Paul Pierce: One of The 5 Greatest Draft Steals Ever? | Wizards Blog Truth About

Paul Pierce: One of The 5 Greatest Draft Steals Ever?

Updated: March 25, 2012

[Pierce showing his bounciness, flexibility in unique pre-Draft workout. Courtesy SI Vault.]

When the Wizards have the 10th pick in the NBA Draft, we get a player like … Jarvis Hayes.

The Celtics? They get an All-Star like Joe Johnson—or even better, a future Hall of Famer like Paul Pierce.

Perhaps it’s the Curse of Les Boulez versus the Luck of the Irish. Either way, Pierce is historically great—and as these charts show, in ways you might not have guessed.

The Facts about ‘The Truth’

For today’s Boston-Washington game, the Wizards will likely ask rookie Chris Singleton to guard Pierce, a player who:

  • Has an NBA championship ring;
  • Has been named to four All-NBA teams; and
  • Is on pace to finish his career among the top 20 scorers of all-time.

You probably knew those things. (Singleton surely does.)

What you might have forgotten: Pierce was never expected to be a Celtic at all.

In the 1998 draft, most experts projected Pierce as a top-three pick. Instead, nine teams passed on the Kansas star to select players like Robert Traylor … Jason Williams … even Larry Hughes.

(And the Celtics hadn’t even planned on Pierce falling to them—they’d honed in on Dirk Nowitzki as their ideal late-lottery steal.)

Putting Pierce in Context

In the past few years, it’s become obvious: Pierce is the greatest player ever drafted at the No. 10 slot, especially in the years since the NBA moved to its lottery format.

By making another All-Star team this year, Pierce also joined a unique club: Players who were taken with the 10th pick (or later) and made at least 10 All-Star teams.

Uniquely, Pierce is one of three NBA players to be a double-digit draft pick who also made as many All-Star teams as his slot. Only Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant have accomplished the feat when drafted later (both at No. 13).

One more stat of note: 562.

That’s how many NBA victories that Pierce already has under his belt, entering today’s game.

The entire Wizards starting lineup today has 392—a respectable 297 from Nene, and a scant 95 from everyone else.

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Dan Diamond
Contributor at TAI