Every year, NBA fans are treated with an amateur player draft that gives the previous season's worst teams the highest odds at grabbing the best talent available. However, the NBA does it a little differently than all of the other professional leagues. Instead of simply granting the worst team in the league the previous year with the top overall pick, they instead give them the best odds to win the top pick in the NBA's Draft lottery, which focuses on giving every team that did not make the postseason a shot at the top overall pick. The odds are always based on the standings.
But having the top overall pick does not guarantee success. There have been plenty of times when a number one overall pick hasn't panned out and it has happened as recently as 2013 when the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett. Greg Oden, Kwame Brown, and Michael Olowokandi are among some of the other more recent number one selections that busted long before they should have.
So if predicting which player will turn out to be the best overall that year is tough, imagine how hard it is to determine the rest of the draft, which is only two rounds. This has caused many good players to fall off the board and go undrafted.
In honor of those players, we decided to go back in time and choose the 15 best NBA players that ended up going undrafted and where they should have been selected, the pick and team.
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15 Bo Outlaw: 7th Pick, Sacramento King, 1993
If you needed 22 minutes of tough defense, solid rebounding, and just a player that can hold his own while your team's big men get some rest, then Bo Outlaw (Pictured Right) was your man. He was not used for scoring or offense. He was the guy that busted his tail for 20-25 minutes each night, filling in the gaps for players needing some rest. He did the job admirably and averaged 5.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game.
He spent the majority of his career in Orlando with the Magic where he averaged career highs with 6.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.5 blocks per night. He also earned a few more minutes of playing time and averaged 26.8 minutes per game from 1997 until 2002. He was never an All-Star or World Champion, but he was the guy every coach wanted on their roster.
14 Earl Boykins: 13th Pick, Orlando Magic, 1998
Most NBA fans remember Earl Boykins because of his time with the Denver Nuggets between 2003 and 2007. They probably had no idea that he wound up playing for ten different teams throughout his entire NBA career. He kept getting contracts from teams because he was a true Point Guard that could play several minutes each night and practice harder than some of the All-Star guards around the league, making his teammates even better.
While at Denver, Earl Boykins turned into a guy that everyone knew and his minutes jumped from 10-15 to 25-30 per game. He even started 12 games in Denver but was used mostly coming off the bench and running with their high-powered offense. During his time in Colorado, Earl averaged 12.1 points, 4.0 assists, and 1.7 rebounds per game, making him a valuable asset that any team would not mind having around.
13 Raja Bell: 16th Pick, Chicago Bulls, 1999
During the 1999 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors wasted their 12th overall selection by drafting the overrated Center from Montenegro, Aleksandar Radojevic. He managed to play only 15 games throughout his entire NBA career, only three with the Raptors. If they could have done it again, they would more than likely grab the defensive specialist, Raja Bell, who earned a living defending the league's toughest scorers.
It wasn't until he partnered with Steve Nash in Phoenix that he would truly turn into a starting Shooting Guard as he started all 79 games during his first year with the Suns and averaged 14.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1 steal per game. It was the best season of his offensive career.
12 Mike James: 16th Pick, Houston Rockets, 1998
Mike James can cover an entire wall of his house with each of his jerseys in the NBA after playing for eleven different teams over twelve seasons. But he was always a Point Guard that was two plays away from becoming a starter. He was able to showcase his talents with Toronto when he started in 79 games during the 2005-06 season. During that incredible year, he averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per game, all of which were career highs.
He was never able to come close to those numbers again and quickly became one of those players that was included in trade after trade after trade. In fact, he was traded six different times during his NBA career, and three of those were 3-team trades were he was nothing more than a salary addition.
11 Andres Nocioni: 15th Pick, Orlando Magic, 2001
Before showing up in the NBA, Andres Nocioni was already an established star in Argentina where he won the ACB Spanish League MVP in 2004, the same year he led Argentina to a shocking Olympic Gold medal over the highly favourite US team. He was so impressive that the Chicago Bulls ended up convincing him to sign with them for the 2004-05 season.
