The Golden State Warriors struggled for much of the '90s and weren't relevant in the 21st century -- until this team began to hit the jackpot with a number of first-round selections.
All these years later, and they appear to be the next dynasty of the NBA. With Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, the Warriors won the NBA Championship in 2015 and won a record 73 games the following season, though they fell just short of defending their title.
What's amazing is that the Warriors are insanely dominant now, yet they could have been even more dominant if they hadn't passed on so many stars in the draft. This team is scary enough with Curry, Kevin Durant, Green and Thompson. But imagine if some of their first-round selections over the years were used on guys that became bonafide studs.
Here is a look at how the last 15 first-round selections of the Warriors should have gone down.
15 Isaiah Whitehead (2016)
Original Pick: Damian Jones
It's far too early to guess how both Isaiah Whitehead and Damian Jones will play out. Both were late selections in a not-so-inspiring 2016 draft class. But from what we've seen so far, it appears as though Whitehead may have been the more logical selection for the Warriors.
As of this writing, Jones is averaging just 1.7 points, 1.8 rebounds and 7.3 minutes per game. It's unlikely he will ever truly blossom on a Warriors team that is loaded with depth. On the other front, Whitehead has posted respectable numbers on a lowly Brooklyn Nets team.
Whitehead has averaged 7.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. He's played solid defence and would be an ideal bench player for the Warriors. If he's playing decently in Brooklyn, imagine how much bettter Whitehead could be in Golden State?
14 Norman Powell (2015)
Original Pick: Kevon Looney
Kevon Looney appeared in just five games for the Warriors last season as a point guard, averaging 1.8 points and zero assists per game. The Warriors moved him to centre this year, but the change hasn't exactly paid off. Looney has just 2.6 points per game and likely isn't going to find his ground in Golden State.
But Norman Powell has enjoyed a couple of seasons in a bench role with the Toronto Raptors. The backup shooting guard has played well as of late with Kyle Lowry out, averaging 8.3 points per game so far in 2016-17. Powell also averaged 5.6 points per game last season. Those are pretty decent numbers for a bench player.
Perhaps Looney will find his groove in Golden State, but as of now, Powell looks like the man who would have been a better selection.
13 Draymond Green (2012)
Original Pick: Festus Ezeli
The Warriors wound up drafting Draymond Green in the second round with the 35th selection anyway. But he was the best player available, so in a re-draft, they'd have to take him as early as possible.
Green has been a force with the Warriors and was paramount in helping them win the NBA Championship in 2015. That season, he averaged 11.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He kicked it up a notch in 2015-16, averaging 14 points, 7.4 assists and 9.5 rebounds per game. Golden State set a record with 73 wins but failed to defend their World Series championship.
As of this writing, Green has career averages of nine points, 4.1 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game -- but those numbers are gradually getting better each season. No doubt the Warriors would pick him with that 30th selection.
12 Andre Drummond (2012)
Original Pick: Harrison Barnes
The Warriors drafted Harrison Barnes seventh-overall with this selection. Now, he didn't develop into a bust or anything, but the Warriors would be much scarier if they had Andre Drummond and Stephen Curry on the same team. Prior to moving on to the Dallas Mavericks last offseason, Barnes was a solid role player in Golden State, averaging 11.7 points per game in his four seasons there, helping the team win the 2015 NBA Championship.
But Andre Drummond is something else. The 23-year-old is among the league's best defensive players, averaging an insane 12.9 rebounds per game in his career thus far. On top of that, Drummond has averaged 13.4 points per game.
That's on a Detroit Pistons team that doesn't have a lot of talent outside of Drummond. Imagine just how much better he could be with Curry and Green. Drummond's size and defence could have been a difference maker in the 2016 Finals, too.
11 Kawhi Leonard (2011)
Original Pick: Klay Thompson
Now, the Warriors didn't make a mistake when they selected shooting guard Klay Thompson with the 11th-overall selection in 2011. He's been a great role player in Golden State and played a big hand in their 2015 Championship season, but Kawhi Leonard is a top-five player in the NBA. He was drafted 15th-overall by the Indiana Pacers but was traded to the San Antonio Spurs shortly thereafter.
