When you're Mr. Irrelevant in the NFL, things aren't so bad! Sure, you'll have to wear that title for the rest of your life, but A. you got drafted and B. you get a whole week devoted to you. Who would pass up a free week in Newport Beach, California, with a golf tournament, a roast, and the almighty Lowsman Trophy.
But in the NBA, there's no such thing; you're simply another guy trying to earn a roster spot. There's no Lowsmith Trophy, nor is there a bowling tournament with Isaiah Thomas. You're just reporting to Summer League and camp - if you come stateside, that is, as many teams will use the pick on a foreign player - while hoping you can do enough to impress your team.
So what happens to those Mr. Irrelevants, the guys that have so much to lose in a league that has previously looked down on late first-round picks (thankfully, the D-League/G-League is fixing that). Do they go overseas? Do they retire and take new jobs?
For this list, we'll be looking at every Mr. Irrelevant from 2002-16, meaning that this year's final pick, Alpha Kaba, is ineligible. For those wanting to know more about Kaba, look up some of his film from this year's Summer League. The potential is certainly there and we like his name. That counts for something.
15 2002: Corsley Edwards, Sacramento Kings - Greensboro Swarm Assistant Coach
Well, that's certainly an interesting picture to start us off, but at least it's creative. The 58th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft - back when there were 58 picks and not 60, as there are now - Edwards was drafted out of Central Connecticut but never played in the NBA. Taking his talents everywhere to the D-League to Italy, Edwards last played in 2014 with İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi.
Now, as that picture shows, Edwards is working with the Greensboro Swarm as their assistant coach. Previously, Edwards was the Denver Nuggets' assistant, but is getting a chance in the Development League - or, as they're calling it now, the G-League. Perhaps the increased exposure the league is getting as the NBA's minor league can help Edwards get an NBA head coaching job one day...
14 2003: Andreas Glyniadakis, Cleveland Cavaliers - POAK
One of the few players on this list that actually played a regular season game in the NBA, Andreas Glyniadakis was the final of the 58 pick drafts. Hooray. However, rather than play for the Pistons - the team that drafted Glyniadakis in 2003 - and add some depth to their famous frontcourt, Glyniadakis suited up for the Seattle SuperSonics in the 2006-07 season and played 13 games with them. If only he got to play with Kevin Durant the next season...
At 35 years old, Glyniadakis is still balling with PAOK Thessaloniki - and if you can say that name five times fast, then you're doing good work - after an international career with several other teams. Glyniadakis also won a bronze medal with Greece during EuroBasket 2009, so that's a nice thing to hang on his wall. Will we see Glyniadakis back in the NBA again? Perhaps.
13 2004: Rashad Wright, Indiana Pacers - International Free Agent
Wikipedia is far from the expert source on things - don't listen to your middle school teachers, it's still a good resource to find alternative links (not THOSE types of alternative links) - but when you're a professional basketball player and your biography is only two sentences long, that's not good. Drafted 59th overall in 2004 by the Pacers (the Minnesota Timberwolves had to forfeit their first-round pick because of salary cap violations), Smith never played in the NBA and was last seen with Keravnos of the Cyprus Basketball Division 1.
Searches on Smith didn't pull up much and, for the time being, he's an international free agent. At 35 years old, he's still young enough to play in another Euroleague game, but will a team pick him up? Questions...
12 2005: Alex Acker, Detroit Pistons - International Free Agent
Get used to seeing 'international free agent' because, with this currently being the offseason for a lot of international teams, players obviously aren't under contract. For Alex Acker, who last saw NBA minutes in the 2008-09 season with the Los Angeles Clippers, he falls under that designation - and, unlike Wright, the designation of someone that played overseas ball last year. Spending time with the Pallancastro Cantu, Acker is another one of those players that has played all around the world and who, potentially, cold return overseas one day.
Though the names aren't major like Isaiah Thomas (who we'll get to later), the Pistons could have had Alan Anderson, Kelenna Azubuike, Will Bynum, or Chuck Hayes. Again, not spectacular, but better than someone who only played 12 total games for you, right?
