7. Rashard Lewis – Selected 32nd overall by the Seattle Supersonics in the second round of the 1998 NBA Draft – Similar to Ellis, Lewis was another player who skipped college, and opted for the NBA straight out of high school. Despite being one of the 15 players invited to sit in the Green Room (where 15 of the draft’s top prospects are invited to sit at the draft on draft night), Lewis was not selected until the second round by the Seattle Sonics. Since being snubbed by his hometown Houston Rockets three times during the first round that night, Lewis has gone on to enjoy a more than successful NBA career, even landing a massive $118 million contract with the Orlando Magic in the summer of 2007, after spending nine seasons with the Sonics. Known for his size, versatility and sweet shooting stroke, Lewis became one of the premiere snipers in the league, and during his last season in Seattle, he posted a career high 22.8 PPG. However, after three and a half seasons with the Magic, Lewis’ play didn’t seem to merit his hefty contract and he was consequently traded to the Washington Wizards for Gilbert Arenas midway through the 2010-11 season. He battled injuries for the majority of the 2011 season, only suiting up for 57 games and putting up his lowest scoring average (11.7 PPG) since his second year in the league, when he put up 8.2 PPG in 19.2 MPG. Lewis definitely still has a few years left in the tank, and by no means is completely washed up. He may not be the deadly scoring threat that he once was, but if he can bounce back from his injury plagued season, he will surely be a great veteran piece for the very young Wizards (and one day, a massive expiring contract corpse).
6. Michael Redd – Selected 43rd overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the 2000 NBA Draft – Michael Redd’s second round selection by the Bucks probably didn’t seem like much at the time, but 11 years later, he may have been the best player of arguably the worst draft class in NBA history. (The top five picks of that draft were: Kenyon Martin, Stromile Swift, Darius Miles, Marcus Fizer and Mike Miller.) Injuries to his knees have certainly derailed his career, but having spent his entire 10-year career with the Bucks, Redd was an extremely formidable scoring threat for a few years – posting averages of 25.4 and 26.7 PPG from 2005-2007. He’s long gone in terms of his presence as an all-star, but for someone who seemed fairly irrelevant at the time of his drafting, Redd’s gone on to have a very strong NBA career.
5. Stephen Jackson – Selected 42nd overall by the Phoenix Suns in the second round of the 1997 NBA Draft – While he’s probably going to be remembered for his very enigmatic personality, unique choice of tattoos and of course, his role in the Malice at the Palace, Stephen Jackson has become a very special player since being selected by the Phoenix Suns after playing at Butler County Community College. He’s been a classic journeyman since entering the NBA in 2000 (While he was drafted by the Suns in 1997, he didn’t see his first NBA action until signing with the New Jersey Nets prior to the 2000-01 season.), having suited up for the Nets, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Bobcats over the course of his 10-year NBA career. He won an NBA title in 2003 with the Spurs, for whom he averaged 11.8 points in 28.2 minutes per game. But it wasn’t until he signed with Atlanta the following offseason that his career began to take off. Since then, he has averaged at least 15.5 PPG each season, and even posted two years of over 20 PPG. He’s never been the most efficient scorer, the most mentally stable or the best defender, but as a competitor and an offensive threat, Stephen Jackson has found his place in the NBA.
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