Buyer's remorse is a real phenomenon as it pertains to draft classes across sports competitions, and the NBA is definitely part of that. A player selected with a top-five or top-ten pick does not necessarily need to be seen as a bust or a wasted selection to lead observers and fans wishing that franchise had gone in a different direction when evaluating that process during a re-drafting simulation. Sometimes, upon looking back, a front office, general manager and/or coaching staff may simply feel a different player would have been a better fit. In other cases, multiple teams would stay the course while re-drafting at-the-time rookies.
A plethora of tremendous talent has entered the league via the last four NBA Drafts, and those athletes lead diehard fans to believe the future of the Association is, indeed, bright. There are, however, multiple instances of franchises possibly going with different players if given the gift of re-drafting top picks. It is practically a guarantee that the league would look quite different if one could flip a switch and allow clubs to re-draft with the benefit of hindsight. It is also possible that one or more of these re-drafts will be silly come 2022, if not sooner. After all, things change quickly in the NBA.
20 First Overall (2014): Andrew Wiggins
Original Pick: Andrew Wiggins
Yes, it is tempting to give either Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic to the Cleveland Cavaliers with this pick. What one has to remember is that the Cavaliers were always planning on using this selection to package Wiggins in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and those running the organization would still make that transaction 100 times out of 100 if given the chance to do so by Minnesota. After all, that trade directly resulted in the Cavaliers winning a title and ending the much-publicized championship drought that haunted the city of Cleveland for over 50 years. That one title is priceless for fans of this organization.
19 Second Overall (2014): Joel Embiid
Original Pick: Jabari Parker
The worries that Joel Embiid would never become even a reliable starter because of injury problems were real by the end of the 2014 season. We all know better by now. Had the Milwaukee Bucks drafted “The Process” four years ago, the team could have been presented with some tasty options once Embiid was healthy and able to feature in the lineup. Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo playing alongside each other would be downright unfair in just about every simulation. The Bucks also could have turned the Embiid pick into other valuable assets down the road once he proved he could remain healthy and evolve into a future MVP candidate.
18 Third Overall (2014): Nikola Jokic
Original Pick: Joel Embiid
Those who follow the Philadelphia 76ers may not want to even think about a situation where Joel Embiid is not part of the club’s current Process. That’s fair, but Nikola Jokic would still be a good get for the Sixers if the team was forced to re-draft without Embiid available in 2014. Jokic turns only 24-years-old next February, but some out there already believe that he could be the greatest passing big man in the history of the sport. It is not a stretch to suggest that we have not yet seen Jokic at his best. Perhaps his development in Philadelphia over the years could have caused some to even forget that the Sixers miss out on Embiid in our re-draft.
17 Fourth Overall (2014): Aaron Gordon
Original Pick: Aaron Gordon
There are some other intriguing options here for the Orlando Magic, but the promise still had by Aaron Gordon as of the fall of 2018 makes him the pick for the Magic four years after the fact. Gordon is not only the face of the Magic heading toward 2019 and what those running the club will hope to be brighter days for the organization. The 23-year-old has shown real improvement each season in the league. There was a time, not all that long ago, when Gordon was mostly known for going viral on Twitter and Instagram for his highlight-reel dunks. He’s a much better all-around force than he was as a rookie.
16 Fifth Overall (2014): Gary Harris
Original Pick: Dante Exum
This would not have even been a thought in anybody’s minds following the end of the 2014-15 season. Gary Harris is now seen as arguably the biggest steal of the 2014 NBA Draft, so much so that the Utah Jazz don’t let him get out of the top-five in this scenario. Much like with the previously mentioned Aaron Gordon, Harris’ numbers improved with each year, and that again looks to be the case at the beginning of the 2018-19 campaign. In early November 2018, Matthew Huff of Nugg Love suggested that Harris was his side’s most improved player. The Jazz don’t pass on that kind of upside in this re-draft.
15 First Overall (2015): Karl-Anthony Towns
Original Pick: Karl-Anthony Towns
This is one of the easier selections of any of the re-drafts from the last four years. KAT is not only worth a first overall pick in just about any draft class. KAT is already one of the truly elite offensive big men in the game who could, in time, become a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. The Timberwolves happily signed Towns to a super-maximum extension that should keep him part of the organization for at least the next five seasons. If anything, Minnesota is probably thinking twice about bringing Jimmy Butler to town to team with Towns and others, but that’s a different topic for a different piece.
