The 2016 NBA Draft is right around the corner. The annual event held in New York City which serves as a night for young college and international players to begin or in some cases, continue their professional careers in the best basketball league in the world. As has been the case in over the last several drafts, there is yet another debate over who will be the 1st overall selection. This year is no different, as the Philadelphia 76ers have to choose between consensus number 1 picks in Duke's Brandon Ingram, and LSU's Ben Simmons. I personally believe Ingram will be the better player.
Draft night also serves as the league's unofficial trade deadline, as general managers throughout the league look to either strengthen their team, build for the future, or even shed veteran contracts by making trades during or just after the draft. Sometimes those moves work out like in 1996 when the Milwaukee Bucks drafted Stephon Marbury 4th overall, then traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Ray Allen who was selected one pick later. The flip side of that of course, is two years later, when the very same Bucks traded the draft rights of Dirk Nowitzki to the Dallas Mavericks (more on that in a bit).
In light of those trades, and more importantly the names involved, we here at TheSportster present to you The Top 15 Players Who Didn't Play For The Team That Drafted Them.
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15 Kevin Love
The current member of LeBron's Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Love was drafted 5th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzles. The UCLA Bruin's draft rights were immediately dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the rights to USC shooting guard O.J Mayo. In seven seasons in the Twin City, Love became a 3-time All-Star, and was named the league's most improved player in 2011. He would also become the face of the franchise until he was dealt to the Cavs in August of 2014, for the draft rights to the current face of the T'Wolves in Andrew Wiggins.
It's fun to imagine what would have happened if Love had stayed in Memphis instead of being traded to Minnesota. Love probably could have formed an enormous duo with Zach Randolph. The Grizzlies may have had the best presence in the paint. It's now a case of what if, but who knows... maybe when Love eventually hits the free agent market again, he could have a look at the team that originally drafted him and see if there's a fit.
14 Stephon Marbury
The current starting shooting guard for the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association, Stephon Marbury was at one of the best players in the world. Blessed with speed, power, and a great shot, the former McDonald's All-American, seemed like a sure-fire NBA superstar. During his lone season at Georgia Tech, he averaged nearly 20 points a game (18.9 PPG). Needless to say, numbers like that produced a lot of hype around Marbury.
The man known as "Starbury" was taken by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 4th overall pick of the 1996 NBA Draft. Being picked fourth overall in perhaps the greatest draft class in NBA history tells you something of how highly regarded he was. His rights were immediately traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the draft rights to future superstar Ray Allen (more on him later). Marbury would go on to be named to the All-Rookie Team, as well as become a two-time All-Star. Selfish play and a poor attitude led to his departure from not just the Wolves, but from virtually every other NBA team he suited up for. The trade worked out fine for the Bucks, who got one of the greatest shooters of all time in Ray Allen.
13 Steve Francis
Steve Francis, the man nicknamed Stevie Franchise was taken with the second overall pick of the 1999 NBA Draft by the Vancouver Grizzles. From the moment he was selected the point guard made it well-known that he did not want to play for the organization. The pouting and unhappy face that he displayed as he walked on the stage to shake then commissioner David Stern's hand was priceless.
Besides the sour face, the Maryland product listed a myriad of reasons why he didn't want to play for the team including taxes, being too far from his family, and even God. Yep... Francis would eventually be traded to the Houston Rockets, where he would go on to become a three-time All-Star, before injuries and ineffectiveness ended his NBA career. You have to wonder how things would have turned out if he knew the Grizzles franchise would eventually move to Memphis. Francis became a hated player in Vancouver following his refusal to play there and you can't blame the fans north of the border. How would you like to be told that your country isn't good enough to live in?
12 LaMarcus Aldridge
The power forward and five-time All-Star is a gifted player offensively, who can change a game on moment's notice with his skill on that end of the floor. After playing for two years at the University of Texas, LaMarcus Aldridge was selected with the second overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls. Yes Raptors fans, you guys could've had Aldridge instead of Andrea Bargnani. Just like Toronto, the Bulls made a horrible decision, as they traded the former Longhorn to the Portland Trail Blazers on draft night for the 4th overall pick in fellow big man Tyrus Thomas. Needless to say, this was a move the Bulls would like to have back. Aldridge would have instantly helped turn the Bulls around. Maybe the Bulls were doing the Blazers a favor for passing on Michael Jordan back in 1984.
After nine seasons in Portland, Aldridge would leave and sign a mega four-year $80 million dollar contract with the San Antonio Spurs this past offseason. Unfortunately for the Bulls, Thomas would last just over three years in Chicago, and last played professionally in Germany. The Blazers were able to reap the benefits from the Bulls' massive error.
