A little while ago, we highlighted the best and worst of the NBA based around the draft record of franchises. Although some fans may have been excited to see their team among the lofty 10 that could put forth a formidable contender based off their draftees, the exercise was probably a bittersweet one for some franchises. After all, if you boast the draft class of a contender but currently find yourself plagued by also-ran status, doesn’t that clearly mean that you have failed to maximize your assets?
In a perfect world, your team will nail every draft and get the most out of those picks, either by slotting them into the lineup or swapping them out for a more valuable asset. But we know that doesn’t always happen. Even with the evolution of scouting tools and analytic measures to help identify prospective basketball talent, draft capital is squandered each year – whether it’s by selecting the wrong guy or turning that draft asset into an ill-fitting trade return. Look, every team makes mistakes, particularly at the draft table. So how can we measure which teams have best managed their draft haul? That’s where this exercise comes in.
Below, we will examine each NBA franchise through the prism of what they are and what they could have been. No, this isn’t about which stars each team passed on in their draft year – there’s already been plenty written on that. Here, we’ll take a look at what each club would look like based off of draft record, alone, and weigh that core against their current active roster. It’s nice to draft well, but if you don’t have anything to show for your savvy picks, then what’s it really worth anyway?
30 Atlanta Hawks: Al Horford, Pau Gasol, Jeff Teague, Dennis Schroder & Marvin Williams
Current Lineup: John Collins, Trae Young, Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince, Jeremy Lin
An all-drafted Atlanta Hawks team may not be star-studded, but it’s certainly better than the team’s slowly developing roster of today. The all-drafted Hawks can slot in Al Horford and Pau Gasol up front and surround them with a decent supporting cast that includes ball handlers Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroeder and shooters like Marvin Williams, Mike Scott and Jason Terry.
That’s a considerably better group than anything that the current Hawks can offer. Second-year big man John Collins will be a core piece for Atlanta this year, whereas he would merely be a reserve bench player learning from established vets on a drafted team. Otherwise, while there’s some hope for Trae Young to develop into an elite scorer (the drafted Hawks team technically gets Luka Doncic), a core featuring guys like Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince and Jeremy Lin just doesn’t inspire much confidence.
29 Boston Celtics - Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier & Jeff Green
Current Lineup: Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum
This exercise touches on an interesting, lingering question that surrounds the deep, talented Boston Celtics: while their high-priced big three of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford (slated to rake in more than $80 million this season) are certainly productive, would the Celts be enjoying similarly lofty status without them? It seems strange to even consider the possibility, but a young, homegrown group including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier forced the discussion by carrying Boston to the Eastern Finals in the absence of Irving and Hayward last spring.
An all-draft team of Celtics still features those four rising stars, plus Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Joe Johnson and Al Jefferson. A pretty good NBA rotation? Absolutely. Still, the current Celts have legitimate championship aspirations, which gives them a leg up on their drafted counterparts.
28 Brooklyn Nets - Brook Lopez, Derrick Favors, Ryan Anderson, Kyle Kuzma & Jarrett Allen
Current: D'Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeMarre Carroll, Jarrett Allen
Thanks to the infamous Paul Pierce / Kevin Garnett trade, the problem with the Brooklyn Nets isn’t so much a misappropriation of draft picks as it is not having any. All told, four first round picks, including three in the top 10 and two in the top three, were transferred from Brooklyn to Boston in a trade that continues to look worse year by year. The good news for Brooklyn is that they don’t owe any more picks to the Celtics, but the damage has most certainly been done.
What that means is that neither the Nets’ all-draft team or their current roster look all that hot. A rather thin draft group could actually form a pretty solid frontcourt out of Brook Lopez, Derrick Favors, Ryan Anderson, Kyle Kuzma and Jarrett Allen, but there isn’t much after that. Meanwhile, the real team’s climb back to respectability is now built around a core of D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, Spencer Dinwiddie and DeMarre Carroll.
27 Charlotte Hornets - Kemba Walker, DJ Augustin, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tobias Harris, Cody Zeller
Current: Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller
There is nothing worse than being bad but not quite bad enough, a fate that Charlotte knows of all too well. With just three playoff appearances in the past 14 years, the Hornets have picked in the lottery 10 times since 2007, but have only made two top five selections in that stretch. As such, Charlotte has just Kemba Walker’s two All-Star nods to show for all those lottery picks.