14 Second Overall (2015): Kristaps Porzingis
Original Pick: D'Angelo Russell
There are some re-drafts for the 2015 NBA Draft out there that have somebody other than Kristaps Porzingis in this spot because of the big man’s injury history, most notably the torn ACL he suffered in February 2018. By the end of the decade, we all may view Porzingis as somebody who will never reach his full potential because his body routinely betrays him. For now, though, the thought of putting Porzingis out West with Showtime is too good to pass up. Besides, who among you wouldn’t want to see LeBron James playing in the same lineup with a healthy Unicorn and possibly Kevin Durant in October 2019?
13 Third Overall (2015): Devin Booker
Original Pick: Jahlil Okafor
Jahlil Okafor could still turn his basketball career around, but he will probably do so overseas if he manages to accomplish that goal at all. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers could have instead taken Devin Booker. Booker was such an offensive force two years into the league that there were rumors that LeBron James wanted him to join the Cleveland Cavaliers ahead of what became the King’s final season of his second stint in Northeast Ohio. As one of the top steals from the 2015 NBA Draft, the 22-year-old could compete for a scoring title as early as 2020. If only the Suns could put some real talent behind this guy.
12 Fourth Overall (2015): Myles Turner
Original Pick: Kristaps Porzingis
New York Knicks fans go from booing the Kristaps Porzingis pick in real life (can you still believe that actually happened?) to instead wishing they could have had the Unicorn instead of Myles Turner in our re-draft. This isn’t a knock on Turner, who appeared to be on the cusp of becoming a special talent two years into his career. The 22-year-old merely has not taken the next figurative step. If anything, he’s gone in the opposite direction. Indiana signed Turner to a four-year extension in October, largely because of what he could still become. The Knicks, especially the team’s fanbase, would want him to be elite by now.
11 Fifth Overall (2015): D'Angelo Russell
Original Pick: Mario Hezonja
Here is where things in a relatively lackluster NBA Draft class get tricky. For example, the Orlando Magic could take Kelly Oubre Jr. with the fifth pick. Instead, we give Orlando D'Angelo Russell with the hope that maybe a little bit of stability helps him reach the expectations so many had for him back in the summer of 2015. While Russell will be 23-years-old by the end of the current campaign, he is still evolving. Besides, being away from the Los Angeles Lakers and the drama that came during the early portion of his career could do him some good in our re-draft.
10 First Overall (2016): Ben Simmons
Original Pick: Ben Simmons
Fears some might have had about Ben Simmons after he missed what should have been his rookie season because of injury look comical in November 2018. Simmons was not only great for the Philadelphia 76ers during his official debut campaign. He produced historic numbers, so much so that more than a few observers and journalists compared him to none other than Magic Johnson. Simmons can do it all on the floor, and he may actually be underrated since some don’t realize how excellent of a defender he already is at his young age. He’s one of the reasons some see the 76ers as contenders to win the East this season.
9 Second Overall (2016): Brandon Ingram
Original Pick: Brandon Ingram
How you view re-drafts may affect your opinion of this selection. We keep Brandon Ingram with the Los Angeles Lakers because of what he could still turn into while playing alongside LeBron James. Ingram’s 6-foot-9 frame, 7-foot-3 wingspan and increased scoring during his second season in the league all make him the right man for the Lakers as of now. Granted, Ingram won’t get any free passes moving forward, especially if a certain King in the lineup feels that anybody in the lineup needs to be removed from the equation. Ingram’s long-term future may not be in L.A., but he stays with the Lakers in this re-draft.
8 Third Overall (2016): Malcolm Brogdon
Original Pick: Jaylen Brown
Jaylen Brown got to break out with the Boston Celtics during the 2017-18 season when others around him went down to injury. The Celtics would probably still be happy to keep him on the roster, but the thought of having the 2017 NBA Rookie of the Year prevents the Celtics keeping the original selection. Malcolm Brogdon needs to work on his defending, no question, and his injury history sets off alarms. Imagine him in the same lineup as Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, though. If nothing else, he’d see plenty of open looks on the perimeter, and he’d also be an excellent set-up man.
