Since being drafted No. 15 in the 2013 draft, Giannis Antetokounmpo has transformed into arguably the NBA’s best player. The 2019 NBA MVP averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per game during that campaign. Players drafted before Giannis, well, not so great in comparison.
So why did a player as dominant as Giannis Antetokounmpo slip to No. 15 in the draft, what teams passed on him and who were the players drafted before Giannis?
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Anthony Bennett
With the first pick in the 2013 draft, the Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett, a freshman power forward from UNLV. Even at the time, this pick came as a bit of a surprise to many. The 6-foot-8, 240-pound was productive in his lone college season, but Bennett would become arguably the biggest draft bust in recent memory.
Bennett was out of the league within four years, as he never averaged more than 5.2 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game. The draft bust has tried to make several comebacks playing overseas and in the NBA G-league. This might be the most wicked of the players picked before Giannis Antetokounmpo story.
2. Orlando Magic – Victor Oladipo
Coming out of college, Oladipo was an athletic guard with a high motor and excellent defensive instincts but raw on the offensive end.
For the three years he spent in Orlando, Oladipo was arguably the Magic’s best player. He averaged nearly 16 points, 4 assists and 4.4 rebounds, Oladipo looked the part of a solid player in the league.
After being sent to Oklahoma City as a part of the Serge Ibaka trade, the former Indiana University guard was sent to the Pacers in return for star Paul George.
Oladipo flourished in Indiana, becoming a star and averaging 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and a league-leading 2.3 steals in 2017-18 and winning the 2018 Most Improved Player Award.
Oladipo suffered a serious leg injury the following campaign. Nonetheless, Oladipo developed into one of the best shooting guards in the NBA.
3. Washington Wizards – Otto Porter
After a strong sophomore season at Georgetown, the Wizards selected the 6-foot-8 small forward in the hopes of finding a second star to pair with young point guard John Wall.
Porter struggled mightily in his first two years, starting only 13 games and not showing much promise on the offensive end.
Porter would develop into a solid complimentary starter on the Wizards, but after five and a half years in Washington, the former Hoya was traded to the Chicago Bulls.
While being compared to a generational talent, this is yet another strange piece of lore in the players picked before Giannis Antetokounmpo story.
4. Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets) – Cody Zeller
Another Indiana Hoosier on this list, Zeller was a dominant, All-American center during his college days. Zeller started his pro career fairly well, averaging 6.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just over 17 minutes per game.
Since then, Zeller has been a solid starting center in the league. Many thought the seven-footer would be a star but instead, Zeller is an above average NBA player and not much more.
5. Phoenix Suns – Alex Len
At 7-foot-1 and 225 pounds coming into the draft, Len’s long frame had scouts salivating. Not to mention 2.1 blocks per game in his sophomore season at Maryland showcasing his defensive instincts, Len, although raw, had the makings of a defensive anchor for the Suns.
That hasn’t exactly worked out. Len is a solid role player in the league, and still possesses elite size, but the former top five pick never really developed into a star.
6. Philadelphia 76ers – Nerlens Noel
The number one player in his class coming out of high school, Noel arrived at the University of Kentucky with high expectations, especially with star Anthony Davis leaving the previous year.
Although he wasn’t Anthony Davis good, Noel was good enough to garner No. 1 selection consideration. Noel was athletic, long and a shot blocking monster. Unfortunately, a torn ACL at the end of his college career made his draft stock fall.
Noel fell to the 76ers at No. 6; though he showed serious potential as a rookie with near 10/8/2/2 splits. It seemed the 76ers had found their defensive anchor. Unfortunately, after fellow big men Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor came to town, Noel was the odd man out and fell out of the rotation.
Noel then spent two injury-filled years with the Dallas Mavericks and is now bouncing around the league a bit.
7. Sacramento Kings – Ben McLemore
McLemore was one of the most hyped up prospects in the 2013 draft class. An incredibly talented freshman out of Kansas, McLemore’s mix of athleticism and knockdown shooting led to the 6-foot-3 guard being compared to the likes of Ray Allen.
Like many others on this list, McLemore failed to live up to expectations. He tends to show promise here and there, but add him to the list of players picked before Giannis Antetokounmpo who are beyond the pale in comparison.
