NBA Draft Analysis: The Biggest Steals and Surprises

Unexpected Stars from the Second Round

Many fans and analysts focus on the first round of the NBA Draft, but history has shown that some of the best players come from the second round. Players like Nikola Jokić, who was the 41st pick in 2014, have defied expectations and shown tremendous talent on the court. Jokić, a two-time MVP (2021, 2022), averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game during the 2022-2023 season. VanVleet, undrafted in 2016, has also proven himself with a stellar performance. His averages of 19.2 points and 6.6 assists per game made him a key player for the Toronto Raptors.

Kevin Huerter, selected 19th in 2018, has become a vital asset for his team. Huerter averaged 12.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in the 2022-2023 season. These players highlight the importance of looking beyond the first round for potential NBA stars.

Players Who Outperformed Their Draft Positions

The 2017 NBA Draft brought us Donovan Mitchell, picked 13th overall by the Denver Nuggets and traded to the Utah Jazz. Mitchell has since become a premier scorer in the league. His 2022-2023 season statistics of 26.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game solidify his status as a steal in the draft. Another notable player is Bam Adebayo, selected 14th in the same draft. Adebayo's defensive prowess and versatility have been instrumental for the Miami Heat, as he averaged 18.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game during the 2022-2023 season.

Gilbert Arenas, a second-round draft pick at 31 by the Golden State Warriors in 2001, exceeded all expectations. Arenas, a three-time NBA All-Star, averaged over 20 points per game throughout his career, with a peak season average of 29.3 points in 2005-2006. These players serve as a reminder that draft position does not always define a player's success in the NBA.

Surprising Undrafted Success Stories

Fred VanVleet emerged as an undrafted gem for the Toronto Raptors. His performance during the 2019 playoffs was critical to the Raptors’ championship run. VanVleet posted averages of 14.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists throughout the 2022-2023 season, showcasing his ability to impact the game despite going undrafted.

Joe Ingles, another undrafted player, has carved out a significant role with the Utah Jazz. Ingles contributed 10.8 points, 4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game during the 2022-2023 season. His shooting efficiency and playmaking ability have made him an integral part of the team's success.

Finding players like VanVleet and Ingles illustrates the value in giving undrafted players a chance to prove themselves. Their success stories inspire other undrafted players to continue working hard and striving for excellence.

International Players Making an Impact

International players continue to leave their mark on the NBA. Luka Dončić, selected third overall in the 2018 draft, has quickly risen to prominence. Averaging 28.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game in the 2022-2023 season, Dončić has established himself as one of the league's brightest stars. His impact has revitalized the Dallas Mavericks and brought global attention to the NBA.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, taken 15th overall in 2013 by the Milwaukee Bucks, has developed into one of the league’s most dominant players. The 2021 NBA Finals MVP and two-time MVP (2019, 2020) averaged 29.5 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game during the 2022-2023 season. Antetokounmpo’s unique skill set and relentless work ethic have made him a cornerstone for the Bucks.

International players like Dončić and Antetokounmpo highlight the global reach of basketball talent and its increasing influence on the NBA. Their success encourages teams to scout talent worldwide and embrace diverse playing styles.

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