In the last five years we've seen some terrific talent enter the NBA. Re-drafting is always a fun process since it lets us reminisce by looking back at the way players were perceived before their names were called to the stage. Not every draft can be as loaded as the 2003 class but every player has the chance to make an impact regardless of what pick they are taken with. Every general manager has the fear of drafting a bust. A bad pick can place a franchise in jeopardy for years to come which is why it's important for front offices to do their homework before they make their final decision.
In this list we will look at the more recent talent, more specifically the top three picks in the last five drafts. By no means does being taken early in the draft mean that a player will automatically become a superstar. There are several names that are vastly outplaying their late draft spots and vice versa. All of the players here are quickly becoming a key asset to their teams and should be for quite some time. They are the next faces of the NBA. With that being said let's get things started.
15 2012: 1st - Anthony Davis - New Orleans Pelicans
Original Pick: 1st Overall
This is an obvious one. Anthony Davis is putting up MVP type numbers. The only reason why he doesn't get more recognition in the voting is because New Orleans just isn't very good. It was almost impossible for Davis to exceed his production from last season but to no ones surprise he has. In the very first game of the year, Davis dropped 50 points against the Nuggets. Talk about getting things off to a hot start. His averages of 28 points on 50 percent shooting, 11 rebounds and 2.4 blocks this season are nothing short of spectacular and those numbers should carry over to next year as long as he can stay healthy. The sky is the limit for The Brow. Hopefully the Pelicans can surround him with better talent since him and Demarcus Cousins can't do everything.
14 2012 - 2nd: Damian Lillard - Charlotte Hornets
Original Pick: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
After Portland saw every single starter from the 2014 season leave via trades or free agency, Damian Lillard was left all alone to fend for himself in Oregon. Cue the sad violin music. While the team has fallen in the standings, Lillard has embraced the leadership role and has continued to play terrific basketball. He's averaged 22 points since entering the league five years ago and was named the 2013 Rookie of the Year. Two All-Star selections have also been added to his resume to further establish his spot on our list. This season he is averaging a career high 26 points to go along with 5.9 assist and 5 rebounds.
If there's anything that Lillard could improve on it's his defense. Portland is currently 27th in defensive efficiency so any help on that end of the floor will be highly valued. Will they make the playoffs this year? We'll just have to wait and find out for ourselves.
13 2012: 3rd - Bradley Beal - Washington Wizards
Original Pick: Bradley Beal
There are a number of scary backcourts in the NBA. The Washington Wizards have one of them. John Wall and Bradley Beal have propelled their team to the third spot in the Eastern Conference after getting off to a slow start in the beginning of the season. Beal has become one of the more under the radar shooting guards but it's understandable since there are so many outstanding players at the same position.
That doesn't mean he hasn't been effective though. In 56 games he has averaged 22.7 points on 47 percent shooting. Wow. That percentage puts him at third in the league with the rest of the two guards. We can't bring up Beal and not talk about his three-point game though. Shooting just under 40 percent from deep has given John Wall a more than suitable option to pass to on the wing while driving towards the hoop. It's clear that Beal is about to reach the next level in his progression. The spacing in Washington has never looked better as the team is currently fifth in three-point percentage. It's going to be very interesting to see what Washington can do in this years playoffs.
12 2013: 1st - Giannis Antetokounmpo - Cleveland Cavaliers
Original Pick: Anthony Bennett
Nobody expected the Greek Freak to already be an All-Star just four years into the league. He definitely deserved it this year though since the point-forward is leading his team in points (23.2 points per game), rebounds (8.7 per game), assist (5.5 per game), steals (1.7 per game) and blocks (2 per game) this season. Unbelievable considering the fact that he's still just 22 years old. Antetokounmpo was the first player to represent the Milwaukee Bucks in the All-Star game since Michael Redd was selected to the team in 2004. I think we can all agree the former has a chance to be much better than the latter.
Head coach Jason Kidd has one of the most valuable weapons at his disposal in Antetokounmpo as he can guard any position on the floor and push the ball like none other. There's nothing better than seeing him go from one end of the court to the other and throw one down like nothing. Milwaukee looks to have a bright future. They just need to make sure that they surround their star player with as much talent as possible.
