ESPN is counting down the best players in the NBA from 500-1. Atlanta Hawks offseason acquisition DeShawn Stevenson ranks 319 on the list.
The California native was acquired by the Hawks, along with four other players and a draft pick, from the newly renamed Brooklyn Nets in exchange for superstar shooting guard Joe Johnson on July 11.
Stevenson came into the NBA straight out of high school and was a first round selection of the Utah Jazz in the 2000 draft. At 19 years old, he became the youngest player to ever play and start for the Jazz during the 2000–01 season. In 2001, Stevenson finished second in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. During his time with Utah, he played in 222 regular season games and averaged 5.9 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 16.7 minutes per game.
Three years later, after 56 games in the ’03-’04 season, the Jazz traded Stevenson and a future second round draft pick to the Orlando Magic in exchange for swingman Gordan Giricek. Stevenson ended that season with a career-high average of 11.4 ppg.
Stevenson played with the Orlando Magic for 2½ seasons and arguably had his best year during the 2005–06 campaign when he averaged 11.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, and 2.0 apg. He opted out of the third and final year of his contract with Orlando and signed a two-year minimum contract with the Washington Wizards.
Stevenson quickly adjusted to coach Eddie Jordan’s system, averaging 11.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg, and 2.7 apg in his first season with Washington. During the off-season, he began working more on his three-point shot and attempted 483 treys in ’07 opposed to only 183 in ’06.
In July 2007, Stevenson signed a 4-year deal with the Wizards worth $15 million.
After 3½ and years with Washington, Stevenson was traded to the Dallas Mavericks along with Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood in exchange for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross.
The Wizards shipped Stevenson out of Washington because he was having his worst statistical NBA season ever, setting career-low’s in shooting percentage (28.2), and points per game (2.2).
Once Stevenson became a member of the Mavericks, he changed his jersey number to 92, becoming the first ever NBA player to wear that number. Stevenson decided on 92 because he wore number 9 in Orlando and number 2 with Utah and Washington.
In the 2010-11 season, his first full year with Dallas, Stevenson raised his overall shooting percentage up 10 percent and his 3-point shooting efficiency up 20 percent, helping the Mavs win the franchise’s first ever NBA title. Stevenson actually started every game in that championship round.
In Game 6 of the 2010-11 NBA Finals, Dallas defeated LeBron James and the Miami Heat 105-95 to win the title. In that final matchup, Stevenson made three of five three-pointers, resulting in 9 crucial points — he also did a hell of a job guarding LeBron James throughout the series, causing James to average numbers that were significantly lower than his regular season totals.
After the championship was won, the Mavericks and Stevenson went their separate ways.
On December 23, 2011, the 6’5” shooting guard signed a 1yr/$2.5M contract with the Nets.
With the Nets last season, the 12-year veteran averaged 2.9 points per game, shot a subpar 28.5 percent from the floor and ranked dead-last in PER (4.3) among players who played at least 500 minutes.
No wonder why Stevenson’s 2012 ranking plummeted 90 spots from last years mark.