The most coveted draft pick in all of professional sports is the number one pick. A lot of the greatest athletes in professional sports were drafted with the top overall pick in the draft. In the NBA, Hakeem Olajuwon, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Oscar Robertson, Elgin Baylor, and Patrick Ewing were some of the many number one draft picks prior to 1985 when the NBA added a draft lottery.
The NBA Draft Lottery was started to prevent teams from tanking, or losing their games on purpose in order to achieve a higher order in the following season's draft. Without the draft lottery, the 2002-03 season would have been a disaster with teams knowing that LeBron James was going to be the top pick in the following year's draft.
The Lottery is setup to give all 14 NBA teams, that do not make the playoffs, a chance to win the top overall pick in the draft with the best odds going to the worst team, the second best odds going to the second worst team, etc...
There have been many critics to the lottery because the league's worst team has only won the top pick five times since it began in 1985. So out of the 32 NBA Draft Lotteries, 27 teams got the top pick without having the worst record.
Regardless of whether or not you might like the Lottery, we can all agree that having the first pick does not guarantee that they are going to end up with the best overall player that year, later on. There have been plenty of draft busts over the years and many great ones that have lived up to the hype.
So let's have some fun and Re-Draft every number one draft pick since 2000 and see if these guys would still be taken first overall, or if maybe they wind up watching from the sidelines.
17 New Jersey Nets (2000): Michael Redd, SG
Original Selection: Kenyon Martin, SF/PF
The 2000 NBA Draft was weak, as a whole, compared to a few of the others around it. But the one thing we can say about it is that Michael Redd should have been the top pick that year but ended up being the 43rd overall pick in the second round.
Although Kenyon Martin ended up fitting well into the New Jersey Nets system, and was a part of their back-to-back NBA Finals run, Michael Redd was one of those special talents that ended up making a career of scoring and doing very little of anything else. For his career, he retired with 19 points per game for his career and only a 3.8 rebound and 2.1 assist per game average. But even knowing he is simply a one-trick pony, Michael Redd was still dangerous and spent several seasons as one of the league's top scorers, something the Nets could have used back then to actually win one or two of those appearances.
16 Washington Wizards (2001): Tony Parker, PG
Original Selection: Kwame Brown, C
When the Washington Wizards selected Kwame Brown in 2001, it was the first time Michael Jordan had the first overall draft pick as the President of Basketball Operations. Kwame Brown did not look like he would be a bust, he had all the potential in the world. No one expected him to fall apart the way he did. Looking back at the 2001 NBA Draft, if the Wizards knew what they could have had, they would have drafted very differently.
Tony Parker, as it were, ended up going on to win four NBA titles with the San Antonio Spurs and quickly emerged as one of the leagues greatest Point Guards. He also won himself a NBA Finals MVP in 2007 and is a six-time NBA All-Star. The Wizards went with a big man that had all of the hype surrounding him and ended up suffering for many years because of it. If they had Tony Parker, maybe things would be much different today.
15 Houston Rockets (2002): Yao Ming, C
Original Selection: Yao Ming, C
The NBA has never seen a 7'6" Center, with so much global fan support, and so much talent, before Yao Ming. He came into the league with all the hype and respect of the NBA fans in China and became an instant star in the league after just one season by averaging 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. It was only the beginning for the Houston Rockets rookie.
By 2008, Yao had established himself as a true candidate for the title of NBA's best Center, averaging 23 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game from 2005 to 2008. He was tough to stop, especially when he started hitting jumpers from the baseline. He was already the tallest man on the court, so just imagine what happens when he would shoot a jump shot, no one could guard him. If he missed, it was only because he missed and not because a defender did anything to him.
14 Cleveland Cavaliers (2003): LeBron James, SF
Original Selection: LeBron James, SF
The 2003 NBA Draft Class top-five players were LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and Darko Milicic. One of those is not like the other but it did not matter to the Cleveland Cavaliers because they made the decision to draft LeBron James about five seconds after the NBA announced them as the winner of the draft lottery. And he lived up to the hype, something that is rare for a player like James. All players have hype but his was because he was considered the future of the league and the next Michael Jordan.
The league knew he was special after his incredible 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. Over the course of those two years, he averaged 29.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. As a 21 year old, he led the Cavaliers to a 50-win 2005-06 season that ended with a Eastern Conference Semi-Finals appearance. The next season he led the Cavs to the Finals before losing to the San Antonio Spurs. He was just 22 years old and was doing it all by himself. He has validated himself by winning three NBA titles, four league MVP's, and just about a dozen of everything else that a player can win.
13 Orlando Magic (2004): Dwight Howard, C
Original Selection: Dwight Howard
Shaquille O'Neal left Orlando for LA in 1996, shocking not only the Magic fans but the rest of the basketball world. Much like when LeBron James left Cleveland for South Beach, Shaq's move caused quite the protest from fans and he went from being one of the most beloved players in the league to one of the biggest sellouts as he left Orlando simply for the money and a chance to win some titles with the Lakers.
