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NBA Draft Steals: The Best Players Drafted Late Every Year Since 2000

No draft in professional sports induces more terror and anxiety in fans quite like the NBA draft. Thirty teams, sixty players, and the future of every single franchise in the association riding on the shoulders of a group of young men, many of whom can’t even legally drink on the night of the event. It's basically sports Thunderdome. Kinda. Don’t dwell too hard on that analogy, okay?

Given that many of the best players in NBA history not named Kobe Bryant were selected within the first ten spots in the draft, it’s generally considered that’s where teams will land a franchise changing talent. Some teams have actually tried to lose as many games as they possibly can to increase their odds at drafting one of those generational talents, the Philadelphia 76ers being the most recent, and notorious, example. It’s made even more difficult because most teams only have two picks to use, if they’re run well (Hi, Knicks and Nets fans!). However, it’s not impossible to find valuable players outside the lottery (the first fourteen picks), but it’s certainly not easy. For every great steal like John Stockton, there are twenty other players that never meet the lofty expectations the league and their clubs have for them. With that in mind, the following names are among the greatest steals in NBA history, all of them finding their place in the league as stud rotation players, serviceable starters, or even All-Stars.

16 2000 - Michael Redd

via bleacherreport.com

Notable Achievements:

15 2001 - Tony Parker

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

14 2002 - Carlos Boozer

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

13 2003 - David West

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

12 2004 - Tony Allen

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

11 2005 - David Lee

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

10 2006 - Rajon Rondo

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

9 2007 - Marc Gasol

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

8 2008 - DeAndre Jordan

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

7 2009 - Jrue Holiday

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

- 1x NBA All-Star

6 2010 - Avery Bradley

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

5 2011 - Kawhi Leonard

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

4 2012 - Draymond Green

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

3 2013 - Giannis Antetokounmpo

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

- NBA All-Rookie Second Team

2 2014 - Nikola Jokić

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

- NBA All-Rookie First Team (2015)

1 2015 - Bobby Portis

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Achievements:

- None... YET!

This is where it becomes difficult to evaluate a player's worth to their team, because all the players who qualified for this entry just finished their rookie seasons, and none of them exactly showed out. However, based on the small sample size, Bobby Portis could turn out to be a special player. Drafted 22nd overall by the Chicago Bulls out of the University of Arkansas, Portis was a bright spot on a relatively dreary season in the Windy City. Although he spent much of the season on the bench behind Taj Gibson, he made use of what playing time he did receive, particularly during a 20 point, 11 rebound outburst against the New York Knicks. With Gibson's future with the club in question as they look down the barrel of an inevitable rebuild, Portis could see his minutes skyrocket in the coming seasons.

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NBA Draft Steals: The Best Players Drafted Late Every Year Since 2000