Here’s a look at some of the players making their mark in this year’s Finals, who weren’t considered household names in their respective draft years.
Tony Parker, 2001 (1st round, 28th overall)
Several teams were intrigued with Parker’s potential, but felt he was years away from contributing. As a rookie, Parker quickly supplanted Antonio Daniels as the Spurs’ starting point guard. In 2003, he won a championship.
Manu Ginobili, 1999 (2nd round, 57th overall)
San Antonio general manager R.C. Buford was the first from the Spurs to see Ginobili play in 1997 when Ginobili, then 19, was in Puerto Rico playing for the Argentine 22-and under team. A year later Ginobili was playing on the Argentine national team and in the Italian pro league. When the 1999 draft came around, the Spurs, with the second to last pick (57th) grabbed Ginobili with the idea of allowing him to develop overseas. Two years later, Ginobili was one of the biggest stars in Europe. Today, he’s one of the NBA’s most versatile players.
Beno Udrih, 2004 (1st round, 28th overall)
Ginobili was the steal of the 1999 NBA Draft.
He was viewed as a possible second round pick prior to the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp in 2004. He left as perhaps the camp’s most intriguing prospect, and the Spurs didn’t hesitate at the end of the first round. Udrih has had a very solid rookie season.
Tayshaun Prince, 2002 (1st round, 23rd overall)
Prince was seen as a borderline first-round pick in 2002, with the major concern being his thin frame. Joe Dumars loved his versatility and toughness. After getting spot minutes as a rookie before the 2003 playoffs, Prince became a starter the following season and hasn’t looked back.
Elden Campbell, 1990 (1st round, 27th overall)
Though his best days are clearly behind him, Campbell has had a very solid career for a player many teams passed on in 1990, before Jerry West rescued him at the end of the first round.
Nazr Mohammed, 1998 (1st round, 29th overall)
Most felt Mohammed jumped the gun, entering the draft following his junior season, and it showed his first few seasons in the league. He’s since developed into a more than adequate NBA big man, and has given the Spurs a big lift in 2005.
The Undrafted File
Bruce Bowen, 1993 – Arguably the NBA’s best perimeter defender
Ben Wallace, 1996 – Perennial All-Star and All-Defensive performer
Darvin Ham, 1996 – Solid role-playing veteran
Carlos Arroyo, 2001 – Starter in Utah before joining the Pistons in 2005
Devin Brown, 2002 – Instant offense off the bench for the Spurs
Ronald Dupree, 2003 – Versatile defender with a great work ethic