NBA Draft: Derrick Rose and 50 Prospects Who Exceeded Expectations
Every year, the front offices of all 30 NBA teams do their best to evaluate the talent that will soon be brought into the arenas of the league. But not everyone can be scouted perfectly.
Sometimes, the management overestimates how good a player will be, but sometimes it drastically underrates the talent. It is in those latter cases where prospects exceed expectations that draft steals are found.
Derrick Rose is just one such example of a player who has turned out to be even better than was originally expected.
Read on for 49 others from the past 30 years.
After a decidedly less than stellar baseball career, Danny Ainge was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the 31st pick of the 1981 NBA draft.
A two-time NBA Champion and one-time All-Star, Ainge retired averaging 11.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.
The all-time leader in made three-pointers, Ray Allen was expected to be a great NBA player after he was drafted out of Connecticut, but no one expected for him to have quite this good a career.
Allen was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the fifth-overall pick of the 1996 NBA draft and has since made 10 All-Star teams and been a crucial part of a championship-winning Boston Celtics squad.
Agent Zero Gilbert Arenas was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the 2001 NBA draft because he was a rather unheralded prospect coming out of Arizona.
Arenas wanted to be drafted by the New York Knicks, but he was passed up by the team with both of their first-round selections.
Arenas, who is playing at a much lower level after his gun incident, made three All-Star Teams in his prime and even averaged over 29 points per game during the 2005-2006 season.
The Round Mound of Rebound was drafted with the No. 5 pick of the 1984 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, who expected Barkley to be a valuable contributor for a long time.
He surpassed expectations by far. Sir Charles ended up putting together a Hall of Fame resume that included the 1993 MVP and 11 All-Star Team selections while averaging 22.1 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.
Mookie Blaylock was drafted 12th overall in 1989 by the New Jersey Nets, who selected him with the expectation that he would become a defensive stopper who occasionally contributed on offense.
Blaylock surpassed those expectations when he made six All-Defensive teams but also averaged 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game.
At only 5'3", Muggsy Bogues was the shortest player to ever play in the NBA. Because of his height, expectations had to be tempered a little bit (pun intended) despite the fact that he was picked 12th by the Washington Bullets in the 1987 NBA draft.
Bogues was an incredibly popular player who was quite adept at passing the ball. He was never much of a scorer but he was still productive, as shown by his career averages of 7.7 points, 2.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game.
After he finished his career at Duke, Carlos Boozer was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 35 pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. He hasn't played like a second-rounder since then.
Boozer is a two-time All-Star and is one of the most dangerous double-double threats in the NBA when fully healthy. He also has a chance to win a title with the Chicago Bulls this season. Up to this point in his career, Boozer is averaging 17.3 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. There is no doubt that he's one of the top 13. Yet the Black Mamba watched as 12 players were drafted before the Charlotte Hornets selected him in the 1996 NBA draft.
Bryant is a surefire first ballot Hall of Famer who has won five championships and made 13 All-Star Teams. He's one of the biggest draft-day steals of all time.
Coming out of Davidson after leading his Wildcats to a surprising Elite Eight appearance in 2008, Stephen Curry was thought of as a scorer with questionable defensive skills and not too much ability as a true point guard.
That's changed since he was drafted seventh overall by the Golden State Warriors. Well, at least the true point guard part has changed. In his two seasons in the NBA, Curry has averaged 18 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.
The 7'1" center from Serbia was selected in 1989 by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 26th pick of the draft.
When he retired as a Laker in 2005, he did so as one of just six players in NBA history to record 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocks. Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett and Hakeem Olajuwon are the other five.
I'm fairly confident that no one expected the unathletic-looking Divac to join such elite company.
After a stellar career as a member of Phi Slamma Jamma at Houston, Clyde Drexler moved on to the NBA after his junior year. He was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 14th pick of the 1983 NBA draft.
