The 1985 NBA Draft was memorable for a myriad of reasons. It was the site of the infamous Ewing Conspiracy with the frozen envelope, and it significantly lessened the number of rounds from 10 to 7. Most notably, it was the first year of the Draft Lottery era.

The Draft Lottery, for those who don't know, is the NBA's designated system to determine the order of the draft from picks 1 to 14; picks 1-14 is hence referred to as “the Lottery” The worst teams naturally have the best chances to land the higher lottery picks.

Now, one would expect the best players to go to these bad teams with high picks, but history has taught us that this is not always the case. That same 1985 Draft produced the likes of Joe Dumars, A.C. Green, and the great Arvydas Sabonis outside the lottery. In this piece, we take a look at the greatest players drafted outside the lottery last decade, from the 2010 Draft to the 2019 Draft. Just like the 1985 Draft, this decade was filled with franchise-altering draft steals from outside the lottery. Individual and team accolades are of course primarily taken into account, with some subjective consideration given to current ability.

Let's have a look at the players who proved to be way better than their draft pick.

10) Tobias Harris

Career Averages: 15.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists

The Philadelphia 76ers' Tobias Harris secured the bag last year after he penned a 5-year, US$ 150 million contract. It is considered as one of the worst contracts in the league going into this season. Nevertheless, Harris has certainly exceeded his initial expectations after he was drafted 19th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, below the likes of Iman Shumpert and Jan Vesely.

He has developed into a much-better player than both; he is now an above-average sharpshooting combo forward. Tobias has looked like a borderline All-Star at times; he was considered an All-Star snub in the 2018-19 season while playing for Doc Rivers' Los Angeles Clippers, wherein he averaged 20.9 points a game.

This 10th spot was up for grabs for either Tobias Harris and Montrezl Harrell; the new Laker has his 6th Man of the Year award, but Harris has just been better for a much longer period of time. He takes the last spot for us.

This obviously wouldn't be the last appearance of the 2011 NBA Draft in this list; such is the talent in its books. Any guesses for which one/s will be appearing in this list?

9) Nikola Vucevic

Career Averages: 16.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists

With admittedly sparse competition, Nikola Vučević is certainly the best basketball player to come out of Montenegro. The center was also significant draft steal from the loaded 2011 NBA Draft, like the aforementioned Harris. Vooch, however, has one glaring advantage over Harris: the European big man has one All-Star appearance under his belt to the latter's none.

The perennially underrated Vučević has been a formidable offensive weapon for the Orlando Magic ever since he was traded to them by the Sixers after just one year of service. He is a great inside presence, as well as a consistent threat from the outside; this unique skill for a big man helped him establish a name for himself in the league.

He is currently averaging 16.1 points and 10.7 boards for career, with his scoring generally improving year after year. He had his best scoring season (and best season in general) in the 2018-19 season, wherein he put up almost 21 points and 12 rebounds a game, earning an All-Star berth in the process.

His expansive and versatile game should improve and hold up in the coming years; let's hope that the Orlando Magic follow suit, for both of their sakes.

8) Khris Middleton

Career Averages: 16.3 points, 4.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds

What a couple of years Khris Middleton has just had. He is one of the NBA's most inspiring stories, although his isn't the only one on this list. He has recently received a considerable amount of flack recently, mostly about how he's not a good-enough second option for a Championship contender like the Milwaukee Bucks.

That might be rooted in some truth; nevertheless, he has undoubtedly had one of the greatest come-ups in recent history. The former 39th pick used to be a D-League regular with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, while he was still with the Detroit Pistons. Since coming to Milwaukee, however, Middleton has steadily improved his craft as a 3-and-D player, to the point that he was averaging more than 20 points a game.

He is now a 2-time All-Star and the second-best player in two historically-good Milwaukee Bucks team. Most pertinently, he proved to be a massive draft steal, albeit not for the team that drafted him.

7) Draymond Green

Career Averages: 9.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists

The thing about Draymond Green is that he's always had things go against him, but he's always found a way to win regardless.

