Any true NBA fan would agree that tuning in to watch the draft in June is quite an exciting time, especially if your team is in dire need of drafting a big time player early in the first round who could potentially turn a franchise around. For the aforementioned reason, millions of fans tune in to see all of the big names come off the board and land in typically desperate situations and cross their fingers and toes in hopes that their squad will eventually be good enough to not partake in the lottery every single year (cough, Sam Hinkie, cough). And yes, it is without a doubt essential to have a superstar or even multiple on a roster in order to win a championship in this league, but don't be fooled my friend, your team doesn't necessarily need to have a top 5 draft pick in order to find a building block for the future.
As a result of all of the hype surrounding the big name players such as Jahlil Okafor, DeAngelo Russell, Karl Anthony Towns, and Kristaps Porzingis from last summer's NBA Draft, many fans tend to shy away from digging deep into the rough in search of some diamonds which is a terrible shame because nowadays there are more and more talented basketball players playing overseas and even collegiately in the United States. Don't feel bad fellow NBA fan. Even general managers and professional scouts with the keenest of eyes for talent and potential have missed out on a few huge names. Let's recall a few of them.
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15 Goran Dragic
This Slovenian stud has become a household name for NBA fans mainly due to his sharpshooting and his ability to get to the rack and score. Over Goran's eight year career in the league, he's shot 35 percent from three point range while averaging 12.3 points and 4.6 assists to go along with 1 steal per game. His best season thus far occurred in 2013-14 with Phoenix where he averaged over 20 points per game to go along with 6 assists while shooting 40 percent from three as well as 50 percent from the field.
He was selected by the San Antonio Spurs with the 45th pick in 2008 and then had his rights traded to the Phoenix Suns. It's fair to say Goran has a plethora of GMs kicking themselves for passing up on him.
14 Kyle Korver
Formerly some skinny kid from Creighton University, Kyle Korver has evolved into one of the league's premier three point shooters and will go down in the books as one of the top ten three point shooters of all time, as he currently trails only seven guys in three pointers made. Throughout his 13 year career, he's averaged 10 points per game to go along with a stunning three point percentage of 42 percent.
Due to his lack of athleticism, he fell to the bottom of the 2003 draft where the Nets formerly of New Jersey scooped him up at number 51 overall and sold him to the Philadelphia 76ers where he would play for a bit over four years and went on to play for the Utah Jazz, the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks. He's certainly getting up there in age, as he's now 34 years old, but his most successful season from long range came last season when he shot over 49 percent from deep while attempting 6 per game and earned himself his first All Star Game appearance.
13 Mo Williams
As a 6'1 point guard from the University of Alabama, Mo Williams has exceeded many expectations of scouts and GMs who let him fall all the way to the 47th overall draft pick in 2003. Over the course of his career, Mo has averaged 13.2 points per game and 4.9 assists while playing for seven different teams among whom are the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Utah Jazz. The 33-year-old seems like he has been around forever, but the old man still has some fire in his belly. For example, he dropped 52 points last year while playing for the Timberwolves in January of 2015, which made him the first player of the 2014-15 season to score 50 or more points in a game.
This season he made his return to Cleveland to reunite with Lebron James. He did a nice job holding down the fort until Kyrie Irving became healthy. Once Kyrie returned to his starting role, Mo's minutes dropped drastically but his current role as the savvy vet who can provide a boost of instant offense of the bench should not be underestimated.
12 Marcin Gortat
The Polish Hammer may be getting old, but he sure isn't rusty and he sure as hell is still banging down low. With an average of 10 rebounds per game this year, Marcin ranks 12th in the league and his having his best year of his career as far as hitting the boards. Along with his sheer ferocity on the glass, he's averaging 13.7 points and 1.4 blocks per game. Over the course of his career, The Polish Hammer has averaged 10.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Not bad for a guy who was taken 57th overall in the 2005 draft.
Now in his 9th season, Gortat has played for three teams . After barely getting any minutes in Orlando behind Dwight Howard, Gortat landed with the Suns where he was able to shine. In his first full season with Phoenix in 2011-12, he averaged 15.4 points to go along with 10 boards. Ever since then he has averaged 13.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.
