It’s not all about the lottery picks. Yes, you’ve got your Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry, but there are some diamonds in the rough hiding in the second round of the NBA drafts, and here are the five best players this season from the 2009 draft class picked in the second half of draft night.
Sam Young, Memphis Grizzlies
The 24 year old rookie (like Taj Gibson of the Bulls) didn’t exactly have it easy after high school, but eventually got into Pitt and ended being the 36th pick in the 2009 NBA draft. Young has shown he can score, averaging 7.2 points in about 16 minutes per game, playing as a shooting guard or at small. He needs to improve his outside shooting, which is in the low 20′s, and also has gotta start passing more, averaging about one assist every two games.
DeJuan Blair, San Antonio Spurs
If you’ve been on Sportige before, you know we like Blair, who’s also a Pitt product. Blair wasn’t supposed to be a second round draft pick but his knees got a lot of GM’s worried, and he dropped to the 37th spot. It’s safe to say a lot of them made a mistake. Blair is averaging 7.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in 18 minutes per game, with one huge 28 points-21 rebounds performance in January and six double doubles in total so far. He also did that 20-20 thing in the Rookie challenge, scoring 22 and rebounding 23, the first 20-20 game in the rookie challenge and a new rebound record in that contest.
Jonas Jerebko, Detroit Pistons
Another pleasant surprise we’ve mentioned before, Jerebko has actually been a starter for most of his rookie campaign, averaging almost 10 points and six rebounds per game on a falling apart Pistons team. Jerebko (alongside Blair) was one of only two second-round rookies to play in the rookie challenge this year during the all-star weekend. March has been very good for him so far, but he has his down moments, as every rookie does, like his 0 points in 35 minutes performance against the Cavs 10 days ago.
Marcus Thornton, New Orleans Hornets
Maybe the biggest surprise out of all the rookies this season, Thornton has been fantastic in his first year out of LSU. He is averaging 13.3 points per game while shooting over 40% from the three, and he seems to be getting better as the season progresses, having two 30+ games and eight 20+ games since February.
Chase Budinger, Houston Rockets
Not Larry Bird, but still a solid player for years to come, so it seems. The 21 year old Small Forward out of Arizona is averaging 8.2 points with 2.7 rebounds in almost 20 minutes a night, giving the Rockets some nice, although modest, firepower from the bench. He had a strong February but has seemed to slow down this month, not scoring over 9 points in seven games.