What can we say about Leonard that you don't already know? He's only 25 years of age and has an NBA Championship, NBA Finals MVP award, is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and has averaged 16.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in his career.
The Spurs are hanging on as a huge threat to the Warriors because of Leonard. If the Warriors ended up with him, they'd have absolutely no competition in the Western Conference.
10 Paul George (2010)
Original Pick: Ekpe Udoh
The Warriors spent the sixth-overall selection on Ekpe Udoh, who has been out of the NBA for two years. He averaged just four points per game in his career and never found his ground with the Warriors. If only they used their selection on Paul George, who somehow fell to the Indiana Pacers at number 10.
What can we say about George? He's a top-10 player in the league with career averages of 17.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. George is a four-time All-Star and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team in 2014. He would have undoubtedly helped the Warriors defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in last year's Finals with his toughness and ability to attack and defend the rim.
Two world-class players in George and Curry? That'd be quite the duo.
9 Stephen Curry (2009)
Original Pick: Stephen Curry
No change here.
The Warriors changed the landscape of the NBA when they selected Stephen Curry seventh-overall in 2009. Curry has become the franchise cornerstone of the Warriors, winning the league MVP in 2015 and 2016. The 2015 NBA Champion has become one of the slickest shooters we've ever seen.
Curry is averaging an incredible 22.8 points and 6.8 assists per game in his career. He is on the verge of dethroning LeBron James as the league's best player -- if he hasn't already. Curry is the reason the Warriors went from mediocrity to the NBA's best team over these last three years.
It took a while for the Warriors to build around Curry and see the results, but it's happened. He's an absolute pleasure to watch and will bring even more championships to this franchise before too long.
8 Serge Ibaka (2008)
Original Pick: Anthony Randolph
Anthony Randolph spent two seasons with the Warriors, and averaged 11.6 points per game during the 2009-10 season. However, he was traded to the New York Knicks -- preventing any opportunities to be a difference maker in Golden State. Perhaps the Warriors should have selected defensive standout Serge Ibaka -- who fell to the Seattle SuperSonics with the 24th selection.
Ibaka has been one of the best two-way players in the NBA since he broke into the league. He was named to the All-Defensive First Team in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and has led the league in blocks twice.
Ibaka has averaged 12 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game throughout his career. The Warriors are a high-scoring team, but they don't have a defensive stalwart like Ibaka. Imagine if they had him instead of Randolph.
7 Marc Gasol (2007)
Original Pick: Marco Belinelli
This was the year where the eighth-seeded Warriors pulled off an upset for the ages -- taking down league MVP Dirk Nowitzki and the NBA's top team in the Dallas Mavericks during the first round of the playoffs. Golden State offered to draft Marco Belinelli with the 18th selection, but he failed to pan out.
Meanwhile, Marc Gasol wasn't selected until the 48th pick by the Los Angeles Lakers. He's been among the NBA's best defensive players for some time, winning the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2013. A three-time All-Star, Gasol has averaged 14.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in his career.
Like Ibaka, Gasol could have been a huge difference maker for Golden State with his incredible defensive abilities. He'd be a huge complement to Stephen Curry and the high-flying Golden State offence.
6 Paul Millsap (2006)
Original Pick: Patrick O'Bryant
The Warriors hoped that taking Patrick O'Bryant with the ninth-overall selection would provide this team with the franchise centreman they desired for a long time. But O'Bryant played in just 40 games over two seasons with the Warriors, and wound up averaging just 2.1 points peer game in his five NBA seasons.
The 2006 NBA Draft is easily one of the weakest of all-time. Though star point guards Rajon Rondo and Kyle Lowry were taken late in the first round, we won't have the Warriors taking either -- since they wound up with Stephen Curry some years later.
With that, Paul Millsap (taken 47th-overall), could have been the guy they were looking for up front. Millsap has averaged 14.2 points in his career and is always a threat to put up 20 points a night. That would have been quite the selection if the Warriors pulled it off back then.
