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Critics will condemn a team for missing with a draft choice even in the bottom third of the draft. But there’s really few “worst” drafts at No. 22 because it’s so much hit and miss at No. 22 in the draft. It’s rare a team will get an All-Star since there only have been three from the No. 22 slot in almost the last half century. There have been many productive players selected, like Scott Skiles, Kenny Thomas, Jerry Reynolds, Randy Wittman, Chris Mills, Jarrett Jack, Johnny Davis and Courtney Lee. They became starters and often double figure scorers, though not at the All-Star level. The only All-Stars since 1970 selected from No. 22 were Reggie Lewis, Truck Robinson and Norm Nixon. George McGinnis was selected there, but more as a future since he went to the ABA.
Here’s a look at the best and worst No. 22 selections:
Norm Nixon – 1977
Norm Nixon, 1977
Nixon came out of modest Duquesne and went on to be the lead guard for two Lakers championship teams while making an All-Star appearance. He was exceedingly popular, but traded to the then San Diego Clippers for Byron Scott so Magic Johnson could be the primary ball handler for the Lakers. He became an All-Star with the Clippers, but then was injured.
Leonard Robinson – 1974
2. Leonard “Truck” Robinson, 1974
He played for five teams, but twice was an All-Star as one of the most rugged rebounders in the league, leading the league one season with 15.7 rebounds per game while averaging 22.7 points. He followed that with a 24 and 13 season. He played 11 seasons and was all-NBA first team in 1978.
Reggie Lewis – 1987
3. Reggie Lewis, 1987
The high scoring guard from little Northeastern had back to back seasons averaging 20.8 points before his shocking death from heart failure practicing in the summer before the 1993-94 season. He’d had a heart episode in that season’s playoffs. He made one All-Star team and had been considered a Celtics star of the future.
Scott Skiles – 1986
4. Scott Skiles, 1986
The high scoring and rugged Michigan State guard wasn’t doing many redraft workouts since he was in jail. Skiles was on probation from a drug violation when he was arrested for drunk driving. Though Skiles never spoke about it, many at Michigan State say he accepted the drug charge to cover for a teammate. Skiles had a difficult start with the Bucks and Pacers before going to Orlando and becoming one of the league’s top distributing guards and still holds the all-time NBA one-game assists record. He led the NBA in assists in 1993 and was a league Most Improved Player. He went on to coach four teams, including the Bulls.
Johnny Davis – 1976
5. Johnny Davis, 1976
The rookie guard was coming off the bench for the Portland Trailblazers in the 1977 playoffs when Dave Twardzik was injured. Davis moved into the starting lineup and his speed invigorated Portland’s defense and fast break as a key factor in the run to the title. He then went on to a high scoring career after being traded to the Indiana Pacers and has been a longtime NBA coach and assistant.
Jeryl Sasser – 2001
1. Jeryl Sasser, 2001
He played two seasons with Orlando and then overseas without much NBA impact. Later in that draft were four All-Stars with Gerald Wallace at 25, Tony Parker at 28, Gilbert Arenas at 31 and Mehmet Okur at 38. Plus, there were other contributing players like Bobby Simmons from DePaul, Jamaal Tinsley, the Bulls Trenton Hassell and, yes, Brian Scalabrine at No. 35.
Zoran Planinic – 2003
2. Zoran Planinic, 2003
He started overseas, played three unproductive seasons with the Nets and went back overseas. It was a rich harvest of long term rotation players and starters picked afterwards, including Travis Outlaw at 23, Carlos Delfino at 25, Kendrick Perkins at 27, Leandro Barbosa at 28, All-Star Josh Howard at 29, Luke Walton at 32, Zaza Pachulia at 42 and then All-Stars Mo Williams at 47 and Kyle Korver at 51.
Casey Jacobson – 2002
3. Casey Jacobson, 2002
He played four seasons in spot duty with three teams and then overseas. Detroit Pistons playoff star Tayshaun Prince was the next pick in that draft with high scoring John Salmons later in the first round and All-Star Carlos Boozer in the second round.
Marcus Williams – 2006
4. Marcus Williams, 2006
He had a brief NBA run before going overseas for a long stretch. All-Star Kyle Lowry came two picks later and then All-Star Paul Millsap in the second round. Rugged defender P.J. Tucker also was a second round pick.
Clyde Mayes – 1975
5. Clyde Mayes, 1975
He rarely played in the NBA, but had a long career overseas. The next pick was famed scorer and All-Star Lloyd (World B) Free. Another All-Star, Dan Roundfield, went later in the first round. There also was Bobby Gross, a key role player for the Portland championship team and Wilbur Holland, who had a strong run for the Bulls late in the 1970s after being a fifth round pick. Another bad one was 2009 when the Trailblazers selected Victor Claver. Later came Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, Omri Casspi, DeMarre Carroll, Jonas Jerebko, Marcus Thornton, Danny Green, Patty Mills and Patrick Beverley.
I looked at 10 mock drafts for the No. 22 pick, and six had the Bulls selecting Boise State senior small forward Chandler Hutchison. No other player was mentioned more than once. The rumor last month when Hutchison stopped working out for teams was that he received a promise to be picked in the first round. The speculation was that it was the Bulls and it seems most everyone believes that.