A ranking of each UK draft pick since Mashburn and ranking them whether they were overachievers, underachievers, or as expected in the NBA. To me, if HALF of your alumni can become overachievers or as expected in the pros, you should be pretty happy. And as you will see, at least in my opinion, Kentucky has matched that over the last 20 years. Now, let me give you a quick idea of how I ranked these guys. It was a combination of general expectations from this fanbase entering the league PLUS draft position. For instance, a guy like Keith Bogans had an amazing UK career but was drafted low, so I consider him an overachiever in the league.
-Jodie Meeks (2nd round, 41st overall):Was not guaranteed a contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, but made the roster. Struggled through a season anda half before being traded to Philly. The move has turned his career around and this season he firmly planted himself in the starting lineup, scoring 10.5 ppg. While UK fans knew of Meeks scoring ability, he has overachieved at this point from his draft position.
-Rajon Rondo (1st round, 21st overall):Rondo barely had confidence from the UK fanbase, much less the Boston Celtics, who traded for him on draft night. Even with the mega-stars the Celtics brought in, Rondo has become a top level NBA point guard and the future of that organization. 2nd in the NBA in steals and assists this season. Potential Olympic team member.
-Keith Bogans (2nd round, 43rd overall):I had forgotten that Bogans was a 2nd round NBA draft pick, and for that reason I think he belongs on this list. He hasn’t had an amazing career, and has mainly become a defensive stopper for the Chicago Bulls. But he has remained in the NBA throughout andseems to have found a home in Chicago as a starter on an elite team.
-Tayshaun Prince (1st round, 23rd overall):I struggled to put Prince here because he never has become a “star” in the NBA. But he does have a world title and Olympic gold medal to his resume. Once he entered the starting lineup for the Pistons, he hasn’t left it. He has an 8-year career averaging 13 ppg. If Prince had been a Top 10-15 pick, I probably would have bumped him down a level.
-Jamaal Magloire (1st round, 19th overall):Magloire simply goes here for his longevity in the NBA. Now 10 years into the NBA and not done yet, Magloire has found a way to find his spot on a team. Never thought to be a big offensive weapon, he developed that part of his game and made an All-Star team. Another guy who if he had been a Top 10 pick might drop a level, but has overachieved from his draft spot.
-Nazr Mohammed (1st round, 29th overall):Same basic argument as Magloire. For Mohammed to turn his talents and draft position into a 12-year plus NBA career is an overachievement. Especially when you are UK fans, and know how Mohammed was when he came to Lexington.
-Antoine Walker (1st round, 6th overall):3-time all-star and a 17.5 ppg career scorer. Sometimes gets a bad rap for some of his behavior and financial trouble, but he was an excellent NBA player, who would have scored many more points if there had been some 4’s on the floor.
-John Wall (1st round, 1st overall): Why not an overachiever? Because the 1st player taken in the draft is supposed to perform how Wall did this season. He is in a tough spot. Really the only way to be an overachiever as the 1st player taken is to become an MVP like Derrick Rose or a Hall of Famer. And maybe Wall will do that in the future, but at this point he has simply performed like we thought he would: an amazing player.
-Demarcus Cousins (1st round, 5th overall): Like Wall, he was very good in his rookie campaign. But he didn’t become a Top 5 NBA center. The future is bright for Cousins, but he had the kind of season that Kings and Cats fan expected from him.
-Scott Padgett (1st round, 28th overall): Padgett never was a key contributor on a winning team, but he found a way to stay in the league for 7 years. As a pick in the tail end of the 1st round, I think Padgett performed as expected. He was never expected to be more than a role player, and that is what he did.
-Ron Mercer (1st round, 6th overall):I was set to call Mercer an underachiever until I looked at his career stats. He played 8 years and averaged 13.7 ppg. The problem Mercer had was he played on horrendous teams and thus got no attention. But individually, Mercer stacked up to where he was drafted.
-Derek Anderson (1st round, 13th overall): Technically Anderson was a lottery pick, which is why I put him here. He had a very good NBA career, and during his years in Portland, he really was a top level NBA player. But he never took it to that next level and became an all-star. I probably bump him up a notch with an all-star game.
-Mark Pope (2nd round, 52nd overall):Gotta give credit to Pope for actually staying in the league for 6 years with limited skills, but he never was a factor in that time. He only became a semi-starter for 1 season, and his career average of 1.9 ppg just puts him here, as about where we would expect.
-Jamal Mashburn (1st round, 4th overall):Simply put, people thought Mashburn would be a perenial all-star and maybe the best UK pro player ever. As it turned out, he was an excellent pro, just not an all-star level pro. He did average 19.1 ppg for his career, and in his LAST season in the league averaged 20.8 ppg, but only made 1 all-star game and just never was the STAR on a team or in the NBA.
-Daniel Orton (1st round, 29th overall): Has yet to play a game for the Magic due to injury. Could easily play himself out of this category, but confidence is low from most.
-Joe Crawford (2nd round, 58th overall): Even though he was a low draft pick, Crawford has still not played anywhere near his potential. He has played on 3 teams in 3 NBA seasons, but has only played in 11 total games. Crawford has experienced some success in the D-League, but his pro career has been underwhelming to say the least.
-Walter McCarty (1st round, 19th overall):Hard to put Walta here because he did hang around in the league for over 10 years. But he just never became a factor in the league, which was weird, because he had the skills to be a very good player. And frankly, for his talent and draft position, he just never achievedanything worth noting.
-Tony Delk (1st round, 16th overall):Played a decade in the NBA, and scored 50 points in a game. But overall, Delk never made much of an impact in the NBA. I would argue that his 10-year career has been just as good as Magloire’s, but the difference is the expectation coming into the league. Magloire has exceeded and Delk did not.
JURY STILL OUT
(Both guys had semi-successful rookie seasons, but not enough to rate them yet)
(Note: Rodney Dent was drafted but never played in the NBA)