Thursday, December 24th, 2009 at 11:17 am  |  31 responses

Decade’s Best: Draft Pick

In Tony Parker, the Spurs landed a huge steal (and a big winner).

by Rodger Bohn

While it doesn’t carry as much significance as the NFL Draft in terms of shaping a franchise, the NBA Draft more frequently provides those crucial pieces to push teams from mediocrity to that next level. With the influx of high school kids jumping to the League and teams not doing enough homework, there were a number of players who wound up being steals after opting for the cash instead of calculus.

Likewise, the International influx that hit the League over the last decade also yielded teams a number of diamonds in the rough (as well as Nikoloz Tskitivili’s and Darko Milicic’s) due to small International scouting budgets in the early 2000’s. There’s also the collegiate player who may not have the picture perfect J, ideal height, or athleticism for the League.

Michael Redd to Milwaukee with the 43rd pick in 2000, Gilbert Arenas with the 31st pick in 2001, Mo Williams 47th ’03, Kevin Martin 26th 2004, and Monta Ellis 40th in 2005 were all outstanding draft picks for their respective teams. But they all had one common denominator: They didn’t win (until Mo joined Bron & Co.). In a game where the ultimate goal is to be hoisting the trophy at the end of the year, this made our decision pretty easy.

And the winner of the best draft pick of the last decade is: Tony Parker.

Playing for a bottom of the barrel team in France’s Pro A league, Parker wasn’t exactly killing like fellow Euro playmaker Ricky Rubio. However, he showed some nice tools and had a great showing at the 2000 Nike Hoop Summit in Indy, where he gave the business to Omar Cook to the tune of 20 points and 7 assists. That game was enough to get him on the NBA radar he saw himself get snagged with the 28th and final pick of the 2001 NBA Draft just after his 19th birthday.

Initially, Parker spent the early portion of his rookie campaign backing up journeyman Antonio Daniels as the team’s lead man. But the Spurs’ brass saw early on that the third French player ever to get drafted had some serious game. TP was made the starter by the all-star break and the rest is history.

With career averages of a pedestrian 16.7 points and 5.6 assists per game, one may question this pick with the star studded guys that were mentioned earlier in the piece. In a league where the point guard is often the catalyst for the team’s entire foundation, Parker came in and did more than the stat sheet can even begin to possibly show. He got his first NBA Finals crown before he was able to legally have a beer, showing unparalleled leadership at such a young age.

Eight playoff appearances in eight years, three All-Star games, and three rings later, this is a no-brainer for best pick of the decade. The Spurs could have opted for the more highly touted Omar Cook or the seasoned veteran Earl Watson from UCLA, but decided to go with the slender kid from Paris and haven’t looked back one minute.


For more Decade Awards, check out the archive.

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  • Ken

    I dunno about this. He was a steal at that number, but was it really a great draft pick, or a lucky one?

  • Ken

    To clarify: to me a great draft pick is when a team has a need, and picks the best player to fulfill that need, and then the player fills that role well. Or when a team correctly weighs the risk/reward of a player, or drafts with the long view of the team in mind, and it pans out. When you land an all-star late in the draft, I don’t think a team is really doing any of these things…they are just getting lucky.

  • d.j.

    idk about lucky.. spurs scout international players better than anyone else in the L… im sure they knew more about Parker than anyone else come that draft…

  • danksy

    its got to be Kobe at 13th pick. The lakers winners for acquiring him from charlotte. Best player in the nba in the last decade. Need i say more

  • geof

    Kobe was drafted in ’96. Kind of hard to be the best draft pick of ’00s if you’ve been playing for 4 years by the start of the decade.

  • LA Huey

    Nice pick. Can’t argue this one.

  • Michael Scorn

    Spurs won a championship without Parker in 99, they would have won without him again. They already had a great team, so it is hard to judge his impact. If he was picked by Minnisota to play with KG, he wouldn’t have had this success, and we wouldn’t remember him.

  • http://www.twitter.com/PDXGayBball dma

    wow some people just stay on kobe’s nats no matter what!

