The NBA Draft never turns out the way teams expect it to. There are a lot of duds and surprises despite months (sometimes years) of scouting.
Sometimes, though, a team happens to find a diamond in the ruff, that is, an MVP caliber player picked outside the Top 10. On two occasions, a future MVP was picked as low as 15th — Steve Nash in 1996 by the Suns and Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2013 by the Bucks. To this day they are the two lowest picked players ever who went on to win the award.
While both of Nash’s MVP win are some of the most controversial of All-Time, it’s not hard to see why he ended up winning them back-to-back in 2005 and 2006. For Nash, it wasn’t about the numbers. He was averaging just 15.5 points and 11.5 assists that year. It was his overall impact on the team that earned him recognition.
He was the driver behind the beast that was the Phoenix Suns’ offense and helped lead his team to the best record in the West at 59-23. The following year was much of the same, as Nash continued to do his thing, except, this time without Amare Stoudemire (who was injured for most of the season).
He averaged 18.8 points and 10.5 assists as he went on to win his second-straight MVP.
We wouldn’t see another 15th pick win an MVP until Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2019. Unlike Nash, there was no controversy surrounding his win. Giannis was insanely dominant last season, averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game.
He led the Bucks to the best record in the NBA at 60-22 using power, strength, and sheer force that was impossible for defenders to stop. Interestingly enough, he (like Nash) might also go on to win it for a second-straight season as both he and his team are faring even better than they did last year.
When people think of MVP caliber prospects, they are guys that are well known and highly sought-after. They are picked within the Top 10, at least. Nobody expects a future MVP to fall as low as 15th in a Draft.
It seems Giannis and Nash are the exceptions. And, despite having completely opposite skillsets, they seem to have a lot more in common than one might think.