#6: Rolando Blackman (1981)
Ro is a Dallas Mavericks favorite who spent his first 11 years in the league with Dallas after being drafted by the team in the 2nd year of the franchise. Blackman was a star at Kansas State University and kept his incredible play alive in the NBA. A 4-time NBA All-Star (all with the Mavericks), Blackman’s #22 is one of only two numbers retired by the Mavs.
Blackman was a great player all-around, but he was an exceptional scorer. Ro scored nearly 20,000 points in his NBA career across 13 seasons. Although he played for 6 different Mavericks playoff teams, it wasn’t until he started playing with the Knicks that he played in his first NBA Finals. Sadly, the Knicks went on to lose to the Rockets in 7 games in his second to last year.
#5: Gordon Hayward (2010)
Of all the current NBA players on the list, Gordon Hayward was the most difficult one to place. Despite only being drafted in 2010, I still feel that Hayward will earn this spot before too long. Much like the case with Kemba Walker at #7, Hayward’s potential is hard to imagine at this young point in his career.
That being said, Hayward has not been without success so far. After being drafted by the Utah Jazz, it has not taken long for people to see that he is the new face of the franchise and a good one at that. The Jazz have not had a lot of success, but Hayward has steadily gotten better each year, this season topping out with averages of 22 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting over 47% from the field. He was selected to his first All-Star game this past season, foreshadowing of what will undoubtedly be many more appearances.
#4: Amar’e Stoudemire (2002)
The next three names were a toss-up and I had to turn to my staff to help me get them in the right order, but after much deliberation, Stoudemire was the odd man out and fell to #4. Of course, this is not to say that Stoudemire’s career was without success. A 6-time NBA All-Star, 4-time All-NBA Second Team, and 1-time All-NBA First Team resumé definitely help to get an idea of how effective Stoudemire was in his career.
After being drafted by the Phoenix Suns right out of high school, Stoudemire went on to be the NBA Rookie of the Year, despite being the only player drafted in the first round straight out of high school. Stoudemire and teammate, Steve Nash took the Suns to the top of the Western Conference, regularly in the top 3 in standings, and one of the most dangerous offensive teams every year. The team could never make it over the hump though and Stoudemire left the NBA without a ring.
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