The undersized power forward has always found a way to be successful and elevate his team. He served as his team's best defender, as well as their main playmaker. However, even with his successful collegiate career, he fell to the 35th pick of the 2012 Draft; scouts simply turned their nose up at his lack of physical upside and offensive limitations.

Golden State, however, saw the value of his unique intangibles: his playmaking ability, defensive I.Q., and most importantly, his on-court leadership. This low-risk draft pick saw the Warriors reap high rewards in a perfect foil and ideal compliment for the Splash Brothers, as well as a valuable piece of a formidable dynasty.

Certainly, Draymond isn't the most talented player to come out of the 2012 Draft. Nevertheless, no one has amassed a more glittering CV than the Golden State Warrior. As of now, he is a 3x NBA Champion, 1x Defensive Player of the Year, 1x steals champion, 3x All-Star, 2x All-NBA selection, and a 5x All-Defensive selection. Not bad for a “low-risk, low-reward” type of player.

6) Rudy Gobert

Career Averages: 11.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists

The French center finally got the elusive All-Star appearance last season after pining for it in the past few years. The Utah Jazz pulled off an absolute coup in drafting Gobert in the relatively underwhelming 2013 Draft. Like another certain European player drafted in 2013, he was deemed a “project player”; he had great physical tools, but limited offensive ability.

Even then, however, scouts took note of Gobert's good defensive timing. They probably didn't count on him eventually being arguably the league's best rim defender, though. Aside from his 1x All-Star appearance, Gobert is a 2x Defensive Player of the Year, 1x blocking champion, 3x All-NBA selection, and 4x All-Defensive selection.

The Stifle Tower has bested most of the players drafted above him, and is currently one of the best bigs in the league. He has massively improved his offensive capabilities as well as his formidable defensive prowess. Shame about the whole COVID-19 fiasco with teammate Donovan Mitchell last season, however.

5) Pascal Siakam

NBA, Pascal Siakam, Raptors, NBA Bubble

Career Averages: 12.8 points, 5.6 assists, 2.3 rebounds

The Toronto Raptors roster is filled to the brim with come-up stories. Fred VanVleet, who just got the bag this past November, went from an undrafted, undersized combo guard to a massive piece of the Raptor’s Championship run. Kyle Lowry was a bench player for about 6 seasons prior to becoming the 6-time All-Star and the Championship point guard by which we’ve come to know him.

Even coach Nick Nurse was an assistant coach before going on to win the Coach of the Year award and the NBA Championship. Paskal Siakam, meanwhile, became one of the best power forwards in the league today, from being an average role player drafted 27th overall in 2016.

Spicy P has truly come into his own since his Most Improved Player season in 2018-19. The Cameroonian has established himself as the Raptors’ number one option last season, leading the team in scoring with 22.9 points. This earned Siakam an All-Star starter berth, as well as an All-NBA selection. He’s proven himself capable of being the best player of a Championship-contending team.

A lot of questions were asked of Siakam’s ability after a disappointing showing against the Boston Celtics in the Playoffs this past season. He’s still a young player, however; there is a lot of time for Siakam to improve on his versatility and outside shooting. He is still one of the best players to be drafted outside the lottery this past decade, and one of its best draft steals to boot.

4) Jimmy Butler

Career Averages: 17.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists

There was never any doubt that Jimmy Butler is one of the best draft steals we’ve ever seen: the 5x All-Star, 3x All-NBA selection, 4x All-Defensive selection, and former Most Improved Selection was plucked out of the sensational 2011 Draft with the 30th pick. Last season just did absolute wonders for his reputation and stock.

Wherever Jimmy G. Buckets goes, he makes his team better. Butler was the Chicago Bulls’ best player the last time that the franchise was relevant; the Timberwolves reached the Playoffs for the first time in 14 years in Butler’s first season in Minnesota; the Sixers had a real chance of reaching the ECF with Butler as their closer, if not for Kawhi Leonard’s ridiculous buzzer beater. However, he was surrounded with drama and controversy in all three of his former teams; he was labelled a “bad teammate” who was too hard in his teammates. He dispelled all these allegations last season when he and his unlikely Miami Heat reached the NBA finals at the expense of the historically-good Milwaukee Bucks.