And without lofty draft capital, the Hornets have neither been able to improve through the draft or use their picks to help build even a consistent playoff contender. Beyond Walker, a current core that includes Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo and an aging Tony Parker screams mediocre. Likewise, in keeping with the ‘bad but not bad enough’ theme, a draft group featuring Walker, MKG, Tobias Harris, Frank Kaminsky and Cody Zeller doesn’t quite represent a tank job, but certainly doesn’t look like a winner.
26 Chicago Bulls - Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, James Johnson, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jusuf Nurkic
Current: Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Chandler Hutchinson, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr.
When the Bulls took Wendell Carter seventh overall, it actually marked the franchise’s first top 10 selection since all the way back in 2008, when they famously grabbed Derrick Rose first overall. You could field a pretty good lineup out of a group that features Jimmy Butler, Gary Harris, Jusuf Nurkic, James Johnson, Taj Gibson, Tony Snell and Bobby Portis, not to mention 2006 No. 2 pick LaMarcus Aldridge. Now, the fact that only Portis remains from that collection and the Bulls won just 27 games last year would suggest they haven’t really made the most of those picks.
In that sense, a team of drafted Bulls is significantly superior to the current crop. The real team, which now features Zach LaVine, hometown boy Jabari Parker, Kris Dunn and rookie Lauri Markkanen (technically a Minnesota Timberwolves’ product) would probably get blown off the floor by its drafted counterpart.
25 Cleveland Cavaliers - Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Jae Crowder, LeBron James, Tristan Thompson
Current: Collin Sexton, Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman, Tristan Thompson
There's no denying a roster that features four No. 1 overall draft picks, even if one of them happens to be Anthony Bennett. No, we certainly aren’t talking about the current Cleveland Cavaliers roster, one that was deflated by the second departure of LeBron James. While the real Cavs basically rely on the rest of James’ much-derided (sorry, Kevin Love) supporting cast from a year ago minus The King, the top pick-laden all-drafted group looks considerably more formidable.
On an all-draft team, James leads a roster that brings Kyrie Irving back to Cleveland and allows Andrew Wiggins to don a Cavs uni. That stacked trifecta will be joined by current Cavs Tristan Thompson and rookie Collin Sexton, not to mention Jae Crowder, Allen Crabbe, Dion Waiters, Danny Green and even Jamal Crawford. In hindsight, it sure looks like James helped mask some serious personnel mistakes here.
24 Dallas Mavericks - Dennis Smith Jr., Trae Young, Justin Anderson, Mike Muscala, Kelly Olynyk
Current: Dennis Smith Jr., Luka Doncic, Wes Matthews, Harrison Barnes, DeAndre Jordan
The Mavericks have forged a clear future path over their past two drafts, drafting Dennis Smith Jr. and acquiring Luka Doncic in a draft-day deal. Before that, however, the draft just didn’t seem like a big deal in Big D. Prior to drafting Smith in 2017, the club made exactly one lottery selection – Kelly Olynyk in 2013 - over the previous 14 drafts.
Smith and Olynyk stand as the highlights of a thin drafted roster that would feature Trae Young instead of Doncic and no Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas would be forced to feature the likes of Justin Anderson, Mike Muscala and Tyler Zeller in bigger roles than they probably merit. The real Mavs now have Nowitzki, Doncic, Harrison Barnes, Wes Matthews and DeAndre Jordan.
23 Denver Nuggets - Jamal Murray, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Fournier, Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert
Current: Jamal Murray, Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez, Mason Plumlee, Nikola Jokic
Many view the Nuggets as an underrated contender in the West, but they’ve also been pretty underrated at the draft table. From 2011 to 2014, the team drafted Kenneth Faried, Evan Fournier and Nikola Jokic, all with picks at No. 20 and later. Throw in Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and some point guard help in Jamal Murray, Emmanuel Mudiay, Jameer Nelson and Jarrett Jack and you’ve got yourself a pretty impressive club-drafted lineup.
In one of our toughest battles to call, we’ll give the ever-so-slight edge to dangerous two-guards Fournier and Mitchell, helping the drafted Nuggets eke out a narrow victory.
22 Detroit Pistons - Brandon Knight, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Khris Middleton, Stanley Johnson, Andre Drummond
Current: Reggie Jackson, Reggie Bullock, Glenn Robinson III, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond
The last true draft gem the Pistons have come away with was taking Andre Drummond ninth overall six years ago. Since then, however, the challenge in Motown has been surrounding Drummond with complementary talent - and the Pistons have not been up to the task.
