Does anyone else have a hangover from that crazy NBA offseason? Stars have clashed, blockbuster trades have been put through, and big-named free agents have created their own “Big Threes.” I mean the Cavaliers look like the NBA East All-Star team from 2012! One aspect of the offseason that also makes big news is the NBA draft.
This past year, Lonzo Ball got to head to his hometown Lakers, Fultz was taken by Philadelphia, and ex-Bulls star Jimmy Butler was traded on draft night to the T-Wolves. It’s okay though, experts put too much stock in the NBA draft itself. In fact, many superstars were drafted by teams that they never even played on. The NBA sees far more players traded immediately after being drafted or shortly after far more than any other sport. At the NFL Draft, you'll often see picks being exchanged rather than players, and in hockey, a player will be traded before another team makes their pick. However for some reason, NBA teams often elect to draft first, then trade later.
So, fear not if you don’t like your team's pick this year, maybe we can cheer you up with 15 NBA players you forgot were drafted by these teams!
15 J.R. Smith - New Orleans Hornets
Many people forget, but the current Cleveland Cavalier was selected 18th overall in 2004 draft by the New Orleans Hornets. During his time with the Hornets, Smith excelled, averaging 10.3 ppg his rookie year, despite the Hornets going a dismal 18-64. The following year, the Hornets improved to 38-44, but Smith dropped his average to 7.7 ppg with the addition of then rookie, Chris Paul. In the 2006 season, New Orleans traded Smith to Denver, the destination where most people thought he started his career.
Smith has made a resurgence after he dominated in China with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls. He earned the honors of sixth man of the year in 2013 with the New York Knicks, and is currently a starter with the Cleveland Cavaliers. But, what many people forget, is that the shooting guard who was drafted straight out of high school, was drafted by New Orleans.
14 Kyle Korver - New Jersey Nets
Kyle Korver has made a career in the NBA as a three-point specialist. All he does is stand outside of the arc, and nail three-pointers when the ball is swung his way. The former Creighton University guard is currently fifth-overall on the list of most three-pointers made all-time, and has a career three-point percentage of 43.2%. Not bad for a guy that was selected 51st overall.
To whom did Korver get drafted? You probably though it was the Philadelphia 76ers, where he spent his first five years. But Korver actually got drafted by the New Jersey Nets in 2003. New Jersey traded his rights to Philadelphia soon after for a lump sum of $125,000. Clearly, Korver is a lot more valuable than that now!
13 Jamal Crawford - Cleveland Cavaliers
Crawford has played for almost a quarter of the NBA since entering the league in 2000. One team he hasn’t played for though, is the team he was drafted by, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland selected the University of Michigan standout 8th overall in the 2000 draft, but was traded on draft day to the Chicago Bulls for their selection, Chris Mihm (I’m sure a decision that the Cavaliers regret).
The current Minnesota Timberwolf has since won three Sixth Man of the Year awards, and is sixth overall on the list of most three-pointers made all-time (only four behind previous entry, Kyle Korver). He’s the veteran leader that the Timberwolves need to finally get back into the playoff hunt in the Western Conference, with young stars like Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, and Andrew Wiggins leading the way.
12 Richard Jefferson - Houston Rockets
I’m shocked that Richard Jefferson is still in the league. It’s seems like he has been in the league since Clinton was president. In 2001, the former Arizona Wildcat was taken 13th-overall by the Houston Rockets, but his rights were traded away to the New Jersey Nets, where he would make a serious name for himself. His defensive ability and overall athleticism was imperative to the Nets run in 2002-03, where they won back-to-back Eastern Conference Championships.
Jefferson has since remained relevant and was a veteran staple on the Cavaliers the past few years. Unfortunately for Jefferson, he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks, where he was immediately waived. Jefferson signed a one year deal with Denver a few weeks later. He may not be a hall of famer, but Jefferson has been a solid player in the NBA for the past two decades.
