NBA Draft: Best Active Player Selected In Each First Round Draft Slot

Categories: Game Time, Sports

I've said it many times in this space -- we are all dorks.

I don't mean we all have pocket protectors and pull our trousers up to an unreasonably high waist level (or even use the word "trousers" instead of the hipper, cooler "pants"), I mean that we all obsess over something, obsess to an extent that it minimally makes those close to us poke fun at us, and possibly even make them feel a little uncomfortable around us.

At various points in my life, I may have dorked out (or still do) over Star Wars, WWE wrestling, baseball statistics, Seinfeld, and The Sopranos.

But my "dork out" item I am here to discuss today, since the 2013 iteration of it occurs this Thursday, is the NBA Draft.

One of the most underrated television experiences for an NBA Draft dork is the annual ritual of spending an entire Sunday on the sofa watching reruns of old drafts gone by on NBA TV. The suits (or in Akeem Hakeem Olajuwon's case, the tux), the haircuts, the changing faces of David Stern, the entourages, and the analysis (nothing quite like remembering why taking Kwame Brown first overall made sense in 2001) all make that day long case of beer that Sunday go down that much smoother.

I love the NBA Draft, past, present, and future, and someday I want to do a show in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 style where me and my buddies Brian Geltzeiler and Coach Key from HBU just sit there on a coach and riff on old drafts, wisecracking and making fun of Peter Vecsey's woefully inept scoop breaking and insider tidbit dropping skills. (Go watch the 1986 NBA Draft sometime. Vecsey makes CNN's reporting of the Boston Marathon attacks look Emmy Award winning by comparison.)

But until the NBA (or ESPN or Comcast or anybody with an iPhone and a YouTube channel) wakes up and gives us that show, I'm left to get nostalgic here, in this blog. So for today's trip down NBA Draft Memory Lane, let's go through the best current active players for each draft slot, 1 through 30. (Or to build suspense, 30 down through 1.)

For fans of NBA teams in draft purgatory, that terrible middle portion of the first round where you're not a lottery team but you're not a championship contender either, it'll be a fairly sobering reminder of just how little help the draft has been historically, never mind the fact that this year's crop is considered the weakest in years anyway.

So without further ado, here are the best active players selected in each draft slot, with snarky comments and honorable mentions where necessary:

30. DAVID LEE, New York Knicks 2005
Lee is a weird player. A career 15/10 guy who finally made an All-Star game this season after signing a max contract a couple years ago with Golden State, but you could argue Golden State didn't skip a beat without him in the lineup in the playoffs, getting to the second round before falling to San Antonio in six games. (By the way, sadly, that's the order oftentimes -- max contract then selected to the All-Star Game, if some max guys even make it at all.)

29. JOSH HOWARD, Dallas Mavericks 2003
Classic case of a guy whose productivity in college should have spoken for itself. Viewed as a tweener coming out of Wake Forest, he fell all the way to 29th in the draft and wound up becoming an integral part of the Mavs team that made the NBA Finals in 2006, and was an All-Star in 2007. He also wound up really liking weed, which come to think of it, could also explain his fall in the draft. Also, a "wearing braces on their teeth in their prime" Mount Rushmore member, alongside Dwight Howard, Faith Hill, and [fill in name of Brady Bunch child here].

28. TONY PARKER, San Antonio Spurs 2001
The poster child for "picks that make everyone jealous of the San Antonio Spurs," alongside getting Manu Ginobili late in the second round the year they took him.

27. KENDRICK PERKINS, Memphis 2003 (traded to Boston)
It pains me to put Perkins here, but hey it's the 27th pick. Ain't much there. Also, Perkins was a fairly important cog in the Celtics team that won it all in 2008. Of course, he's evolved into the worst rotation player in basketball on the Thunder, but that's besides the point.

26. GEORGE HILL, San Antonio 2008
Hill is the strongest of a weak crop at 26, largely because San Antonio was able to flip him for the 15th pick in 2011 which became Kahwi Leonard. When you secure it spot in this breakdown because of what you brought back in a trade? Um, yeah, weak crop at 26. (Literally, Aaron Brooks might be the second best 26th pick, but I don't know if he technically counts as "active.")

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Tim Duncan should be in the conversation at one. He's better than Rose or Howard. 

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