June 25th, 2008 – Dr. Browntorious
Tomorrow will be the biggest day in a group of young athlete’s lives. But with great joy and happiness for some, will undoubtedly come great disappointment and concern for others. I’m talking about the life changing day of the NBA Draft. Over the years there have been many draft day gaffes by General Manager’s league wide. There is virtually no GM in the NBA that has been around for any significant period of time, that can honestly say they didn’t make at least one incorrect draft choice that they regret. For some they are more glaringly obvious than others. For example the most talked about draft day nightmare might be the pick of the Portland Trailblazers in 1984. In that year they chose Sam Bowie with the #2 pick and passed over his greatness, Michael Jordan who was picked 3rd by the Chicago Bulls. We all are aware of how that one turned out.
But it’s not as easy as it looks to predict from a crowd of highly talented athletes, who will improve year after year and turn into a serviceable long term asset. Michael Jordan himself is now all too aware of that fact after the 2001 NBA Draft where he sat in the Washington Wizards front office and steered the franchise into choosing Kwame Brown with their #1 choice in that year’s draft. In doing so, the Wizards passed over potential future all-star caliber players such as Richard Jefferson, Joe Johnson, Jason Richardson, Pau Gasol, Tyson Chandler, Zach Randolph, and Tony Parker. All of which would have been much better long term assets than what turned out to be a disappointing career for Kwame Brown thus far.
So without further ado, I give you the Dr. Browntorious Top 10 list of NBA Players not Drafted in the First Round!
1. Manu Ginobili
Three NBA championships, an Olympic Gold Medal, Euro-league Championship, NBA Sixth-man of the Year, and clearly one of the finest European born league players to play in the NBA. How in the world did Manu slip to the Spurs with the 57th pick in the 1999 NBA Draft? Now that my friends is a steal!
2. Dennis Rodman
Dennis still holds the NBA record for most consecutive seasons leading the NBA in rebounding, with 7. He has 5 NBA championships, and is considered by most as the greatest rebounder in the modern era, and possibly the greatest rebounder of all-time. Coupling a scientific approach and raw athleticism to his rebounding, franchises across the league easily turned a blind eye to his neurotic tendencies. The Pistons reaped the reward of Rodman slipping to the 27th pick in the 1986 NBA draft.
3. Gilbert Arenas
Teams passed on Arenas because he lacked the size of a shooting guard, and didn’t have the passing ability of a point guard. Boy are they sorry. Aftern receiving the NBA’s most improved player award, “Hibachi” is now an All-Star and one of the premier guards in the NBA. Three time All-Star, three time All-NBA selection, scored 60 points in a single game, and a career 22.8 scoring average, I would say he has earned the right to be on this list. Arenas was drafted with the 31st overall pick of the 2001 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors.
4. Nick Van Exel
Now this guy was the king of clutch. Nick is still 6th all-time in total three pointers made by an NBA player with 1528. He finished in the top 15 in assists in 8 of his 13 seasons. Widely considered one of the best clutch shooters in NBA history, as he made big shot after big shot in his career throughout many close playoff games as a member of the Lakers and Mavericks. The LA Lakers chose Nick with the 37th overall pick of the 1993 NBA draft.
5. Ben Wallace
Wallace went undrafted to the NBA. That’s right, aside from the notable mention for Brad Miller below; Wallace is the only player on this list that was never drafted at all to the NBA. Ben is a four time Defensive Player of the Year, four time All-star, 6 time All-defensive team, 2 time rebounding leader, and once led the league in blocks. Cap that off with the title of 2004 NBA Champion and you have the greatest NBA player never to be drafted (not including those who entered through ABA). Washington signed Wallace as a free agent in 1996 undrafted.
6. Danny Ainge
One of the few players to ever play in two professional sports, Ainge gave up his MLB career with the Blue Jays to make a run at basketball. During his time with the Boston Celtics he won two NBA Championships alongside Larry Bird, and was considered by Bird to be one of the key pieces to the Celtics winning formula in the 80’s. Ainge was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the 31st pick in the 1981 NBA draft.
7. Michael Redd
Redd still has the record for 8 fourth quarter three pointers made in a game against Houston in 2002. As a former NBA All-star Redd has had multiple seasons averaging over 20 ppg, and is widely considered to be one of the most accurate three point shooters in the league. Redd will be representing Team USA as their shooting assassin in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Michael Redd was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 43rd overall pick in the 2000 NBA draft. 43rd pick? Now that is another big steal, and quite the lesson in hard work and players not giving up on their dreams of being an All-Star.
8. Antonio Davis
Antonio was part of the “Davis Brothers” tandem of Power Forwards on the Pacers alongside Dale Davis. Despite being the 6th man, Antonio was paid starter money and provided much scoring and rebounding off the bench, much to the popularity of the fans and coaches. After being traded to the Raptors in 2001 he was voted to the NBA All-Star team. Davis was a force inside throughout his career even though he wasn’t drafted until the 45th overall pick in the 1990 NBA draft by the Indiana Pacers.
9. Doc Rivers
A former NBA All-Star with the Atlanta Hawks, this heady guard played alongside the great Dominque Wilkens and certainly had a big hand in his greatness. In the 1986-87 season, Rivers averaged a double-double with 12.4 points and 10 assists per game. Doc is now the coach of the NBA champion Boston Celtics. He wasn’t drafted until the 31st pick of the 1983 NBA draft.
10. Carlos Boozer
Boozer is a two-time NBA All-star with the best yet to come. In 2008 he averaged 21.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game! After improving in each year of his career Boozer has now combined with Deron Williams to become one of the top tandems in the NBA today. Anyone who watched Boozer the last couple of seasons shred the competition would be surprised to know he wasn’t drafted until the 34th pick of the 2002 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Other notable players that were close to making my top ten list of players not drafted in the first round of the NBA draft were: Rashard Lewis, Mehmut Okur, Brad Miller, Spud Webb, Monta Ellis, Mark Price, Steve Kerr, Clifford Robinson, Avery Johnson, Bruce Bowen, Toni Kukoc, Anthony Mason, Kurt Rambis, Jeff Hornacek, and Cedric Ceballos.
Who are in your top ten? Let us know!