7. Anthony Mason
Mason was a third-round pick by the Blazers in 1998 that was released just two days after the draft. He went to Turkey to play for Efes Pilsen before coming back to NBA to play for the Nets in the 1989-90 season. Mason saw action in just 21 games, and he was not brought back for a second season.
The 6’7 forward went to play in the Continental Basketball Association before signing a ten-day contract with the Nuggets where he played in just three games. He averaged 3.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 7.0 minutes per game during his December 1990 stint in Denver.
The following season, Mason signed with the Knicks and played in all 82 games. New York had made the playoffs four straight years before he arrived, and they took the next step with Mason. The Knicks were in the conference finals in 1993 and lost to the Rockets in the NBA Finals in 1994. Mason helped New York reach the playoffs five straight years, including leading the league in minutes played in 1996.
Mason continued to be a key role player for the Hornets and Heat into his mid-30s. He was an All-Star in 2001, and the Denver Nuggets had their chance to keep him just before he broke out. Anthony Mason could have helped the franchise avoid missing the playoffs three straight years in the early 1990s, but they gave up on him too soon.