San Antonio Spurs Draft

San Antonio Spurs: 5 Best 12th overall picks in NBA history

Muggsy Bogues - Tyrone Bogues
Muggsy Bogues - Tyrone Bogues / Al Bello/Getty Images
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San Antonio Spurs
Kelly Tripucka - Charlotte Hornets v Washington Bullets / Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Best 12th overall picks in NBA history: #5 - Kelly Tripucka

Kelly Tripucka was selected 12th overall in the 1981 NBA Draft and made an immediate impact upon entering the league. While there are debatably a few other players that could have secured the fifth spot on this list, Tripucka is a bit underrated in my eyes due to his short career and the difficulties he experienced with the Utah Jazz.

Impressively, Tripucka was able to earn a selection as an NBA All-Star in his rookie year in the league with the Detroit Pistons. Granted, he was 22 years old when he entered the league, but such a feat is hard to come by in any rookie. That year, he posted 21.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He also returned as an All-Star two years later in the 1983-'84 season.

Tripucka remains one of those "what if" players in that if it weren't for some unfortunate setbacks, he could have had a much more impactful career. To begin with, he was quite injury-prone and missed a significant chunk of several seasons in his career because of those injuries.

Even when he was healthy, however, Tripucka had a detrimental couple of years that were largely spent riding the Utah Jazz's bench, particularly in his second season with the team. While he more or less returned to form in his first season with the Charlotte Hornets, he was already 29 at the time and quickly saw his numbers drop when he was relegated to the bench only two years later. After opting to play overseas in 1991, he never returned to the league.