Through the draft, none of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Stanley Johnson, Henry Ellenson or Luke Kennard has emerged as a suitable No. 2, prompting last year's Blake Griffin mega-deal. Griffin's presence still doesn't guarantee Detroit a playoff spot this year. However, it unquestionably leaves them better off than they would fare with an all-drafted collection of what is, quite frankly, secondary talent.
21 Golden State Warriors - Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Current: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
One year after taking Klay Thompson and three years removed from the selection of Steph Curry, the Warriors landed Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and, oh yeah, Draymond Green in the second round of the 2012 draft. Thompson, Curry and Green have, of course, formed the foundation of a franchise that would be reigning four-time NBA champs were it not for blowing a 3-1 series lead in 2016.
You might think that such a draft record would give the all-drafted Warriors a considerable edge, but you'd be wrong. The real Dubs still have Thompson, Curry and Green, but have bolstered their dynastic roster with Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and DeMarcus Cousins. A lot of things have to come together in order to foster a three-time champion in the NBA, and Golden State has nailed the draft while convincing some of the league's best to come along for the ride.
20 Houston Rockets - Jeremy Lamb, Chandler Parsons, Rudy Gay, Nikola Mirotic, Clint Capela
Current: Chris Paul, James Harden, James Ennis III, P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela
Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey has come to earn league-wide respect. Even then, his draft record doesn't seem to get much recognition. Led by Morey's theft of Clint Capela with the 25th pick in 2014, the club can boast a deep - albeit forward-heavy - group of drafted talent that includes Rudy Gay, Nicolas Batum, Chandler Parsons, Nikola Mirotic, Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson, Montrezl Harrell, Sam Dekker and Dillon Brooks.
But what the all-drafted Rockets have in quantity, the real Rockets clearly have in quality. The whole lot of those guys wouldn't match the contributions of reigning league MVP James Harden, to say nothing of a roster that also features Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, and Capela. It looks like Morey's Executive of the Year award, which finally came at the conclusion of this past season, was long overdue.
19 Indiana Pacers - Aaron Holiday, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Myles Turner
Current: Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, Myles Turner
Conventional logic in sports holds that the winner of a trade essentially boils down to whoever comes away with the best player. The Pacers are living proof of just how flawed this thinking can be. The Pacers traded Paul George to OKC for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, a deal that seemed to spell rebuild in Indy. A little more than a year later, we know how that turned out.
With both Oladipo and Sabonis playing central roles, the Pacers stunned the NBA and won 48 games - the same amount as George's loaded Thunder - and even gave Cleveland a first round scare. In an all-drafted scenario, the trade actually gets reversed, leaving some question over whether the real or hypothetical team is actually better. The drafted team wins out here for one very important reason: Indy actually drafted Kawhi Leonard before trading him for George Hill. Just imagine a Leonard-George front court tandem.
18 Los Angeles Clippers - Shaun Livingston, Eric Gordon, Al-Farooq Aminu, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Current: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Avery Bradley, Danilo Galinari, Tobias Harris, Marcin Gortat
Unfortunately for Clippers fans, the only way Lob City may get to ride again comes through this fantasy, all-drafted scenario. No, they wouldn't get Chris Paul back, but draftees Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan would return to the fold, as would Shaun Livingston, Eric Gordon, Al-Farooq Aminu and Reggie Bullock. Now, this hardly looks like an elite team on paper, but it's a whole lot more formidable the lineup the club is using this season.
Unless 2018 No. 13 overall pick Jerome Robinson grows into a key foundational piece this season, it's entirely likely that the Clips will not have any of their own draft picks in this year's rotation. Guys like Danilo Galinari, Lou Williams, Avery Bradley, Patrick Beverly and Tobias Harris are talented players, but none can really be described as the type of foundational players that LA sorely lacks now. Maybe Kentucky's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a draft-night trade acquisition, will become that building block.
17 Los Angeles Lakers - Lonzo Ball, D'Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Marc Gasol
Current: Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, Javale McGee
For as much as the Lakers are regarded as a glitzy organization known for acquiring its superstar through free agency, the draft record for the club isn't terrible. Even before this recent swing of consistently bad results, the Lakers brought the likes of Marc Gasol and Patrick Beverly into the league. Throw in the recently-departed Julius Randle, D'Angelo Russell and Larry Nance Jr. and you have a pretty good mix of former draftees doing well elsewhere.
Still, when it boils down to the all-drafted versus the real Lake Show, it's not even close. LeBron James alone makes it a more formidable lineup and the only questions remaining is how patient James will be with this young core.