11 Chandler Parsons
Although he hasn't been in the league as long as all of the aforementioned guys and hasn't put up the stats that some of them have, Parsons is still somewhat young at age 27 and is about to enter the prime of his career. The former Florida Gator is having a bit of a down year, as he's only averaging 12.7 points per game which is exactly 3 less than his average last season with Dallas and about 1 and a half points less than he averaged with Houston.
The big question is, will Chandler Parsons be able to fill the void left by Dirk once he decides to hang em' up or will he become just another role player incapable of carrying a franchise? Time will tell for the 38th overall pick of Houston back in 2011.
10 Draymond Green
The man does it all. He's a vicious rebounder, capable scorer, terrific defender, pinpoint passer, and a culprit of yelling "and one!" after every single shot attempt The big guy came into the league in the 2012-13 season with Golden State and did what most scouts would assume a second round pick to do: very little. After being drafted 35th overall in the 2012 draft, Draymond finished his rookie year with 2.9 points and 3.3 boards on 13.4 minutes under head coach Marc Jackson.
The next season, Green improved his stats meagerly once he started to get more playing time, but he truly blossomed as a special talent under Golden State's new head coach Steve Kerr, who arrived in 2014-15 after the firing of Marc Jackson. Draymond made the switch from small forward to power forward, giving him an advantage in the quickness department over other bigs who couldn't move as swiftly. The results of this change were apparent in his stats, as he went from averaging 6.2 points and 5 boards per game, up to 11.7 points and 8.2 boards and helped the likes of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to an NBA title victory. This season Draymond is continuing to develop all facets of his game while averaging 14 points,9.6 rebounds and 7.7 assists along with 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.
9 Paul Millsap
As another undersized big, Paul Millsap has had to fine tune his game and be fundamentally sound in order to have success in a league full of bigger bigs. Along with being a terrific defender and rebounder, Millsap finds his ways to get to the bucket and score. He's terrific at moving without the ball and slipping to the basket for an easy bucket, and he also possesses a nice touch from mid range. The little big with the big heart began his career in Utah after getting drafted in 2006 with the 47th overall pick. Paul made the most of his 19.4 minutes per game over his first two seasons in Utah, as he averaged 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds.
During the 2008-09 season, he was given a larger role and began playing 30 minutes per game and his numbers went up significantly. He averaged 13.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal per game and from that point on he has averaged 15.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.4 steals and 1 block per game. Millsap has been selected to play in the past 3 All Star Games for the Eastern Conference.
8 Monta Ellis
If you like instant offense, Monta's your man. The former 40th overall pick of the Golden State Warriors in 2005 was all the craze in the bay area before the splash brothers came to town. After a rookie season with an average of 6.8 points per game, Monta was given more minutes and took full advantage of them. From 2006-11, Monta averaged 21.2 points, 4.6 assists and 1.9 steals. With cat like quickness and a smooth jumper, Ellis can make scoring look effortless at times. Although his individual statistics are very impressive, it is hard to understand why the teams he plays on aren't very successful . His career average of 4.8 assists per game says something about his inability to create for his teammates which is strange considering he is so talented at getting to the basket. Hopefully for Monta's sake, he has found a home in Indiana and can mesh well with Paul George.
7 Michael Redd
This lefty with a sweet stroke may be one of the most forgettable but very good players in recent memory. Redd hot had a span of six years from 2003-09 where he dropped 23.5 points per game but sadly only made one All Star appearance in the 2003-04 season. Redd played 11 out of his 12 NBA seasons in Milwaukee and never won a playoff series, unless you include his rookie season when the Bucks made it to the Eastern Conference finals wherein Redd played zero minutes in the postseason and Ray Allen led the way while averaging 25 points and 6 assists.
Over the course of his career, Redd averaged 19 points on 44 percent from the field and 38 percent from three point territory. Michael Redd was taken 43rd overall in the 2000 draft by Milwaukee. He was essentially a very one dimensional player, but a damn good one at that.
6 Carlos Boozer
Ah, the ol' Boozman. There's nothing like a big man with a nice stroke and that's exactly what Carlos Boozer was. Carlos was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 36th overall pick the the 2002 draft and was effective immediately. In his rookie year he averaged 10 points and 7.5 rebounds. He took a leap the next season with Cleveland when he averaged 15.5 points and 11.4 boards over 34.5 minutes per game. The following summer, Boozer became a free agent and signed with the Utah Jazz where he then played for six seasons and during that time averaged 19.3 points and 10.5 rebounds. He was selected to the All Star game twice.