Butler is now being rightfully recognized as the natural leader and relentless winner that he is. This mentality has helped Butler to overcome all the obstacles that he’s had to face all throughout his career, and even before that. He is truly one of the league’s best underdog stories.

3) Nikola Jokić

Career Averages: 17.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists

You’ve got to commend the Denver Nuggets’ front office. They have admittedly had a few stinkers this past decade, most notably trading both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert to the Utah Jazz in their respective Draft nights. Otherwise, they’ve done an exceptional job in bouncing back from the Andre Iguodala disaster, as well as the end of the Carmelo Anthony era. Their moves have been mostly flawless, resulting in a roster truly capable of challenging for the title. None of these moves eptomize the front office’s excellence more than Nikola Jokić.

The Joker was drafted by the Nuggets in 2014 with the 41st overall pick, as a draft-and-stash prospect. A good number of these prospects never make it in the league, but Jokić blew all expectations out of the water, and more. When the time came, the Nuggets chose to keep him at the expense of another talented European big man in Jusuf Nurkić. Jokic has since developed into arguably the best center in the NBA, and undoubtedly the best passing big-man in league history.

The 2x All-Star and 2x All-NBA selection is undoubtedly one of the greatest draft steals in league history; he easily walks into this list.

2) Kawhi Leonard

Career Averages: 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists

The top two of this list, remarkably, are arguably the two best players to get drafted in the past decade. Funny how the Draft works.

Kawhi Leonard is a proven winner. Don’t let the events of last season fool you; the man is still a 2x NBA Champion and 2x Finals MVP. He is  still arguably the greatest 2-way player in the league today; it would either be him or number 1 on this list, anyway.

The Klaw is an offensive and defensive machine; a far cry from a defensive stopper with limited offensive ability. He’s improved on his finishing on the rim, automatic from the midrange, and a borderline elite three-point shooter. Defensively, he can guard the 1-4 effectively, and keep the opposing team’s best perimeter player at bay.

Aside from his rings and Finals MVP awards, he is also a former steals champion, 2x Defensive Player of the Year, 4x All-Star, 4x All-NBA team selection, and a 4x All- Defensive team selection.

The man was perceived to be the best player in the league just more than a year ago, even better than one LeBron James. While the events of the past season proved otherwise, the Klaw remains to be at least a top 5 player in the league. Certainly, he is one of the best draft steals in NBA history; he is also undoubtedly the best player to have come out of the extremely loaded 2011 NBA Draft. The Indiana Pacers would be commended on their selection of Leonard with the 15th pick, had they not traded him to the San Antonio Spurs that fateful night.

1) Giannis Antetokounmpo

Career Averages: 20.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists

The Greek Freak tops yet “Best Players” list.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is a generational talent. He is on a trajectory to have a historically-good career. In fact, he’s already stamped his mark on basketball history: he’s just had the best statistical season in NBA history in terms of PER. Keep in mind that Wilt Chamberlain himself used to hold the top two spots on that list.

Like Kawhi Leonard, Antetokounmpo is one of the best 2-way players in the league. Offensively, he is borderline unstoppable in transition and at the rim. Defensively, he can guard the 1-5 positions well; he can defend the perimeter as well as the rim.

He has the silverware to prove these, too: he’s just won the Defensive Player of the Year award last season. Not to mention that he’s just won his second consecutive MVP award that same season. No biggie.

Along with these, he is also a former Most Improved Player, 4x All-Star, 4x All-NBA selection, and 3x All-Defensive selection.

All these at just 26 years old. He was dubbed as yet another project player when he was drafted, like so many European talents in the league; what a successful project Giannis turned out to be. From a kid selling trinkets in the streets of Athens, Greece to being the potential face of the NBA.

The 2013 Draft is notorious for its numerable draft busts. Indeed, it produced arguably the biggest draft bust of all time in the form of Anthony Bennett. To think that it also produced arguably the best player drafted in the 2010s; you never really know with the NBA Draft. Giannis, Kawhi, and all the other players in this list really break the idea of the draft lottery, in that they tend to turn out better than those selected in the top 15. Especially in the case of the Greek Freak; no one in the 2013 lottery even comes close to the man’s greatness.