Washington Wizards: 15 greatest draft steals in franchise history

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /
12 of 16
Earl Monroe, Washington Bullets
Earl Monroe, Washington Bullets. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images) /
  • Five seasons w/Bullets (1967-71)
  • Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (Class of 1990)
  • No. 10 jersey retired by Wizards organization
  • NBA’s 50th Anniversary Team
  • All-NBA First Team (1968-69)
  • 2x NBA All-Star w/Bullets (1968-69, 1970-71)

Earl Monroe is the first of a few Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame players on this all-time list. He made his name starring at the 2-guard for the Baltimore Bullets initially, before really coming into his own as a member of the New York Knicks in the 1970s.

Monroe was drafted No. 2 overall in the 1967 NBA Draft out of Winston-Salem State. Even though the talent was obvious, playing at a small HBCU school could have had other organizations skeptical about taking an off-ball shooting guard that high. But not the Bullets organization.

Monroe came onto the scene in the NBA guns a-blazing, as he averaged 24.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game as a rookie in 1966-67. He was a no-doubt All-Rookie First Team member, as Monroe ran away with NBA Rookie of the Year nod.

He followed up that incredible first season with the Bullets with his first of four NBA All-Star nods in 1967-68. Monroe averaged career-bests in points per game with 25.8 and rebounds per game with 4.9. This would be his only All-NBA designation of his career, coming First Team variety.

After missing out on the All-Star Game in 1969-70, Monroe earned his second career nod, as the Bullets made it all the way to the 1971 NBA Finals. However, three games into the 1971-72 NBA season, Monroe would be traded to the New York Knicks, where he would play out the rest of his illustrious NBA career. Monroe made two more All-Star Games and won the 1973 NBA Championship while in the Big Apple.

Overall, Monroe averaged 23.7 points, 4.6 assists and 3.7 rebounds in his four years and change with the Bullets. Given that he’s better known for forming an elite backcourt tandem with Walt Frazier in New York, it docks him a bit on this all-time list, not to mention he spent the bulk of his hall of fame career with the Knicks. That being said, the Bullets got great value out of Monroe anyway during his first four years in the league.