  • http://www.nottherealmelvinely.com melvin ely

    @michael: Spurs won that during the lockout season. I don’t want this to be an argument about that season, but let’s just say if it were 82 games, there’s a good chance they wouldn’t have won. I can confidently say they couldn’t have won more chips after ’99 without Parker. He gave them something the Spurs were severely lacking: swagger, plain and simple.

  • http://nicekicks.com MeloMan2.0

    ^^^^ so true… like he cant win every best decade award

  • Rodger Bohn

    Who do you guys think was the top pick of the decade? Let’s hear your case!

    It was a tough one, but anytime you can get a 10-15 year starting point guard who wins and is great locker room guy with the last pick in the first round, I think its a no-brainer.

  • http://myspace.com/rsaenz24 RoG23

    Tony Parker = Finals MVP 07
    Spurs = Always Underrated
    Spurs also drafted barbosa, scola, ginobili, nene. I hardly believe this pick was luck.

  • http://myspace.com/weezyleezy337 GametimeWeezy

    if it comes down to this being a discussion on the best late 1st round pick, then yea its Tony Parker. but remember, Gilbert Arenas was drafted 2 picks later, in the 2nd. They should play 1-on-1 to settle this. David Lee at #30 in ’05 by the Knicks. Marc Gasol at #48 in ’07 by the Lakers.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I thought Parker was the 55th pick? Or maybe i’m thinking of Manu?

  • Kadavour

    what has Marc Gasol done? Ditto for David Lee. Good argument with Gil, but I’m not sold on it. Took him a while to crack an all-star roster.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I was thinking of Manu and he was the 57th pick. Anyway, Tony Parker was certainly a great pick but I don’t think you can go by winning as the tiebreaker; I mean, he plays with Tim Duncan. If it wasn’t for injuries then Gil would win this award.

  • David

    But the article’s talking about the importance of winning. Gil hasn’t got past the 1st round yet, has he? And while the Spurs have two other very talented players, Tony’s still the reigning finals MVP on the team.

    Or maybe Rodger’s just a big fan of Desperate Housewives.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Dwight Howard over Emeka Okafor was the best draft pick of the last decade.

  • Michael Scorn

    the best pick has to be Jason “Motorcycle Crash” Williams who changes his name from Jason to Jay to avoid the “Jason Williams Bad Luck” because one shot a limo driver and the other was a bust in HIS mind. Look who was the starting PG on a championship team and who is talking about college basketball.

  • http://www.paidtosave.info Dang I’m Nice!!!

    Gil got past the Bulls a few years ago in the first round and lost to the Cavs in the 2nd.

  • Josh

    wow. tony parker is the decades best draft pick? he may be the best steal, but not the best pick. not feelin the love for bron dwade

  • http://myspace.com/rsaenz24 RoG23

    Wade is a pretty nice pick now that I think about it. I don’t think anyone predicted he would be the first in that class to lead his team to a ring. His really good team

  • D.A.

    I agree that TP might be the best steal. But DWade is just bananas. He makes his team better full stop. The heat stink without him. The Spurs are the best draft day franchise, that I’m sure of. Ahhh the beauty of opinion!

  • Shem

    The pick wasn’t lucky, they also drafted manu at 59th which is the best pick of all time in my opinion

  • andre anglais

    Great choice. Point guard who could lead the league in FG% and PIP? Check. Finals MVP? Check. Meld his game perfectly with existing and subsequent stars? Check, check. Bon Noel SLAMmers, vive le France.

  • http://dsjfhklf.com Jukai

    Isn’t this the best draft steal? I mean… the best draft pick was Lebron James.

  • Sarah

    Speaking of TP, this video must be somewhere on this site. http://www.kens5.com/news/Parker-Longoria-share–80110167.html

  • Yesse

    I think i can agree with this.Other options would be LeBron or Wade (Wade was 5th overrall pick and Pistons took Darko before him).

  • J

    @jukai: +1

  • Jon

    @Ken completely agree! a good draft pick would be a team that identifies a weakness in its roster and drafts well accordingly. i don’t know who might be better but we have to admit parkers drafting was slightly down to luck

  • J-Ro

    I have to go with Jukai on this one. LeBron changed the whole perspective of Cleveland basketball. He really did turn the whole team around.