As we all revel in the action of the NBA Conference Finals, many teams in the league not lucky enough to earn a playoff berth are working diligently behind the scenes, seeking to uncover the next potential change gem. franchise.
The 2021 NBA Draft Lottery draw took place Tuesday night (ET), with teams salivating over the prospects of selecting a star like Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham from a pool of players many reviewers have. consider strong among the top five.
But you can bet that when the draft arrives on July 29, a few teams will catch some thefts that we’ll be talking about in the years to come.
That said, we take a quick look at 10 of the biggest steals picked over the past 10 years in the NBA Draft. It’s an extended roster overall, so we’re limiting it to players who were drafted outside of the top 10 and who were subsequently selected for at least one NBA All-Star game.
To note: The players are listed in alphabetical order.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: He is the ultimate gem. The two-time MVP and five-time All-Star was selected 15th in the 2013 draft, and he led the Milwaukee Bucks to the conference finals twice. Heading into the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, Antetokounmpo has averaged 24.8 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.4 blocks in 10 playoffs since making his 2015 playoff debut at age 20. So far, Antetokoumpo is 0-1 in the conference final. Maybe he must finally break through.
Devin Booker: He was the 13th pick in a class of 2015 that saw his college teammate Karl-Anthony Towns go No.1 overall. Booker came off the bench in Kentucky, but now leads the Phoenix Suns on a magical playoff series as a double All-Star. It’s a study of perseverance considering all the lost seasons he went through in his first five seasons to get there.
Jimmy Butler: Butler’s story is amazing. A native of Texan, Butler played junior varsity ball, then enrolled at Marquette University before Chicago made him the 30th pick in the 2011 Draft. His draft class includes six other All-Stars (Butler, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Isaiah Thomas, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker and Nikola Vucevic). Five-time All-Star, Butler has just completed his second season in Miami, where his drive and work ethic seem to fit naturally into the Heat culture.
Rudy Gobert: A two-time NBA All-Star after winning his third Defensive Player of the Year title, Gobert was the lowest pick (27th) of just three All-Stars in the 2013 Draft Class. He averaged double-digit rebounds in six of his eight NBA seasons, and you know he’s going to block at least two shots per game. The anchor of everything Utah does defensively, Gobert suffered a disappointing exit in the 2021 Western Conference semifinals.
Green Draymond: The triple All-Star was the No.35 pick in 2012 and is tied with teammate Klay Thompson for the King of the Rings title among that group. Green won three titles with the Warriors, in addition to a Defensive Player of the Year award. He’s a mainstay of the All-NBA defensive team, making six appearances. Green’s knowledge of the game is unmatched, and he will become a TV star once he decides to quit.
Nikola Jokic: His improbable rise started in a Serbian newspaper and has peaked this season. The Joker just won his first MVP award, and he was the first Serbian to win that honor and the least drafted player (41st overall) to do so. Some might argue that he’s the biggest draft robbery in NBA history.
Kawhi Leonard: The 15th pick in 2011, Leonard is two-time Defensive Player of the Year and two-time Finals MVP looking for his third championship with his third team. Five-time All-Star, Leonard was also the 2020 All-Star Game MVP. He has been named All-NBA First Team three times, in addition to winning NBA All-Defensive First Team honors three times.
Khris Middleton: Every year when we discuss which players are on the verge of entering the club 50-40-90, the double All-Star Middleton always seems to be in the conversation. Keep in mind that the shooting feat has only been accomplished 12 times by eight players in NBA history, and apparently every season the 39th pick in the 2012 Draft is on the verge of reaching it. . In nine NBA seasons, Middleton played 510 of 585 regular season games, averaging 31.7 minutes.
Donovan Mitchell: At one point, baseball was Mitchell’s primary sport, and one wonders what he could have accomplished if he had focused all of his efforts on this effort. Two-time NBA All-Star and 2018 Slam Dunk Contest winner, Mitchell was the 13th pick in a 2017 draft that produced a trio of All-Stars (Bam Adebayo and Jayson Tatum). Mitchell is one of the most dynamic goalscorers in the league and one of the reasons the Jazz are expected to compete for titles in the years to come.
Klay Thompson: We have sorely missed the presence of this sniper for the past two years, and I hope he will return to full health soon. Three-time NBA champion, Thompson has already illuminated the Indiana Pacers for 60 points in just 11 dribbles. “I’ve never heard of anyone doing what Klay did, getting 60 of 11 dribbles,” Hawks goalie Lou Williams told NBA.com. “Sixty out of 11 dribbles, no that’s never going to happen again.” The five-time All-Star was the 11th pick in the 2011 Draft, and he won the Third All-NBA Team twice (2015, 2016) in addition to being part of the Second NBA All-Defensive Team in 2019.
And five more: Bam Adebayo (n ° 14 in 2017); Domantas Sabonis (n ° 11 in 2016); Pascal Siakam (n ° 27 in 2016); Nikola Vucevic (n ° 16 in 2011); Zach LaVine (# 13 in 2014).
Michael C. Wright is editor-in-chief for NBA.com. You can send him an e-mail here, find his archives here and follow him on Twitter.
The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of the NBA or its clubs.