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Ranking the 11th draft picks of the 2010s- Part 3

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There is a lot of talent available, choosing wisely is the key.

Indiana Pacers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Devin Vassell was drafted in the eleventh spot by the San Antonio Spurs, the first lottery pick in decades. The eleventh pick can be tricky - no guarantee of greatness, yet some major difference makers have been chosen there.

Vassell will be in the pressure cooker to fit well with the Spurs youth movement. The key is not to expect too much too fast. In this “win now” NBA young talent is often tossed aside for All-Star caliber players willing to play for less to be along for the ride (talkin’ ‘bout you Los Angeles Lakers). The three players who top the past decades #11 picks have developed their game over time.

In this countdown we’ve seen players who underperformed, young talent make a difference quickly, and players who started strong and fizzled out. The key to these three players is consistency, developmentally and locationally.

With hindsight being 2020 (pun still intended), let’s complete our ranking the players chosen at the eleventh spot over the last decade.

Reminders for 10-4:

10th- Cole Aldrich (2010)

9th- Doug McDermott (2014)

8th- Malik Monk (2017)

7th- Cameron Johnson (2019)

6th- Meyers Leonard (2012)

5th- Michael Carter-Williams (2013)

4th- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2018)

Now the final three:

3rd Myles Turner (2015)

Indiana Pacers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

One of the most exciting big men in the current NBA is Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner. The center’s addition to the Pacers gave Indiana height, rim protection, and substantial scoring. Turner has averaged double-digit scoring in all five of his NBA seasons. His time with Indiana has allowed him to grow as a player offensively and defensively. Perhaps more impressive than his scoring is his blocking, a stat for which he lead the league in 2019. In this year’s bubble, Myles led in blocks during the playoffs with an unruly four per game. Indiana is on pace to make a deeper postseason run as an impressive, ever-improving roster takes shape featuring Victor Oladipo and . . .

2nd Domantas Sabonis (2016)

Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Center/power forward Domantas Sabonis joined the Indiana Pacers in 2017 along with Oladipo in a trade that sent Paul George to Oklahoma City. This is the second player on this list to be shuffled in the pursuit of PG-13. In fact, the Pacers’ roster now boasts three of the “elevens” on this list: Sabonis, Turner, and McDermott. Originally drafted by the Orlando Magic, Domantas was sent to OKC with Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova for Serge Ibaka. Sabonis made the 2020 All-Star team. Like fine wine, his stats improve with time increasing the odds that the Indiana Pacers may be an Eastern Conference team to keep eyes on in the coming season.

1st Klay Thompson (2011)

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Three-time NBA Champion and five-time All-Star Klay Thompson is probably the best result anyone can hope for at the 11th spot in the draft. There are a couple of contributing factors. As previously mentioned, Thompson’s career has been consistent. He has spent his entire nine year career with the Golden State Warriors which has allowed him to develop. Year after year, he plays alongside many familiar faces.

For all of his personal basketball greatness, he is an understated and often underrated player. Being the second best three-point shooter in the league is a magnificent feat, but when the best shooter is also on your team (and wins back-to-back MVP trophies) people don’t take the same notice. The addition of Kevin Durant pushed Thompson to “third best” on a team at a time when he could have been the leader on many teams in the league. Even hindsight sullies Klay’s worth as the eleventh pick as very few franchises would chose the Klay over the Klaw, who went four spots after Thompson in the fifteenth spot that same year.

What will assessing Devin Vassell’s success nine years from now look like? Could he be a contributor to an ongoing contending San Antonio Spurs team? Will fans in 2029 not even be aware of Vassell? Or will he be one of the future jerseys hoisted into the rafters for leaving an indelible mark on the franchise?


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