16 Memphis Grizzlies - Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, DeMarre Carroll, Kevin Love, Jaren Jackson Jr.
Current: Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol
While Jaren Jackson represents hope for the future, he's still an unproven commodity. So, then, the Grizzlies draft/reality fortunes boil down to the other guys. Even with high profile draft misses like Thabeet and Xavier Henry, the Grizz have ushered in the likes of Kevin Love (draft night trade to Minnesota), Kyle Lowry and DeMarre Carroll to go along with Conley. That drafted group proves slightly better than what Memphis has currently, with the likes of Gasol, Chandler Parsons and Kyle Anderson.
15 Miami Heat - Josh Richardson, Dwyane Wade, Bojan Bogdanovic, Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo
Current: Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder, James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside
Despite not retaining a draft pick in either of the 2016 or 2018 drafts, the Heat have made the picks that they do have count. The club's previous three picks were spent on Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, all of whom occupy primary roles with the team this year. Those three would be joined by Bojan Bogdanovic and, of course, Dwyane "One Last Dance" Wade.
The real team still has Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters, James Johnson and more. No wonder why Pat Riley said after last season, "To be really honest with you, I'm not a draft pick guy."
14 Milwaukee Bucks - Malcolm Brogdon, Jodie Meeks, Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ersan Ilyasova
Current: Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez
In February 2018, the Milwaukee Bucks surrendered their 2018 second round pick in the Tyler Zeller deal. While that seems like a trivial asset given the iffy track record of second rounders, maybe the Bucks should've reconsidered. Milwaukee actually has a strangely solid recent second round history, with their round two picks producing more to date than their first round counterparts in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Sadly for the Bucks, Norman Powell and Sindarius Thornwell have had their success outside of Milwaukee, but 2017 Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon remains. He stands as one of the key supporting pieces around Giannis Antetokounmpo on both the drafted team and the real Bucks. Both rosters boast similar skill levels, but we'll give this one to the real club, which has Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves - Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Andre Roberson, Lauri Markkanen, Karl-Anthony Towns
Current: Jeff Teague, Anthony Wiggins, Robert Covington, Taj Gibson, Karl-Anthony Towns
Seriously, how much must it hurt to be a Minnesota Timberwolves fan right now. They should, really, be arriving at the fun pay-off to a rebuild that went the way you hope for a rebuild to go. They turned veteran franchise star Kevin Love into budding star Andrew Wiggins, landed Karl-Anthony Towns and announced their arrival as a contender by acquiring Jimmy Butler. But things unraveled.
Butler is already gone after a wild circus, with his former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau following him out the door. What appears on paper to be a loaded roster now seems like more of a combustible mix. Is it possible that the drafted Wolves might be better? It would be a happier team, for sure.
12 New Orleans Pelicans - Chris Paul, Buddy Hield, J.R. Smith, Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel
Current: Tim Frazier, Jrue Holiday, E'Twaun Moore, Nikola Mirotic, Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis remains a Pelican (for now) whether you're talking about New Orleans' mythical all-drafted squad or their real team. For a franchise seemingly forever in search of a new running buddy for the 'Brow' (just ask DeMarcus Cousins), the question of which support staff is superior seems apt.
The real Pels offer an intriguing mix of stealthy recent additions (Julius Randle, Elfrid Payton and Nikola Mirotic), under-rated contributors (Solomon Hill and E'Twaun Moore) and an All-Star point guard (Jrue Holliday) to surround Davis. What they don't have, however, is Chris Paul. Simply imagining the dynamic combination that CP3 and AD could form tips the scales in favor of the draftees. And that's before you throw in J.R. Smith, Darren Collison, Nerlens Noel and Buddy Hield.
11 New York Knicks - Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway Jr., Danilo Galinari, Kristaps Porzingis, Nene
Current: Emmanuel Mudiay, Tim Hardaway Jr., Kevin Knox, Kristaps Porzingis, Enes Kanter
Choosing whether the Knicks can form a better team out of their draft picks is akin to deciding whether to get electrocuted or hit by a car. While Knicks fans might not think there could be anything worse than a roster anchored by an injured Kristaps Porzingis with little other talent to offer, the club's draft record isn't so pretty to look at, either.
Beyond Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr., the difference ultimately comes down to a respectable mid-2000s stretch of drafting by New York. Between 2002 and 2008, they selected Nene, Trevor Ariza, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Galinari. That quartet edges the current patchwork group that includes Enes Kanter, Courtney Lee and Mario Hezonja.