7 Fourth Overall (2016): Jaylen Brown
Original Pick: Dragan Bender
The harsh truth is that we need to see a bit more from Jaylen Brown in the full-time Boston lineup to understand what he will or won’t be with that side. With the Phoenix Suns, Brown would be able to mature and develop at a slower pace without a one-time NBA champion expected to guide Boston back to the Eastern Conference Finals alongside him. The 22-year-old became a vital defender for Boston his second season in the league. He could potentially do wonders for a Phoenix side notorious for being a lousy defending team for pretty much all of the 2010s.
6 Fifth Overall (2016): Jamal Murray
Original Pick: Kris Dunn
At least this re-draft situation gives the Minnesota Timberwolves the option of not trading for Jimmy Butler and avoiding all of the headaches that followed that transaction that didn’t seem all that lousy at the time. Murray isn’t as good as Butler, but the 21-year-old who shot nearly 38 percent form beyond the arc in 2017-18 and who is a top-tier ball-handler wouldn’t bring any drama into the locker room or into practices. We also have no reason to believe that Minnesota would have shipped Murray out of town as the club did with Kris Dunn after only one season.
5 First Overall (2017): Donovan Mitchell
Original Pick: Markelle Fultz
There is obviously still plenty of time for Markelle Fultz to fix his supposed broken jumper and prove that the Philadelphia 76ers did not make a mistake during the 2017 NBA Draft. As good as Fultz may become, there’s no chance the franchise would pass on Donovan Mitchell. The only reason Mitchell did not win Rookie of the Year for the 2017-18 campaign was because of the absurd numbers produced by Ben Simmons. "Spida" playing alongside Simmons and Joel Embiid would create all kinds of problems for Eastern Conference opponents. It could even make the Sixers favorites to win the Conference, if not more, this season.
4 Second Overall (2017): Jayson Tatum
Original Pick: Lonzo Ball
This isn’t just about the Los Angeles Lakers, specifically LeBron James, escaping the circus that comes with having Lonzo Ball and his outspoken father involved with the organization, although that does play a role in the decision. Granted, having Tatum, Brandon Ingram, and James on the roster may not work out for different reasons, but Tatum shooting over 43 percent from three-point range and playing good defense makes him a smarter pick for the Lakers than either Ball or Markelle Fultz. The Lakers would love this pick even more if those who have compared Tatum to Paul George over the past year are spot-on with those evaluations.
3 Third Overall (2017): Lauri Markkanen
Original Pick: Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum isn’t available in this re-draft, so the Boston Celtics instead grab the best offensive forward on the overall board. As Justin Spears of the Arizona Daily Star explained earlier this year, Lauri Markkanen became the fastest player in NBA history to drain 100 three-pointers when he did so in 41 contests. In total, the 21-year-old converted on 145 of 401 threes his rookie campaign. Markkanen isn’t nearly the defender that Tatum already is, but one should not discount what the 7-footer could provide for the Boston offense that would also feature Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Remember that this re-draft is for 2017, meaning that Jaylen Brown and his defensive skills would still be with the Celtics.
2 Fourth Overall (2017): Kyle Kuzma
Original Pick: Josh Jackson
If you really wanted to, you could make the argument for the Phoenix Suns taking either Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball with this selection. The Suns are absolutely awful however, and that roster needs talent for now rather than potential and hope for the future. Kyle Kuzma, originally the 27th pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, is the play here. As a rookie, Kuzma averaged 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, and he would have provided a spark and an injection of life into a lineup that also features Devin Booker. That duo isn’t enough to make Phoenix a contender, but it’s a good start.
1 Fifth Overall (2017): Lonzo Ball
Original Pick: De'Aaron Fox
Let’s have some fun with our final re-draft pick. Yes, the Sacramento Kings having to deal with LaVar Ball not actually “speaking into existence” Lonzo Ball landing with the Los Angeles Lakers could be obnoxious. At least this re-draft occurs on-paper where nobody has to hear those interviews. Besides, it’s not as if the Kings don’t have a need for a little star power and also a talented player at the position. Ball’s vision is already ahead of where it should be for somebody his age and with his experience, and that part of his game will only get better. If his shooting improves, he’s well worth this pick for the Kings.