5 Danny Granger (2005)
Original Pick: Ike Diogu
The 2005 NBA Draft is also one of the weakest of all-time, with Chris Paul being the lone legitimate star to come out of it. The Warriors drafted Ike Ike Diogu with the ninth-overall selection in 2005, but he played just two seasons with the Warriors, averaging 7.0 and 7.2 points per game over those years.
Meanwhile, Danny Granger somehow fell to the Indiana Pacers with the 17th selection in 2005. The 2009 All-Star was among the top small forwards in the league during his prime. He averaged 16.8 points per game in his career -- and that includes 25.8 points a game during the 2008-09 season.
Granger also had a field goal percentage of .434 in his career, and also shot .380 from downtown. He was one of the more underrated players of the 21st century, and could have been a big addition to the Warriors.
4 Al Jefferson (2004)
Original Pick: Andris Biedrins
Holding the 11th selection in 2004, the Warriors opted to go with 7-foot tall Latvian centre Andris Biedrins. He did average double-digit points in two seasons with the Warriors, but Biedrins never became superstar caliber. He averaged just 6.3 points but a respectable seven rebounds per game in his career.
Taking Al Jefferson (who was selected by the Boston Celtics with the 15th selection), would have been the better draft selection. Jefferson has enjoyed a solid career as one of the top forwards in the NBA, averaging 16 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in his career. Jefferson has also averaged over 20 points a season three different times.
We have absolutely no doubt he could have been quite the player with the likes of Jason Richardson, Baron Davis and Stephen Curry, we assume?
3 Kyle Korver (2003)
Original Pick: Mickael Pietrus
The 2003 NBA Draft is easily one of the greatest ever; just look at how four of the top five selections went down: LeBron James (first), Carmelo Anthony (third), Chris Bosh (fourth), and Dwyane Wade (fifth). Sadly for the Warriors, they didn't get to draft until 11th-overall. With that selection, they selected French small forward and shooting guard Mickael Pietrus.
Besides a career 2006-07 season that saw him average 11.1 points per game, Pietrus didn't quite pan out as expected. Meanwhile, Kyle Korver fell to the New Jersey Nets with the 51st selection. The 2015 NBA All-Star has averaged 10 points per game in his career and has shot a ridiculous .431 percent from downtown. Korver is one of the greatest pure shooters of his era, and that would make him and Stephen Curry a sniping duo for the ages.
2 Amar'e Stoudemire (2002)
Original Pick: Mike Dunleavy Jr.
The Warriors had a potentially franchise-changing third-overall selection in 2002. Instead of drafting a future star, they settled for Mike Dunleavy Jr. Now, Dunleavy wasn't necessarily a bust -- averaging 11.4 points per game in his career, but he did only spend five seasons in Golden State. As such, he didn't make much of an impact.
But what if they wound up with Amar'e Stoudemire? While healthy, he was one of the most dynamic scorers in the 2000s. The ninth-overall selection from 2002 turned the long-time losing Phoenix Suns into a Western Conference powerhouse. The six-time NBA All-Star averaged 18.9 points per game in his career and helped the Suns reach the Western Conference finals in 2006 and 2010.
Stoudemire averaged over 20 points per game in seven different seasons. Undoubtedly, he, Davis and Richardson could have turned the Warriors into a powerhouse well before Stephen Curry arrived.
1 Tony Parker (2001)
Original Pick: Troy Murphy
The Warriors actually drafted well in 2001 -- selecting Gilbert Arenas, Troy Murphy and Jason Richardson. But none of them were pure champions or NBA legends the way Tony Parker will go down in San Antonio.
Somehow, Parker wasn't selected until 28th-overall by the Spurs. He, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan made the Spurs a dynasty -- winning the NBA Championship in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014. Parker, a four-time All-Star, will go down as one of the greatest point guards ever.
Parker has averaged 16.2 points and 5.8 assists per game in his career, and won the 2007 NBA Finals MVP. Though Tim Duncan was undoubtedly the main cornerstone of the Spurs success, Parker was his right-hand man. The Warriors could have changed NBA history if they selected Parker.
But we're sure Spurs fans are just fine with how the Warriors drafted in 2001.
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