Landing a top-tier prospect in the NBA Draft is by all means no easy thing to do, as more often than not, predictions tend to fall short of what was expected out of the young prospects, while other times, players tend to outplay their Draft stock.
Naturally, that means scouting takes a major part of a rebuilding team’s success, as General Managers need to make the most of every single chance they get at landing a future superstar or marquee player.
While some Drafts haven’t exactly been loaded with talent, there’s always a player that stands out from the pack, and today, we’re going to let you know about the best player from each of the last 10 year’s Draft.
2009 NBA Draft – Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry wasn’t even considered as a highly-ranked prospect during his high school days and didn’t even make it to a big program in college. Still, he took the NCAA for assault at Davidson en route to being drafted with the 7th overall pick by the Warriors.
Fast forward all this year, and Steph has become a two-time league MVP, 3-time NBA Champion with 5 straight trips to the Finals. He’s a member of the exclusive 50-40-90 club, and it’s considered to be the greatest three-point shooter in the history of the game.
2010 NBA Draft – Paul George
Paul George is yet another success story after not being considered the best player in his class. Back in 2010, he was taken 10th overall out of Fresno State, and while he’s a part of the same class as John Wall, Gordon Hayward, and DeMarcus Cousins, he truly stepped forward.
George is playing the best basketball of his career and he’s one of the top-3 candidates for both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year award after overcoming a career-threatening injury, and he’s a lock to make it to the Hall of Fame one day.
2011 NBA Draft – Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard is the ultimate sleeper. Even Gregg Popovich was scared about taking a gamble on him when he first traded George Hill away to the Indiana Pacers for a defensive-minded small forward with no shooting stroke whatsoever out of San Diego State.
Kawhi went from being a terrible shooter to one of the deadliest scorers in the league, as well as a perennial candidate to win both the Defensive Player of the Year and the MVP. He’s already an NBA Champion and led the Raptors to their first NBA Finals in franchise history.
2012 NBA Draft – Anthony Davis
Earlier in his career, there were a lot of concerns about Anthony Davis’ health and durability. Several seasons later, it’s safe to say that he was worthy of the 1st overall pick out of the University of Kentucky.
Davis is one of the best two-way players in the league, a shot-blocking machine, and a guy whose post moves and ball-handling ability make him almost unstoppable. He’s been having MVP-caliber seasons for years, but the fact that he plays for the Pelicans has left him behind in the race.
2013 NBA Draft – Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Milwaukee Bucks were the league’s laughing stock back in 2013 when they drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo out of Greece with the 15th overall pick, as everybody saw him as a borderline 2nd round pick, at best.
Now, Giannis has improved on a yearly basis in pretty much every single aspect of his game and is the main frontrunner to take the MVP home after leading the Bucks to their best season in a very long time.
2014 NBA Draft – Joel Embiid
Throughout most of his NCAA tenure, Joel Embiid was considered to be the best prospect in the world, but his injury woes caused his Draft stock to slip to the 3rd spot. Now, the Cavaliers and Bucks may be regretting to have taken Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker ahead of him.
Embiid’s durability is always going to be a concern, but there’s no denying in his incredible talent in both ends of the floor. He’s a dominant defender both in the perimeter and below the rim, let alone his scoring ability. He’s going to be the league’s DPOY in no time.
2015 NBA Draft – Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns eventually outplayed both D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor during his spell with the University of Kentucky en route to becoming the consensus 1st overall pick, and he hasn’t let the Timberwolves down ever since.
Perhaps he’s still in debt regarding his character and desire to win, but he’s a walking double-double and one of the best scoring big men in the league. He needs to translate that into playoff success, though.
2016 NBA Draft – Ben Simmons
Coming out of LSU as the 1st overall pick, Ben Simmons has never been aside of controversy. First, it was his health that raised a lot of eyebrows, then it was whether he should’ve been considered a rookie or not, and lastly, it was his lack of a jump shot.
Either way, Ben Simmons looks like a once-in-a-lifetime kind of talent. He’s one of the best passers and playmakers in the world, and his length allows him to guard all 5 spots in the court. He hasn’t even scratched the surface of his potential yet, and that’s scary.
2017 NBA Draft – Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell was a huge steal in the 2017 NBA Draft. Coming out of Louisville as a sophomore, nobody thought he was bound to make such a huge impact for the Utah Jazz right out of the gate.
Other than his scoring and playmaking, Mitchell impressed by his character. He really stepped up as the leader of the Jazz, and it’s clear that, now on, they need to build their team around him, as he’s got the potential to lead the league in scoring one day.
2018 NBA Draft – Luka Doncic
And finally, Luka Doncic should be considered this prior class’ best player, even though Luka Doncic and Jaren Jackson Jr were also quite prolific. Coming out of Real Madrid, somehow he slipped all the way to the 3rd spot in the Draft.
Doncic can do a little bit of everything. He wasn’t afraid of the moment and could put defenders on skates, create for others, and score in a huge variety of ways. It’s still pretty early, but he looks like the Dirk Nowitzki successor the Mavericks were looking for.