Merriman: Top B1G draft classes of past decade

The Big Ten is known as being one of the best college basketball conferences in the nation. We have seen countless All-Americans sport Big Ten jerseys and go on to have outstanding NBA careers, from John Havlicek to Earvin “Magic Johnson to Isiah Thomas, to name a few.

We know some of the all-time greats, but what kind of NBA talent has the Big Ten produced in recent years?

I studied the past 10 years and looked back at all the Big Ten NBA draft picks since 2004. I took note of  how many players were drafted each year, where the players were selected and what type of success they have had in the NBA to compile this ranking.

[ MORE: Comparing Big Ten NBA prospects to current pros ]

Here is my ranking of the top Big Ten NBA Draft classes over the past decade.

1. 2007 NBA Draft (6 players)
1. Greg Oden (Ohio State): Portland Trailblazers
4. Mike Conley Jr. (Ohio State): Memphis Grizzlies
21. Daequan Cook (Ohio State): Philadelphia 76ers (Traded to Miami Heat)
29. Alando Tucker (Wisconsin): Phoenix Suns
31. Carl Landry (Purdue): Seattle Supersonics (Traded to Houston Rockets)
43. Adam Haluska (Iowa): New Orleans Hornets

My take: Not only did this draft have the highest number of Big Ten players selected over the past decade, it also produced the most talent. While Greg Oden didn’t pan out as the No. 1 pick, Mike Conley Jr. certainly did, as did Carl Landry, who was a steal at No. 31 overall. This was a solid class, highlighted by Conley.

2. 2013 (5)
2. Victor Oladipo (Indiana): Orlando Magic
4. Cody Zeller (Indiana): Charlotte Bobcats
9. Trey Burke (Michigan): Utah Jazz
24. Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan): New York Knicks
58. Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State): San Antonio Spurs

My take: Yes, this class has only one year of NBA experience, but it is loaded with talent. Oladipo, Burke and Hardaway Jr. were all members of the 2014 NBA All-Rookie First Team, while Zeller was a second-team member. Oladipo and Burke also finished second and third, respectively, for Rookie of the Year. This class could take over the No. 1 spot in no time if these young players continue to develop at this pace.

3. 2012 (4)
11. Meyers Leonard (Illinois): Portland Trail Blazers
21. Jared Sullinger (Ohio State): Boston Celtics
35. Draymond Green (Michigan State): Golden State Warriors
58. Robbie Hummel (Purdue): Minnesota Timberwolves

My take: All four players are currently on NBA rosters, while Green and Sullinger are two up-and-coming power forwards. Leonard is still extremely raw and a work in progress, and Hummel played some meaningful minutes down the stretch. This class is still young, but it has the chance to improve.

4. 2008 (3)
7. Eric Gordon (Indiana): Los Angeles Clippers
23. Kosta Koufos (Ohio State): Utah Jazz
29. D.J. White (Indiana): Detroit Pistons

My take: The Big Ten had three players selected in the NBA Draft on three separate occasions over the past decade. However, this class, led by Eric Gordon, is the best of the bunch. All three players in this draft class are currently on NBA rosters, and Gordon is a talented shooting guard who can create his own shot.

[ MORE: Get all of our 2014 NBA draft coverage ]

5. 2004  (3)
5. Devin Harris (Wisconsin): Washington Wizards (Traded to Dallas Mavericks)
14. Kris Humphries (Minnesota): Utah Jazz
46. Bernard Robinson (Michigan): Charlotte Bobcats

My take: There wasn’t a true superstar in this draft class, but both Harris and Humphries are solid NBA players who have carved out significant roles throughout their NBA careers. Harris has averaged at least 15 points per game in five seasons, while Humphries averaged double-doubles in back-to-back seasons in 2010-11 and 2011-12. Robinson is currently out of the NBA.

