensus first-team All-American performance and after putting on a spectacular one-man show in this year’s March Madness tournament, Morant’s efforts have skyrocketed his stock all the way up to the near-top. It is widely believed that Ja could be selected as high as second overall in this year’s upcoming draft.

With all the attention that’s been coming his way in the past 12 months, Ja is simply soaking it all in.

“It’s been crazy honestly,” Morant said. “To come from being under the radar to one of the most talked-about players now. Obviously, it’s been rough. It’s something I’m getting used to, but I’m happy for it.”

Even with all the newfound attention in recent months, that hasn’t stopped Morant from remembering how far he’s come and the people who have helped him get to where he is today.

“I feel like I just worked for it,” Morant said. “I never gave up (on) anything. I’ve obviously been under the radar where you probably have doubts. There was a time where I doubted myself, but my parents didn’t allow me to quit. I didn’t allow myself to quit.”

That doesn’t mean he’s out of the woods just yet. As any aspiring professional basketball player would know, transitioning from the college level to the professional is going to be difficult no matter how much hype he may have coming out. Morant clearly understands the tough road ahead and is preparing himself accordingly this summer.

“I have to get stronger to really be able to absorb contact in the league,” Morant said. “I’m in the weight room now actually. I’m working on my upper body. I’m pretty sure everybody knows I can jump, so legs (are) not really a factor, but I do leg workouts too.”

The obstacles ahead for Ja are going to be tough for him to get through. Even with that, he is confident that he will be prepared for whatever challenge he’ll have to face when he comes into the league.

“I think I’m ready,” Morant said. “This is something I’ve been training for all my life. It’s one of my goals, and now I’m in a position to accomplish that goal.”

There will be plenty of room for Ja to grow when he enters the NBA, but he believes his playmaking abilities will be ready enough to help the team that drafts him.

“I’m a pass-first point guard who just loves to get his teammates involved,” Morant said. “I feel like my IQ is the strongest part of my game, being able to make plays for me and my teammates.”

Ja’s passing abilities were very much on display during his sophomore season in college, as he averaged 10 assists per game. However, even though he averaged 24.6 points on 50/35/81 splits this past season, he believes that teams will be surprised most by his scoring abilities as a point guard.

“I really don’t try to focus on scoring,” Morant said. “I would rather take an assist over a bucket any day, but I really feel that I can score the basketball.”

Morant’s future may already be set for the next couple of years. Literally one day after winning the second overall pick in the NBA Draft Lottery, it appears that the Memphis Grizzlies have already decided that they will use the selection on Ja. Despite all the rumblings and the hype surrounding him, Morant’s opted to stay humble throughout the entire process.

“I would really be happy with any team that drafts me,” Morant said. “That means they see something in me. It’s just an honor to play this game at the highest level and to be in the position that I’m in right now.”

Morant’s explosion in the NCAA this season caught so much admiration that some believe Morant may actually be a better player than the anticipated number one pick in this draft, Zion Williamson. Even with all the praise and the higher expectations placed on himself, Ja refuses to use his status as one of the expected top picks to put himself above his fellow 2019 draftees.

“There’s a lot of talented guys in here,” Morant said. “Obviously, to be talked about one of the top players in this draft is just an honor.”

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