Clyde the Glide is now a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame after winning a championship and being selected to 10 All-Star Teams. His career averages of 20.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game are nothing short of stellar.
Coming out of McNeese State, Joe Dumars was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 18th pick of the 1985 NBA draft.
A member of the "Bad Boys," Dumars was a stellar defender, the best ever in Michael Jordan's opinion, who won two NBA titles and secured a spot on six All-Star Team rosters. Dumars averaged 16.1 points, 2.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game during his 14-year career with the Pistons.
After he failed to bench press the minimum 180 pounds at the pre-draft workouts in 2007, Kevin Durant slipped below Greg Oden on the draft boards and ended up being the second-overall pick in the draft, going to the Seattle SuperSonics, who would soon become the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Not even the most optimistic fans expected the former Longhorn to win two scoring titles in just four years in the NBA. He's been simply unstoppable on the offensive end of the court.
With their fourth-round pick in the 1982 NBA draft, the Utah Jazz took a flyer on UCLA's Mark Eaton and hoped that the big man would turn out to be far more than just another big body. As the Jazz have been so often during their franchise's history, they were right.
Eaton, who stood 7'4", ended up making five All-Defensive teams and one All-Star squad throughout a career which saw him set the regular season blocked shots per game record at 5.6 and the career blocked shots per game record at 3.5.
The most surprising candidate for this year's race for (second-best) Rookie of the Year (because there's no way you're beating out Blake Griffin), Landry Fields was much better than the New York Knicks originally anticipated.
Fields was drafted out of Stanford with the 39th pick of the most recent draft and parlayed playing time into success. The guard started all but one game during the 2010-2011 season and averaged 9.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
One of the biggest draft steals ever, Manu Ginobili completely surpassed the expectations levied upon him when he was selected by the San Antonio Spurs with the 57th pick of the 1999 NBA draft.
Ginobili had been quite successful playing professionally in both Argentina and Italy, but pro scouts didn't think that he would be as good as he turned out to be.
So far in his career, Ginobili has won three championships, made two All-Star Teams and put up 15.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.
If nothing else, A.C. Green exceeded expectations just by sticking around for so long. After all, he's the all-time leader in consecutive games played thanks to his streak of 1,192 games in a row from Nov. 19, 1986, to April 18, 2001.
During his career, which started when Green was selected with the 23rd pick of the 1985 NBA draft, Green won three NBA Championships and made an All-Star Team. He averaged 9.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.
With his trademark crossover, Tim Hardaway burst onto the NBA scene after he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors with the 14th pick of the 1989 NBA draft.
He immediately became a part of Run TMC and ended up making four All-NBA Teams and five All-Star Teams. Over the course of Hardaway's career, he averaged 17.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game.
Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. No matter how high you are on a pro prospect, you can never reasonably expect for the guy you have your sights set on to become the greatest of all time.
Jordan, coming out of North Carolina, was drafted with the third pick of the 1984 NBA draft. Talk about a steal. I mean, the guy won six championships, five MVPs and 14 All-Star selections.
After not playing during his one semester at Trinity Valley Community College, Shawn Kemp decided that it was time to go pro although he was only 19 years old. The Seattle SuperSonics were the team that selected him, deeming him worthy of the 19th pick in 1989.
Little did they know that Kemp would become one of the greatest dunkers of all time, known for his vicious slams of the ball through the hoop. He made six All-Star teams during his career, which saw the Reign Main post career averages of 14.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.
A nightly threat for a triple-double, Jason Kidd was expected to be a great player when the Dallas Mavericks selected him with the No. 2 pick of the 1994 NBA draft, but no one expected him to be great for such a sustained period of time. After all, Kidd is still playing like, well, a kid.
The point guard has made six All-NBA Teams, nine All-Defensive Teams and 10 All-Star Teams during his lengthy career, which has seen him play for the Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, New Jersey Nets and Mavericks once more. Kidd is averaging 13.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game.
