Prior to the start of each NBA season, we see teams prepare for the NBA Draft. As teams with poor performances in the previous year look to rebuild on the back of fresh talent, the NBA Draft is the perfect opportunity to pick a player who may develop into a star.
While there is no guarantee of such an outcome, scouts look at players with the specific lens of what they could contribute to the franchise. While some picks emerge as stars for the franchise, picks can just as easily be busts.
Teams aren't required to keep the players they drafted, nor do players have to stay with the team with that drafted them. Brandon Ingram and D'Angelo Russell are two picks by the LA Lakers, who went on to become All-Stars after they were traded.
In the modern NBA, it is becoming a lot rarer for players to stay with the team that drafted them. It is even rarer to see those players win an NBA championship for that team.
In this article, we look at the top five NBA players who won a championship with the team that drafted them.
#1 Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. With one of the most unique skillsets in the game and an endless bag of moves, Irving immediately established himself as a future star for the Cavaliers.
After winning his Rookie of the Year Award, Irving became a perennial All-Star during his sophomore season in the NBA. However, he did not enjoy the action of the playoffs until the 2014-15 season after the return of LeBron James.
Irving won his only NBA title with the Cavaliers in the 2015-16 season. In one of the greatest comeback performances in NBA Finals history, Irving delivered the shot to end matters.
#2 Kawhi Leonard
With his exceptional wingspan, Leonard immediately emerged as a physical specimen who could dominate on the defensive end. A seven-time All-NBA defensive team and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Leonard's ability to lockdown speaks for itself.
He emerged as an efficient scorer and rebounder for the Spurs early in his career. By his third season, he would also help bring home a championship for the franchise.
Playing against the Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals, Leonard was given the assignment of containing LeBron James. By successfully putting the clamps on LeBron, Kawhi Leonard ensured a win for the Spurs and won his first NBA Finals MVP.