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Who's the Best No. 10?

It's the 10th day of February and the Washington Wizards are in Atlanta taking on the Hawks in a matchup of the top two No. 10 picks taken this decade -- Joe Johnson and Caron Butler. It might not seem like a big deal to be the 10th overall pick in the NBA draft, but Boston Celtics all-star forward Paul Pierce has raised the profile of that draft position since he was taken in 1998.


I want a ring like you, too, Paul. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)

I also came across an interesting stat the other day. Since the league started rewarding NBA Finals MVPs in 1969, the winner has been the top overall pick 19* times, the No. 3 overall pick seven times, the No. 2 overall pick four times and ... the No. 10 overall pick three times (*Wilt Chamberlain is officially listed as a territorial pick, but he was the first player chosen in 1959). New York Knicks legend Willis Reed had been the only No. 10 pick to lead his team to an NBA title -- in 1970 and 1973 -- until Pierce got out of a wheelchair to lead the Celtics to their 17th NBA championship last summer.

Pierce used the slight of being picked after the likes of Michael Olowokandi, Raef LaFrentz and Robert "Tractor" Traylor to fuel his potential Hall of Fame career. Butler has said slipping to No. 10 in 2002 -- behind players like Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Dajuan Wagner, who are longer in the league -- has been a career-long motivator.

Pierce is the most accomplished No. 10 pick in the lottery era, amassing 17,981 career points and he was recently named to his seventh all-star team. But Johnson and Butler are right behind. Other notable No. 10s are Dallas Mavericks sixth-man Jason Terry and Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum.

Who's the best No. 10 after Pierce? Don't think for a minute that it doesn't matter to Butler. "That does matter. That's what you want. You strive to be best," he said. "Obviously, Paul Pierce has got a championship. I'm chasing that down, trying to get one of those. I hope I can be the best at the pick, one day."


I'm going to the All Star Game this year. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Celtics took Johnson in 2001, and the Miami Heat selected Butler a year later. Johnson and Butler have been traded twice (from East to West and back to East) and both made their first all-star appearances in 2007 with their third team. Johnson is averaging 21.5 points, 6.2 assists and 4.5 rebounds and will make his third consecutive all-star appearance this weekend in Phoenix. Butler is averaging 20.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists and his string of back-to-back all-star appearances was vanquished by the Wizards' horrendous season.

Although he was selected a year ahead of Butler, Johnson is still just 27 while Butler will turn 29 next month. Johnson has a slightly better career average (17 points, compared to Butler's 16.4), was a member of Team USA in the 2006 World Championships and he recently topped 10,000 career points last week. Johnson has been the more durable player, playing all 82 games five times and averaging 78 games his first seven seasons. Butler has averaged 70 games played his first six seasons.

Johnson has also been a part of better teams, reaching the Western Conference Finals with Phoenix in 2005. His teams carrying a winning percentage of .478 (299-326). Butler made it to the conference semifinals with Miami in 2004 but has never won more than 43 games. His teams have had a winning percentage of .438 (238-305) -- which has been severely damaged this season.

So tonight should provide an interesting individual matchup of two No. 10s.

"Me, him, Paul Pierce. All of us have been the 10th pick and perform pretty well each game," Butler said. "I just like competing against the elite guys, LeBron, Kobe. I like raising my game to the challenge."


By Michael Lee  |  February 10, 2009; 12:03 PM ET
 
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Next: Can Wizards Win Two Straight?

Comments

At 11-40 why would anyone try to build a team around CB?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | February 10, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I love Joe Johnson's game and he's prob a better pure scorer and shooter but CB's intangibles is what makes him a better player overall.

Posted by: zxhoya | February 10, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

C. Neither

Posted by: original_mark | February 10, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Nice column, but wow. I guess its tough to generate story ideas on the Wizards these days. Snooze...

Posted by: atomicshakespeare | February 10, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Caron is a better all around player, but Johnson plays with a better team and has more guys who can hit shots when he's double teamed (i.e. Bibby, Marvin Williams) plus a low post threats with Horford and Josh Smith. Butler has AJ and basically no one else who is a consistent threat. His assists would be higher if they had a 3-point shooter like Roger Mason or a healthy DSS. Not to mention he doesn't have BTH dish to when he drives to the basket.

This year you're comparing apples and oranges when looking at Joe Johnson vs. Caron....last year I saw CB3 out play Pierce in 3 of the 4 games when the Wizards play the Celtics (all of which the Wizards won.

Posted by: wizfan89 | February 10, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

"Caron is a better all around player"

Not really. Johnson is more athletic, quicker, a better ballhandler, a better playmaker, and a better long-range shooter.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 10, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

The best no. 10? Oh, that's easy. Pele!

Posted by: Matte | February 10, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Joe Johnson sucks, talk about an overrated player!!!!

Posted by: cj658 | February 10, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

"Caron is a better all around player"

Not really. Johnson is more athletic, quicker, a better ballhandler, a better playmaker, and a better long-range shooter.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 10, 2009 1:26 PM

All around means all aspects of the game not just offense my man

Posted by: DMoney28 | February 10, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

"All around means all aspects of the game not just offense my man

Posted by: DMoney28 | February 10, 2009 3:05 PM "

And, as I pointed out in detail, my boy, Johnson is better than Butler in a majority of the games aspect, making him a better all-around player.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 10, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Johnson is better in shooting / ballhandling. I believe they are just about the same in terms of quickness. A better athlete, I give it to CB3. Plus Caron is a better rebounder and a huge plus in penetration and inside game. I say Caron by a short margin.

Posted by: Dave381 | February 10, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

To blatantly suggest that Joe Johnson is the better all around player is just another blind, one sided, foolish assessment. There career numbers are practically identical, except that Butler is clearly the better rebounder. Joe Johnson is a pure scorer, that’s all he really brings to the table. But, the problem is, they average the same amount of points for their careers. So to suggest that Johnson is “is more athletic, quicker, a better ball handler, a better playmaker, and a better long-range shooter” is pure foolishness. If all this were true, one would think his numbers would stand out over Butler’s. But they do not. If a player is better in all those aspects of the game than another player, than his production should be above and beyond. Just another example of a foolish assessment, by a foolish, ignorant person. Why am I not surprised. Yawwwwnnnnn.

Oh, and by the way, I was joking about Johnson being overrated. I am sure you wet your pants, and went into convulsions when you read that.

Posted by: cj658 | February 10, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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