11 Marc Gasol
Arguably the best center in the NBA, Marc Gasol, has been a cornerstone on some tough but skilled Memphis Grizzles teams. The two-time NBA All-Star, 2013 Defensive Player of the Year, and 2008 Spanish League Most Valuable Player, wasn't a first round pick, nor was he drafted by the Grizzles. He was a 2nd round selection of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2007 (48th overall). Gasol would have made for a great presence in L.A. but the Lakers were in win-now mode at the time and felt they needed to make a big trade to get over the hump and bring home the fifth NBA title of the Kobe Bryant era.
Ironically, the big man would be traded from the Lakers to the Grizzles for his older brother Pau (more on him later). It would become the first and so far, only time in league history that a pair of brothers would be traded for each other. Marc Gasol didn't go alone to the Lakers, as he was traded along with along with a 2010 second round draft pick for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton and Aaron McKie. The trade worked out for the Lakers as they made it to three straight finals, winning two of them.
10 Rajon Rondo
The former Kentucky Wildcat was drafted by the Phoenix Suns with the 21st pick of the 2006 NBA Draft. Instead of playing behind and learning from future Hall of Famer Steve Nash, Rondo was subsequently traded to the Boston Celtics. He established himself as a franchise PG in his second season as a member of the Celtics with his play on both ends of the court. While it did help that he was playing with the team's 'Big Three' of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen among others, Rondo, who became a four-time All-Star in Boston, also played a big part in helping the organization win the 2008 NBA Title.
Rondo has since had a productive NBA career but his poor attitude has constantly seen him fall out of favor with his teams. Boston grew tired of his act and shipped him off to Dallas a few seasons ago. After a short stint in Dallas, the entire locker room essentially turned against him and Rondo eventually made his way to Sacramento to play with the Kings. This past season, there were reportedly more attitude problems, as he didn't get along with coach George Karl, who was let go following the regular season after a 33-49 record.
9 Vince Carter
Yes, Vinsanity himself Vince Carter, the man responsible for putting the Toronto Raptors on the map, wasn't actually drafted by the franchise. The organization acquired him from the Golden State Warriors on a draft day swap in 1998, that saw him traded for his college teammate (North Carolina) Antawn Jamison. While Jamison had a solid and respectable 16-year career, Carter became not only an All-Star, but the face of the Raptors as he gained popularity and stardom, due to his flair for the dramatics, and electrifying dunks.
The Raptors undoubtedly won this trade and this was just yet another of so many mistakes the Warriors made as a franchise before the team started to turn things around in the late 2000s. Just imagine if the Warriors had kept Carter. They could have begun their ascent to the top of the NBA much sooner. While the Warriors never had Carter suit up for them, our next entry found his way to Golden State after being drafted by another team.
8 Chris Webber
The current TNT analyst, comes in at on the list after he was selected with the first overall pick of the 1993 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic. The franchise immediately traded his rights to the Golden State Warriors for fellow future All-Star Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway and three first first round picks. The power forward who was the leader of the Michigan Wolverines Fab Five teams, would go on to become the 1994 NBA Rookie of the Year, a franchise player, and a five-time All-Star. Webber would enjoy his best years with the Sacramento Kings of the early 2000s, so unfortunately, the Warriors didn't get all the spoils of Webber's career. While Penny had some amazing years in a Magic uniform, could you imagine a front court of Shaq and C-Webb?
The Magic wanted a quick turnaround, as they were an expansion franchise looking to make a splash. They did make the NBA Finals in 1995, but they were swept by the Houston Rockets. A little more patience may have seen them build a stronger team going into the latter half of the 90s and maybe Webber would have been the final piece to put them over the top and win their first championship.
7 Ray Allen
The greatest 3-point shooter in the history of the game, Allen, who was an underrated all-around player, was known for making big shots when his team really needed it. Speaking of needing big shots, and big time players for that matter, while finally having a legitimate superstar in Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been one of, if not the worst franchise in the league for the last two decades. Part of the reason for their struggles, is the trading of stud players like Allen, which is exactly what the organization did right after drafting him in 1996. The Wolves traded Allen for Marbury, who had productive seasons, but was never the consummate professional that Ray Allen has been for his entire career.
Although Allen has never officially retired, it appears as if his playing days are over, due to the fact that the last time he suited up, was as a member of the Miami Heat's 2014 championship squad. In addition to winning a Larry O'Brien Trophy there, he also won in 2008 as a member of the Boston Celtics, while a part of their big three, with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.. The 10-time All-Star and co-star of the underrated film He Got Game, is a sure-fire Hall-Of-Famer.
6 Dirk Nowitzki
Despite all the big shots and memorable performances he has had as a member of the Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks, who traded him along with forward Pat Garrity to the Mavs for the late Robert "Tractor" Traylor. Besides having a pretty cool nickname, Traylor, never really accomplished anything in he NBA.
