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Non tutti i giocatori NBA sono nati superstar. Questa è la storia di quelli che 'ce l'hanno fatta'

Underdrafted Non tutti i giocatori NBA sono nati superstar. Questa è la storia di quelli che 'ce l'hanno fatta'

In the American sports culture the concept of underdog, who against all odds manages to succeed, has always had a huge impact. Everyone knows that Americans love nice redeem stories, often portrayed in movies. For example, if you haven't seen Hoosiers with Gene Hackmand and Dennis Hopper (who received a nomination at the Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role) which tells the story - true by the way - of the small and unlikely Milan High School which in 1954 won the title in Indiana, do it now! 

American sporting history, and consequently NBA's history, is filled with sensetional upsets. It's impossible to forget the Denver Nuggets, who in 1994 got to the playoffs with the last spot available and overcame at the first round (back then still best out of 5 games) Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp's impressive Seattle Supersonics (they won the Western Conference with the insane record 63-19). Leading 2-0 in the series, the Sonics, convinced to have dismissed the file lost, 3 games in a row and were eliminated prematurely. 

The world is slowing going back to its order after “The Decision Part. III”, thus after LeBron James's arrival at LA for the Lakers. The biggest decisions were taken (we're waiting for the other big name who's about to change team, Kawhi Leonard), so we can put our energies somewhere else while the NBA dance continues. Ten days ago, June 21st at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, there was the NBA Draft 2018 (last edition to follow the rules in force since 1985, because from next year the three worst teams will have less possibilities when it comes to choose, basically the tanking will be significantly less beneficial.  

If you follow the NBA you already know for example that the Phoenix Suns picked DeAndre Ayton, Arizona State central and we'll also have the chance to see how the Euroleague and Final Four MVP Luka Doncic will adapt to Us basketball with the Dallas Mavericks jersey. We like underdogs too and inspired by the draft, we dove in the world of the underdrafted, players who weren't in the first positions or weren't picked at all, but managed to go against all odds reaching the highest level. 


Isaiah Thomas

175 cm, picked at the second round by the Sacramento Kings. After three years in Sacramento (bad) he heads to Phoenix (very bad) to finally land in Boston. Here there's the boom, he becomes the real reference point of the team. Two years as an All-Star, then the tragic death of his 22 yo sister the night before Game 1 of 2017 playoffs against the Bulls. During the tribute minute for his sister he was crying his eyes out, but during the game he scored 33 points. Then the trade that brought him first to Cleveland with LeBron (let's just say that there wasn't the spark between them), and now Los Angeles, where he's unlikely to stay. Good luck Isaiah, you deserve it. 


Jimmy Butler

Picked at the 30th by the Bulls in 2011 after a not exactly impressive career in Marquette, he was considered a good player, but never an All-Star. He won the title of 'best improved' player of the league in 2015 and he was an All-Star for four years in a row, from 2015 to 2018. Fun fact: at 13 years old, Jimmy was kicked out of his house by his mother, the father had been gone for a long time, because to quote her "I don't want to see your ugly face again." Not everything was easy for him, to say the least. 


Jeremy Lin

Let's start by saying that Jeremy Lin would deserve a book just about him (there's a documentary about him, LINSANITY, presented at 2013 Sundance Film Festival). Taiwanese graduated at Harvard, he was not picked by any team during the draft, he signed a contract with the Golden State Warriors where he actually never played. Two year after he ends up with the Knicks and for five games in a row he scores an average of 20 points and 38 against Kobe's Lakers. Lin was the Knicks 15th player in the season 2011/2012, he sat on the bench really to make up the numbers, and an incredible series of injuries let him play only from March 4th 2012 to the 24th of the same month (the day of the meniscus injury and end of the season for him). He shocked the world with his crazy pick&roll basketball, very Steve Nash style, thanks also to Mike D'Antoni who at the time was head coach in New York. Nobody saw this coming. Like, nobody. 

Unfortunately the Linsanity ends here. Left New York for a deal with the Rockets, he wasn't able to maintain that level. That's too bad, but he deserved a mention. 


Hassan Whiteside

After one year in Marshall he got eligible at 2010 Draft, where he was picked by the Sacramento Kings at the 33rd. He played in D-League for 4 years, passed to the Grizzlies, where he was cut twice before ending up in Miami. Here happens the real turning point, a dramatic change: Whiteside becomes one of the best centrals of the league, scoring triples and doubles every night and dominating the NBA almost arrogantly. Good job, Hassan! 


Ben Wallace

He goes for two years to the Cuyahoga Community College, he barely has the marks to enter a real college and moves to Virginia Union. He plays in Division II and in the 1996 draft no NBA team picks Big Ben. He signs a contract with the Washington Wizards as a free-agent, but after a couple of years he is "gifted" to the Magics, that in 2000 give him to the Detroit Pistons. Here things change drastically. Wallace becomes one of the cornerstones of the team who will win the title in 2004 guided by Larry Brown (who has just arrived to Italy to coach Fiat Torino Auxilium). He was an All-Star for four times, four times Defensive Player of the Year and one of the best defensers in the history of the league. 


John Starks

A complicated personality, he was kicked from Roger State for stealing a stereo and was caught smoking pot in the dormitories at Northern Oklahoma. He arrives to Oklahoma State via Tulsa Junior College and in 1998 Golden State gives him a chance, but things don't work. In 1990 he ends up with the Knicks where he gets injuired to the knee, but he can't be released before he's totally recovered, so he stays in New York. After the injury, he's able to go back to coach McLeod's rotations and next year Pat Riley puts him in the quintet as guard. In 1994 he goes to the All Star Game and in 1996/1997 season he's the Sixth Best Man of the Year


Josè Juan Barea


Our J.J. deserves a mention. 183 cm of Puerto Rican "cazzimma", he signs a contract with the Dallas Mavericks in 2006, he ends in the D-League in 2007 for 8 games. In the following years he's able to enter Mavericks' rotations and reaches the highest point of his career. In the 2011 finals, Barea signs 17 points in Game 5 and 15 points in Game 6 against LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh's Miami Heat. Barea is everywhere and will be crucial for the win of Dallas Mavericks. 


Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors deserve a special mention: in the last few years they made some moves that changed completely the balance of the league. Let's start from the beginning. In 2009 at the 7th they picked Stephen Curry, two times MVP, who nobody thought could become what he is now, that's to say one of the best players in the history of NBA. In 2011 at 11th they pick Klay Thompson, technically the best shooter in the league, able to score 60 points in 29 minutes, holding the ball for just 88,4 seconds. 

Not only Curry and Thompson, who in 2014 scored 484 triples combined (NBA record, they hold others but let's not get into that), earning the nickname of "Splash Brothers". There's also the dancing little bear, Draymond Green, picked 35th at 2012 draft, who later became a fundamental element in the quintet that won three titles in four years. Obviously all three have a special place in the All-Star Game and will most surely end up in the Hall of Fame.