One-Sheet Collections: Best Undrafted NBA Stars

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The One-Sheet Collections idea is a simple concept with infinite possibilities. Take a single nine-pocket sheet and a reasonable $100 budget, and build a nine-card collection with a unifying theme.

Despite there only being two rounds in the modern NBA draft, the list of players who go from undrafted to impact player is still relatively short, and Ben Wallace remains the only undrafted player to earn Hall of Fame induction.

Ahead I’ve highlighted nine players who went from undrafted to NBA prominence, and chosen one card for each of them to build a nine-card collection.

2006-07 Reflections Signature Silver #BB Bruce Bowen ($10)

Bowen averaged 16.3 points during his senior season at Cal State Fullerton, but he went undrafted in the 1993 NBA draft. After spending some time overseas, he bounced around with the Heat, Celtics, 76ers and Heat again before signing with the San Antonio Spurs prior to the 2001-02 season. He went on to earn All-Defensive Team honors eight times, while also playing a key role on three NBA title winners.

Bowen only has one Rookie Card and it’s a low-cost pickup from the 1998-99 Upper Deck set, so I’ve opted instead for an autograph to fill his spot in this collection, which is still very affordable.

2003-04 SP Authentic #188 Udonis Haslem AU RC ($8)

The prototypical undersized college post player, Haslem averaged 16.0 points and 8.3 rebounds during his senior season at the University of Florida. The 6’8″ forward played one season in France before catching on with the Heat and quickly playing his way into a starting role. He won NBA titles in 2006, 2012 and 2013, and he is playing in his 20th NBA season as a de facto assistant coach at the end of the bench in Miami.

As a high-profile college player, Haslem still has 18 different Rookie Cards despite being undrafted. Four feature autographs.

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2001-02 SP Authentic #102 Mike James RC ($5)

Undrafted out of Duquesne in 1998, James got his first NBA opportunity during the 2001-02 season with the Heat. Four years later, he became the first undrafted player in NBA history to average over 20 points per game, tallying 20.3 and 5.8 assists per contest with the Raptors during the 2005-06 season. He played until his age-38 season, suiting up for 11 different teams along the way.

James only has four Rookie Cards, three of which are found in the 2001-02 Upper Deck Flight Team set, while the other is part of the SP Authentic set with a print run of just 1,000.

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1996-97 Z-Force Little Big Men #6 Avery Johnson ($5)

Johnson played for New Mexico Junior College, Cameron University and Southern University before going undrafted in the 1988 draft. The Sonics signed him as a free agent that same offseason, and he bounced around before catching on as the starting point guard alongside David Robinson on the Spurs. He ranked ninth in the NBA in assists during the 1990s (4,584) and he currently sits 41st on the all-time list in that category

Johnson was a popular player during the 1990s and was featured on a handful of different inserts, including the die-cut 1996-97 Z-Force Little Big Men set filled with point guards and headlined by Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury and Gary Payton. 

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1998-99 E-X Century #64 Brad Miller RC ($6)

Miller averaged 17.2 points and 8.9 rebounds during his senior season at Purdue, but went undrafted in the 1998 draft. The 6’11”, 244-pound center caught on with the Hornets as a rookie and quickly developed into a starter, earning a pair of All-Star nods during his time with the Pacers and Kings. He went on to average 11.2 points in 14 NBA seasons.

The 1998-99 E-X Century set has Miller’s only Rookie Card, and it trails only Vince Carter ($12), Dirk Nowitzki ($10), Paul Pierce ($10) and Jason Williams ($8) as the most valuable rookie in the set.

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1991-92 Hoops #406 John Starks RC ($2.50)

Starks averaged 15.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists in his lone major college season at Oklahoma State before going undrafted in the 1988 draft. He got his break with the Knicks during the 1990-91 season and quickly developed into a dynamic sixth man and eventually the first undrafted player to ever earn an All-Star selection during the 1993-94 season. 

Starks has four Rookie Cards that came at the peak of the mass-production era. They can all be scooped up for just a couple bucks.

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2018-19 Panini Prizm #103 Fred VanVleet ($1.50)

A freshman on the upstart Wichita State squad that made a Cinderella run during the 2013 NCAA tournament, VanVleet went on to win Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year as a sophomore and senior, yet he still went undrafted. He caught on with the Raptors as a free agent and has gone from role player to star over the years, averaging 19.1 points per game over the past four seasons. His 54 points against Orlando in 2021 are the most in a single game by an undrafted player.

VanVleet only has one Rookie Card in the 2016-17 Panini National Treasures set, and with a print run of just 99 its value stretches far beyond our $100 budget. Instead, I opted for his first Panini Prizm card, which came in the 2018-19 set.

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2004-05 SkyBox Autographics Autographs Patches #BW Ben Wallace ($40)

The only undrafted player in NBA history to earn Hall of Fame induction, Wallace was a defensive juggernaut at center for some great Pistons teams. He was a four-time All-Star and four-time Defensive Player of the Year, and he ranks in the top 50 all-time in rebounds (10,482, 33rd) and blocks (2,137, 14th). Not bad for an undrafted free agent from Virginia Union.

The biggest star on this list, Wallace has a wide variety of cards in the $25-100 range, and his auto patch card in the 2004-05 SkyBox Autographics set is among the most attractive of the bunch.

1998-99 SkyBox Premium Autographics #133 David Wesley ($10)

A good perimeter shooter and consistent secondary scoring option, Wesley logged 10 seasons with at least 10 points per game in the NBA after going undrafted out of Baylor in 1992. He peaked at 17.2 points per contest with the Hornets during the 2000-01 season, and stands as one of the more underrated guards of the past 30 years.

Wesley has two Rookie Cards in the 1993-94 Fleer and 1993-94 Ultra sets, and both can be found for pocket change. He has a handful of autographed cards from his playing days, and SkyBox Autographics is always a good choice.

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Total: $88

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Joel Reuter

Joel is a National MLB Columnist at Bleacher Report who has spent the last decade as a full-time MLB writer. A lifelong Cubs fan and Chicago resident, nostalgia drives his card-collecting focus. He is currently working on assembling the entire base catalogs of four of his all-time favorites—Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee.

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1 comment

  1. Carl Quick 10 January, 2023 at 14:57

    Always enjoy reading the one-sheet collections.
    My only suggestion would be to not include horizontal cards, to improve the visual factor at the end.

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