Boozer went on to play for the Chicago Bulls following the 2009-10 season and stayed in Chicago for four seasons. The Bulls made it as far as the Conference Finals with Boozer. Carlos finished off his terrific NBA career in Los Angeles with the Lakers who finished with a dreadful 21-61, but Boozer was still a contributor as he scored 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. This Duke product will not soon be forgotten.
5 Tony Parker
Tony Parker is the highest drafted player on this list. He was selected in 2001 draft by the San Antonio Spurs with the 28th overall pick. His numbers won't pop off the stats sheet and make your jaw drop, but his gamesmanship, leadership, and competitive nature are quite impressive. Over the course of Parker's 15 year career, he has been a part of four championship teams. The 6'2 Frenchman has averaged 16.7 points and 5.9 assists over his long career as a Spur and continues to play with the same enthusiasm as he did as a rookie.
4 Gilbert Arenas
Agent Zero seems to have fallen off the face of the earth after being one of the NBA's premier player for years. From 2002-07 Arenas averaged 24.4 points, 5.7 assists and 1.8 steals. His best season came in 05-06 when he averaged 29.3 points, 6.1 assists and 2 steals per game. In 2004-05 Arenas led Washington to the Eastern Conference Semi Finals, but got swept by the Miami Heat. Arenas and the Wizards went to the playoffs three consecutive years after the loss to Miami, but only to lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers all three times. Agent Zero's numbers speak for themselves and after being drafted 30th overall in the 2001 draft, those numbers speak even louder to the teams who passed on him.
3 Marc Gasol
Entering the 2007 NBA Draft, many fans probably assumed that Marc Gasol was just a chubbier, slower and less athletic version of his big brother Pau and it took Marc a while to step outside the large shadow that was cast upon him by Pau. How could one not compare the two when they were actually traded for one another? Once Marc arrived in Memphis with the expectations of living up to his brother's legacy, one would only guess that anxiety would become threefold or even more after arriving in a new place. Surely enough, Marc didn't let Memphis fans down as he averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds during his rookie year.
Over the course of his NBA career he has averaged 14.3 points, 7.8 boards and 3.1 assists and has become notorious for his passing ability as a big man. With Gasol starting at Center, Memphis has been to the playoffs every year since 2010-11 and made it as far as the Western Conference Finals in 2012-13 and then fell to the Spurs in 4 games. Surprisingly, Gasol slipped all the way down to number 48 in the 2007 draft and Memphis is sure glad that he did.
2 Isaiah Thomas
It's hard to believe how far a player this talented fell in the 2011 draft. Isaiah Thomas, who made his first All Star team this season with the Boston Celtics, fell all the way to the final pick of the 2011 Draft, going 60th overall to the Sacramento Kings. In all likelihood, he was passed up on by everyone because of his short stature, but as he has proven time and time again, he can score with the best of them. Over his 5 year career, he has averaged 16.6 points and 5 assists per game. This season he's averaging 21.6 points and 6.8 assists per game which are both career highs. Thomas seems to be the main man in Boston, and once the playoffs begin the fate of the Celtics will lie mainly in the little guy's hands.
1 Jimmy Butler
The former Marquette Golden Eagle is soaring to elite status in the NBA. Butler, who was drafted 30th overall by Chicago in the 2011 NBA Draft, has gradually developed and has now put himself among the elites in the league. During his rookie season with the Bulls, Butler averaged only 8.5 minutes per game. The next season he saw a substantial increase in minutes and averaged 8.6 points and 4 boards over 26 minutes per game. In 2013-14 his numbers went up from 8.6 points to 13.1 points but his shooting percentage dropped from 46 to 39 percent.
He must have put in some serious work over the summer of 2014 because during the 2014-15 season he dropped 20 points per game and was back up to 46 percent from the field. His three point percentage increased drastically, as he went from 28 to 37 percent from deep. He has been selected to attend both last year's and this year's All Star Game, and is so far having the best season of his career, averaging 22.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.
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