NBA Draft Steals of the Past Decade

The NBA draft is an opportunity for teams to secure promising young talent for their rosters. Occasionally, a draft steal emerges, a player selected much lower than their true value, who goes on to exceed expectations and make a significant impact in the league. In this article, we rank and explore the top five NBA draft steals of the past decade, highlighting their on-court contributions, personal achievements, and the teams that initially drafted them.

Donovan MitchellUtah Jazz (2017, 13th Pick)

Donovan Mitchell’s selection as the 13th pick in the 2017 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets, who then traded him to the Utah Jazz, proved to be a draft steal of monumental proportions. Mitchell quickly established himself as a dynamic scoring guard with incredible athleticism and a knack for clutch performances. His offensive repertoire, which includes explosive drives, deep shooting range, and highlight-reel dunks, has made him a perennial All-Star.

Mitchell’s impact on the Jazz has been undeniable. He has led the team to multiple playoff appearances and emerged as their go-to scorer in crucial moments. His ability to elevate his game in high-pressure situations and his leadership qualities have endeared him to fans and established him as the face of the franchise. Mitchell’s personal achievements include numerous NBA records, including being the fastest player to reach 600 made three-pointers.

Nikola JokićDenver Nuggets (2014, 41st Pick)

Selected as the 41st pick in the 2014 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets, Nikola Jokić’s rise to superstardom has been nothing short of remarkable. Initially overlooked due to concerns about his athleticism and NBA readiness, Jokić has defied expectations to become one of the league’s most dominant centers and a triple-double machine.

Jokić’s unique skill set as a playmaking big man sets him apart from his peers. His exceptional passing ability, basketball IQ, and versatile scoring make him a matchup nightmare for opposing teams. Jokić’s impact on the Nuggets cannot be overstated, as he has led them to multiple playoff appearances and propelled them to the Western Conference Finals. With an MVP award to his name, Jokić is undoubtedly one of the greatest draft steals of the past decade.

Khris MiddletonMilwaukee Bucks (2012, 39th Pick)

The selection of Khris Middleton as the 39th pick in the 2012 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons, who then traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks, proved to be a shrewd move that paid dividends for the Bucks. Middleton’s versatility as a scorer, solid defense, and clutch shooting have made him an invaluable piece of the team’s success.

Middleton’s ability to excel alongside superstar teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo has propelled the Bucks to new heights. With his smooth shooting stroke and ability to create his own shot, Middleton provides the team with a reliable second scoring option. His contributions were instrumental in the Bucks winning the NBA championship in 2021, where Middleton’s clutch performances in key playoff games solidified his status as a draft steal.

Draymond GreenGolden State Warriors (2012, 35th Pick)

Draymond Green, selected as the 35th pick in the 2012 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors, has exemplified the value of intangibles and defensive prowess. While not known for his scoring, Green’s impact on the court is immeasurable, as he excels in facilitating ball movement, anchoring the defense, and providing leadership.

Green’s defensive versatility and basketball IQ have been integral to the Warriors’ success during their championship runs. His ability to guard multiple positions

, set screens, and make timely passes have made him a linchpin in their system. Green’s contributions were recognized with multiple All-Defensive Team selections and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, solidifying his status as a draft steal.

Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks (2013, 15th Pick)

The selection of Giannis Antetokounmpo as the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks was a stroke of genius that transformed the franchise. With his combination of size, speed, and skill, Antetokounmpo, often referred to as the “Greek Freak,” has become one of the most dominant players in the league.

Antetokounmpo’s versatility is unmatched, as he can play and excel at multiple positions. His ability to finish at the rim, facilitate for his teammates, and defend at an elite level has earned him multiple MVP awards and numerous All-NBA selections. Antetokounmpo’s impact on the Bucks was evident in their 2021 championship run, where his historic performances solidified his status as one of the greatest draft steals in NBA history.

The NBA draft steals of the past decade have showcased the ability of teams to identify and develop hidden gems who go on to become franchise cornerstones. Players like Donovan Mitchell, Nikola Jokić, Khris Middleton, Draymond Green, and Giannis Antetokounmpo have exceeded expectations, elevating their teams to new heights and etching their names in NBA history. These draft steals serve as a reminder of the value of scouting, player development, and the potential for greatness that lies beyond the initial draft position.

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