The NBA Draft is often described as hit or miss. Sometimes you get the guy you thought you were drafting. Other times, you get Darko Milicic. As every pick gets farther from the first selection, the chances of hitting the gold mine decrease. The diamonds in the rough are rare, and at pick 17, finding an All-Star, or even a quality player has been difficult. Especially in a draft regarded by most experts as a weaker class, the Knicks may end up having to move up in order to get a player that’s willing to contribute right away.
With that said, we thought we would take a look at the last ten players that have been selected at #17. There are hardly any surprises: only one out of the ten has been an All-Star and the majority of players fall into the “Busts” or “Average” categories. Meanwhile, the two players Donnie Walsh selected, who Tommy Dee reported is still commanding ship in New York, have turned out quality players in the league (Danny Granger and Shawne Williams).
Sean Williams (2007) - Not to be confused with Shawne Williams, who was ironically picked with the seventheenth selection the year prior. The career path of this Williams however has not been successful; the 6’10″ shot blocker has floated from team to team, but hasn’t played an NBA game in over a year.
Žarko Čabarkapa (2003) – I swear this was actually a guy who was picked at 17.
Juan Dixon (2002) – While there is a niche in the NBA for guys like Dixon, he played eight seasons, but only played in more than 75 games once.
Michael Bradley (2001) - When you Google “Michael Bradley”, a U.S. soccer player comes up. As you can imagine, the 2.8 points per game – from Michael Bradley, the basketball player – is hardly what is expected from the seventeenth selection.
Roy Hibbert (2008) – Hibbert is a decent NBA player, but you can’t make the claim for his greatness. Granted, he is pretty much what the Knicks are lacking – a durable seven footer capable of honing the boards. Time will dictate if this former Hoya can propel himself up the ladder of greatness.
Shawne Williams (2006) – Like Hibbert, Williams’ fate as an NBA player has not fully been discovered. A year ago, it would have been all too easy to define the three point specialist as a bust, but due to some help from the man who originally drafted him (Donnie Walsh), he found his way back into the NBA and got the fifteenth slot on the team at the beginning of the season.
Danny Granger (2005) – Granger has been named an All-Star, the Most Improved Player, and part of the All-Rookie Second team. Those three accomplishments alone make him the most successful player on this list. However, in the past four seasons, he’s also dived through the league with averages more than 19 points per game all four years. Granger still has the bulk of his career ahead of him, but for now, we’re calling him a success story.
Josh Smith (2004) – The only thing stopping Josh Smith from a truly “successful” seventeenth pick is an All-Star appearance (but we’ll put him here anyway). As a Knick fan, I’ve hated him; he goes up to the line of legal play and dangles himself there by the skin of his teeth. He uses his elbows, pounds his way through screens, and is truly a vicious basketball player. But, in part, that’s what makes him so good. His last five seasons (he’s averaged 15+ points and 7+ rebounds per game) help too.
To Be Determined
Kevin Seraphin (2010) – Seraphin is a French product who was initially drafted by the Bulls and later given to the Wizards in order to make cap room for LeBron/Wade/Bosh’s arrival last summer… except they got Carlos Boozer as a consolation prize. Meanwhile, Seraphin made little to no impact on the Wizards, but we won’t hold it against him, it was only his first year.
Jrue Holiday (2009) - Over the past two years, Holiday has established himself as a defensive presence as well as a scoring threat. The Sixers starting point still has yet to fulfill his potential however he remains young at the ripe age of 21. There is still plenty of time for Jrue to be a successful selection in the NBA, but his fate has yet to be determined.