Many teams don’t have the luxury to get a lottery pick. However, talent is abundant in the NBA draft night that teams can find value later on. With proper scouting and player development, some players exceeded expectations and turned out to be the best NBA draft steals ever.
Biggest NBA draft steals all-time
A draft steal is basically a player who was selected late in the draft and outperform their expectation. Some of the best NBA draft steals became superstars and won multiple championships with their respective franchises.
Let’s take a look at the eight best value NBA draft picks of all time…
8. Marc Gasol (48th overall, 2007)
It was a win-win trade scenario for both teams. He became one of the pillars of the Grit and Grind era in Memphis with fellow frontcourt star, Zach Randolph. Gasol was an NBA Champion with the Raptors, three-time All-Star, and won Defensive Player of the Year.
7. Nikola Jokic (41st pick, 2014)
The Nuggets drafted Nikola Jokic 41st overall in the 2014 NBA draft. The announcement wasn’t even aired and his name just popped out on a Taco Bell commercial.
Currently, Jokic is making the case as the best NBA draft steal of all time. After all, he is the lowest draft pick in NBA history to win the MVP award. At 6’11, he is simply revolutionizing the center position. Jokic is now an MVP and three-time All-Star.
6. Giannis Antetokounmpo (15th overall, 2013)
Giannis Antetokounmpo came from humble beginnings in Greece—hoping to play in the NBA someday.
His freakish athleticism and potential made the Bucks roll the dice and draft him. In his rookie season, he struggled as he adjusted to NBA speed.
Over the years, he dramatically improved his game and filled out his frame. Giannis is now an NBA Champion, two-time MVP, five-time All-Star, and one-time Defensive Player of the Year.
5. Kawhi Leonard (15th overall, 2011)
Kawhi Leonard was selected 15th overall by the Pacers in the 2011 NBA draft but traded to the Spurs that night.
He was a lockdown defender in San Antonio in his early years. Over the years, he improved his offensive game and upped his scoring every year. Kawhi is now a two-time NBA Champion, five-time All-Star, and two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
4. Kobe Bryant (13th overall, 1996)
This trade is one of the biggest NBA draft night trades of all time, and one of the most one-sided.
He then proceeded to become one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. Kobe was a five-time NBA Champion with the Lakers, MVP, and 18-time All-Star.
3. Dennis Rodman (27th overall, 1986)
Dennis Rodman proved that not everything is scoring in basketball. He showed that hustle and heart are what you need to make a major impact on your team.
As we know, he is one of the best rebounders and defenders in NBA history at 6’7″.
Rodman was a five-time NBA Champion, two-time Defensive Player of the Year, and seven-time Rebounding Champion.
2. Tony Parker (28th overall, 2001)
San Antonio had a knack for finding diamond in the rough players.
In 2001, they managed to snag a championship-caliber point guard late in the draft. Tony Parker wasn’t flashy as a player, rather he embraced his role as the leader of San Antonio. Parker was a four-time NBA Champion and six-time All-Star.
1. Manu Ginobili (57th overall, 1999)
Yes, another steal by the Spurs.
But this time, they found one using their 57th pick. Manu Ginobili didn’t play for the Spurs in his first three seasons. Rather, he played in Italy where he honed his skills.
When he came back in the NBA, he greatly exceeded expectations and formed a big three with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Ginobili was a four-time NBA Champion, two-time All-Star, and one-time Sixth Man of the Year.
Ginobili is one of the best value NBA draft picks ever, if not the best.