11 2006: Will Blalock, Detroit Pistons - International Free Agent
Here come the Pistons yet again using the final pick of the draft on someone, though Iowa State's Will Blalock was a point guard rather than the big men they'd previously targeted at the 60th overall slot. Blalock actually got to play in 23 games during the 2006-07 NBA season, averaging 11.9 minutes per game - not bad! - but was in the D-League by 2007 and overseas by later that year. When you're an undrafted rookie getting those types of minutes on a championship caliber team, though, that's probably not good.
Blalock has had a couple more D-League stints, most recently with the Reno Bighorns in 2013, but at 33 years old, he's seemingly out of basketball. Searches for him didn't go far, so where is Will Blalock, we ask?
10 2007: Milovan Raković, Dallas Mavericks - International Free Agent
Next up on our list is the Yugoslavia-born Milovan Raković, another player who never made it into a regular season NBA game. However, Raković is a rare exception (for this list, at least) as a player who was drafted while playing overseas ball with Mega Ishrana in Belgrade, didn't want to go to the states yet, and instead hung around overseas. Will we ever see Raković in the pros? Maybe.
Most recently, he played with Joventut Badalona in 2016, but sat out this past season and there's no rumors we could find about him joining another team in the near future. If Raković were to come to the United States, though, the Orlando Magic hold his rights and I'm sure they could use him. Granted, they can use anyone, but we'll direct you to his old-school NBA.com draft page.
9 2008: Semih Erden, Boston Celtics - International Free Agent
One of the rare times on this list that the defending NBA Champions - in this case, the Boston Celtics - had the 60th overall pick and used it, Semih Erden is also one of the few players on this list to actually play in an NBA game - and the guy didn't play collegiate ball in the United States. Yep, Erden played in 37 games - and seven starts! - for the Celtics in his rookie year, averaging 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game before being traded in February 2011 in exchange for a second-round pick. Woof.
Erden did play in 28 games the following season with 3.5 points and 2.6 rebounds a night, but went back overseas, where he remains a popular Turkish star. Turning 31 on July 28, Erden should be back in uniform next year, either in Turkey or on this side of the world.
8 2009: Robert Dozier, Miami Heat - SAN-EN NeoPhoenix
Finally, a player that's not an international free agent and is still playing! Fans of the Memphis Tigers will certainly remember Dozier, a key contributor to the 2007-08 Memphis Tigers team that, along with future number one overall pick Derrick Rose, made it to the National Championship Game. Not bad! Alas, things weren't meant to be and though Dozier was drafted by the pre-Big Three Heat, he never played in an NBA game, instead choosing to play in Greece with Colossus Rhodes B.C.
Since then, Dozier has played for a variety of international teams and is currently with the SAN-EN NeoPhoenix of the Japanese B League. I can't be the only one imagining these games to be filled with flashing lights, anime music, and plot holes, right?
7 2010: Dwayne Collins, Phoenix Suns - Retired(?)
Now this one, this is a mystery that eludes even our wannabe Sherlock Holmes investigating? A former star at the University of Miami and the final pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, Dwayne Collins has seemingly gone off the map - both in the basketball world and in general. Twitter? Nope. Instagram? Nothing. The last we heard from Collins was a summer league stint in 2013 with the Phoenix Suns, but that's it.
What could have happened to the first ACC Rookie of the Week in Miami history? I know that we joke around in these "where are they now?" articles that some of these guys may have vanished, but this is bizarre. Just where has Dwayne Collins gone? If we have any Miami fans reading and they know, let us know.
6 2011: Isaiah Thomas - Boston Celtics All-Star
Well, now we're getting to players that we know AND we're getting to, potentially, the best Mr. Irrelevant in NBA history. With his small stature scaring off other teams, Thomas fell all the way to the final pick in the 2011 NBA Draft in what was actually a brilliant move by the Sacramento Kings - and one that paid off quickly, with Thomas making the All-Rookie scoring team and averaging 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per game by his third season.