AK47, a Russian small forward, was drafted by the Utah Jazz with the 24th pick of the 1999 NBA draft. As we've established by now, the Jazz are pretty decent evaluators of draft talent.
Kirilenko has never been a true star in the NBA, but he's been a valued contributor to the Jazz ever since he's been in the league. He has however made an All-Star Team and three All-Defensive Teams during his time in the NBA. He's averaging 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
Known more for his offense than anything else, David Lee is fittingly a current member of the Golden State Warriors, but he made his first big mark in the NBA with the New York Knicks. The Knicks decided to draft the former Gator with the 30th pick in the 2005 NBA draft and didn't regret the decision at all.
Lee has made one All-Star Team in his career so far, the selection coming when he was tabbed to replace Allen Iverson on the 2010 East roster. He's averaging 13.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in the career that still has a lot of quality basketball left to be played.
A current Washington Wizard, Rashard Lewis was drafted out of high school by the Seattle SuperSonics when the now-moved franchise selected him with the No. 32 pick of the 1998 NBA draft.
Since then, Lewis has played for the Supersonics, Orlando Magic and Wizards, making two All-Star Teams in the process. The versatile forward is averaging 16.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists thus far in his career.
Kevin Love truly broke out this past season, which saw him post a 30-30 game, string together the most ever consecutive double-doubles, lead the league in rebounding with 15.2 per game, be named the Most Improved Player in the league and make the All-Star Team.
Love was drafted fifth overall in 2008 by the Memphis Grizzlies but was immediately traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. So far, he's averaging 15.0 points, 11.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
Dan Majerle was selected by the Phoenix Suns with the 14th pick of the 1988 NBA draft after he had finished his career at Eastern Michigan. He wasn't very highly thought of as his selection prompted booing from the fans, to which Suns coach responded by saying, "You'll be sorry you ever booed this young man."
Thunder Dan ended up making two All-Defensive Teams and three All-Star squads during his career which saw him dramatically increase his popularity while averaging 11.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
The Mailman was drafted 13th in the 1985 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz, but he would go on to become one of the top 13 players to ever lace up their shoes in preparation for a game on hardwood. Malone may actually be the greatest power forward in the history of the sport.
He won the MVP Award twice in his storied career, made the All-Star Team 13 times, and made 11 All-NBA First Teams. Malone retired after 19 years in the league with averages of 25.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
The Matrix, as Shawn Marion would become known during his time in Phoenix, was drafted with the ninth-overall pick of the 1999 NBA draft by the Suns. He was expected to be great, but not great enough to make four All-Star Teams in a five-year stretch.
Marion helped the Suns become a perennial playoff team while simultaneously becoming a fantasy basketball player's dream selection thanks to his across-the-board contributions. Thus far in his career, Marion is averaging 16.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
Drafted in the third round of the 1988 NBA draft with the 53rd pick, Anthony Mason began his career as a member of the New Jersey Nets despite the fact that the Portland Trail Blazers were the ones that spent their pick on him.
Mason played for six different teams during his 14-year career and made one All-Star Team but won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award once. He averaged 10.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game throughout his tenure in the NBA. That's not too shabby for a third-round selection.
Until Ray Allen came around, Reggie Miller was the NBA's all-time leader in three-pointers made. The Indiana Pacers knew that Miller could shoot when they drafted him 11th overall in the 1987 NBA draft, but they had no idea that his shooting stroke could be so sweet for so long.
Miller made five All-Star Teams during his career, all of which was spent in Indiana. He retired in 2005 with career averages of 18.2 points, three rebounds and three assists per game.
En route to becoming the greatest international player in the history of the NBA, Dirk Nowitzki proved that he was more than just a German flash in the proverbial pan. The Dallas Mavericks took him with the ninth pick of the 1998 NBA draft or at least asked the Milwaukee Bucks to do so with the intention of immediately trading for him.