11 Tyson Chandler – Los Angeles Clippers
Recently, even I, who writes about sports, forgot what team Tyson Chandler is on. Chandler started his career on the roster of the Chicago Bulls, but many people don’t know that he was actually selected 2nd overall by the Los Angeles Clippers, and then immediately traded for Elton Brand. Chandler spent his first five season with the Bulls, where he was able to make a name for himself as a true defensive center.
Since then, the former Defensive Player of the Year has had stints with New Orleans, Charlotte, Dallas, New York, and Phoenix. Currently, the Suns have not looked good in 2017, and rumor has it that they are trying to package Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler for future picks. At 35 years old, Chandler is still able to make an impact on the court, and we should expect them to be out there for a few more years.
10 Brandon Roy - Minnesota Timberwolves
Okay, we know, we know, Brandon Roy is no longer in the league, but he has a pretty cool story. In 2006, Roy was selected sixth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was immediately traded for the draft rights to Randy Foye to the Portland Trail Blazers. At his time in Portland, Roy rose to greatness, even making the NBA All-Star team three times. Unfortunately for Roy, he retired in 2011 after having trouble with his knees.
But wait, don’t call it a comeback, actually, do call it a comeback. In 2012, Roy announced he was going to make a NBA comeback after he received stem-cell therapy on his knees. And, our story comes full circle, as the former University of Washington star who was selected by the Timberwolves, would now play for the Timberwolves seven years later. Roy’s comeback was unsuccessful, but we applaud him for at least trying.
9 Marc Gasol - Los Angeles Lakers
The Spanish star for the Grizzlies has been with Memphis his whole career, right? Playing-wise, yes, but, he was actually drafted 48th-overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2007. The following season, Gasol’s rights were traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in a deal that included his brother, Pau Gasol, going to the Lakers. This is the only time in NBA history that two brothers were involved in the same trade.
Since being in Memphis, Gasol has been a force down low. He’s made three All-Star teams, made an All-NBA First-Team, and has been named Defensive Player of the Year. At 32-years-old, it’s hard to tell how many more years Gasol has left in the tank, but the seven-footer has made his mark on the NBA for the past decade!
8 Kevin Love - Memphis Grizzlies
The All-Star power forward has seen his fair share of criticism over the past few years. After joining the Cleveland Cavaliers Love has been blasted in the media for his inconsistent play. The Cavs want him to be a true power forward, but he is not strong enough to take defenders on the block. Luckily, Love usually makes up for his flaws on the offensive end.
What some people don’t know is that Love was selected fifth overall in the 2008 by the Memphis Grizzlies, right behind his former UCLA teammate, Russell Westbrook. Shortly after the draft, Love was involved in a trade that sent himself, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, and Jason Collins, to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for O.J. Mayo, Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric, and Greg Buckner.
7 Rajon Rondo - Phoenix Suns
One of the most controversial players in the NBA, Rajon Rondo, has been tearing up the league since 2006. The former University of Kentucky Wildcat was drafted 21st overall, but many people don't know that he was taken by the Phoenix Suns. After being drafted, Phoenix traded him to Boston in exchange for Cleveland's 2007 first-round pick and cash. During his early years in Boston, Rondo was an integral part of their championship run, facilitating the ball to the "Big Three."
Over recent years, Rondo has bounced around the league, and has been a cancer in the locker room, calling a referee a homophobic slur in 2015, and being suspended in 2016 for conduct detrimental to the team. The current New Orleans point guard is hoping to do some damage in 2017 with All-Stars Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins in the front court.
6 Pau Gasol - Atlanta Hawks
There isn't a better player from the high post than Pau Gasol. The seven-foot Spaniard made his mark on the in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies. He then joined Kobe for a couple championships in L.A., and has since moved on to Chicago and then San Antonio. But what most fans are unaware of is that Gasol never played a single game for the team that actually drafted him, the Atlanta Hawks. Memphis obtained his rights from the Hawks, and the rest is history.
Asides from Gasol's play on the court, he's an interesting individual off of it. Originally, he was set to become a doctor, but left medical school when his basketball career took off. He can speak five languages, and during his playing days in L.A, Kobe and Pau would speak in Spanish to keep opponents from knowing their plays!
