The NBA Draft is by far the shortest of all the American professional sports at a mere two rounds. What this means is that only 60 new players are drafted annually and a multitude of them don’t ever make it onto the freshly waxed hardwood.
Many teams focus on the top three-five picks which are awarded through the NBA’s draft lottery, as most of the league’s stars come from those first few selections.
Still, some players slip down the list and others become sleepers with a little luck.
While seven may be many people’s lucky number, eight has been extremely lucky for many NBA teams over the history of the league.
This is a list ranking the top 10 players taken eighth overall in the NBA Draft.
Vin Baker was selected in 1993 by the Milwaukee Bucks and played up North for four seasons before being traded to the Seattle SuperSonics. Baker’s best years came with Milwaukee as he averaged 18.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
While Baker remained a good player through his five year tenure in Seattle, his numbers declined steadily and he was basically done in the NBA after the 2003-04 season.
A career highlight includes being a part of Team USA’s 2000 Gold Medal basketball team.
Throughout his career, Rex Chapman was a deadly three point shooter.
Originally drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats in 1988, Chapman went to the Washington Bullets in 1992 and enjoyed his best year as a pro in 1993 in the nation’s capitol.
Chapman averaged a career-high 18.2 points and 3.1 assists per game in 1993-94 and sustained his strong play throughout 2000 when he eventually retired with the Phoenix Suns.
Since then Chapman has stayed in the league as he was a scout and later the Director of Basketball Operations for the Suns, a color commentator on TNT in 2005 and is currently the Vice President of player personnel with the Denver Nuggets.
T.J. Ford is one of the few players on this list that continues to grow as an NBA player.
Ford, a strong young point guard, was drafted by Milwaukee and is onto his third team in Indiana currently.
Through his six year career, Ford has averaged 12.1 points and 6.2 assists per game. And while he’s not the full time starter for the Pacers now, he should be within the next few years as he moves into the prime of his career.
Olden Polynice was a stellar center/forward who was originally selected by the Seattle Supersonics in 1987. Polynice was a slow developing player and didn’t start a game until he was traded to the LA Clippers in 1990. Once in LA, his numbers skyrocketed to 12.3 points and 9.1 boards per game.
But his best season came in 1993-94 when Polynice split time between Detroit and Sacramento, scoring 11.6 points and snagging 11.9 rebounds per.
Natt, a 6’6” small forward, was taken by the New Jersey Nets in the 1979 Draft. After being traded to Portland in his rookie season, Natt enjoyed some success with the TrailBlazers starting in the early 80s.
But what Natt is best known for is his stellar play with the Denver Nuggets in the mid-to-late 80s.
Natt and his 23.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game were instrumental in helping Denver to its first ever Western Conference Finals appearance in 1985. Though the Nuggets still have never won a championship and Natt’s performance dropped of dramatically after 1986, his spot as a Nuggets great will forever be cemented in the Mile High City.
Jamal Crawford, drafted by Chicago in 2000, has sustained a strong career for over a decade.
After four decent years with the Bulls, Crawford blew up with the New York Knicks from 2004-08. During that time, Crawford scored 17.6 and dished out 4.4 assists per game for the Knicks—his career-high numbers came in 2007-08 when he was the full time starter.
But he’s shown he can still ball with the best of them, earning the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award for the Atlanta Hawks this season.
I know, this seems low for all you Rudy Gay lovers out there, but he’s undoubtedly continuing to improve as a basket-baller.
Gay has grown into his own as a growing player on a growing young team in Memphis. He’s the leader and leading scorer (19.6) of a team with budding youthful talent that includes O.J. Mayo and Marc Gasol. Plus, Gay has no reason not to be happy with his 5.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 steals per, giving him an all-around game certainly.
Andre Miller wasn’t the fastest, he wasn’t the quickest or the best jumper coming out of college and he dropped in the draft to eighth. But Miller has been proving wrong all the doubters that passed him back in 1999, ever since.
Miller has been quite consistent over his career, throwing in a multitude of runners in the lane sprinkled with an outside jumper here and there to the tune of 14.5 points per. He was one of the most deft dimers in the NBA at 7.2 assists per contest while somehow snatching 4.1 rebounds per.
This year he was the leader of the injury depleted Portland TrailBlazers as they made the playoffs despite missing some nine starters.
Detlef Schrempf, for those of you too young to remember, was a stud in the NBA.
Originally drafted in 1985 by the Dallas Mavericks, he began to thrive with Indiana in the early 90s.
Among his accomplishments in the NBA are winning the Sixth Man of the Year award two straight times (1990-92), was the only player in the NBA to finish in the top 25 in scoring (19.1), rebounding (9.5) and assists (6.0) in 1992-93.
Robert Parish was a straight-up beast in the NBA, one of the greats the game has ever seen at the center position.
After being drafted by Golden State in 1976, Parish played the bulk (14 years) of his 20 year career with the mighty Boston Celtics of the 80s.
Parish scored 16.5 points per game with his strong interior game while being a monster on the boards to the tune of 10 rebounds per.
Parish was a somewhat unsung hero with the likes of Larry Bird and Danny Ainge. Bird was taken only two years after Parish with the sixth overall selection to the Celtics, and Parish was brought to Boston two years later, in 1980.
The Celtics ended up taking the NBA Championship in 1981, 1984 and 1986 and went a total of five times during the 1980s.
While Parish may get lost in the hoopla that surrounds hoops star Larry Bird, he was definitely a key piece to one of the best teams in NBA history.
Rich Kurtzman is a Colorado State University Alumnus and a freelance sports journalist. Along with being the Denver Nuggets Featured Columnist here on B/R, Kurtzman is the Denver Broncos FC on NFLTouchdown.com, the CSU Rams Examiner on examiner.com and the Colorado/Utah Correspondent for stadiumjourney.com.
Follow Rich on twitter @ www.twitter.com/richkurt