Dwight Howard, who is a more athletic version of Shaq, did the exact same thing by demanding to be traded, hopefully to the Lakers, following the 2011-12 season. The backlash turned him into a villain and he has remained silent ever since.
Meanwhile, on the basketball court, aside from dealing with some bad injuries and missing games each of the past six years, there still is not a better All-Around Center in the NBA. His numbers have dipped since leaving Orlando but he has been playing with other superstars, like James Harden, and just has not had to score as much. Since leaving Orlando, he has averaged 15.9 points, 12 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game.
12 Milwaukee Bucks (2005): Chris Paul, PG
Original Selection: Andrew Bogut, C
Now that we have 12 seasons of Chris Paul to analyze, it is an easy choice for redrafting the 2005 NBA Draft. Andrew Bogut was originally the top pick and ended up a success for a few seasons with Milwaukee but he is nowhere near the talent that CP3 has been throughout his entire NBA career, becoming the league's best Point Guard. He is the type of talent that can score points when he has to, but only then. He has to be among the best second half scorers in the past 25 years because of his ability to pass first, shoot later.
Now that he is with the Los Angeles Clippers, he has put himself into a position to contend but, after six seasons, continues to fall short of a NBA title. He averages 18.7 points, 9.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game for his career. He is the only one in NBA history to put up those career averages.
11 Toronto Raptors (2006): LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C
Original Selection: Andrea Bargnani, C
The Toronto Raptors decided to go European and draft Andrea Bargnani instead of the big play Center from the University of Texas who ended up in Portland when they took him with the second pick overall, just behind Andrea. If you compare the two men, there are a few seasons that either man could have been a good choice, however, comparing their overall careers, this was an easy choice.
LaMarcus Aldridge has taken over for Tim Duncan in San Antonio and is now in his second season with the Spurs where he averages 17.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. He is the NBA's best Power Forward and is reminding us that he is as he helps the Spurs get back to the NBA Finals again this season.
10 Portland Trail Blazers (2007): Kevin Durant, SF
Original Selection: Greg Oden, C
The Portland Trail Blazers will always look back at the 2007 NBA Draft as one of the biggest missed opportunities in franchise history. They passed up on Kevin Durant for Greg Oden, who turned out to be the biggest bust in professional basketball history. Just think, the Blazers went 41-41 in 2007-08 without Kevin Durant.
KD has turned into one of the greatest scorers the NBA has ever seen. He has averaged more than 30 points per game two different times in his career and it landed him the 2013-14 NBA MVP award. His jump from OKC to the Golden State Warriors might have led to a black mark on his reputation but the fact remains, he loves the game and he wants to win and what better way to do it then in Oakland with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson.
9 Chicago Bulls (2008): Derrick Rose, PG
Original Selection: Derrick Rose, PG
For three years, Derrick Rose was the NBA's best Point Guard, and it was not even close. From his rookie year in 2009 until 2011, he averaged 20.9 points, 6.7 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and 1 steal per game while winning the MVP award and leading the Chicago Bulls to three consecutive playoff appearances before getting bit by an injury bug that has kept him down for his whole career, dating back to his fourth year.
That season, his injury troubles began when he missed five games because of his left toe followed by a injuries to his lower back, groin, right ankle, and right foot causing him to miss 43 games that season before tearing his ACL in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. He would not play again until 2013, missing an entire season in the process. Not long after his return, he tore his right meniscus causing him to miss the rest of that season too. He has since missed 47 games and is now with the Knicks where, if he remains healthy, looks to be back to the same talented guard he has always been.
8 Los Angeles Clippers (2009): Blake Griffin, PF
Original Selection: Blake Griffin, PF
Blake Griffin has not played since December 18th and is currently recovering from right knee surgery, which is expected to keep him out another few weeks or so. After only playing 67 games in 2014 and 35 games last season, Blake Griffin is becoming a big problem for the Los Angeles Clippers. He is a consistent scoring forward that averages 21.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1 block per game over his career. But the injury issues are starting to hurt his value and turn him into just another high paid PF.
No one wants to draft a guy that now has shown, over three seasons, that he could wind up missing time and costing a team money for nothing. He is still an athlete you want on your roster, if the price is right, because he can ignite an offense and a crowd with his incredible hops and slam dunking abilities. Compared to the rest of the top ten, he lines up right where he needs to be as of today.
7 Washington Wizards (2010): John Wall, PG
Original Selection: John Wall, PG
With the start he has had this season, John Wall moved himself into this third spot. That's right, if we did this before this season began, he might be fifth on the list. But he is showing what he can do when he has a great coach and four other starters that belong on the court with him. This season alone, he has averaging more points, assists, and steals per game then he has in any other season.