11 2013: 2nd - Victor Oladipo - Orlando Magic
Original Pick: Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo was one of the better players on the Orlando Magic during his three years with the team. He averaged 15 points per game on 43 percent shooting while wearing the classic pinstripe jerseys. Not bad. This season he finds himself in new territory after being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason. His stats are starting to look pretty similar to his days in Orlando but a slightly improved three-point percentage of 35 percent is somewhat promising. It's still pretty average but OKC is going to need all the long balls they can get since they are currently 29th in three point field goal percentage. Oladipo has been sidelined for quite some time now and its clear that the Thunder could use his efforts as the team has been in a bit of a funk lately.
10 2013: 3rd - Rudy Gobert - Washington Wizards
Original Pick: Otto Porter
The Gobert report states that the French center is one of the hidden gems of the 2013 draft. Gobert and Jae Crowder have really outplayed their original spots in the 2013 draft. The Stifle Tower is quickly becoming one of the most dominant centers in the game of basketball. Averaging a double-double this season with 13 points and 12 rebounds, Gobert is currently shooting 64 percent from the field.
In all honesty (I expect to get a bit of flack with this next statement) he had a better argument for an All-Star spot than Draymond Green this season. Green gets the benefit of playing on the best team in the league but don't count out the Jazz as they are currently 4th in the Western Conference. The defensive anchor has become one of the best rim protectors in the NBA by averaging 2.5 block per game this season and should continue to destroy any shots that come his way. Perhaps a Defensive Player of the Year Award may find its way into Gobert's hands in the near future.
9 2014: 1st - Andrew Wiggins - Cleveland Cavaliers
Original Pick: Andrew Wiggins
What's next for Andrew Wiggins? The 2015 Rookie of the Year has lived up to draft expectations but has been in a weird spot this season. He is currently averaging 23 points with Minnesota and has the potential to be an All-Star. The question is when. When will we see this come to fruition? He had a shot at making this years Western Conference team but an 11-24 start really hurt his chances. Coach Thibodeau and the rest of his squad are in need of a leader.
Yes, Wiggins (22) and Karl Anthony-Towns (21) are still very young but there's no doubt that those two are going to be seen as the captains of this team for many years to come. It's hard to make a statement in the NBA when your team is struggling to put together wins. Right now Wiggins should look to crash the glass a bit more effectively (4.1 RPG) and to improve his three-point shooting (32 percent on his career so far). His current streak of games with 20 or more points is only increasing and is one of the more impressive stats of the season. We'll just have to see if he can take the next step in his game and be more effective in other areas as well.
8 2014: 2nd - Joel Embiid - Milwaukee Bucks
Original Pick: Jabari Parker
It might have been only 31 games but in that stretch Joel Embiid showed that he is a star in the making. The Process has given Philadelphia new hope in the game of basketball. It's a feel good story that the franchise definitely deserves since they've been synonymous with losing for several years now. The Kansas product averaged 20 points, 7.8 rebounds and an eye-catching 2.5 blocks during his limited time. While the NBA has been primarily guard focused for the past few years, Embiid's low post presence and superb defense have made him an asset that the 76ers could easily build around. Plus he's not too bad at putting the ball on the floor either.
Embiid clearly has the swagger to become an All-Star and should become one if he can stay healthy. He really should have earned that date with Rihanna. Like they say there's always next year.
7 2014: 3rd - Jabari Parker - Philadelphia 76ers
Original Pick: Joel Embiid
Nothing was worse than seeing Parker go down with another torn ACL in the same knee he injured during the 2014-15 season. It's pretty amazing at how much the Chicago native has improved his game over the past three years. Before he went down last month, Parker was averaging 20 points per game on 49 percent shooting. That's six more points than the season before. That is a massive jump to make in just the third year of your professional career. Not to mention he was coming off the first ACL injury and showed no signs of a setback from it. The only thing that he could improve on is his rebound as he averaged just five per game this year. Fingers crossed that he can come back the same player we witnessed this season before everything went down.