This was a huge mistake by Milwaukee, as Nowitski would have made for an incredible partner with Ray Allen. Think about the little man shooting the threes and Nowitski owning the paint like he did in his prime. The Bucks' NBA title drought surely would have ended by some point if they kept these two together. Nowitzki's career went in the opposite direction of Traylor, as he is a 13-time All-Star, the 2007 Most Valuable Player, NBA Finals MVP 2011, a champion and a sure-fire first ballot Hall-Of-Famer. This is yet another reason why the Bucks franchise hasn't experienced any real success since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
5 Pau Gasol
I told you we would see him a little later. The older Gasol brother, was drafted with the 3rd pick of the 2001 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. Unfortunately for Hawks' fans everywhere, they never had a chance to see Pau in their team's colors as they traded his rights to the Memphis Grizzles for Shareef Abdur-Rahim. The former FC Barcelona Forward/Center would go on to win the 2002 Rookie of the Year award.
He would go on to win back-to-back championships as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010. As a Chicago Bull this past season, he was named to his 6th All-Star team at the age of 35.
The Hawks have long suffered from being a franchise that's been able to enjoy a lot of regular season success, but has never been able to get over the hump in the playoffs. Having a big presence like Gasol would have helped. He continues to be productive today and you have to think one of those Hawks teams that fell short would have at least made a trip to the NBA Finals in a weak Eastern Conference.
4 Dominique Wilkins
The Human Highlight Film, aka Mr. Atlanta Hawks, has become synonymous with the franchise. Despite the fact that his last game as a Hawk was in 1994, he is still the team's all-time leading scorer. The nine-time All-Star, two-time Slam Dunk Contest winner, and 1986 NBA scoring champion, was not drafted by the Hawks. He was actually taken with the 3rd pick of the 1982 draft by the Utah Jazz.
Despite being taken so high, Wilkins had no desire to play for the franchise. Several months after the draft, he was traded to the Hawks, where he helped popularize the Slam Dunk Contest, became a superstar and future Hall-Of-Famer. You can't fault the Jazz for trading him, as they were really left with no other choice. Utah fans are still awaiting their first championship and could only imagine what life would have been like if Wilkins had stayed in Utah. Could you imagine him playing alongside 'The Mailman' Karl Malone and John Stockton?
3 Scottie Pippen
In all honesty, I totally forgot that Scottie Pippen was a member of the Seattle Super Sonics until I starting doing research on the article. Taken with the fifth overall pick of the 1987 NBA Draft, the Hall of Famer was traded to the Chicago Bulls for center Olden Polynice. In defense of the Sonics, they not only received Polynice who at the time was viewed as a franchise player, but they also received the Bulls second round pick, and the right to swap first round picks the following season.
Obviously, the trade was more than one-sided. While Polynice went on to have a 12-year career, he never really became anything more than a journeyman. Pippen, on the other-hand, would go on to become the perfect partner in crime to Michael Jordan, as his stellar play on both ends of the court helped the duo win six championships in Chi-Town. It makes you wonder how many rings MJ would have won without Scottie. Better yet, imagine what kind of damage Pippen would have done alongside Gary Payton, Hershey Hawkins and Shawn Kemp. Perhaps that 1996 Finals series goes the other way with Pippen in green.
2 Kobe Bryant
Believe it or not Lakers fans, the recently retired face of the franchise was briefly a member of another team. The Black Mamba, who came to the NBA straight out of Lower Merion High School, was drafted with the 13th pick of the first round of the 1996 Draft by the Charlotte Hornets. His tenure as a member of the Hornets was very short lived, as that July he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for star center Vlade Divac. In fairness to the Hornets, Kobe had made it clear to Charlotte that he had no desire to play for them, as the team was in a state of uncertainty around the time regarding their future in the Queen City.
While the big man Divac had a stellar career, including spending some time with some memorable Sacramento Kings teams, it didn't come close to touching Bryant, who would go on to become an 18-time All-Star, a five-time NA champion, and the Lakers all-time leading scorer. Kobe would have undoubtedly been hailed as a savior for the original Hornets franchise, who you now know as the New Orleans Pelicans.
1 Bill Russell
Arguably the best player to ever play the game, the great Bill Russell was selected with the 2nd overall pick of the 1956 NBA Draft by the St. Louis Hawks (now the Atlanta Hawks), out of the University of San Francisco where he led the Dons to consecutive championships in 1955 and 1956. Legendary Boston Celtics head coach Red Auerbach traded Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan to the Hawks for Russell. The move proved to be a stroke of genius by Auerbach, as his new starting center would become one of the most dominant players the league had ever seen.
His battles with fellow star center Wilt Chamberlain were legendary, just like Russell's list of achievements, some of which include being a five-time Most Valuable Player, 12-time All-Star, a member of the 25th, 35th, and 50th NBA Anniversary Teams, and he won a remarkable 11 championships as a player in his 13-year career. Russell, who in 1966 would become the first African American head coach in the league's history, would add two more rings to his resume, when his teams won back-to-back in 1967-1969.
Before setting the league on fire, no.6 would win an Olympic Gold Medal as a member of the U.S. National Basketball Team in the 1956 Summer Games in Melbourne, Australia.
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