This post was written by the half drunk, often belligerent, New York sports addict who goes by houroc over at sportfiends. He indulges in most of life’s guilty pleasures but never misses the games and still knows more about sports than you. You can check out more of his daily ramblings posts over there.
So the NBA draft was yesterday and despite the fact that many are calling this a very mediocre NBA draft, you really just never know. Don’t be one of those pathetic people who is sad that their favorite NBA squad is not in the draft lottery because this is the NBA. That means that top picks don’t always pan out and you can find some real gems with lower picks if you know what you’re doing.
With that said, lets look at some of the top NBA draft steals of all time. This list includes all of the top players in history who were drafted after the top 14 draft lottery picks and some of the losers who were picked before them. I bet you didn’t even know that these guys would turn out like they did.
10. Rajon Rondo (21st Overall, 2006 Phoenix Suns) – You may be wondering why this guy is on the list. It’s very simple, he’s a champion. When you are the floor general on a championship squad like the Celtics, as long you don’t mess it up then your in the clear but Rondo did more than just not mess it up, he played pretty damn well for a young gun. In game 2 he had 16 assists and in the clinching game 6 he had 6 steals, 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 21 points to help the Celtics to the blow out win over the Lakers. Not too shabby young fella.
Notable Scrubs picked before him: Mouhamed Sene, Patrick O’Bryant, Hilton Armstrong
9. Manu Ginobili (2nd round, 57th overall, 1999 San Antonio Spurs) – Despite that fact that he is often accused of being a serial flopper (which he is), you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn’t love to have this scrappy Argentine on their team. The Spurs got away with highway robbery by getting him 57th overall in 1999. Since adding him to the team, they’ve won 3 championships. He has also won gold with his native Argentina and despite the fact that he’s getting older and he is coming off the bench (why??), he set personal records in points per game, assists per game, rebounds per game, 3 point field goal percentage and free throw percentage on his way to winning the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Notable Scrubs picked before him: Jonathan Bender, Trajan Langdon, Aleksandar Radojevi?
8. Tony Parker (28th overall, 2001 San Antonio Spurs) – The second Spur on our list is the Spurs point guard Tony Parker. This three time champion has career averages 16 ppg, 5.5 apg, and 3.1 rpg. Not ridiculous but he is a great floor general for the Spurs. He is a tremendous slasher and seems to always be able to get to the rim. Without him, there’s no way they would’ve won all the championships they did and I’m sure Jason Kidd still has nightmares about getting owned by a younger Tony Parker en route to his first championship. Besides all that though, he pulled this chick. That alone should be enough to get him on the list.
Notable Scrubs picked before him: Steven Hunter, DeSagana Diop, Rodney White
7. Shawn Kemp (17th overall, 1989 Seattle SuperSonics) – Before being riddled by all sorts of legal issues, this guy was a superstar for the Sonics. Together with his PIC Gary Payton this high flyer led the Sonics to a team record 64 wins in the 1995-96 season and a trip to the NBA finals. They faced off against the 72 win Bulls that season and well… you know what happened.
Notable Scrubs picked before him: Stacey King, Randy White, Tom Hammonds
6. Dennis Rodman (2nd round, 27th overall, 1986 Detroit Pistons) – In his day, Dennis Rodman was like a rich mans Ben Wallace. Year in and year out he led the league in rebounding. He won 5 championships over the course of his career as well being known as one of the leagues top defenders. The only reason he wasn’t ranked higher was because I still have recurring nightmares of him in a wedding dress. I wake up in cold sweats. Very traumatizing.
Notable Scrubs picked before him: Mark Alarie, Harold Pressley, Brad Sellers
5. Steve Nash (15th overall, 1996 Phoenix Suns) – It took Steve Nash two trips to Phoenix but he finally seemed to have found his niche in 2005 when he was named the NBA MVP. Steve Nash is the closest thing we have today to John Stockton. He is deadly with the pick and roll, a sharpshooter from the 3 point line and the free throw line, and he always seems to make the right decisions. If only Mark Cuban had resigned him instead of letting him go to Phoenix, maybe they wouldn’t get beat so bad in the playoffs every season.
Notable Scrubs picked before him: Erick Dampier, Todd Fuller, Vitaly Potapenko
4. Nate Archibald (2nd round, 19th overall, 1970 Cincinnati Royals) – Nate Archibald was one of the NBA’s all time great point guards. He is the only player ever to lead the league in both points per game and assists per game in the same season. In that crazy season he averaged 34.0 points per game and 11.4 assists per game. He won the MVP award that season. He also helped lead the Celtics to one of their many championships in 1981.
Notable Scrubs picked before him: Jimmy Collins, George E. Johnson, Jim Ard
3. George Gervin (3rd Round, 40th overall, 1974 San Antonio Spurs) – George Gervin was known as the Iceman back in the day because his demeanor on the court was so cool. He had a swagger about him that was unmatched at the time and he was considered one the best guards of all time. He set numerous scoring records for guards (that would later be broken by Michael Jordan). He was also known for being one of the first guys to use the finger roll to perfection. He was known for shooting finger rolls from as far away as the free throw line.
Notable Scrubs picked before him: Len Elmore, John Shumate, Glenn McDonald
2. John Stockton (16th overall, 1984 Utah Jazz) – John Stockton was as tough as they come despite being a small guy in a mountain of men, he wore the daisy duke short shorts long after everyone else stopped, and was the best point guard ever in my opinion period. He is the record holder for career assists and career steals and it’s not even close. He was a 10 time all star, 2 time NBA finalist and a 2 time all NBA first team player. He was the ultimate floor general.
Notable Scrubs picked before him: Melvin Turpin, Lancaster Gordon, Leon Wood
1. Michael Jordan (3rd overall, 1984 Chicago Bulls) – Ok so I know I am cheating on this one because MJ was picked in the lottery but even so, he was still the biggest steal of all time. I won’t waste your time by telling you all of his accomplishments, if you don’t know by now you have no business reading this article. In the 1984 draft he was the 3rd pick. The Houston Rockets took future hall of famer Hakeem Olajuwon so you can’t knock them, even though I wonder if they would’ve changed their pick if they knew how everything panned out. The Portland Trail Blazers took Sam Bowie with the second pick leaving Michael Jordan on the board to fall right into the Bulls lap. This is quite possibly the worst pick in the history of sports. Bowie averaged 10.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.78 blocks per game and Michael Jordan won five NBA MVP Awards and winning six NBA Championships. Enough said.
Notable Scrubs picked before him: Sam Bowie
So what have we learned today? A high pick doesn’t necessarily mean that your team will come away with a great player and it’s the same vice versa. If your team has good scouts and is a little lucky, they may come away with some gold in the draft. Good luck!!