3. Francisco Elson, Denver Nuggets Center, 2003-06
After playing professionally in his home country of the Netherlands, Francisco Elson was drafted into the NBA by the Denver Nuggets in 1999. After being selected, he would go on to play four years of pro ball in Spain before joining the team in 2003, the same year as Melo. He played sparingly during his first two years but did draw attention for his physical battle with Kevin Garnett in the 2004 playoffs.
Elson was given his first real shot during the 2005-06 season. He started 54 games largely due to Kenyon Martin’s issues with knee tendinitis, and the various ailments Marcus Camby dealt with throughout that campaign. Unfortunately, the Dutchman did not exactly take advantage of his opportunity. He averaged just 4.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in 21.9 minutes per contest.
With that kind of playing time, it certainly can’t be said that George Karl didn’t give Elson a shot. The Nuggets allowed him to leave in free agency and, luckily for Elson, he landed with the San Antonio Spurs, with whom he won an NBA title the very next season.