8. Detroit Pistons – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
After lighting up the SEC in his sophomore year at UGA, the Pistons took a flier on the 6-foot-5 guard.
KCP proved by his second season in the league to be a solid scoring (although largely inefficient) option, averaging 12.7 points per game starting all 82 games for the Pistons.
The former UGA guard hovered around that same production during his four years in Detroit and shown enough promise for the Lakers to throw a one year, $18 million dollar contract at Caldwell-Pope.
Caldwell-Pope averaged a career high 13.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game during his first year in LA but since then, KCP’s role has diminished as has his production.
9. Utah Jazz – Trey Burke
Michigan’s Trey Burke was one of the most exciting prospects in the entire class. The point guard won national college player of the year his sophomore season in Ann Arbor.
Burke led the Wolverines to the national title game and it was possible that he could one day the same for the Utah Jazz.
Burke’s rookie year got off to a solid start, as he made the all-rookie first team. However, bad shot selection and inconsistency have been Burke’s biggest detriment. However, he began to get exposed, actually ending out of the NBA for a brief period. Burke is nothing more than a backup point guard that can give you 15 minutes and occasionally showcase the talent that had him so hyped coming out of college.
He’s not bad as some of the other players picked before Giannis Antetokounmpo, but it’s still really bad.
10. Portland Trail Blazers – CJ McCollum
An undersized shooting guard from small school Lehigh University, McCollum was an interesting prospect. Luckily for the Blazers, McCollum is one of the few stars from the 2013 draft class.
Since exploding in his third season and increasing his scoring from 6.8 to 20.8 points per game, McCollum has been one of the best scoring guards in the NBA.
Paired with point guard Damian Lillard, McCollum is a part one of the best backcourts in the NBA.
11. Michael Carter-Williams
One of the oddest players in the 2013 class, Carter-Williams was the Rookie of the Year winner from this draft and early in his career, looked to be a future superstar.
Maybe it was the near quadruple double (22 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds and 9 steals) against the Big-3 era Miami Heat in his NBA debut, but the 6-foot-5 point guard looked like a steal from day one.
MCW ended that season averaging 16.7 points, 6.3 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals, had a few more solid seasons with Philadelphia and Milwaukee. However, since 2016, Carter-Williams role in the league drastically fell off. Hindsight tells us, laughably, how him being one of the players drafted before Giannis was a massive mistake.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder – Steven Adams
Although Adams isn’t a star like Oladipo, McCollum or Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Kiwi big man was one of the best picks of the 2013 draft.
Adams has made a solid impact for the Thunder ever since his second season and in recent years has anchored the OKC defense as one of the toughest and most underrated players in the league.
Adams’ counting stats may not jump off the page, but he is one of the best rebounders in the league and does the dirty work that most players wouldn’t. In a draft class chock full of underperforming players, Adam’s has been a constant bright spot for the team that drafted him.
13. Dallas Mavericks (traded to the Celtics) – Kelly Olynyk
Olynyk was one of college basketball’s biggest breakout stars that year. The seven-footer averaged 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds for the one-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs. Praised for his skill and shooting ability, Olynyk has done just that in his seven years in the league.
The Canadian big man had four solid seasons with the Boston Celtics averaging around 10 points and five rebounds as a top option off the bench. Olynyk’s lack of athleticism makes him a bit of a liability on defense but at the same time, he fits today’s NBA well as a stretch big man that can consistently hit the three ball.
Olynyk is starting to trend as a big man journeyman, though. Not exactly Giannis and yet another strange member of the players drafted before Giannis Antetokounmpo club.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves – Shabazz Muhammad
As one of the best players in his high school class, there was a ton of hype for Muhammad going into college. He slightly underwhelmed in his one year at UCLA but was nonetheless full of athleticism and talent.
Scoring 13.5 points in only his second season, the future looked bright for the former five-star recruit. Unfortunately, that would end up being a career high for Muhammad and like many others on this list, his playing time and production dipped after showing promise early in their careers.
After showing flashes elsewhere, Muhammad ended up in China. Nevertheless, he might end up most remembered as one of the players drafted before Giannis.