6. 2005 (3)
3. Deron Williams (Illinois): Utah Jazz
24. Luther Head (Illinois): Houston Rockets
47. Bracey Wright (Indiana): Minnesota Timberwolves

My take: Deron Williams is probably the best Big Ten player drafted during this time frame, but he is also the only player of this Big Ten draft class still in the NBA. Having Williams in this class gives this group a bump, but it can only count for so much. Head currently plays in the Spanish league, while Wright plays in Israel.

7. 2011 (5)
27. JaJuan Johnson (Purdue): New Jersey Nets (Traded to Boston Celtics)
40. Jon Leuer (Wisconsin): Milwaukee Bucks
41. Darius Morris (Michigan): Los Angeles Lakers
51. Jon Diebler (Ohio State): Portland Trail Blazers
55. E’Twaun Moore (Purdue): Boston Celtics

My take: While this class was big in size and college star power, only three from the class are currently on NBA rosters (Leuer, Morris and Moore). Even more, not one of the players has averaged more than 8 points per game in a single season. Johnson currently plays overseas in Italy, while Diebler plays in Turkey.

8. 2006 (5)
25. Shannon Brown (Michigan State): Cleveland Cavaliers
28. Maurice Ager (Michigan State): Dallas Mavericks
34. Paul Davis (Michigan State): Los Angeles Clippers
41. James Augustine (Illinois): Orlando Magic
46. Dee Brown (Illinois): Utah Jazz

My take: Shannon Brown is the only player from this class remaining in the NBA. Yes, there are other classes with only one player still in the league, but Brown’s career averages of 7.7 points and 1.9 rebounds per game make it tough to boost this class any higher. From a college standpoint, this class was darn good, but for some reason, the skills just never transitioned to the next level.

9. 2010 (1)
2. Evan Turner (Ohio State): Philadelphia 76ers

My take: This was a tough year for the Big Ten, with only one player selected in the 2010 NBA Draft. That one player, however, was selected No. 2 overall and has enjoyed a solid NBA career. In four NBA seasons, Turner has career averaged of 11.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. He is undoubtedly one of the top Big Ten players on this list.

10. 2009 (2)
24. Byron Mullens (Ohio State): Dallas Mavericks (Traded to Oklahoma City Thunder)
50. Goran Suton (Michigan State): Utah Jazz

My take: The 2009 NBA Draft class had just two Big Ten players selected in it, and neither has exactly set the world on fire. Mullens is a backup for the Philadelphia 76ers, averaging 4.2 points and 2 rebounds per game this past season, while Suton currently plays for Cedevita Zagreb of the Croatian League.

About Sean Merriman BTN.com web editor Sean Merriman covers football and men’s basketball and provides original content for BTN.com. You can follow him on Twitter @BTNSean.

Originally from Farmington Hills, MI, I have worked at the Big Ten Network since 2012 and took over my role as web editor and blogger in August, 2013. Follow me on twitter for constant Big Ten updates @srmerriman. Thanks and enjoy!!

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Show Comments (2 Comments)
2 Post Your Comment
negele on 5/28/2014 @ 4:21pm EDT Said:

I am a Big 10 fan but the talent since 2000 has been awful.
The 2013 class is better than the 2007 class.
I’m sorry but injury or not, I told folks Oden was going to be a bust because he wasn’t as good as advertised.
The 2013 class has a chance to be great if Oladipo learns to handle the ball, if Hardaway Jr. learns to attack the rim and stop settling for threes and if Burke becomes a better defender who could makes plays defensively.
Cody Zeller will be a bust because his game was imited at Indiana and he just isn’t skillful enough.
The Big 10 should be embarrassed for the talent they’ve turned out prior to 2013.
Michigan State for all their winning turned out mediocre talent. Michigan, which turned out talent in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, was hurt by the Ed Martin scandal and as a result looked like a NAIA program.

negele on 5/28/2014 @ 4:23pm EDT Said:

Am I missing something?
DJ White does not play or the Pistons.

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