Toronto Raptors all-time draft steal starting 5

Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors / Eric Espada/GettyImages
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Power Forward - P.J. Tucker, No. 35 pick in 2006

P.J. Tucker averaged 16.1 points per game in his final season at the University of Texas, a far cry from the low-scoring defensive specialist he would become in the NBA. That's the path many players have to take, however, going from the No. 1 offensive option at lower levels and finding a way to fit in around better players in the NBA.

The Toronto Raptors took a shot on the inconsistent Tucker, who came into the 2006 NBA Draft with a spotty track record of availability due to both injury and academic eligibility. They drafted Tucker with the 35th overall pick in 2006 and signed him to a two-year deal.

Tucker struggled to make that transition early on, a poor shooter who wanted the ball in his hands but wasn't good enough to justify it. He appeared in 17 games as a rookie, playing 83 total minutes...and then was waived outright by the team.

Thus began the wandering in the wilderness portion of his career, as Tucker spent the next five years playing for seven different teams internationally, playing as the No. 1 offensive option for lower-level teams and eventually earning his way back to the NBA, signing with the Phoenix Suns. It was with the Suns Tucker finally began to embrace the transition of his career from offensive star to a low-usage defensive disruptor.

Tucker developed as a shooter and became one of the league's best defenders. He played 4.5 seasons with the Suns before the Raptors traded for Tucker to bring him back tot he 905. He then bounced around the league as the ideal role player on contending teams, eventually winning a title with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021. Only Tucker and Kyle Lowry remain in the NBA from the 2006 NBA Draft, so although the Raptors didn't benefit from properly identifying Tucker as a longtime NBA player, they get the credit here.