NBA Draft 2019: The draft-day uncertainty of being a second-round pick, according to Matt Barnes
The former NBA journeyman explains his experience as a second-round draft selection in 2002
Matt Barnes wasn't a star by any means when he left college in 2002.
Although he played at a big school in UCLA, the forward was probably the fifth-best player during his senior season as a Bruin and didn't excel at any single category that made him stand out as a prospect. However, Barnes did all of the little things well and hoped that would be just enough to get himself drafted during the 2002 NBA Draft.
Barnes was eventually selected before the conclusion of the draft with the No. 46 overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies. As often is the case with late-round selections of that time frame, Barnes didn't even receive a phone call from the Grizzlies -- he found out he was drafted by watching on television just like everyone else. Shortly thereafter, he was traded by the Grizzlies to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The UCLA product and explained what the feeling was like to going from playing in Los Angeles in college to the thought of playing in Memphis and then eventually Cleveland during his first season in the NBA.
"Damn, I gotta go from L.A. to Memphis and then being traded within a couple minutes, I was like, 'Damn, I gotta go from L.A. to Cleveland.' But it was a humbling experience. Not that I relaxed like I've made it. It was really the furthest thing from the truth."
Although Barnes washed in and out of the NBA by being assigned to the D-League -- now called the G League -- during his first two seasons, he eventually was able to carve out a role as a rotation player in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers toward the end of the 2003-04 season. Barnes would become a fixture journeyman while playing on nine different teams during a 14-year career that culminated in an NBA title during the 2016-17 season with the Golden State Warriors.
"It was the hungry route. It wasn't the 'You're drafted to the NBA, now you're a superstar.' It wasn't that route. And I really think it was the best thing for me because I saw a lot of guys drafted in the first round and I think they kind of exhaled once they made it and they were in and out of the league. To me, I was always every single year having to prove myself. Whatever it took, it was either me or them and it wasn't going to be them. I retired in 2017 after winning the championship and that's when I kind of looked back, 'Damn, you did it for 15 years and the average career is only three years and you did it for 15 of them.'"
Not a bad way to conclude a career after being a little-known second-round pick who was traded on draft day.
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