May 22, 2022, 19:46

10 biggest NBA Draft steals from the last 10 years

10 biggest NBA Draft steals from the last 10 years

As we all gorged on NBA playoff action, many teams around the league not fortunate enough to earn a postseason berth were toiling diligently behind the scenes, looking to uncover the next potential franchise-changing gem.

Choose your Draft Day adventure

With the NBA Draft upon us, what would you do if you were the hottest prospect in town?

The 2021 NBA draft lottery draw took place last month – with the Detroit Pistons being awarded the number one overall pick – and teams have been salivating over the prospect of selecting a star such as Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham from a pool of players many evaluators view as strong among the top five.

But you can bet when the Draft arrives on Thursday night a few teams will nab steals we’ll be talking about for years to come.

With that said, we take a quick look at 10 of the biggest steals selected over the last 10 years in the NBA draft. It’s an expansive list overall, so we’re limiting it to players who were drafted outside of the top 10 and later selected to at least one NBA All-Star game.

Note: Players are listed alphabetically.

Giannis Antetokounmpo


Giannis Antetokounmpo was named Finals MVP after averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game as Milwaukee saw off Phoenix 4-2 to claim just their second title in franchise history

He’s the ultimate gem. The two-time MVP and five-time All-Star was selected 15th in the 2013 draft, and now he’s led the Milwaukee Bucks to only their second ever championship, ending a 50-year drought for the franchise. Giannis averaged 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5 assists per game over the course of the Finals, deservedly taking home the Bill Russell Award for Most Valuable Player. As mid-first round draft picks go, they don’t come much better than Giannis Antetokounmpo.


After being named Finals MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo praised Milwaukee’s fans as the Bucks secured their first NBA title in 50 years

Devin Booker


Devin Booker poured in 34 points as Phoenix upset the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1

He was the 13th pick in a 2015 class that saw his college teammate Karl-Anthony Towns go No. 1 overall. Booker came off the bench at Kentucky, but led the Phoenix Suns on a magical playoff run as a two-time All-Star, eventually breaking the record for most points in a debut postseason. He is a study in perseverance considering all the losing seasons he endured over his first five seasons to get to this point.

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Jimmy Butler


Jimmy Butler posted 27 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds against the Houston Rockets

Butler’s story is incredible. A native Texan, Butler played junior college ball, then matriculated to Marquette University before Chicago made him the 30th pick of the 2011 draft. His Draft class includes six other All-Stars (Butler, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Isaiah Thomas, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker and Nikola Vucevic). A five-time All-Star, Butler just finished up his second season in Miami, where his relentless drive and work ethic seem like natural fits in the Heat culture.

Rudy Gobert


Rudy Gobert made the pivotal block in the closing seconds as Utah held on to beat the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi-finals

A two-time NBA All-Star coming off his third NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, Gobert was the lowest pick (27th) of just three All-Stars from the 2013 Draft class. He’s averaged double digits in rebounds in six of his eight NBA seasons, and you know he’s going to block at least two shots per game. The anchor to everything Utah does defensively, Gobert did suffer a disappointing exit in the 2021 Western Conference semi-finals.

Draymond Green


Golden State’s Draymond Green posted 11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in an impressive showing against the Phoenix Suns

The three-time All-Star was the No. 35 pick in 2012 and is tied with teammate Klay Thompson for the title of king of the rings among this group. Green earned three titles with the Warriors, in addition to a NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. He’s a mainstay on the All-NBA Defensive team, making six appearances. Green’s knowledge of the game is unmatched, and he’s going to be a star on television once he decides to call it quits.

Nikola Jokic


Nikola Jokic scores 32 points, 10 assists and 20 rebounds in the Denver Nuggets’ loss to the Phoenix Suns

His improbable rise started in a Serbian newspaper and reached its highest point this season. The Joker is coming off his first NBA Most Valuable Player award, and he was the first Serbian to take home the honour and the lowest-drafted player (41st overall) to do it. Some could make the case that he’s the biggest Draft steal in NBA history.

Kawhi Leonard


Kawhi Leonard dropped 45 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists as the Clippers beat the Mavericks to force Game 7 in the Western Conference first-round playoff series

The 15th pick in 2011, Leonard is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time Finals MVP on the hunt for his third championship with his third team. A five-time All-Star, Leonard was also the MVP of the 2020 All-Star game. He’s been named All-NBA First Team three times, in addition to taking home NBA All-Defensive First Team honours on three occasions.

Khris Middleton


Khris Middleton hit the crucial field goal late on as the Milwaukee Bucks clinched their first NBA title since 1971

Every year when we discuss players close to earning entry into the 50-40-90 club, the two-time All-Star and now NBA champion Middleton always seems to be in the conversation. Keep in mind that shooting feat has been accomplished just 12 times by eight players in NBA history, and seemingly every season the 39th pick of the 2012 draft is on the cusp of achieving it. Over nine NBA seasons, Middleton has started in 510 of 585 regular-season games, averaging 31.7 minutes. He was also the second best player during Milwaukee’s run to the title this season, routinely stepping up in the fourth quarter when his team needed a bucket.

Donovan Mitchell


Donovan Mitchell scored 37 points against the LA Clippers to put the Utah Jazz 2-0 up in the Western Conference semifinal series

At one point, baseball was Mitchell’s main sport, and you halfway wonder what he could have achieved had he focused all his efforts on that endeavour. A two-time NBA All-Star and winner of the 2018 Slam Dunk Contest, Mitchell was the 13th pick of a 2017 draft that produced a trio of All-Stars (Bam Adebayo and Jayson Tatum). Mitchell is one of the league’s most dynamic scorers, and one reason the Jazz should compete for titles for years to come.

Klay Thompson

We’ve sorely missed this sharpshooter’s presence over the last two years, and hopefully he returns to full health soon. A three-time NBA champion, Thompson once lit up the Indiana Pacers for 60 points on just 11 dribbles. “I’ve never heard of anybody doing what Klay did, going to get 60 on 11 dribbles,” Hawks guard Lou Williams told “Sixty on 11 dribbles, no, that’s not ever happening again.” The five-time All-Star was the 11th pick of the 2011 draft, and he’s earned All-NBA Third Team twice (2015, 2016) in addition to making the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2019.

And five more: Bam Adebayo (No. 14 in 2017); Domantas Sabonis (No. 11 in 2016); Pascal Siakam (No. 27 in 2016); Nikola Vucevic (No. 16 in 2011); Zach LaVine (No. 13 in 2014).


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