He spent his rookie season adapting to the NBA which led to his second year where he averaged 13 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He slowly progressed each season thereafter until he ended up being traded to Sacramento in 2009. With career averages of 10.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists, he never got to the level the Bulls had hoped he could.
10 Jose Calderon: 7th Pick, Chicago Bulls, 2005
Since he had no intentions on joining the NBA in 2003, Jose Calderon was never drafted rather he was convinced by Toronto Raptors General Manager Rob Babcock to sign with them and join them for the 2005-06 season and he did. However, he ran into shooting problems and spent a few seasons learning the American game before finally earning his spot as the Raptors starting Point Guard. He remained their starter from 2007 until 2013 when he was dealt to the Detroit Pistons.
His career numbers are good, not great, but he does exactly what he needs to do as the Point Guard. He makes the right decisions more often than nought and has career averages of 9.7 points, 6.3 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game.
The Spaniard now plays in LA, with the Lakers, splitting time with the younger, future stars of the NBA. But at 35 years old, he has a little left in the tank to make it another year or two.
9 Jeremy Lin: 20th Pick, San Antonio Spurs, 2010
Jeremy Lin was not the waterboy at Harvard, he was their best player for three years before graduating and finding himself undrafted following the 2010 NBA Draft. He then signed with the Golden State Warriors following some very impressive Summer League performances only to ride the bench for most of the year, playing in just 29 games. No one really knew about Jeremy Lin until February 4, 2012.
That was the night Jeremy Lin exploded for 25 points, 7.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals in 35 minutes, leading the New York Knicks to a seven point victory over the New Jersey Nets. That was the first of a seven game winning streak where he averaged 24.4 points, 9.1 assists, 4 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game including a game-winning performance against the Toronto Raptors and a 38 point game against Kobe Bryant's LA Lakers. He has had major injury problems throughout his career, keeping him from reaching his true potential. He is currently missing time for a hamstring injury.
8 Avery Johnson: 10th Pick, San Antonio Spurs, 1988
Since the details surrounding the 1988 NBA Draft are hard to find, and by hard we mean impossible, we can only assume that the reason Avery Johnson went undrafted was because of his size. NBA scouts are obsessed with size, almost more than talent, to measure future success in the league.
Avery Johnson, 5'10", fought his way into a contract with the Seattle Supersonics in 1989 and even started 10 games. His value was really shined when he got to San Antonio and became their starting Point Guard for seven seasons, starting 465 games and averaging 10.9 points, 7.3 assists, and 1.1 steals. It was not his first time in Texas, he played for them three times prior to the 1994-95 season.
7 David Wesley: 6th Pick, Washington Bullets, 1992
Because of his size, David Wesley went undrafted during the 1992 NBA Draft. Apparently the league scouts decided that a 6'0" tall Shooting Guard was too small to waste a draft pick on and that reputation ended up following him around the rest of his career. He used it as motivation to prove all of his haters wrong and that is exactly what he did for 14 seasons and five different teams.
He ended up in Charlotte, which later became New Orleans, playing for the Hornets where he truly turned into a great NBA Shooting Guard. During his time with the Hornets, David averaged 14.3 points, 4.5 assists, and 2.6 rebounds while shooting 41.9% from the field and 36.4% from beyond the three-point line in 576 games.
6 Brad Miller: 6th Pick, Dallas Mavericks, 1998
At 7'0" tall, it was a shock to see Brad Miller go undrafted during the 1998 NBA Draft, especially after his Senior season at Purdue where he averaged 17.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game. He was a big time talent that slipped through the cracks before signing with the Charlotte Hornets following the NBA lockout which lasted most of the 1998 season.
But it was not until he got to the Indiana Pacers that the league knew what they had with Brad. He was something that the NBA had not seen before, a big man that could play just about any position because of his ball-handling skills and outside scoring. He was basically Kevin Love 1.0 and there were plenty of teams that could have used his talents during the 00's.
