Every NBA Draft is filled with promising prospects, some of whom have greater potential than their peers. Team scouts tend to base their picks based on skillset, ceiling, college and high school careers. There are some players who appear to be generational talents from the jump, making it an easy choice to take them with the top selection. But it isn't always quite as obvious in some draft classes which makes it a tough choice since it is more likely to be a risky one.
When it comes to first overall picks, they are always expected to become franchise players so they tend to be surrounded with immense hype throughout their journey. Some go on to only become role players, which is quite disappointing for a team that is expecting a player who is good enough to lead them into the future. The worst case scenario is when a player fails to pan out and exists the league within a few seasons. Since 2000, there have been many busts drafted at number one, all of whom are still remembered today for the wrong reasons.
But of course there have also been Hall of Famers selected with the pick who exceeded all expectations. When it comes to recent drafts, it is still early to truly evaluate their overall ranking, so they were placed based on what they have shown thus far, as well as their potential. With today's list, we re-draft the 1st overall pick of every NBA Draft since 2000!
20 2000 Draft: Kenyon Martin - New Jersey Nets
Original Pick: Kenyon Martin
When it comes to the infamous 2000 NBA Draft, it is considered to be one of the worst in history since it didn't produce many top talents or even role players. Kenyon Martin would likely still be taken first overall by the New Jersey Nets in a re-draft since the other options aren't exactly intriguing. Michael Redd would have also made a decent first pick, but his career was relatively short due to a number of injuries. As for Kenyon Martin, he gave the Nets some great years and played a major role in their back to back Finals appearances.
19 2001 Draft: Pau Gasol - Washington Wizards
Original Pick: Kwame Brown
Kwame Brown was a terrible first overall pick, but at least he was a decent role player later on. Being selected by Michael Jordan himself, that brought plenty of expectations along the way that Brown couldn't live up to. It didn't take the Washington Wizards long to give up on him as Brown was clearly not talented enough to be selected as high as he was. He did hold a reputation for being the worst pick for quite some time, but recent drafts have saved him from the biggest bust label. If the Wizards could go back in time, it is evident that Pau Gasol stands among the rest as the most talented player of the 2001 class.
18 2002 Draft: Yao Ming - Houston Rockets
Original Pick: Yao Ming
If Yao Ming remained healthy throughout his NBA career, then it is possible that he would have been remembered far better by the fans. He was forced to retire early due to nagging injuries that never went away, but that didn't stop Yao from becoming an eight time NBA All-Star, while also being named to five All-NBA teams. He was among the best big men in the league for a decade and managed to impress on the international scene as well. An argument could be made for Amar'e Stoudemire to go first in this Draft, but most General Managers would still go with Yao if given the chance to re-draft, including that of the Houston Rockets.
17 2003 Draft: LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers
Original Pick: LeBron James
There is no doubt that LeBron James reigns supreme over all other picks from this draft and would have gone first regardless which team had the first pick, so it's no wonder that the Cleveland Cavaliers would stick with him. His resume speaks for itself as he has already been referred to by many as the greatest basketball player in history.
He has certainly been the most dominant since Michael Jordan's retirement with three championships to his name, 4 MVP awards, 14 All-Star appearances and 19 time All-NBA team. Considering his current level of player, it's safe to say that James has a few more dominant seasons in him, as well as many records to be broken in the near future as he continues improving his game.
16 2004 Draft: Dwight Howard - Orlando Magic
Original Pick: Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard has lost a few steps in recent years, but that doesn't mean that we should overlook the first decade of his career. He had been named to 8 All-Star appearances while also making the All-NBA First Team an impressive first times in a row. As a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Howard is certainly an all-time great on that end. On top of that, Howard managed to lead the Orlando Magic to a Finals appearance in 2009. Perhaps he would have had an even greater legacy if he didn't leave the Orlando Magic in 2012, but there is no doubt that the team would pick him again given the chance to go back in time to 2004.
15 2005 Draft: Chris Paul - Milwaukee Bucks
Original Pick: Andrew Bogut
Andrew Bogut had some very good years for the Milwaukee Bucks, and later on helped the Golden State Warriors become a winning franchise while also contributing to their 2015 Championship. He may not have been worthy of being first overall - especially since he was selected over Chris Paul and Deron Williams - but at least he wasn't a major bust like some of the names listed here. It is possible that he would have been better if he hadn't been an injury prone throughout his career, which undoubtedly affected his overall game. The Bucks would not have struggled for so many years if they had opted to take Paul instead of Bogut with the first selection.
