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21. Utah Jazz: Josh Childress
Childress joined Josh Smith to form an intriguing rookie tandem with the real-life Hawks, scoring 10.1 points and averaging 6.0 rebounds while starting 44 games in his first season. Funky shooting form rendered Childress a wildly inconsistent outside shooter (23.2 percent from deep as a rookie, 49.2 percent as a sophomore and 33.8 percent in his third year), but his length and athleticism made him an efficient scorer at closer range.
He and Yao Ming once traded posters on back-to-back possessions.
After four straight double-figure scoring seasons to start his career, Childress made the unusual decision to sign overseas, playing his next two years in Greece. He returned to the NBA for four more seasons starting in 2010-11 but never played a meaningful role again.
22. New Jersey Nets: Chris Duhon
Duhon might not have made this list if it wasn’t for Mike D’Antoni. The innovative head coach put the ball in Duhon’s hands and turned him loose in 2008-09, producing the point guard’s best season. In 36.8 minutes per game that year, Duhon averaged 11.2 points and 7.2 assists with a 56.9 true shooting percentage, all of which were comfortably career highs.
In nine seasons split between the Bulls, Knicks, Magic and Lakers, Duhon totaled 2,690 assists and only 925 turnovers. Among picks who played significant minutes, he has the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the class.
23. Portland Trail Blazers: Sasha Vujacic
A 6’7″ guard from Slovenia best remembered as a bench fixture on a pair of Lakers title teams, Vujacic never started more than 25 games in a season. Though it wasn’t his highest-scoring year, 2007-08 was Vujacic’s best. He averaged 8.8 points in 72 games off the pine, hitting 43.7 percent of his threes. The Lakers didn’t win a championship that season (they’d get the next two in order), but Vujacic sustained his performance into the postseason, putting up 8.1 points per contest and knocking down 39.2 percent of his shots from deep.
Though he scored only 3,094 points across 10 seasons, Vujacic gets credit for producing on a winner. He’s also quietly sixth in this class in career three-point percentage among players who logged at least one season in the league.
24. Boston Celtics: Damien Wilkins
Let’s hear it for Wilkins, the first undrafted player to crack our new order.
Wilkins worked his way into a gig with the Sonics as a rookie, then played all but six games for the team over the next three seasons, topping out with averages of 9.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 2007-08. A 6’6″ small forward who didn’t quite have his uncle Dominique’s lift, Wilkins had a 41-point game in that standout 2007-08 season and played as recently as 2017-18 after a five-year stint overseas and in the D League.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking Wilkins traded on his recognizable name. He scrapped for every second of his 10-year career.
25. Boston Celtics: Sebastian Telfair
A nationally renowned high school prospect, Telfair was one of precious few point guards to make the preps-to-pros jump (joining Livingston in this class).
Undersized at just 6’0″ and understandably lacking experience, Telfair struggled to survive early on despite getting ample opportunity to play. He started at least 26 games in each of his first five seasons.
Ball-handling and decent vision couldn’t compensate for an unreliable shot (31.9 percent from deep) and mostly ineffectual defense, which is why Telfair never stuck with any one team for more than two years in a row. Traded six times, Telfair still managed to do enough to keep winding up on a roster in his 10 seasons.
This far down the order, that staying power is a noteworthy achievement.
26. Sacramento Kings: Royal Ivey
Ivey is our last player off the board whose career lasted at least a decade. Ideally, you’d like more than 3.3 points and 40.6 percent shooting from the field at this spot, but everyone left unpicked either fizzled out quickly or made even less of an impact than the guard out of Texas.
He scored a career-best 19 points in a Jan. 29, 2008 loss to the Nets.
27. Los Angeles Lakers: Kirk Snyder
Snyder had an NBA frame in college, and he might have wound up going 16th overall in the actual draft because of his role in a surprising NCAA tournament run. His Nevada Wolf Pack beat No. 7 Michigan State and No. 2 Gonzaga, advancing to the 2004 Sweet 16, and Snyder had plenty to do with it. He scored 19 points to beat the Spartans and had 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists against the Bulldogs.
The 6’6″, 225-pounder showed flashes of promise as a pro (he scored a career-high 28 points with the 2005-06 New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets), but he ultimately played only 211 games and was out of the league at age 24.
28. San Antonio Spurs: David Harrison
Harrison’s block rate of 5.2 percent is the highest in the 2004 class among players who logged at least 2,000 career minutes. That’s a small sample, but it’s all we have from a center who hung around for only four seasons with the Pacers.
Some trivia: Harrison was involved but not suspended for his role in the infamous Malice at the Palace brawl less than a month into his rookie year.
29. Indiana Pacers: Robert Swift
Swift’s career is best viewed as a cautionary tale, as the 7’0″ teenager entered the NBA completely unprepared for the money and lifestyle that came with being a lottery pick out of high school. With that said, nobody left unselected played more than his four seasons (five if you count 2006-07, which he lost entirely to injury). It’s also remarkable that a player at such an obvious strength and experience disadvantage averaged 6.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in his second year.
There was always potential in Swift’s developing frame. Early immaturity and subsequent injury never gave him a chance to develop it.
All statistics via Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.