Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is the 2021 NBA MVP, the first player in franchise history to win the award. The 41st overall pick in 2014, Jokic is the lowest-drafted Most Valuable Player ever - by a lot. In fact the previously lowest-drafted players to win regular season MVP honors were two players I like and collect: Steve Nash and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who were both chosen 15th overall.
Not only is the "Joker" the first second-round pick to earn MVP honors, there hasn't even been an MVP selected in the second half of the first round. Nash was drafted in the exact middle of the 1st round in 1996.
I thought it would be fun to build a 12-man roster of only second round picks from the 21st century. Obviously Jokic is our starting center.. but what other stars were selected with second-round draft choices?
Let's meet your Second Round All-Stars!
Center: Nikola Jokic
41st overall pick in 2014 (Denver Nuggets)
Most Win Shares of any 2014 draftee by far
Career-high 26.4 Points Per Game and 8.3 Assists Per Game in '20-21
2020-21 NBA MVP
Jokic is already one of the top five players in Denver Nuggets history. Possibly even top three.
Power Forward: Draymond Green
35th overall pick in 2012 (Golden State Warriors)
Three-time All-Star and Six-time All-Defensive selection
Fourth among 2012 draftees in Win Shares and Rebounds Per Game
2016-17 NBA Defensive Player of the Year
I initially had Paul Millsap here but an all-time great defender like Dray would go to waste on the bench.
Small Forward: Khris Middleton
39th overall pick in 2012 (Detroit Pistons)
Traded to Bucks with two other players for Brandon Jennings in 2013
Two-time All-Star is the fist G league alum to play in an ASG
Averaged 20+ Points Per Game and 6+ Rebounds Per Game in three of past four seasons
Middleton is another player on my NBA PC list hint hint. I like his all-around game more than Giannis's, and he shares my birthday (and my first name). However I'm not quite ready to spend $40 on one of his cards ... yet.
Shooting Guard: Gilbert Arenas
31st overall pick in 2001 (Golden State Warriors)
Three-time All-star is third among Wizards in Win Shares
NBA's third-leading scorer in 2006-07, behind only Kobe and LeBron
Owns two of the top five single-season scoring totals in Wizards/Bullets history
Before blowing out his knee (and bringing his collection of firearms to work) "Agent Zero" was an unstoppable offensive force. His presence in this lineup makes it easier to start a low-scoring defensive specialist like Green.
Point Guard: Isaiah Thomas
60th - and last - overall pick in 2011 (Sacramento Kings)
Fifth among 2011 draftees in career Points Per Game (18.1)
Two-time All-Star and All-NBA Second Team selection in 2017
Assigned to the G-League six months after averaging 29 PPG and 6 APG for the '16-17 Celtics
By the way, all of the cards in this post are from my personal collection - which is why there's a Panini Complete single here instead of something more interesting.
The Second Round All-Stars have a lot of talented big men coming off the bench....
Center: Marc Gasol
48th overall pick in 2007 (Los Angeles Lakers)
Traded to Memphis for his brother Pau before beginning his NBA career
Three-time NBA All-Star was All-NBA First Team selection in 2015
2012-13 NBA Defensive Player of the Year
Center: DeAndre Jordan
35th overall pick in 2008 (Los Angeles Clippers)
Leading rebounder among all 2008 draftees, second in Win Shares and RPG
2016 All-NBA First team selection and 2017 NBA All-Star
Led the league in field goal % five consecutive seasons from 2013 to 2017
Good luck finding enough minutes for Jokic, Gasol, and Jordan in the frontcourt.
Forward: Paul Millsap
47th overall pick in 2006 (Utah Jazz)
Top three among '06 draftees in points, rebounds, assists, and win shares
15-year veteran is the only four-time All-Star on this roster
Has played in more playoff games than Chris Paul, but none in the NBA Finals
Hockey has the "OGWAC" or Old Guy Without a Cup. If the NBA has an "OGWAR" I'm nominating Millsap to be next in line.
Forward: Carlos Boozer
35th overall pick in 2002 (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Second-highest career Win Shares of any 2002 draftee
Two-time All-Star averaged 21 Points Per Game from 2006-08
All-NBA 3rd Team selection in 2008
Forward: Bojan Bogdanovic
31st overall pick in 2011 (Miami Heat)
Signed with the Nets after playing three seasons in Turkey
Top five among 2011 draftees in career 3-point % and free throw %
Averaged career-high 20.2 Points Per Game for Utah in 2019-20
There aren't a lot of small forward finds among second rounders and I prefer Bojan's shooting ability and career arc over lower-ceiling players like Jae Crowder and Trevor Ariza. Check back in two years, I might have Jerami Grant in this spot.
45th overall pick in 2008 (San Antonio Spurs)
Second among all 2008 draftees in total assists, third in APG
2018 All-Star averaged 20.3 PPG and 5.8 APG in 2013-14 and 2016-17
All-NBA Third Team selection and NBA's Most Improved Player in 2014
Guard: Malcolm Brogdon
36th overall pick in 2016 (Milwaukee Bucks)
2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year
Fifth among 2016 draftees in Win Shares and PPG, second in assists and APG
Posted a career-high 21.2 PPG for the Pacers in 2020-21, leading the team
Honorable mentions: Korver, Jerami Grant, Trevor Ariza, Luis Scola, Lou Williams, Josh Richardson
NBA Week will be off tomorrow for Independence Day (woo-hoo! we're still a democracy!) but we'll be back on Monday with a look at another second round pick - from the 1993 Draft.
Thanks for reading, and Go Bucks!