Continuing with our draft reviews we now come to the 2002 Draft. There were four All-Stars from his draft: Yao Ming (picked #1), Amare Stoudemire (#9), Caron Butler (#10) and Carlos Boozer (#34.)
This draft appears relatively weak, but still yielded plenty of good pros. Like several of the drafts we have already looked at, 2002 is not top-heavy. Stoudemire, if he ever played in college, probably would have been picked much earlier than #9, not unlike Tracy McGrady's situation in 1997.
But as it was, besides Ming, the top five in 2002 was a disappointment. Jay Williams, the second pick, is a great example of how one bad injury can destroy a promising player's career. Mike Dunleavy and Drew Gooden, picked third and fourth, have had underwhelming careers given their draft positions. And Nikoloz Tskitishvili was a disaster as the fifth pick.
Overall the first round of this draft was not that strong, but there were some other pretty good selections we should notice: Nene Hilario (#7), Tayshaun Prince (#23), Nenad Kristic (#24) and John Salmons (#26) were all nice value picks.
Boozer stands out as a truly exceptional second round pick, and an example of a fine college player who rather inexplicably drops far lower than one would expect. This makes three future All-Stars selected in the thirties between 2001 and 2002, proof enough that the early second round needs to be taken more seriously.
Luis Scola did not play in the NBA till 2007, but nonetheless he was a steal with the 55th pick. Flip Murray (#41), Matt Barnes (#45) and Darius Songaila (#49) were other late picks that have had pretty good careers.
Udonis Haslem stands out as an excellent undrafted player from his class. Reggie Evans, Damien Wilkins and Jannero Pargo also went undrafted and ended up having pretty productive careers. At this point it should be clear that decent players are almost always available after the last pick in the second round.
Here is the approximate order of the top ten players from the 2002 draft, with their actual selection number in parenthesis:
1. Amare Stoudemire (9)
2. Yao Ming (1)
3. Carlos Boozer (34)
4. Caron Butler (10)
5. Tayshaun Prince (23)
6. Nene Hilario (7)
7. Luis Scola (55)
8. Udonis Haslem (undrafted)
9. Mike Dunleavy (3)
10. Drew Gooden (4)