10 Oklahoma City Thunder - Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams
Current: Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Paul George, Jerami Grant, Steven Adams
The current Thunder are carrying momentum into the new season for a number of reasons. Russell Westbrook continues to perform at an historic level as he pursues a third straight triple-double average, Paul George opted to stick around in free agency and Carmelo Anthony is officially gone.
Yes, OKC stands as a legitimate contender in the West, but they still pale in comparison to the juggernaut you could create out of their draft choices. You could make a case - with apologies to Steph Curry and Anthony Davis - that Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden represent the league's three-best players not named LeBron - and they would be on the all-drafted Thunder. So would Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe and Serge Ibaka.
9 Orlando Magic - Courtney Lee, Victor Oladipo, Dario Saric, Domanatas Sabonis, Dwight Howard
Current: DJ Augustin, Evan Fournier, Jonathon Simmons, Aaron Gordon, Nik Vucevic
The rebuild in Orlando has been a slow one, to be sure, resulting in no finish higher than 11th in the East since 2012. And poor drafting looms at the heart of it. The high lottery selections have been there, but Victor Oladipo only realized his potential after leaving the Magic, Aaron Gordon has only been okay, Mario Hezonja was a bust and the jury remains out on Jonathan Isaac.
In what is perhaps an ironic twist, other Magic draft picks have followed Oladipo into success elsewhere. JJ Redick, Dario Saric, Domanatas Sabonis, Courtney Lee and Zaza Pachulia have thrived outside of Orlando (Dwight Howard, not so much), making them better hypothetical assets than real ones. Overall, they form a better core than the real Magic - with Evan Fournier and Jonathon Simmons - can probably offer.
8 Philadelphia 76ers - Jrue Holiday, Ben Simmons, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Joel Embiid
Current: Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler, Wilson Chandler, Joel Embiid
How you feel about how the real 76ers measure up to their drafted counterparts ultimately comes down to the battle of secondary role players. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Landry Shamet form the core of both teams, giving Philly some pretty exciting pieces for its actual and hypothetical teams.
So, who wins out? Well, that depends on how you feel Embiid, Simmons and Shamet can best be surrounded. If you value shooting, then it probably makes sense to go with a real roster that gets you Jimmy Butler, Wilson Chandler and J.J. Redick. If defense, athleticism and ball-handling are more your thing, you might find a drafted group of Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Thabo Sefolosha and Elfrid Payton more appealing. I'll take the versatility of the latter group every time, especially when it also nets you Lou Williams and Nik Vucevic.
7 Phoenix Suns - Rajon Rondo, Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Markieff Morris, Robin Lopez
Current: De'Anthony Melton, Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Mikal Bridges, Deandre Ayton
Every No. 1 overall pick faces an incredible burden of expectations owing to their lofty draft slot. But when it comes to Deandre Ayton, those expectations extend to the future of an entire position. If Ayton can even approach fulfilling the hype that surrounds him, he will elevate the real and imagined Suns. That remains a big 'if' for now.
It's been a slow crawl back to respectability in the desert, but Ayton will have help along the way. Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson are also homegrown stars that should boost the Suns' fortunes in the future. What they don't have yet, is much acquired veteran talent. Therefore, Mikal Bridges's presence on the real Suns doesn't quite match a group of Phoenix's finest draftees that includes Rajon Rondo, Robin Lopez, Luol Deng and Markieff Morris.
6 Portland Trail Blazers - Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Will Barton, Dante Cunningham, Meyers Leonard
Current: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Mo Harkless, Al-Farooq Aminu, Jusuf Nurkic
A memo to fans of any club outside the playoff picture: life ain't always so great at the top, either. Take the Portland Trail Blazers. Only the Rockets and Warriors were better than Portland last year, but a disappointing first round playoff loss highlighted that they simply aren't in the same stratosphere as the Conference's two primary contenders. The Blazers are expecting to return to the playoffs, but don't have much hope for a better showing.
Let's be clear: Portland may not be great, but they're good. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum form the dynamic back court at the heart of the franchise, while Jusuf Nurkic, Evan Turner and Al-Farouq Aminu round out a core that won 49 games last year. That group is superior to an all-drafted team that retains Lillard and McCollum, but surrounds them with Will Barton, Patty Mills, Dante Cunningham and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
5 Sacramento Kings - Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore, DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside
Current: De'Aaron Fox, Iman Shumpert, Buddy Hield, Nemanja Bjelica, Willie Cauley-Stein
A team that has made 11 top 10 draft picks in the past decade is bound to get it right eventually, right? The organization has enjoyed some draft highlights, as was the case when they selected two top centers in 2010 in DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside. That Boogie has since left the fold and Whiteside only broke out once he departed Sacramento says all you need to know about the sad state of the franchise.