5 Isaiah Thomas - Sacramento Kings
The little man out of the University of Washington has made a name for himself in the NBA. At only 5'9", Thomas has been able to perfect the dribble-drive and has developed both his mid-range and long game. What most people don't know is that Thomas had to work his way to that status, as Sacramento drafted him with the last overall pick in 2011. You guessed it, he's the Mr. Irrelevant of basketball.
Obviously, most fans will say, duh, Thomas played with the Kings for three years. But it's not until he was traded from Sacramento to Phoenix to Boston, that he really came on the scene. Now, sidelined with a hip injury, Thomas hopes he can contribute to the Cavaliers championship run come 2018. From Mr. Irrelevant to starting point guard; just wait for a 30 for 30 about him in 15 years.
4 Vince Carter - Golden State Warriors
I am officially changing Vince Carter's from "Vinsanity" to the "Ageless Wonder." Vince Carter has done it all throughout his NBA career: eight-time All-Star, 7th overall on the most three-pointers list, 22nd-overall in all-time scoring, and just an all-around fun player to watch. Even though Carter has played for seven teams in his 19 year career, one team he did not play for was the one that drafted him, the Golden State Warriors.
At the time, the Toronto Raptors, a recent expansion team, was struggling keeping fans in the stands, and was in danger of losing their team. On draft day, the Raptors traded their pick, Antawn Jamison, to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Carter. The high-flying ability of "Air Canada" made the Raptors one of the most popular teams in the early 2000s. The rest they say is history.
3 LaMarcus Aldridge - Chicago Bulls
Aldridge is a true power forward. He's been able to dominate defenders in the high post, down on the low block, and even hit his signature baseline jumper. Most people know Aldridge from his time in Portland, and now in San Antonio, but what you may not know was that he was actually drafted by the Chicago Bulls. In 2006, the Bulls took the former Texas Longhorn's power forward with the 2nd-overall pick, only to trade him for Portland's picks, Tyrus Thomas and Vikton Khryapa.
The five-time All-Star has had a great start to 2017, averaging 23.6 ppg and 8.4 rpg over the course of seven games. The only issue with Aldridge is that he seems to fall flat in the postseason. Let's hope coach Gregg Popovich keeps him on track this year, and maybe they can contend with the Warriors in the west.
2 Kyle Lowry - Memphis Grizzlies
Lowry is part of a dangerous guard duo in Toronto along with DeMar DeRozan. A lot of casual NBA fans think that Lowry has always been this good, but he was overlooked for several years. In 2006, the Memphis Grizzlies selected the Villanova guard with the 24th overall pick. Originally, Lowry was planning on being the point guard in Memphis for years to come, but in 2007, the Grizzlies selected another point guard, Mike Conley Jr., with the fourth-overall pick. Lowry was pretty much out of a job, and left for Houston in 2009. He played well initially but lost playing time due to disagreements with then coach, Kevin McHale, and moved on to Toronto in 2012. Now, at 31 years old, Lowry is dominating the east and has made the NBA All-Star team the past three years. A true story of an underdog working his way to greatness through several years of hardship.
1 Dirk Nowitzki - Milwaukee Bucks
The final player on our list, Dirk Nowitzki! Dirk's story of getting to the Mavericks is actually a somewhat complicated one. The Bucks wanted power forward Robert Taylor, but he was supposed to go before Nowitzki in the draft. Then, the Phoenix Suns wanted Patrick Garrity who was supposed to go in the late first-round. The Bucks selected Nowitzki with their ninth pick, and Garrity with their 19th. They then traded both these players to the Mavericks for Robert Taylor, and then Dallas then traded Garrity to the Suns for reserve point guard, Steve Nash. Did you follow all of that?
If it wasn't for this trade, Dallas fans would never know the German legend that is Dirk Nowitzki. Lucky for the Mavericks, the draft day deal would bring in the greatest player in their franchise's history.