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Semih Erden: Greatest Of All Time?


Here’s a question that is undoubtedly not keeping NBA observers up at night.

Last Overall, First Overall. We May Have A Sitcom Here.

But it should be of primary interest to Boston Celtics fans – except they’re not paying attention to it either.

This question, of course, is:

Is Semih Erden Destined To Become The Greatest Last Overall Draft Pick In NBA History?

Certainly, it’s awfully early to make any kind of bold proclamation about Erden’s place in the game’s legacy. The Turk has only played 31 games in his fledgling NBA career, all of them on a bad shoulder, while learning a new language, for a coach notorious for his unwillingness to give rookies major burn.

Which is why Erden is so awesome.

Because he’s already making a strong case for himself as one of the greatest talents to come out of the last position of any NBA draft ever. Assuming you’ll take my proclamation at face value, you can safely nod your agreement and skip down to the previous article.

But if you’re one of those pesky types that requires “evidence”, then come join me after the jump.


The 6’11″ Erden is averaging 4.3 points and 3.0 rebounds a game, has increased his scoring average every month and looks increasingly like a guy who might find a way to put a career together as the second or third big off the bench. He looks – like a real NBA player.

But before we can complete our analysis, we must first conduct additional “research” and put Erden’s “competitors” into some sort of “palatable chart form.” Only once we’ve gone through that hassle can we safely discuss whether the Erden statue outside the TD Garden should tower majestically over the Red Auerbach statue, or merely dwarf it.

As you can see, we can safely disregard the vast majority of players selected at the end of the NBA Draft as their candidacies for G.O.A.T. are hampered by the fact they never actually played any NBA games. That leaves only a few candidates to seriously challenge Semih.

The big dogs here are Sean Higgins, he of the robust 6.3 points per game, and the durable Don Reid, who stuck around for 403 NBA games. Zeljko Rebraca brings more offensive firepower than Reid at 5.9 points per game, but comes off as little more than a poor man’s Higgins based on my facile but ultimately incontrovertible analysis. Still, we’ll keep all three in the running.

But what, you say, of the players drafted before 1988? Is there one there who may join the elite Higgins-Erden-Reid-Rebraca quartet?

The truth is that in the years before 1988, the total number of players selected in the NBA draft stretched upwards to over 200 selections in some years, making the final overall pick even more of a crapshoot than it is today. The vast, vast majority of these players were not NBA-worthy.

Possibly because they did not exist.

For example, there were 226 total players selected in the 1983 draft. The Celtics took Andy Kupec of Bentley College with pick #226. I can only assume that Celtics GM Auerbach, upon looking at the remaining talent pool, took a long puff of his cigar and made up a name to see if anyone was still paying attention. After all, he had secured the rights to Greg Kite with the 21st pick of the first round. And how many rookies were the C’s really supposed to play?

Basketball Reference (and other sources) are somewhat ambiguous on this topic, but it appears there is really only one last overall pick prior to 1988 that made it to the NBA. That is Roland West, drafted by the Baltimore Bullets in 1967. West played 4 total NBA games.

Sorry Roland. Semih’s got you beat already.

But alas, here is where Erden falls tragically shy of his three competitors. He finishes fourth in the running, simply because he doesn’t (yet) have the experience, the numbers, or, in the case of Higgins, an awesome website, where you can find this:

Don Reid also has the numbers to make Semih green with envy. According to nba.com, he had the following accomplishments:

  • Registered a career-high 25 points (10-13 FG) and a team-high 9 rebounds against the Charlotte Hornets on 4/12/99.
  • Grabbed a career-best 17 rebounds on 03/07/01 vs. Detroit.
  • Appeared in 11 career NBA Playoff games, scoring a total of 21 points in 75 minutes.
  • Scored 11 points, in his first start of the 1996-97 season, against the Toronto Raptors on 1/4/97.

He also has his own facebook page. Can’t argue with that.

And Rebraca? Well, his moves speak for themselves:

In summary, we can now assert that with scientific certainty that Erden is the fourth greatest last overall pick in NBA history. Plus, should any of the top-3 fail to fulfill their duties, he is ready, willing and able to slide into a medal position.

And even if that doesn’t happen, those top three better be wary.

Semih’s coming for them:

  • john schaffer

    if doc continues to give semih playing time he wii continue to improve ,,but then again you know how doc is with rookies

    • The Village Idiot

      This Doc meme is a falsity! Best I can tell, not a single rookie ever left the Celtics under Doc and thrived elsewhere – from Gerald Green to J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker (they are not exactly making a case against Doc not playing them in Boston, are they?)

      • TedL

        You are misnamed, sir. You are no idiot!

  • CG12

    Gotta go with Rebraca. Higgins was pretty much a scrub. Reid was slightly better than a scrub – a lowish tier, but entirely respectable, role player. Rebraca came over after having an excellent career in Europe.

