Top 30 Post-Lottery First Round Draft Picks
Ranking the absolute steals since 1989.
10. David Lee | Drafted by New York Knicks | 2005 Draft | 30th Overall
As his numbers continue to rise (both on the stat sheet and in the dollar amount on his contract) it is amazing that 29 teams passed on this multidimensional Florida Gator forward in the 2005 Draft, but that is exactly what happened after Lee was picked 30th by the Knicks. In recent years Lee has been the only consistent bright spot for the Knicks—and now he’s gone. As a Knicks fan, good luck in the Bay area DLee.
9. Jermaine O’Neal | Drafted by Portland Trail Blazers | 1996 Draft | 17th Overall
As a high school big man in South Carolina, O’Neal dominated and won three state championships before he decided to jump straight to the NBA. Like Nash, O’Neal went in the middle of the first round with the 17th pick to the Portland Trail Blazers and struggled to earn playing time before being shipped to Indiana, where he starred for several seasons and was elected to the All-Star Game six times. O’Neal had a good season this year in Miami and recently signed with the Boston Celtics, who are hoping he can reminisce back to those Pacers days.
8. Latrell Sprewell | Drafted by Golden State Warriors | 1992 Draft | 24th Overall
Another controversial player, Sprewell was drafted 24th by the Golden State Warriors in 1992. During that infamous practice in 1997 Sprewell choked Head Coach PJ Carlesimo violently and was suspended for 62 games. Despite being known for one of the most volatile incidents in league history Spree averaged over 18 points, 4 boards, 4 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He helped the Warriors to make the Playoffs a few seasons and helped the Knicks reach the NBA Finals in the shortened lockout season in ‘99-00. Sprewell reached the All-Star Game four times in his career.
7. Ron Artest | Drafted by Chicago Bulls | 1999 Draft | 17th Overall
The talented goofball from Queensbridge was passed up by his hometown Knicks in the 1999 Draft in favor of New York’s favorite Frenchman Frederic Weis, who never came to America after Vince leapfrogged him. Anyway, the Indiana Pacers decided to take him after with the 17th pick directly after NY passed him up. Artest has gone on to have a controversial career but nobody can question his ability to lock up opposing scorers and provide a winning spark as he showcased all season long with the Los Angeles Lakers during their title run.
6. Rajon Rondo | Drafted by Phoenix Suns | 2006 Draft | 24th Overall
After being drafted 24th overall by the Phoenix Suns and being traded to the Boston Celtics, I guess it is safe to say that the way Mr. Rondo has played the past few seasons is impressive, to say the least. Whether it has been the product of being virtually raised by the Big 3 in Boston or whether 23 teams simply misjudged his skills, Rondo has made everybody who passed him up look silly. Out of college teams probably passed him up because of his poor shooting ability, but his craftiness and ability to finish at the rim has made him a top five lead guard in the game.
5. Tim Hardaway | Drafted by Golden State Warriors | 1989 Draft | 14th Overall
A five-time All-Star out of UTEP, Hardaway was a sparkplug at the point guard position who combined his quickness and super-crossover (UTEP Two-Step, through the legs, immediate crossover) with great jump shooting abilities off the bounce. In turn, he was one of the toughest point guards in the League to handle for a while and led both the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat teams to playoff births and thrilling post-season series, although his squads could never get to the Finals. With career averages of 17.7 points, 8.2 assists and 1.6 steals, though, Hardaway was an excellent pick for the Golden State Warriors with the 14th pick in the 1989 Draft.
4. Derek Fisher | L.A. Lakers | 1996 Draft | 24th Overall
Fisher is a general on the floor, a consummate winner at the point guard position and has been a major contributor to the past five Lakers world championships. It is appropriate that Fisher was drafted 24th overall in 1996, the same year that his running mate Kobe Bryant was drafted. DFish has played in 199 career playoff games, the fifth-highest total in NBA history and has knocked down soooooo many clutch shots over the course of his career that it’s hard to remember them all. He might not have great size but on defense he is all over the place and has shown over the years that he is more than willing to take a big charge at any point in the game. Numbers won’t do him justice, as he has averaged 9 points, 2.2 boards and 3.2 assists for his career but his career has been more about the intangibles anyway, which is why he is so high on this list.
3. Tony Parker | Drafted by San Antonio Spurs | 2001 Draft | 28th Overall
Clearly, the Spurs international scouting department did a great job and the rest of the League missed the boat on him. Since coming to America in 2001 as the 28th pick overall from France, Parker has averaged 16.6 points and 5.6 assists per game, has won three NBA Titles, scooped up a Finals MVP in the process and stole everybody’s dream girl Eva Longoria in the process. Hats off to Tony, but I still hate him.
2. Shawn Kemp | Drafted by Seattle SuperSonics | 1989 Draft | 17th Overall
Widely regarded as a top five player in the country during his senior season in high school, Kemp signed a letter of intent to play at Kentucky. After he was accused of stealing and selling two of his teammate’s chains, Kemp was forced to transfer to Trinity Valley Community College in Texas for the second semester of his freshman year. This event definitely caused his slip to the 17th pick overall in the 1989 NBA Draft and makes this list more entertaining in the process. On the court everybody knows Kemp was a ridiculous athlete and a beast finishing at the rim, especially in transition. He averaged 14.6 points and 8.4 boards for his career but his numbers would have been more impressive had he not stuck around to collect checks for three seasons past his prime. If you haven’t seen a YouTube video of his, I highly recommend you check this out.
1. Steve Nash | Drafted by Phoenix Suns | 1996 Draft | 15th Overall
The former 15th selection in the 1996 NBA Draft (one of the best draft classes ever) has proven that he is one of the best point guards to ever play the game. After playing alongside Dirk Nowitzki with the Mavs early in his career, Nash bolted for greener pastures in Phoenix while his knowledge, feel for the point guard position, leadership and shooting abilities all helped him to become a two-time MVP during the Mike D’Antoni era. Even at the age of 36, there is no question that Nash is still doing his thing and showing that it’s not how you come in to the L, but rather where you end up that counts.
WAIT AND SEE…