The Denver Nuggets will be selecting eleventh overall in this year’s NBA Draft and if past drafts are any indication, the Nuggets have a hell of pick to utilize come June 26th. Thirty three players haven been taken with the eleventh selection in the NBA Draft since 1980, seven of those players went on to become NBA All-Stars. Reggie Miller, Robert Horry, John Salley, Lafayette “Fat” Lever, Kiki Vandeweghe, Tyrone Hill, Terrell Brandon and Allan Houston all were notable eleventh overall selections in the 1980’s and 90’s. Most recently Klay Thompson, J.J. Redick, Jerryd Bayless and newly crowned Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, were all selected with the eleventh pick as well.
Two of the notable past eleventh overall picks I mentioned earlier, Kiki Vandeweghe and Lafayette “Fat” Lever both starred for the Denver Nuggets in the 1980’s, each earning All-Star selections under Denver coaching legend Doug Moe. Vandeweghe the eleventh pick in 1980 scored 50+ points twice in a Nuggets uniform, averaged a career best 29.4 points per game here and even served as the Nuggets General Manager from 2001 to 2006. Under Vandeweghe the Nuggets made several notable moves to turn their franchise around, such as drafting forward Carmelo Anthony in 2003 and hiring coach George Karl in 2005. Ironically the Nuggets acquired Lever in a trade that sent Vandeweghe to Portland in exchange for “Fat”, Calvin Natt and Wayne Cooper before the 1984-1985 season. Lever the eleventh pick in 1982 went on to be named to the All-NBA and NBA All-Defensive second teams while playing for the Nuggets and is the franchises leader in steals, while holding the record for most assists in a game for Denver with 23. He currently serves as the color analyst and director of player development for the Sacramento Kings.
The thirty three players who were selected eleventh overall have a combined sixteen NBA championship rings, Robert Horry the eleventh pick in 1992 leads the way with seven rings, John Salley the eleventh pick in 1986 and Will Perdue the eleventh pick in 1988 each have four rings, while Kevin Willis the eleventh pick in 1984 has one ring. Reggie Miller the eleventh pick in 1987 and Allan Houston the eleventh pick in 1993, probably had the two best individual careers of the eleventh overall selections. Miller of course played with the Indiana Pacers during the 1990’s becoming a five time NBA All-Star, the Pacers all-time leading scorer and led the franchise to it’s only NBA Finals appearance in 2000. Miller also went on to be only one of six players to join the 50-40-90 club cementing himself as one of the best shooters of all time. He won a gold medal in 1996, made 2,560 3-pointers in his career which is second most all time behind Miami Heat guard Ray Allen and in 2012, Miller reached basketball immortality when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Hall of Famer currently is a color analyst for TNT and TBS during March Madness. Houston on the other hand also enjoyed his fair share of success in the NBA, mainly with the New York Knicks during the late 1990’s. He helped lead the Knicks to the NBA Finals in 1999, he won a gold medal in 2000, was a two time NBA All-Star and shot a career 40% from beyond the arc. Houston’s career was cut short though due to a knee injury he suffered in 2003, which ultimately led to his retirement from the game in 2005. He now serves as the Assistant General Manger of the New York Knicks and is also the general manager of the Erie BayHawks of the NBA developmental league.
Even in the past three years, the eleventh overall selection has been home to some of the NBA’s up an coming stars such as Klay Thompson the eleventh pick in 2011 and Michael Carter-Williams the eleventh pick in 2013. Thompson has been very productive for the Warriors in his three seasons with the team, partnering up with Stephen Curry to form the best shooting back court in the NBA, averaging over 16+ points the past two seasons and shooting 41% from the three point line in his three seasons. Michael Carter-Williams came into the NBA with a bang, winning the 2014 NBA Rookie of the Year award and becoming only the third rookie in NBA history to average 16 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists per game joining Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson as the only players to accomplish that feat. If history continues to repeat itself, the Nuggets may be getting a hidden gem when they select eleventh overall in this year’s draft.