Nowitzki had some struggles at first, being called "Irk Nowitzki" for his lack of D, or defense, and even contemplated going back to Germany, but he has been simply sensational since then. An MVP Award and 10 All-Star selections later, Nowitzki is one of the best players in the NBA and averaging 23.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for his career.
From one foreign player to another we go. This time, we're looking at Tony Parker, the French guard who was selected by the San Antonio Spurs with the 28th pick of the 2001 NBA draft.
Since he joined the team, Parker has been a part of three championship-winning squads and made three All-Star Teams. The guard is averaging 16.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.7 rebounds at this point in his still-ongoing career.
Thanks to Deron Williams, who was drafted just before Chris Paul, the point guard from Wake Forest was not even considered the best player at his position among his own draft class. Now, he was still selected with the No. 4 pick of the 2005 NBA draft by the New Orleans Hornets.
Four All-Star Game selections later, CP3 is considered one of the best point guards in the NBA, if not the absolute best. So far in his career, Paul is averaging 18.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 9.9 assists and 2.4 steals per game.
One of the most complete point guards to ever dribble a basketball, Gary Payton was known as much for the suffocating defense that earned him the nickname The Glove as the offense that constantly helped his teams.
Payton was selected 2nd-overall in the 1990 NBA draft by the Seattle SuperSonics, but he surpassed even the lofty expectations that were placed upon him with that pick. The guard won one NBA Championship and made nine All-Star Teams in his 17-year career that saw him average 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game.
Drafted with the No. 10 pick of the 1998 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics, Paul Pierce has blown away any and all expectations that were placed upon his unathletic-looking shoulders when he stepped across the stage to shake David Stern's hand. The Truth is, the expectations were far too low.
He helped lead the Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship and made nine All-Star Teams in his career in Celtic-green. Pierce shows no sign of slowing down and appears poised to improve upon or maintain his career numbers of 21.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
A recent inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame, Scottie Pippen started his journey towards stardom when the Chicago Bulls selected the Central Arkansas small forward with the fifth pick of the 1987 NBA Draft. While a lot of people view Pippen as a Robin to Michael Jordan's Batman, he was so much more than that.
Pippen was a crucial part of six NBA Championships and made his way onto seven All-Star Teams. He played so well on both sides of the ball and ended up averaging 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
Drafted out of Georgia Tech in the second round of the 1986 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mark Price went on to become one of the better point guards in the franchise's history.
Price made four All-Star Teams and four All-NBA Teams during his career. He averaged 15.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game.
The 43rd-overall pick of the 2000 NBA draft, Michael Redd went on to become the best player from that year's draft class and one of the biggest draft steals in recent history. He's spent his entire career with the Milwaukee Bucks, the team that decided he was worthy of its second-round draft pick.
Redd may have only made one All-Star Team, the one he earned a spot on in 2004, but he's been a key part of the Bucks squad ever since he was drafted. The shooting guard has averaged 20.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game during his career.
Z-bo has left his mark on the 2011 NBA postseason much as he has done against all opponents ever since being drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 19th pick of the 2001 NBA draft.
Randolph was named the NBA's Most Improved Player in 2004 and made his first All-Star Team in 2010, but if he maintains his current level of production, he'll make quite a few more before it's all said and done. Randolph is now averaging 17.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game after his finest season yet.
After he graduated from Marquette, Doc Rivers, the father of incoming Duke recruit Austin Rivers, moved on to the NBA when the Atlanta Hawks selected him to play point guard for their squad with the 31st pick of the 1983 NBA draft.
Rivers would prove to be far better than a second-round pick during his eight-year tenure with the Hawks. He even averaged a double-double in the 1986-1987 season when he put up 12.8 points and 10 assists per game.
The Worm would go down as one of the greatest rebounders of all time after he retired from the NBA in 2000. That was not exactly the expectation when the Detroit Pistons selected Rodman with the 27th pick of the 1986 NBA draft, which at the time was a second-round draft choice.
