Second round: Players who used their draft pick as motivation

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Players picked in the second round of the NBA draft are, ostensibly speaking, not quite the cream of the crop.

We all know about the famous number one draft slot; an honour bestowed upon all-time greats like LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Magic Johnson and Kareen Abdul-Jabbar.

However, for every stone-cold hall of fame certainty, there's also a batch of players who could never quite live up to the billing.

Andrea Bargnani and Kwame Brown are prime examples of top-of-the-line picks who underwhelmed through their NBA careers. It happens. The draft is, after all, a 'lottery' by it's very name and nature.

Just like the possible failings with a number one draft pick, the same powers work in reverse with the second rounders.

The high-end of the draft has a proven track record of producing elite talent for the league. The second round, however, has produced a few gems of its own. Some stars slip through the cracks, others develop late, and in some cases, some talent just meshes better with one organisation than another.

Steve Kerr and Doc Rivers, for instance, are two of the most respected and decorated coaches in the NBA today - both of whom spawned from the second round picks.

Out on the court in today's league, there is living proof that grabbing a guy from the second batch of 30 is not something to be scoffed at.

Marc Gasol, Paul Millsap, Dennis Rodman, Draymond Green, Goran Dragic and DeAndre Jordan have all built their reputations from obscurity and in some cases, equipped themselves with NBA rings and max-contracts to boot.

How about Manu Ginobili? The 38-year-old Argentinian is a two-time All-Star and four-time NBA Champion having spent 14 years with the San Antonio Spurs lighting up the scoreboards from deep. He was picked 57th overall in 2002.

Two other players are trying to emerge from the second round shadow and make their name in today's league. Jordan Clarkson of the L.A Lakers and Isiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics are two players who haven't had it handed to them easily.

The back-court duo were drafted at 46th and 60th in their respective classes, but Thomas received All-Star honours this year after finding his explosive stride with the Celtics following a trade from the Phoenix Suns. Clarkson is one of the Lakers most consistent contributors.

Ok, so the Lakers sitting bottom of the West isn't a great indicator of Clarkson's talents. But, the 23-year-old - alongside another second-round pick in Lou Williams - has posted an average of 15.6 points a night whilst shooting 44.8 percent from the field.

Similarly, Thomas is dropping 21.5 points a night and 6.7 dishes from the one spot. Many credit the guard as the catalyst behind the Celtics' rise into third place in the Eastern Conference. It seems finding a home in Boston, where he is trusted - like Clarkson in L.A, albeit perhaps due to a lack of options - has enabled him to flourish and show his true worth.

Thomas often used his status as the final selection of the 2011 draft as motivation during the early days of his career and Clarkson is of the same mentality. When questioned about the Lakers guard, the 2016 All-Star said: "He's a good player, he's talented, he's a young player who is going to be a good guard in this league.

"I used to use my pick as motivation but not anymore, this is my fifth year. But he should use it as motivation, it helps."

Also, but in the front court, Hassan Whiteside has evolved into a double-double machine for the Miami Heat after originally being picked at number 33 by the Sacramento Kings in 2010.

Whiteside leads the league for blocks as we approach March and his tenacity in at the pivot spot for the Florida franchise has given their elder statesmen on the roster an apparent resurgence.

After spending time in the wilderness of the D-League, Whiteside has emerged as a serious contender for Most Improved Player of the Year.

One could argue, numerically, there is bound to be more than 30 decent players in any draft given the scope of it. Sometimes, there will be an overspill of talent that has the propensity to revitalise a franchise and, given the litany of talent we've covered in this article, it's fair to say the second-round is rising in pedigree and importance.

LA Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
Isaiah Thomas
Boston Celtics
Hassan Whiteside
Miami Heat
Southeast Division
Jordan Clarkson

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