Holding the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft is great, but finding a diamond can happen anywhere. Just pay attention to the NBA Playoffs. The teams that are thrilling us this spring have rosters featuring draft picks that most franchises missed on. They didn't all look like Zion Williamson. Actually, none of them did. They weren't that obvious and some weren't even first round selections. There were living outside the United States, hiding in mid-major schools and, in some cases, found via trade.
Bucks - Milwaukee built their team around the most stunning diamond in the rough. By now, we all know that 14 NBA franchises undervalued the Greek Freak, as Giannis Sina Ougko Antetokounmpo is now arguably the best player in the NBA. It's easy to see how he slipped through the cracks, having started playing the game in Greece just six years before getting drafted. The Bucks didn't miss him, though they've also teamed him with more talent that was once undervalued on draft day.
George Hill and Kris Middleton did plenty of damage against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Middleton was a second round pick by the Pistons, while Hill was the 26th overall pick out of little IUPUI. The Savvy Spurs later turned him into Kawhi Leonard. More on that guy later. The bottom line is this: Brook Lopez is Milwaukee's only player who was drafted in the top-10. Their bench features four former second round selections
Raptors - Toronto doesn't have a single player that was drafted in the top-14. Kawhi Leonard was traded by the Pacers to the Spurs and later to the Raptors, but he was drafted 15th overall in 2011. He just put up the highest scoring average in a playoff series since Michael Jordan and won it with an insane buzzer beater. Playing at San Diego State didn't matter. Stars come from all over and the same goes for role players. The Raptors start two second round guys, a 24th overall pick and a 27th.
Blazers - Did you see CJ McCollum in Game 7 against the Nuggets? There's a 10th overall pick taking over a game (from the same draft as Giannis). Nine teams passed on McCollum. He entered Sunday averaging more than 26 points per game in the Western Conference semifinals. With Portland star Damian Lillard struggling, McCollum put the Blazers on his back to the tune of 37 points and nine rebounds in the series' deciding game.
While Lillard was off in Game 7, he's been All-World in the playoffs. The Blazers found Dame at No. 6 in 2012. That's Weber State and Lehigh University carrying Portland to the Western Conference Finals.
Warriors - You don't build dynasties without hitting on some draft picks. Adding Kevin Durant was huge, but Golden State built their foundation with incredible draft success. Steph Curry was the 7th overall pick in 2009 out of Davidson. Klay Thompson went 11th out of Washington State in 2011. Draymond Green was a 2nd rounder (No. 35 overall) and a pick the Warriors got from the Nets.
Together that's a combined 50 times NBA general managers passed on the Warriors original 3. The rest is history.
The Bulls must find their diamonds no matter where the ping pong balls drop, wherever they might be hiding.