More than a day. A day before the big ceremony of the NBA 2021 Draft, made up of several very attractive prospects who could well become the future stars of our favorite League. But the Draft is not only the Top 5 or the Top 10. We have two laps for 60 picks in total and sometimes the biggest nuggets are further in the selection, or even very far. You only have to look at the list of players rewarded at the NBA Awards 2021 to realize it.
MVP: Nikola Jokic, 41st draft pick (2014)
The biggest steal in NBA history? There is debate, but Nikola Jokic has serious arguments. The Serbian pivot, unplayable throughout the season, logically won his first MVP title by combining individual XXL performances and collective success with his Denver Nuggets. A title which symbolizes the exceptional rise of the Joker, that nobody imagined at this level at the time of the Draft. From 41st pick to MVP status, hello the big gap. FYI, never a player selected so low had walked away with the most prestigious individual awards. Isaiah Thomas – 60th pick in 2011 – wasn’t far from an even crazier feat in 2017, but he finished fifth. Finally, for your personal culture, also know that only one other player selected in the second round of the Draft has won the title of MVP in history. It was Willis Reed, drafted in 1964 when the first round barely contained … seven picks.
Defender of the Year: Rudy Gobert, 27th draft pick (2013)
It’s been a while since Rudy Gobert filed a patent for the Defender of the Year title. Three DPOYs won over the last four years, we are starting to get used to it by force. But this does not mean that we should forget where it comes from. And Rudy has come a long way. The kid from Saint-Quentin was selected at the very end of the first round – with the 27th choice more precisely – by the Denver Nuggets in 2013, who transferred him in the wake of the Jazz, of which he became the cornerstone in defense. . The proof that we can make history even by being selected low. Rudy is now only one DPOY away from the all-time record, held by Dikembe Mutombo and a certain Ben Wallace, who had simply not been drafted when he left university …
Rookie of the Year: LaMelo Ball, 3rd draft pick (2020)
The title of Rookie of the Year was played this year between LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards, respectively third and first choice of the 2020 Draft, with in the end a victory for the son of LaVar. So no big surprise and when we zoom out, we see that the title of ROY is often reserved for prospects selected in the Top 5. Logic we want to say. But since Draft is not an exact science, we can also see less expected guys getting involved in the race. This year, for example, Kings youngster Tyrese Haliburton was among the finalists and was even the favorite at the start of the season. His place in the 2020 Draft? Twelfth. We are slowly entering the “steal” category there. Small reminder also, in 2017, a certain Malcolm Brogdon had won the title of ROY after being drafted in 36th position.
Sixth Man of the Year: Jordan Clarkson, 46th draft pick (2014)
The Sixth Man of the Year title may be more open to late picks given that the first draft picks are theoretically potential incumbents. But still, seeing a guy selected in 46th position win this trophy, it’s not nothing. Since his arrival at Jazz, Jordan Clarkson has been enjoying an offensive booster suit off the bench, and he was rewarded this year for his role played in the very beautiful Jazz campaign. He is following in the footsteps of Lou Williams, record holder in this discipline (three titles won, tied with Jamal Crawford) and selected in 45th position in 2005.
Most Improved Player: Julius Randle, 7th Draft Pick (2014)
Set up for the 1985-86 season, the MIP trophy rarely ends up in the hands of top picks. We are more sure of the second part of the Lottery (places 7-14) or late drafted players, whether in the second part of the first round or even in the second round. Again, not illogical, in the sense that the first choices are often empowered fairly quickly in their new franchise and are accompanied by high expectations. The typical profile of the MIP is a player who takes a big step forward from one season to another, by surprise or by opportunity, and who already has two or three years in the League (the sophomores are rarely rewarded , because progression is naturally expected). This season, Julius Randle has won the bet. If he had already shown to the Pelicans, he took advantage of a new start with the Knicks to become an All-NBA player capable of leading a team in the Playoffs.
Finals MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo, 15th draft pick (2013)
Giannis, of course. At the top of the basketball world today, the Greek Freak has become the symbol of the rough diamond transformed into jewel. Drafted with the 15th choice by the Bucks in 2013, Antetokounmpo has experienced a mad rise in recent years and one wonders how far he can go. After winning the titles of MIP, MVP, and Defender of the Year between 2017 and 2020, Giannis added that of MVP of the Finals in 2021, he who walked on the Suns with in particular an epic finish in Game 6. In in other words, the Freak has already won almost everything when he is only 26 years old. Not bad for a guy selected in the middle of the first round, right?
All-NBA First Team:
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, 15th draft pick (2013)
- Kawhi Leonard, 15th draft pick (2011)
- Nikola Jokic, 41st draft pick (2014)
- Stephen Curry, 7th draft pick (2009)
- Luka Doncic, 3rd draft pick (2018)
In addition to having three Europeans in the All-NBA First Team for the 2020-21 season, we also realize that only two of them come from the Top 10 of the Draft, namely Luka Doncic and Stephen Curry. We have already spoken of Giannis and Jokic, we also see that a certain Kawhi Leonard was drafted in the middle of the first round, like the Greek Freak. Today, Leonard is among the top five players on the planet, and has on his CV two titles of MVP of the Finals and two titles of Defender of the Year.
NBA All-Defensive First Team:
- Draymond Green, 35th draft pick (2012)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, 15th draft pick (2013)
- Rudy Gobert, 27th draft pick (2013)
- Ben Simmons, 1st draft pick (2016)
- Jrue Holiday, 17th draft pick (2009)
Hey, speaking of defense, obviously it’s a specialty of late picks. Is this explained by the fact that the defensive aspect is less hyping than the attack? Perhaps. In an NBA more than ever focused on the offensive game, we can not say that the defense is fashionable but some precisely manage to pull out of the game in this context, and thus make the happiness of their respective team. In addition to Rudy and Giannis, the best five defensive of the season is also composed of the point guard Jrue Holiday, true reference and selected with the 17th choice in 2009. Without him, the Bucks would undoubtedly not be NBA champions today. And what about Draymond Green? An essential part of the Warriors dynasty thanks in particular to his versatility, his basketball IQ and his intensity, Green was drafted at the start of the second round. Ben Simmons, number 1 of the 2016 Draft, is almost an intruder in there …
NBA All-Rookie First Team:
- LaMelo Ball, 3rd pick in the draft (2020)
- Anthony Edwards, 1st pick in the draft (2020)
- Tyrese Haliburton, 12th pick in the draft (2020)
- Saddiq Bey, 19th pick in the draft (2020)
- Jae’Sean Tate, undrafted (2018)
We have already talked about the best rookies of the season a little higher with LaMelo, Ant-Man and Hali, but we also see that some have managed to shine this year when we were not necessarily expecting them. We particularly think of Jae’Sean Tate, an undrafted player a few years ago who took advantage of the mess with the Rockets to find a place for himself. As for Saddiq Bey, rather attractive with the Pistons, we knew he could contribute fairly quickly. Two years of training at Villanova, usually that prepares well for the high level. But we must not forget that he was selected with the 19th choice, probably because of his age (« already » 21 years old at the time of the Draft).
Yesterday, we analyzed the first picks of the last twenty years to finally realize that the number 1 choice of the Draft is not necessarily synonymous with success. Today, we can see that it is possible to find the rare pearl without having a selection in the Top 5 or the Top 10. Moral of the story? The NBA Draft is not an exact science, anything can happen, and you better watch it through.