6) Jazz Equip an AK-47 (1999)
Although the NBA is now a truly global league, brimming with talent from every corner of the globe, that wasn’t the case in 1999. At that time you could only point to handful of guys, players like Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, Detlef Schrempf and Arvydas Sabonis, as legit foreign-born stars.
So when the Jazz selected a Russian teenager named Andrei Kirilenko with the No. 24 pick in the ’99 draft, it didn’t exactly set the world on fire. However, when Kirilenko finally debuted for the Jazz in 2001, it quickly became apparent that AK-47 was a deadly weapon on the court.
In short order, he established himself as one of the NBA’s elite defenders and most versatile frontcourt playmakers. Over the course of a decade in a Jazz uniform, he averaged 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, nearly three assists, two blocks and 1.4 steals per game.
He also played in an All-Star Game, was a three-time All-Defensive team selection and was the master of the 5×5.
Kirilenko was great in his day, but was also ahead of his time. In the modern NBA, he’d be mentioned in the same breath as Draymond Green and would probably be an MVP candidate.
Next: No. 5