6 2015: 1st - Karl-Anthony Towns - Minnesota Timberwolves
Original Pick: Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns is on his way to becoming one of the best centers in the game. After becoming just the fifth unanimous Rookie of the Year last season, Towns is already putting up All-Star like numbers. This season KAT is averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds on 52 percent shooting. The only reason why him and fellow wing man Andrew Wiggins weren't named to the All-Star game is because they play for a struggling Timberwolves team (and the fact the it's basically a popularity contest at this point). The talent is certainly there in Minnesota. As I mentioned earlier, this team is missing a veteran leader who can help guide them to more victories. Kevin Garnett mentored the team during his last two seasons but since he's retired they have looked lost a bit lost on the court. It's scary to think what kind of player Towns can become as he's already solidifying his spot as one of the best big men to come into the league in recent years.
5 2015: 2nd - Kristaps Porziņģis - Los Angeles Lakers
Original Pick: D'Angelo Russell
If there's one bright spot in the New York Knicks this season it's Kristaps Porziņģis. The Latvian player has seen his numbers rise in his second season and could potentially become the focal point of the Knicks offense if Carmelo Anthony ends up being traded. He should probably already be the main piece in their offense since Anthony has been on the decline since 2013. A solid jump shot has allowed him to become a threat from mid range and behind the arc. He's quickly becoming a very well-rounded player and also helps on the defensive end of the court by averaging just under two block a game. Hard to believe that Knicks fans were booing this guy on draft day. Granted he was relatively unknown heading into it but he has certainly proved all of his doubters wrong.
4 2015: 3rd - D'Angelo Russell - Philadelphia 76ers
Original Pick: Jahlil Okafor
He's got ice in his veins! That signature pose is pretty great but it's not what kept D'Angelo Russell in our top three. Russell could be the Lakers starting point guard for many years to come and the team hopes he can continue to increase his production. After averaging 13 points in his rookie season, the Ohio State alumni has quietly bumped that number to 14 this season while shooting 40 percent from the field. The only thing holding him back are his assist numbers. It's important to make your team better and not just yourself. Russell hasn't seen a shot he doesn't like but it doesn't hurt to pass the rock every now and then. Of course the talent around him isn't the greatest so those numbers might be a bit better if he was on another team. With Magic Johnson at the helm Russell might want to start living up the legendary point guards expectations. Johnson knows it's going to take time to rebuild the team but that doesn't mean Russell's spot is safe. There's plenty of talent coming in for Johnson to look into.
3 2016: 1st - Jaylen Brown - Philadelphia 76ers
Original Pick: Ben Simmons
This spot could easily have gone to Ben Simmons but his injuries this year have caused him to slide down a bit. Jaylen Brown has really stepped up these past two months as the team makes a push for first in the Eastern Conference. When Avery Bradley went down in February with an Achilles injury, Brown was looked upon as the next man up to fill in for him. He made the most of his playing time and now plays a more prominent role in Boston's rotation. Averaging 10 points in February, Brown also improved his jump shot in the process (45.5 percent from three in the month). The hard work has certainly shown off and should place him with the rest of the candidates for Rookie of the Year.
2 2016: 2nd - Malcolm Brogdon - Los Angeles Lakers
Original Pick: Brandon Ingram
Last year's draft class wasn't the most talented but Malcolm Brogdon is still putting up numbers that vastly outweigh his draft spot (36th). While he might not be the flashiest player on the court (although he did have two nasty dunks over Kyrie Irving and LeBron James) Brogdon is averaging 9.9 points while shooting 42 percent from three. In just his second start of his career he recorded a triple-double against the Chicago Bulls in January becoming the first rookie to do so this season.
Brogdon has been sharing the starting point guard role with Matthew Dellavedova but seems to be the player with more potential as the latter has been quite inconsistent as of late. Just another hidden gem in a less than stellar draft class.
1 2016: 3rd - Ben Simmons - Milwaukee Bucks
Original Pick: Jaylen Brown
Ben Simmons has a ton of potential and should make for a decent duo with Joel Embiid. However, he has yet to play a game in the NBA which is why he finds himself at number three by default. He played in the 2016 NBA Summer League but the exhibition contests just aren't enough to go off of due to the pace and talent displayed in them. A fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot, which occurred during the final scrimmage of training camp, sidelined him indefinitely and added his name to a list of players that have dealt with injury woes in Philadelphia.
The 76ers and numerous basketball fans were hopeful that the Australian would eventually see the court this season but on February 24th, 2017 the team ruled him out for the rest of the year. We'll give him some time to recover but were going to expect him to play eventually. Let's hope that the time off will let him come back at 100 percent.