Open Thread: Eight of the most recent 8th draft picks reveal an unflattering trend

Open Thread: Eight of the most recent 8th draft picks reveal an unflattering trend
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There is no formula to determine how a player will develop in the NBA

Drafting eighth seems like a high pick yielding a budding star or superstar on the rise. But that is not always the case. More often than not, the eighth seed is a crapshoot.

For the Spurs, who’ve spent most of the last three decades with picks in the 20s, an 8th pick sounds like a major opportunity. But the reality is, the 8th seed does not guarantee a strong roster player.

Going back a decade (and ignoring the last two draft classes for lack of information), there is much to be gleaned from the eight picks going back ten years.

Here is the list of the 8th picks from 2014-2021.

Nik Stauskas

Philadelphia 76ers v Sacramento Kings
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Shooting guard Nik Stauskas was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in 2014. He played 343 NBA games with 7 different teams averaging 6.7 PTS, 1.5 AST, and 2.0 RBD.

Stanley Johnson

San Antonio Spurs v Atlanta Hawks
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In 2015, Stanley Johnson was drafted by the Detroit Pistons. His last NBA season was with the San Antonio Spurs where he played 30 games averaging 5.8 PTS, 3.2 RBD, and 2.2 AST.

Marquese Chriss

Wisconsin Herd v Cleveland Charge
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Marquese Chriss was drafted by Sacramento Kings in 2016 but traded to the Phoenix Suns on draft night for the rights to Bogdan Bogdanović, Georgios Papagiannis, and Skal Labissière. The Silver & Black had a shot at suiting him up when he was traded along with cash considerations on March 25, 2021 to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for the draft rights to Cady Lalanne. Instead, Chriss was waived by the Spurs three days after the trade.

Frank Ntilikina

New York Knicks v New Orleans Pelicans
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Honestly, I was excited when I saw Frank Ntilikina, who went to New York in 2017. His rookie season in New York was considered underwhelming, going so far as to be labeled a draft bust. Injuries limited his play. After his third season with the Knicks, his stats across the board went into decline. He is currently playing overseas.

Collin Sexton

Cleveland Cavaliers v Utah Jazz
Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

One of the most successful 8th draft picks in recent memory is Collin Sexton, who was drafted in 2018 by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He ranked 5th in Rookie of the Year voting averaging 16.7 PTS, 3 AST, and 2.9 RBD. He improved each of the next seasons in Cleveland, but saw his fourth season shortened by a torn left meniscus. That June, the Cavaliers extended a qualifying offer to Sexton, making him a restricted free agent. On September 3, 2022, Sexton was signed-and-traded, alongside Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, three future first-round picks, and two future pick swaps, to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Donovan Mitchell. His game is coming back and his last two season in Utah have yielded 17 PTS, 4.1 AST, and 2.5 RBD.

Jaxson Hayes

NBA: NOV 24 Pelicans at Clippers
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Jaxson Hayes was taken by the Atlanta Hawks with the 8th pick in 2019, but had his draft rights traded, along with the draft rights to Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Didi Louzada, and a protected 2020 first-round pick, to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for the draft rights to De’Andre Hunter and Solomon Hill. Like so may in this list, Hayes has struggled to shine is a stacked NBA.

Obi Toppin

2024 NBA Playoffs - Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

2020’s 8th pick Obi Toppin, made his mark in New York as 2022’s Slam Dunk Champion, averaging 7 PTS and 3 RBD. On July 7, 2023, Toppin was traded to the Indiana Pacers for two future second-round pick, where he has picked up more minutes and brought his averages up.

Franz Wagner

Philadelphia 76ers v Orlando Magic
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Like Collin Sexton, 2021’s Franz Wagner also came in 5th in ROTY votes behind a strong first season. He has continued to improve and was an instigator for Orlando during their first round of the playoffs. It will be interesting to see what milestones await the German small forward.

There’s not a lot of guarantees at the 8th spot, and judging from these picks, there is a lot of coulda, woulda, shoulda, with hindsight being what it always is.

Will the Spurs trade their 4th and or 8th picks for a higher pick of an all-star caliber player whose had some NBA experience?

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