14 2006 Draft: LaMarcus Aldridge - Toronto Raptors
Original Pick: Andrea Bargnani
If you ask fans of the Toronto Raptors, they won't speak very highly of Andrea Bargnani who went first overall in the 2006 Draft. Bargnani did have stretches where he appeared to be turning it around although a lack of worth ethic and injuries stripped him from reaching his full potential. He had been advertised as the new Dirk Nowitzki due to his ability to score from all over the floor as a seven footer, but even his shot wasn't quite consistent for the majority of his career. The Raptors would love to go back in time to reverse their decision and select LaMarcus Aldridge with the pick, who has been among the best big men in the league for the past decade.
13 2007 Draft: Kevin Durant - Portland Trail Blazers
Original Pick: Greg Oden
If Greg Oden had remained healthy throughout his career, then he may have proven to be worthy of being the first pick of the 2007 Draft. Unfortunately for him, he struggled to remain healthy due to severe nagging injuries that eventually forced him to retire at a young age. But Oden did show flashes of brilliance whenever he stepped on the court, and could have likely become the best big man in the NBA.
Fans of the Portland Trail Blazers will always be left wondering how different things would have played out if they had selected Kevin Durant as he would have made them a contender within a few years.
12 2008 Draft: Russell Westbrook - Chicago Bulls
Original Pick: Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose may have retained his spot as the first overall pick in a re-draft if he hadn't been hammered by injuries that slowed down his career. While he is currently having a strong comeback season, it is tough to rank him over players with greater longevity. To his credit, he does have an MVP award in 2011 that gives him an edge over some names. At 30 years old, Rose could still improve his basketball resume especially now that he is healthy. Having found a home with the Minnesota Timberwolves, it will be intriguing to see how the final years of his career play out in the NBA, but there is no doubt that the Chicago Bulls would now take Russell Westbrook if given the chance to do it all over again.
11 2009 Draft: Stephen Curry - L.A. Clippers
Original Pick: Blake Griffin
Stephen Curry is on his way to his sixth All-Star selection and already has three championships, as well as two MVP awards. Additionally, he has been named to five All-NBA teams which is impressive to say the least. Injuries have also affected the trajectory of Curry's career who went through some rough years before he finally returned to full health, leading to the rise of the Golden State Warriors. A few years ago, most would have chosen Blake Griffin to still be taken first by the Los Angeles Clippers in this Draft, but Harden has made a better case since then - although Curry still seems like the best option from the class.
10 2010 Draft: Paul George - Washington Wizards
Original Pick: John Wall
Despite having been a five time All-Star since getting drafted in 2010, many would argue that John Wall hasn't exactly lived up to the hype. He had immense buzz during his days in Kentucky when plenty of fans believed that he would be good enough to be a true star in the league. He is now considered to be the most overpaid player in the league, which only proves that Wall could have been even better as an overall player.
Paul George wasn't half as hyped as Wall during their respective college careers, but the former has surpassed him to become one of the best two players in the league - making him an easy selection for the Washington Wizards as the top pick of the 2010 class.
9 2011 Draft: Kawhi Leonard - Cleveland Cavaliers
Original Pick: Kyrie Irving
As one of the premiere scorers in the league, Kyrie Irving has proven worthy to be selected with the top pick of the class. His contributions to the Cleveland Cavaliers' championship in 2016 cannot be overlooked especially since he was decisive in Game 7 of the Finals. But as an overall talent, the 15th overall pick of the 2011 Draft Kawhi Leonard has surpassed him, solidifying himself as a top five player in the NBA. Despite his immense talent and impressive resume, Irving would surely go second in a re-draft as the Cleveland Cavaliers wouldn't pass on Leonard this time around.
8 2012 Draft: Anthony Davis - New Orleans Pelicans
Original Pick: Anthony Davis
At 25 years old, Anthony Davis already has some impressive accolades to his name including five All-Star appearances and 3 All-NBA First Team awards. The sky is the limit for him as he is truly a generational talent, which is why the New Orleans Pelicans would still scoop him with the first pick of the 2012 NBA Draft. Unfortunately for Davis, he hasn't been able to achieve much success in the postseason yet, although rumors suggest that he could force a trade in the near future.