5 Wesley Matthews: 5th Pick, Minnesota Timberwolves, 2009
During his four years at Marquette, Wesley Matthews averaged, in order, 9.0, 12.6, 11.3, and 18.3 points per game. By the time he was a Senior, he was an established scorer and a leader on a team that would go to the NCAA Tournament, losing to Missouri in the second round. He was part of a very talented team that year, finishing 25-10 overall with a 12-6 Big East conference record. Jimmy Butler was only a Sophomore that year but was also a contributor.
But somehow, he went undrafted in the 2009 NBA Draft and ended up signing with the Utah Jazz following his impressive summer league performance in Orlando. Since then, he has turned into a starter at two positions, Shooting Guard and Small Forward. He is currently starting for the Dallas Mavericks and has averaged 14.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steal per game for his career. In just his eighth season, Wesley Matthews has plenty more basketball left in the tank to rise even further in our next rankings.
4 Bruce Bowen: 9th Pick, Denver Nuggets, 1993
It took Bruce Bowen (Pictured Right) a long time before he finally caught a break and found a home with the San Antonio Spurs. He actually graduated college in 1993 and went undrafted during the 1993 NBA Draft causing him to start looking for work overseas. He played in France for Le Havre and Evreux before heading to the CBA and then back to France. He finally broke into the league in 1996 when the Miami Heat signed him to a 10-day contract.
He then went to the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and back to the Miami Heat before finally landing with the Spurs. The Spurs were already built to win a title with David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Steve Smith, Tony Parker, Antonio Daniels, and Terry Porter but still earned himself a starting role because of his hardcore defensive style of play. He was fun to watch because he would guard the best players in the league, slowly aggravating them throughout the game because these All-Stars just were not prepared for that much pressure for almost the entire game.
3 Udonis Haslem: 7th Pick, New York Knicks, 2002
If the 2002 NBA Draft happened again, Udonis Haslem would not have fallen off the board. He would have easily been drafted in the top ten, based on the entire draft class that year, if the league knew anything about his future in the NBA. Many people expected Udonis to be selected during the draft following his success in the NCAA with the University of Florida, where he dominated at for four years.
After starting off as a backup to Miami Heat Center Brian Grant, he quickly emerged as one of the Miami Heat's leading players and started every game he played in for the next five seasons. He started in 362 games from 2005 to 2009 and was a major contributor when the Heat needed help the most. His double-double ability turned him into a two-way player that could help defend the paint and spread the floor on offense. He has three NBA Titles with the Miami Heat and continues to remain in Miami this season making it his 14th consecutive season in South Beach.
2 John Starks: 8th Pick, Charlotte Hornets, 1988
Although he became a member of the iconic New York Knicks team of the '90s, that was not the only team he played for during his career. John Starks played for the Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, and Chicago Bulls. But he became famous when he became the Knicks All-Star sixth man and was even a major contributor during their '90s postseason run.
If you look at what he did with the Knicks, compared to his other teams, you will see just how impressive this guy was during his playing days. He averaged 14.1 points, 4.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 2.7 rebounds per game while in the Big Apple. He helped them reach the playoffs in each of his eight seasons with the Knicks which also featured one NBA Finals appearance during the 1993-94 season.
1 Ben Wallace: 5th Pick, Minnesota Timberwolves, 1996
Just imagine if the NBA teams knew exactly who they were getting when drafting a player. The league would be far more competitive across the board because teams would know exactly what they were getting from day one. In the case of Ben Wallace, there are about 28 teams that wished they knew what he was going to become, which is one of the league's greatest defensive players ever.
He was never a scoring machine, having only averaged 5.7 points per game for his entire career. But his teams knew that about him. They were willing to lose the scoring for his incredible defensive prowess. So even without averaging double digits in scoring, he averaged 3.2 offensive rebounds, 9.6 total rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 2.0 blocks per game. That translated into four defensive player of the year awards and one NBA Title.
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