Everyone knew he was one of the best Eastern Conference Point Guards but he does not get the same respect because he plays in Washington on a Wizards club that has struggled for many years now, until he got there. Now, they are slowly becoming one of the Eastern Conference's top teams.
6 Cleveland Cavaliers (2011): Kyrie Irving, PG
Original Selection: Kyrie Irving, PG
It has become very evident that LeBron James is one of the best basketball players ever, and he still has another six or seven years in the league. But he has grown into that person after playing with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving. Those guys have helped King James become the star he was always destined to be and Kyrie is the best number one pick of the bunch because he makes it look easy.
At 24 years old, Kyrie Irving deserves to be the highest paid player on the Cavaliers team, behind LeBron, because he is their future. Once LeBron retires from the NBA, Kyrie will still have another 10 or so years to play and the Cavs know this. His career 21.1 points per game is among the best by a Point Guard over the past six seasons.
5 New Orleans Hornets (2012): Anthony Davis, PF/C
Original Selection: Anthony Davis, PF/C
Now that he has a few seasons under his belt, Anthony Davis has finally started to play to his potential this season and has been putting up some impressive numbers to back it up. But to truly understand just how good he has been, you have to check out some historic stats. For example, Anthony Davis has scored at least 35 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, and one block, nine times in his career, third best all-time. He is behind Hakeem Olajuwon, who has 19, and Shaquille O'Neal with 12.
The only thing left is for the New Orleans Pelicans to build a team around him that can win some NBA titles and he will be nearly unstoppable. Davis is their star and the time in now to build towards a championship team.
4 Cleveland Cavaliers (2013): Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF/PF
Original Selection: Anthony Bennett, PF
No one expected Giannis Antetokounmpo to grow into the league's third or fourth best overall player and a candidate for the MVP award back in 2013. It was evident when he was passed up 14 times before the Milwaukee Bucks took him with the 15th overall selection. It is easy to see that Anthony Bennett was the worst possible choice for Cleveland to make that year.
Take a look at the difference from his rookie season to this season, his fourth in the NBA. During his rookie year, he averaged 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game and this season he is currently averaging 23.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game. The difference between those four years is good enough to be an All-Star caliber season by itself with his increase in points (16.7), rebounds (2.3), and assists (1.4).
If Cleveland would have drafted Giannis, he would be a part of a dream team in the NBA that would include two NBA MVP favorites this season alone.
3 Minnesota Timberwolves (2014): Andrew Wiggins, SF
Original Selection: Andrew Wiggins, SF
As he continues to develop, Andrew Wiggins also continues to get better and better every season and his per game numbers have risen each season as he becomes a true star in the NBA. It is way too early to truly tell who the best pick of the 2014 draft was but the one thing that is true is that the Minnesota Timberwolves did not make a mistake when they drafted Andrew Wiggins. He has plenty to look forward to and a future that seems to be on the rise.
The key to Andrew's success comes from his ridiculous athleticism. He is a modern version of Clyde Drexler and can bounce around the court, blocking shots and throwing down dunks, and making it effortless. It also puts him in great spots for easy buckets. So he may not be the next LeBron James or Michael Jordan, he is the guy both of those players would love to have, because he would help them win a Finals.
2 Minnesota Timberwolves (2015): Karl-Anthony Towns, C
Original Selection: Karl-Anthony Towns, C
After having the best rookie season last year, and winning the 2015-16 NBA Rookie of the Year, Karl-Anthony Towns has gotten noticeably better. This season, he is averaging about 22 points, 12 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 50% from the field and 82% from the free throw line.
Karl-Anthony Towns is part of a massive youth movement that is happening in Minnesota right now. In fact, besides now having the league's previous two Rookie of the Year award winners with Towns and Wiggins, the Timberwolves have ten players drafted in the first round with five of them being drafted over the past four seasons. Towns just might be in the best situation for becoming a future superstar in the NBA.
1 Philadelphia 76ers (2016): Ben Simmons, F
Original Selection: Ben Simmons, F
Let's face it, Ben Simmons' future potential is so much higher than 90% of the other rookies that entered the NBA last year. Just look at his one and only season in college, at LSU, where he averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2.0 steals per game. No one in college hoops has ever put up numbers like that before, ever. His all-around game covered the entire court and led to his name being called first in the 2016 NBA Draft.
After suffering a broken foot on September 30, 2016, the 76ers had to deal with losing him for almost the entire 2016-17 season. When he returns, which recently was announced as mid-February, at the earliest, Ben Simmons could make an immediate impact for a team that is again struggling but showing signs of improvement. The key to his success is that the 76ers are built for the future. With Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Ersan Ilyasova, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless, and Nik Stauskas, it could be fun to watch Ben Simmons incorporate himself into the offense.
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