  • http://perkisbeast.com CarlSpackler

    Definitely have been impressed with Semih, given the limited sample size. I was really excited with what I saw in the Worlds over the summer, I figured he would be have the second largest impact, behind Bradley. But whatever, the Beastlair has been big on Semih Automatic all year! Case in point, our killer t:

    • Idaho

      That is hilarious! Good stuff HD. I am already prodding family members to buy me one of those shirts Spack

    • Idaho

      My bad RD, looked like an article HD would write.

  • http://twitter.com/recycledfears @recycledfears

    You do realize that it says "In 1990 Sean's childhood dream comes true, he is drafted by the World Champion San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association." Could have sword the Detroit Pistons repeated that year. I guess all those ESPN Classic games were just lies.

    • Ryan DeGama

      Great point. Perhaps he meant – "future world champions"…

      • JCP

        Or "world champions at the moment I'm writing this blurb"…

  • http://twitter.com/recycledfears @recycledfears

    sworn* the fail is rubbing off on my spelling.. tear

  • CsFanInArkansas

    Who did Semih put on a poster this year with the vicious one-handed dunk that earned him a bloody nose?

    Does anyone remember???

    • I_Love_Green

      Javale Mcgee?

      • I_Love_Green
        • CsFanInArkansas

          Thanks very much – I'd like to buy you a drink…but I live in Arkansas…so, you'll probably just have to settle for a "Cheers!"

          Semih-Auto…I dig it.

  • koolaid

    great post. this is why we keep coming back to the hub!

    semih has been very, very solid. he'll be getting PT and contributing right through the playoffs too.

    and that block last night…. maybe he has even more tricks in his bag :)

  • http://www.anaheimamigos.com Anaheim Amigos

    I love this post x100. Well done.

  • Jeff of Portland ME

    Best thing about the highlight video: Semih is chasing the ball after the block, and makes a face of frustration that he knocked it out of bounds.

  • http://frontofficefans.com JAAJ

    Well, we all know that is the greatest last pick of the draft that is 7' tall and is from Turkey. And we know that right now!

  • kricky

    He is pretty good compared to his "peers", but he still makes me cringe about 75% of the time he is out there. Though he has improved and is doing a better job of securing rebounds. He was just awful at this over the first few months.

  • hokianga

    hes a good back up Cbehind shaq and perks and in 2 years time hell be goo to back up perks i think. hope bradley gets a run

  • Steve B

    The kid is smart, knows where to be, has pretty quick feet for his height, can make free throws, and looks pretty comfortable out there even when he's been called on to start. Nobody expected any of this from him. Remembering too that he's just a rookie in this league, there's no doubt that he's another great Danny Ainge second round find. I already think he's capable of bringing more to the team than Greg Kite ever did. Considering how hard it is to find capable centers, he's a great addition!

  • JCP

    I'll go ahead and chime in that I think this is a great post. Also, I want an Erden jersey now.


    • http://perkisbeast.com CarlSpackler

      Our "Semih Automatic" seems like the only gear you can get. Not trying to promote, well I am, but if you ever need a custom shirt or anything just let us know. Provided Spreadshirt doesnt take my designs down the way it did with my Rondo'd shirt.

  • eeenok

    think he'll be pretty good if in a couple of years he can become fully erdan

  • NHBluesMan

    i feel like on any other team Semih wouldn't be getting this. He is partly benefiting from a 'right place, right time' deal, but he also has alot of raw talent, and going against Shaq and Perk in practice is forcing him to be better. I absolutely love his game, love cheering him on, and i hope the C's keep him around because he's gonna be a legit big man in acouple years.

  • Dipper

    If Semih does the weight room trick, I think he can be a very good player. He seems to mostly get to the right places for rebounds, and gets enough elevation, but gets out-muscled a lot – both before obtaining the bound and many times has the ball taken away after the bound. Remember P Gasol had to do the weights to become a strong factor. Same theory on Semih's stuffs , strength will overcome a lot of blocks.

  • ilaykarabay

    So far Semih did a great job.Im sure he will improve his skills and become a more real,tough and aggresive NBA player.Now that the Perkins is back,its for sure that he will play less but in this time he can and will develop himself to play better in the future.This team is the perfect place for Semih to shine and learn since veterans of the league are all around him.

  • http://www.negativedunkalectics.com Schmucko

    similar breakdown of Landry Fields and the 39th pick written last month: http://www.negativedunkalectics.com/2011/01/is-la

  • Onur Tuncaboylu

    Being the best last draft pick is something that we should notice? I mean who cares? There are tones of undrafted guys who became great players.

  • Emin

    i remember Hedo playing in Turkey, he was a slim fella with lotsa talent but after a few seasons in the NBA he improved his body as well as his overall game big time, and we all witnessed the result afterwards. Now Semih is not as talented as Hedo at all however he has those little fundamental differences which can give him the edge -as long as he improve his strength and body- over the other centers in NBA. There is also another thing I have to point out, Semih is mentally weak, although he has came a long way since his first seasons in Turkey there is still room for improvement . Celtics fans and coaching staff should continue to back him to get the best out of him.

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  • https://www.facebook.com/public/Hayder-Al-Ani hayder-al-ani

    Great to see the complete score, please let me know about the Semih Erden: Greatest Of All Time?.Please update me more info.

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