But, the Kings sent him to Sacramento in a sign-and-trade and the Suns, for reasons that remain unknown other than they had a logjam at point guard, dealt him to Boston for Marcus Thornton and a first-round pick. I think we all know how that's turned out, right?
5 2012: Robert Sacre, Los Angeles Lakers - Hitachi SunRockers Tokyo-Shibuya
So with how well Isaiah Thomas turned out when he was the final pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, I bet you're hoping that the 2012 Draft's final man will be just as successful. Given that Robert Sacre became a key role player during the early rebuilding years for the Los Angeles Lakers and spent four seasons with them, we'll actually call Sacre's stateside career a job well done.
Averaging 4.2 points and 3.1 rebounds off the bench in 189 games for a team that was far being called the Lake Show, Sacre was a good body to have around - especially in that one 2014 game when he was allowed to stay in the game after fouling out because the Lakers only had eight players suited up. Now, Sacre is with Hitachi SunRockers Tokyo-Shibuya, which sounds like an anime.
4 2013: Jānis Timma, Memphis Grizzlies - Baskonia
And now, we're back to players you've never likely heard of. However, given that the Orlando Magic currently hold Jānis Timma's rights, that could very well change in the near future if the Latvian wing decides he can be the savior of that franchise. Good luck with that, man. If you come stateside and do turn the Magic around alongside Aaron Gordon and what they hope is their young core, that whole city should buy drinks for you.
A two-time Latvian Basketball League champion, Timma signed a three-year deal with Baskonia in June and could very well play out the duration of his contract there; but at 25 years old, who knows? That's still young enough to make a decision that seems crazy. Do we see it happening? Not yet.
3 2014: Cory Jefferson, San Antonio Spurs - Alaska Aces
Fun fact: NBA 2K15's MyCareer mode, which has your player go undrafted, actually had to change Cory Jefferson's name in the initial cutscene because of how angry your player gets about the Spurs taking him. Imagine being Jefferson and finding that out? I'd have laughed and, given Jefferson's potential as a rookie with the Nets that year, I actually got some good laughs at his dunks.
As the initial high of the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett trade was wearing off, Jefferson seemed like a player the team could build around, but they instead waived him that summer. Playing eight games for the Suns in 2015, Jefferson has bounced around and is currently with the Alaska Aces. Given his age and prior NBA experience, don't be surprised to see Jefferson make a return to the league soon.
2 2015: Luka Mitrović, Philadelphia 76ers - Brose Bamberg
A four-time Serbian Cup winner, there's really not much to say about Luka Mitrović to this point; he's still fairly young at 24 and, after having signed a three-year deal with Brose Bamberg in June 2017, is likely not to come stateside soon. A Serbian power forward, the Sacramento Kings currently have his rights, but would YOU want to leave overseas for the mess that is the Sacramento Kings?
Here's a better question: would you rather play for the Sacramento Kings, the New York Knicks, or upset Adam Silver so badly that he prevents you from coming stateside as an NBA player? You can still visit New York and get treated how all tourists get treated, but you can't play in the NBA. If that's his choice, Mitrović may be making the right call.
1 2016: Tyrone Wallace, Utah Jazz - Salt Lake City Stars
Our final player on this list and one we could very well see make his NBA debut this season, former California guard Tyrone Wallace is entering his second season with the Utah Jazz. Wallace spent the entirety of his rookie year - with the exception of a five day stretch in November 2016 where he was waived after an injury - with the Salt Lake City Stars, again proving that the NBA Development League/G-League is good for being a minor league system.
In years past, Wallace may have simply gone overseas, but now he has a real chance at playing in the NBA. Why did it take so long for people to figure out the D-League can work - and why does NBA 2K still not have it? Keep an eye on Wallace if he gets promoted to the Jazz this year.
Other than Iasiah Thomas, which of these players do you think has the best chance for a great NBA career? Let us know in the comment section below!