Davis has been as good as advertised, if not even better, which is remarkable considering the major buzz that he had during his time with Kentucky. He is certainly the greatest first overall pick of the 2010s and would have been selected by any other team in the draft.
7 2013 Draft: Giannis Antetokounmpo - Cleveland Cavaliers
Original Pick: Anthony Bennett
Anthony Bennett's selection as the first overall NBA pick of the 2013 Draft came as a major surprise since he wasn't even projected to go in the top 5. It turned out to be a major reach by the Cleveland Cavaliers as Bennett had an awful rookie year where he struggled with his shot. He didn't stick around the league for too long despite being given a chance by multiple teams, and he is now considered to be among the worst first overall picks in NBA history. 14 teams passed on the best player in the draft in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who would undoubtedly go first in a possible re-draft.
6 2014 Draft: Joel Embiid - Minnesota Timberwolves
Original Pick: Andrew Wiggins
Going into the 2014 NBA Draft, Andrew Wiggins generated massive hype among media members and fans. He was considered to be as one of the best prospects in modern times with some believing that he could be a future Hall of Famer. Wiggins has fell short of expectations and the Minnesota Timberwolves are already regretting having handed him a maximum contract.
That's not to mention that they also selected him over Joel Embiid, who is already a far better player than Wiggins, and would surely go first in a re-draft today. Embiid has proven to be a tier above everyone else from the 2014 class, so it would be a fairly easy choice for the Timberwolves.
5 2015 Draft: Karl-Anthony Towns - Minnesota Timberwolves
Original Pick: Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns has already proven to be good enough to become a true franchise player. He has three great seasons under his belt, averaging a double double in every single one. At this rate, Towns may very well be considered a top 10 player in the near future, especially if he improves on the defensive end. He remains the clear stand out in the 2015 class, and would still be taken with the first overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kristaps Porziņgis is the only other player who may have a case over him, although a torn ACL from last season may affect his career going forward.
4 2016 Draft: Ben Simmons - Philadelphia 76ers
Original Pick: Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons has already impressed with his performances thus far, making him among the top young players in the league - although he will need a three-point shot in the future if he wishes to move up to the next level. Simmons has been among the most hyped young players in the past decade and many believe that he could develop into an MVP caliber player. And while the likes of Jamal Murray and Buddy Hield have also been remarkable from this draft, Simmons has unique tools that would convince the Sixers to select him with the first pick in a re-draft.
3 2017 Draft: Jayson Tatum - Philadelphia 76ers
Original Pick: Markelle Fultz
Given that Markelle Fultz is only in his sophomore year right now, there is a chance that he will prove his worth in the future. At the moment, it seems like he may be out of the league within a few years with a similar road as Anthony Bennett. Fultz has struggled plenty with his shot, causing the Philadelphia 76ers to sit him out for lengthy periods.
Now that he is recovering from an injury, Fultz will be given another chance to show that he is good enough to play in the league - otherwise he risks becoming a major bust. If a re-draft were to take place today, there is no doubt that Jayson Tatum would be favored to go first given what he has shown in his young career thus far.
2 2018 Draft: Luka Doncic - Phoenix Suns
Original Pick: Deandre Ayton
Since Deandre Ayton is only a few months into his NBA career, it is tough to say whether he was worthy of being the first overall pick, especially given the stiff competition he has right now. He has all the tools to become an All-Star in the future, so it will be interesting to see if he can put it all together to live up to the hype. But if the Phoenix Suns could go back to June of 2018, they are most likely to select Luka Doncic. Based on what we have seen from him thus far, as well as his potential, it's safe to say that he will be among the best players in the near future.
1 Bonus - 2019 Draft: Zion Williamson
Why not look to the next draft and see which player is projected to go first? Obviously the big story this year in college basketball are the two studs at Duke who are projected to go high in the draft. An argument can be made for either Zion Williamson or R.J. Barrett, but as of now, Williamson seems to be the more pro ready prospect. Teams will be crossing their fingers in the lottery to have the chance to select him. As of now, teams like the Phoenix Suns or Cleveland Cavaliers have the best chance at winning the lottery.