Rodman played on five championship-winning teams during his career and made two All-Star Teams. He averaged 7.3 points, 13.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 flamboyant hairstyles per game.
Even though the Kentucky guard was the first point guard taken in the 2006 NBA draft, an accolade which he was given when selected by the Boston Celtics with the 21st pick, Rajon Rondo was never expected to be an All-Star-caliber point guard.
Rondo has truly blossomed into his role as a leader of the Celtics and seems to play his best basketball in the playoffs every year now. He's made the All-Star Team each of the last two seasons and helped the Celtics win the NBA Championship in 2008. One of the best passers in the game now, Rondo has improved his assists per game average each year since he came into the league, averaging 11.2 during his most recent campaign.
Even though he was the No. 1 pick of the 2008 NBA draft, Derrick Rose was expected to be a great player, but not great enough to win the MVP Award (as we all have to assume he will this season) in just his third season as a pro.
The Chicago Bulls point guard was the Rookie of the Year in his first season and then an All-Star in each of the next two. He's averaging 20.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game during his three-year career. Rose is only going to bloom into an even better player.
Although he's best known now for choking P.J. Carlesimo, Latrell Sprewell enjoyed a very productive career before controversies derailed his career.
Sprewell was selected with the No. 24 pick of the 1992 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors, but he played much better than his draft placement should indicate. Sprewell made four All-Star Teams and averaged 18.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.
John Stockton, a guard from Gonzaga, was the No. 16 pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. He enjoyed a 19-year career with Utah that saw him earn Hall of Fame status after putting together virtually unbreakable career assist and steal totals.
Arguably one of the greatest point guards of all time, Stockton made 10 All-Star Teams and retired in 2003 with career averages of 13.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 10.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game.
Now playing in the city that never sleeps, Amar'e Stoudemire started his professional career when he was drafted by the Phoenix Suns with the ninth pick of the 2002 NBA draft, where he started off strong by winning the NBA's Rookie of the Year Award.
Stoudemire has made six All-Star Teams so far in his career and hasn't failed to make the team since the 2006 roster was put together. The only problem with his games lately has been his knees, and even those have failed to slow his offensive game too much. Stoudemire is now averaging 21.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game over the course of his career.
Nick Van Exel
Nick Van Exel was drafted in the second round of the 1993 NBA draft when the Los Angeles Lakers selected the Cincinnati point guard with the 37th pick.
Van Exel went on to excel for six different teams during his 13-year NBA career, which saw him make only one All-Star Team but make countless numbers of crucial shots. The point guard was also one of the league's best passers during his time in the pros and averaged 14.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game.
A combo guard from Marquette, Dwyane Wade was selected by the Miami Heat with the No. 5 pick of the 2003 NBA draft and has since played in South Beach for every year of his eventual Hall of Fame-worthy career.
Wade carried his team to the 2006 NBA Championship and has been selected to seven All-Star Teams. It wouldn't be too surprising to see him add a few more championships to his resume now that he's playing alongside LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Wade is averaging 25.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game so far but those numbers may still get even better.
Ever since he was drafted out of Xavier with the No. 18 pick of the 2003 NBA draft, David West has been an outstanding member of the New Orleans Hornets in every way.
West is a two-time All-Star after making the team in both 2008 and 2009, but he is deserving of a few more berths in my opinion. After all, the power forward is averaging 16.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game during his ongoing career and the numbers are all trending upwards.
The Silent Assassin was drafted by the Utah Jazz with the No. 47 pick in the 2003 NBA draft, but he really didn't come into his own until he moved on to the Milwaukee Bucks and then the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Mo Williams made his first, and only, All-Star Team in 2009 while a member of the Cleveland LeBrons, I mean Cavaliers. Now on the Los Angeles Clippers and scoring like he's back in his prime, Williams has increased his career averages to 13.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.