5 players the Rockets passed on drafting who later became stars

LA Clippers Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LA Clippers Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Kyle Korver (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

2. Kyle Korver

The 2003 NBA Draft was arguably one of the best ever, as it was littered with future Hall of Famers, including LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. But there’s another player who was selected in that draft who will likely also make it to the Hall of Fame: Kyle Korver.

Korver had a wildly successful career at Creighton, which includes four consecutive seasons of shooting at least 43 percent from 3-point range. Korver made 45.2 percent of his triples as a sophomore, which ranked 12th nationally. Korver won the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year as a junior, as he averaged 15.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.6 steals, which were all team-highs.

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During Korver’s senior year, he improved upon his scoring and rebounding numbers, as he averaged 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds, en route to winning the Conference Player of the Year yet again. All in all, Korver made the sixth-most 3-pointers in NCAA history over the course of his tenure at Creighton, which should have made him a hot commodity in the NBA Draft right? Wrong.

Before Korver became one of the greatest 3-point shooters in NBA history, he was passed on by virtually every team, including the Houston Rockets. The Rockets had the 44th pick in the second round, and used it to select Senegalese center Malick Badiane, when Kyle Korver was still on the board.

Korver went to the New Jersey Nets with the 51st pick, which was a steal for a 6-foot-7 forward who has the ability to shoot like him. But the Nets also didn’t realize what they had, as they traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers for $125,000, which was enough money to pay their entry fee for the Summer League and to buy a copy machine. Korver later found out that the copy machine no longer works, which goes to show how much of a miss it was on their part.

Korver became an All-Star during the 2014-15 season, and has turned himself into one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, as he currently ranks fourth all-time. The only three people ahead of him on that list are Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, and Stephen Curry.

He’s also a career 42.9 percent shooter, which is tenth all-time in league history. At 39 years of age, Korver is showing no signs of slowing down, as he’s made 41.5 percent of his treys this season with the Milwaukee Bucks. This ranks ninth in the league, which is beyond impressive, considering how Korver is in his 17th year in the league.

On the flip side, the Houston Rockets never got any playing time out of Malick Badiane, which makes it hurt even more that they could’ve had Korver. The California native would’ve been an incredible fit in the 3-point heavy offensive system the Rockets have been known to utilize, dating back to the early 90s.

Badiane ultimately never stepped foot on an NBA arena, much like Sergio Llull, who the Rockets are reportedly still pursuing.

Next: No. 1