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) /
16 of 16
Gus Johnson, Baltimore Bullets
Gus Johnson, Baltimore Bullets. (Photo by NBA Photos/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Gus Johnson is the third Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame player to crack this all-time list. “Honeycomb” is often overlooked as one of the great players of his era, given that he played for the Bullets while they were in Baltimore, as well as ending his playing career in the ABA with the Indiana Pacers. Yet, he is the greatest draft steal in Bullets/Wizards history.

Johnson was underrecruited out of his native Arkon, Ohio, largely due to being an African-American man in the late 1950s. He opted to play for one of the few schools that offered him a scholarship in the University of Idaho. Johnson was an outstanding player for the Vandals, and has his No. 43 jersey retired by the university.

More from Wizards All-Time Lists

Despite being an elite player for the Vandals, Johnson would fall to the Bullets at No. 10 overall in the second round.

The only player who went ahead of him that had as good of a career as him was Nate Thurmond, who just so happened to be Johnson’s high school teammate at Central High School in Akron. Both would wind up in Springfield after putting together stellar basketball careers.

Johnson would play his first nine professional seasons for the Bullets, being named All-Rookie First Team in 1963-64.

Five times was Johnson an NBA All-Star, all of which coming in Bullets uniform. He was a four-time All-NBA Second Team member and twice named an All-Defensive First Team player towards the end of his Bullets tenure.

In 1972, Johnson would be traded to the Phoenix Suns for a future second-round pick only to be waived less than a year later by his new team. He would win an ABA title with the Pacers before calling it a career professionally at the age of 34.

Related Story. Washington Wizards: 15 greatest scorers of all-time. light

In nine years with the Bullets, Johnson averaged 17.5 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. While he would live to see his No. 25 jersey retired by the Bullets organization, it came in a melancholy manner. He would pass 137 days later due to an inoperable brain tumor in 1987. Nobody wore his No. 25 jersey after his 48th birthday, the day it was retired. Johnson would finally earn Springfield enshrinement posthumously in 2010.