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You thought these NBA prospects would be busts. They turned into stars

Boy were you wrong. (Hint: We were, too.)

BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2017 Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

On Thursday, we asked Twitter a question. Following a prompt from Celtics Blog, we wanted to know who your biggest busts were: players you thought for sure were headed for stardom but fell way below your expectations.

Here were your answers.

Friday, though, we asked the reverse. Who were the players you felt were busts that turned in pretty successful NBA careers?

It’s simple: There’s a lull in the NBA. Free agency is all but over, and aside from pending Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony trades, we have a good idea of what the 30 league rosters will look like next season.

So what better way to kill time than to reminisce about past judgment calls we made that were just flat-out wrong. Here were some of the names you threw around:

Kawhi Leonard

When the Spurs sent George Hill to the Pacers for the 15th pick in 2011, most people were confused. Hill was a solid combo guard who gave Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili relief at either back court spot. Why move him for an unproven rookie who, at the time, wasn’t perceived as much more than a perimeter defender?

Today, Kawhi Leonard has an NBA championship and Finals MVP under his belt and has become arguably one of the five best players in the league. He can legitimately defend four of five traditional basketball positions and has developed into an all-world scorer.

Stephen Curry

Curry was rated a 69 in NBA 2K9. He could shoot the lights out when he got hot, but that was about it. Then the injuries came, and he looked nothing like a top-7 pick.

But then Monta Ellis got traded and the Warriors drafted some talent to put alongside their super shooter. Today, Curry is a two-time MVP, a two-time champ and arguably the greatest shooter to ever touch a basketball.


Sure, Isaiah Thomas went dead-last in the 2011 NBA Draft, but given his stature, the odds were already stacked against him. A few years later, the 5’9 guard became one of the best success stories in the NBA, crashing into giant defenders in the paint or making defenses pay from downtown. And he’s the star of a Boston team that had the best record in the Eastern Conference last season.

Gordon Hayward

Hayward was coming off of an exceptional season at Butler, falling just short of winning it all in the National Championship Game. But in a 2010 NBA Draft thought to be loaded with names like John Wall, Evan Turner, DeMarcus Cousins, Wesley Johnson and Derrick Favors — remember, these guys were STUDS in college — Hayward’s name didn’t stand out from the pack.

Today, Hayward is a max player on the Celtics after making the All-Star team with the Jazz last season. He could be the piece that pushes Boston over the hump.

J.J. Redick

At a time when the three-point shot wasn’t nearly as valued as it is now, J.J. Redick was a specialist. He still is, but his savvy approach to the game has endeared him across the league as one the best veterans to have on a roster: case-in-point — the Sixers gave him $23 million next season to hit threes and mentor their young guys.

DeMar DeRozan

DeRozan was somewhat of a raw talent when he entered the NBA in 2009. He was a freak athlete who used that athleticism to his advantage on both ends of the floor. Now, the Raptors’ guard is the best mid-range shooter in the NBA, one of the league’s best finishers and an All-Star starter.

Kevin Love

Kevin Love spent one season at UCLA as a dominant rebounder, outlet passer and post-scorer with decent range. At the NBA level, he’s been a carbon copy.

Anthony Davis

I’m leaving these guys out to dry here, because I’ve got no idea how they thought Anthony Davis wasn’t going to be great. Shoutout to The Brow.

Kemba Walker

Kemba Walker is listed at 6’1. At that height in a league that grows every year, it’s easy to count him out. But Cardiac Kemba’s been everything Charlotte imagined and more. Now, they need to get him some help so they can take the next step.

This guy needs a healing

Just gonna leave this Tim Duncan tweet right there.

Kristaps Porzinigs

When the Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis fourth overall in 2015, Madison Square Garden booed him. But KP turned those boos into cheers by placing second in Rookie of the Year voting then endearing himself as the basketball unicorn ready to take the league by storm.

Hey, even Phil Jackson can get one right ... right?

Devin Booker

Any pause you may have had regarding Devin Booker kindly exited stage left when he hung 70 points on Boston last season.

Klay Thompson

I thought Klay Thompson could shoot it. I had absolutely no idea he could play defense at the level he does now. Mama, there goes that man.