11. Mookie Blaylock
NBA fans most remember Blaylock for his seven-run with the Atlanta Hawks where he made six straight All-Defensive teams, led the NBA in steals twice, and was an All-Star in 1994. He earned the nickname “The Thief”, and the six-footer was one of the best point guards of the 1990s, who started his career with the then-New Jersey Nets.
The Nets picked him 12th overall in 1989, and he went on to have the second highest value over replacement player (VORP) in his class behind only Hall of Famer Tim Hardaway Sr. Blaylock quickly worked his way into the rotation and was the team’s starting point guard in his second and third NBA seasons.
The Nets struggled in Blaylock’s first two seasons, so they drafted Kenny Anderson second overall in 1991. Anderson backed up Blaylock during his rookie season as the Nets snapped a five-year playoff drought, but he was pushing for playing time in year two. Blaylock became unhappy, so he was traded to the Hawks.
Both were All-Stars in 1994, but did the Nets make the right choice? Blaylock helped the Hawks make seven straight playoff appearances, including four times in the second round. The Nets were knocked out in the first round two straight years before trading Anderson for Kendall Gill in 1996. The Nets certainly gave up on Mookie Blaylock just before he reached his prime.