Let’s be honest, not every single draft pick by an NBA team is going to work out. In fact, only a small fraction of the players drafted in the first round go on to become champions, all-stars, and all-pros. This is why taking an amazing player late is so difficult. Some of the best NBA Draft steals in history have even become franchise players. However, what is considered an NBA Draft steal? For us, the criteria for this is quite simple. Could a player have been taken higher if we did their draft over again? Would Pick #40 be the #5 Pick if we went back, knowing what we do? More importantly, did a player go far too late?
For our personal criteria, we wanted to make sure we put a list together that exposed the best steals in history. Some at the time made sense to go higher but if we did things over, they may still not move up much. For example, Michael Jordan was still drafted #3 overall but the #1 overall pick that same draft was Hakeem Olajuwon. It’s hard to say MJ needed to go over him. This is why our Draft Steal criteria will be based on picks that were taken outside the Top 10. That means those drafted anywhere in that sector will not count, even if they could have gone a bit earlier. With that said, we hope you enjoy our list of the 50 greatest NBA Draft steals in history.
40. Hassan Whiteside (Drafted 32nd Overall In 2010)
Most did not have faith in Hassan Whiteside. He was thought to have some talent but not enough, which resulted in Sacramento, the team that drafted him, to send him down to the D-League. They ended up letting him go and Miami took him on by 2012. He’d put up a respectable 11 points per game.
The following year, Whiteside exploded and has been a stud in the NBA ever since. He led the entire NBA in blocks in 2016 then led the NBA in rebounds in 2017! He now averages around 16 points, just over 11 rebounds, and around 2 blocks per game. Whiteside is the epitome of an NBA Draft steal, sadly the Kings did not benefit from it.