NBA Draft: Top 30 draft steals in league history

Adam Silver, 2019 NBA Draft. Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Adam Silver, 2019 NBA Draft. Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images /
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Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics
Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) /

These 30 NBA players are the best “steals” in NBA Draft history.

The NBA Draft is a little bit like gambling.

Sure, front offices do a massive amount of work to prepare for the draft, from scouting players, to working them out, talking to their former coaches, reviewing their history and so much more.

But in the end, it all comes down to a little bit of luck.

Sometimes, the No. 1 overall pick doesn’t end up being a great basketball player, while a player selected in the second round can go on to have a robust 10-year NBA career. These players selected later in the draft, but who have great careers are often called “steals.”

While every draft has it’s steal, there are 30 players through NBA history who are all-time draft steals.

30. 84. Scouting Report. Point Guard. Isaiah Thomas. player. Pick Analysis. 60th Pick: 2011

Best NBA Draft steals of all time: Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings

The final player selected in the NBA Draft is infamously known as “Mr. Irrelevant” due to the fact that no team thought he was worth Picks No. 1-59.

Isaiah Thomas became anything, but “irrelevant.” The Sacramento Kings took a flier with the final pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, selecting the undersized (5-foot-9, 185 pounds) point guard out of the University of Washington. The next season, Thomas started over half the games he played and made the NBA’s All Rookie team.

Since his first year, Thomas has bounced around the league, playing for a total of six teams: Sacramento, the Phoenix Suns, the Boston Celtics, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets.

His most notable stretch came with the Celtics, where he made two NBA All-Star appearances and got voted onto the All-NBA Second Team. In the 2016-17 NBA season, he led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals.

While his size and injuries have limited his defensive abilities, Thomas has proved throughout his career to be an offensive weapon. His career 36 percent 3-point shooting and 18.6 points per game have kept him in the league, despite his physical deficiencies.

Being able to find any contributor with the last pick of the draft — much less an NBA All-Star — is a steal. Isaiah Thomas was just that.