Best Big 12 Player Drafted #10: Paul Pierce, Kansas Jayhawks, by the Boston Celtics in 1998.
Retrospectively looking back at past NBA drafts is fun, and 10 years later everyone is the best GM in the world. Why the hell would they draft X over Y? But let's take a look at the nine guys drafted ahead of a guy who arguably could be in the starting five of an all-time Celtics team:
1. Michael Olowokandi - At this point you couldn't expect anything more from the Clippers.
2. Mike Bibby - Decent guard, not an all-star but you can't really blame the Vancouver Grizzlies for that choice.
3. Raef LaFrentz - Another "hindsight is 20/20" pick. The Nuggets can only be faulted by what eventually happened, but not by the pick itself.
4. Antawn Jamison - Solid pick by the Raptors.
5. Vince Carter - Can't fault the Warriors
7. Jason Williams - White Chocolate is a decent guard, but he wasn't worthy of being taken over Pierce by the Kings.
8. Larry Hughes - Another "hindsight" pick. The 76ers were probably rang the Liberty Bell when Hughes dropped to them.
9. Dirk Nowitzki - No commentary necessary.
So, looking back, of the nine guys to go ahead of Pierce, in hindsight, Pierce probably should have gone second overall behind Dirk. At the time though, there were some obvious blunders, and I wouldn't be complaining as much had Pierce gone in the top five.
Best Non-Big 12 Player Drafted 10th: Brook Lopez, Stanford Cardinal, by the New Jersey Nets in 2008.
My wife enrolled in a one-year graduate program at Stanford the Lopez brothers' freshman year. Visiting her, I was walking around campus one day and literally saw the two tallest human beings I'd ever seen walking side-by-side. Sure enough it was the Brook and Robin Lopez. This was before the season started, and though I had heard of them, seeing them in flip flops walking around campus, gave me reason to follow them more closely. I figured Brook was going to be good at the next level, but I don't know if I ever saw him as the 20 point per game scorer he was this season.
In preparation for the 2011 NBA Draft, each day until June 23 we'll count down the best Big 12 player drafted with each pick. This list only takes into account players who played in the Big 12, so it starts with the 1997 draft. In total 70 Big 12 alumni have been selected, filling 43 of the 60 possible slots.