Deciding on whether the team's own draftees or their current roster comprise a more promising group stands as a painful exercise in that there's no good choice. For now, there are few sure things among a thin veteran group that include Buddy Hield, Nemanja Bjelica and Iman Shumpert. We'll take the draftees and pity the state of the franchise.
4 San Antonio Spurs - Tony Parker, George Hill, Goran Dragic, Kyle Anderson, Iain Mahinmi
Current: Bryn Forbes, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Davis Bertans, LaMarcus Aldridge
For the first time in forever, San Antonio simply doesn't have an eye-popping array of active talent that they ushered into the league. With Ginobili joining Duncan in retirement and Parker off in Charlotte as a backup, the organization's draftees can essentially be boiled down to Goran Dragic, George Hill, Cory Joseph, Iain Mahinmi and Kyle Anderson. There's still some talent there, but it's underwhelming when you consider the past reputation of the Spurs front office.
This is, of course, understandable given that organizational success has kept them out of the lottery for the past two decades. There's still room for the likes of Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker to blossom into stars, but we'll take DeRozan, Aldridge, Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay for now.
3 Toronto Raptors - Delon Wright, DeMar DeRozan, P.J. Tucker, Pascal Siakam, Jonas Valanciunas
Current: Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka
The Raptors aren't exactly led by their own draftees - especially after unloading homegrown superstar DeMar DeRozan in the Kawhi Leonard trade. However, those draftees came through in a big way as part of a very young second unit for a 59-win team last season. Other than undrafted free agent Fred VanVleet and draft night trade acquisition Norman Powell, all of Delon Wright, OG Anunoby, Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam were selected by the Raps and proceeded to play an integral secondary role behind DeRozan and Kyle Lowry last season.
Throw in Jonas Valanciunas and that's a pretty good group. True, it doesn't encompass Lowry, Leonard or Serge Ibaka, but it would bring PJ Tucker, Terrence Ross and Ed Davis back into the fold. Quite frankly, though, that's not enough. Toronto is again contending for the top seed in the East and can be considered a legitimate NBA
Championship Finals candidate. That being said, I'll take the current Raps over their drafted counterparts.
2 Utah Jazz - Dante Exum, Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, Paul Millsap, Enes Kanter
Current: Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert
Success on draft night for the Jazz comes down to one simple formula: make a trade with the Denver Nuggets. Four years after they landed Rudy Gobert from the Nuggets in exchange for someone named Erick Green, the Jazz foisted Donovan Mitchell from them two summers ago for Tyler Lydon and Trey Lyles. Although Gobert and Mitchell can be considered homegrown stars for Utah, they count towards the active roster but not the drafted one.
That's not to say that the all-drafted Jazz have nothing going for them. They, of course, welcome back Gordon Hayward, along with Paul Millsap, Enes Kanter, CJ Miles, Rodney Hood, Gorgui Dieng, Taurean Prince and others. That's a lot of talent, but it isn't enough to make up for the loss of two building blocks in Gobert and Mitchell, not to mention an array of Jazz supporting players who were drafted elsewhere, including Derrick Favors, Ricky Rubio, Jae Crowder and Joe Ingles.
1 Washington Wizards - John Wall, Bradley Beal, Jordan Clarkson, Nemanja Bjelica, JaVale McGee
Current: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Trevor Ariza, Thomas Bryant
The current narrative for the Wizards is that they haven't found sufficient support for John Wall and Bradley Beal. The question, then, in this exercise is whether a better supporting cast around Wall and Beal can be found through their current roster or past draft picks. To their credit, this year's Wizards at least tried to address depth concerns by adding Dwight Howard, Austin Rivers and Jeff Green in the offseason and Trevor Ariza in-season.
Still, Washington can probably fill things out a little better around Wall and Beal through their draft history. Dating all the way back to Devin Harris in 2004 (yes, he's still in the league), they could flesh out a roster around their All-Star back court that features Nick Young, JaVale McGee, Nemanja Bjelica, Shelvin Mack, Jordan Clarkson and Jerian Grant. Having Young and McGee on the team would certainly make things interesting, but would it really be anything new for a club that already has Howard and rode the Gilbert Arenas roller coaster not that long ago?