There are always mistakes made in the draft. Players get overlooked. Too much hype decides that a player is better than they actually are. There are so many different factors that go into a team making the correct draft choices. The worst part about it is that you do not really know what you have until it is too late. There are plenty of examples of players who were taken in the late lottery or even late first round who outplayed that initial draft position in the first year. There are other players who need a couple more years before they can develop into the dominant force that walks across the hardwood.
Every single year a team makes a big mistake, and the last 5 years were no exception. There were some bad mistakes as well. One of the worst ones that comes to mind is Anthony Bennett being taken first overall in 2013. Considering he never should have been drafted, we can go ahead and say that Cavs messed that one up. Then there are times when you trade up from the 3rd pick to the 1st pick and you still get the most disappointing player in the draft. I’m looking at you Philly. So here are last five years, re-drafted, with the players who all should have gone with the first 5 picks in each draft. When you think of what the NBA could've looked like had the best players been taken in the first five picks, it really stings teams that missed out on them.
Note: the five drafts covered will be 2013-2017, as we can't yet determine which teams made mistakes in the 2018 draft.
25 2013: 1st Overall – Giannis Antetokounmpo (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Original Pick: Anthony Bennett
The Greek Freak. He is very deserving of that name and is without a doubt the best player to come out of the 2013 NBA draft.
He has dominated the game for a while now.
Last year he lead his team in all five major categories, those five being; points, rebounds, steals, assists, and blocks. He still has room for improvement if he is able to get a jump shot and stretch the floor out as well. Giannis is probably a year and a teammate away from winning MVP.
24 2013: 2nd Overall – Rudy Gobert (Orlando Magic)
Original Pick: Victor Oladipo
Rudy Gobert has made a career even though he was selected so far back. He has constantly been in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. His defensive ability is what granted him the title of “Stifle Tower.” Standing at over 7 feet tall, he is one of the larger guys in the NBA. He is still working on his offensive skill set though. He has no mid-range game and definitely cannot stretch the floor. That being said, Rudy does deserve this spot.
23 2013: 3rd Overall – Victor Oladipo (Washington Wizards)
Original Pick: Otto Porter
Victor Oladipo finally showed what he had. He just had an explosive year in Indiana, helping them surpass preseason expectations. He made his first All-Star team and it was well deserved. The expectations on the Pacers this year were so low, but Oladipo led this team to a 7-game fight against the Cleveland Cavaliers before losing to the King. Oladipo unsurprisingly took home the Most Improved Player award this year, but still deserves to drop back from the second selection. While he did have a good season, the 2 in front of him has had a much better career overall.
22 2013: 4th Overall – C.J. McCollum (Charlotte Bobcats)
Original Pick: Cody Zeller
C.J. plays second fiddle to Damian Lillard. He has played great in that role and it would be great to see him have a team all to himself.
He has shown flashes in the times when Lillard went down with injury, leading the team to wins by running the offense through him.
He has a great ability to pass the ball and is a very natural and fluid scorer. He was the Most Improved Player in 2016 and has just barely missed the All-Star team twice in his career. Next season could be his first time.
21 2013: 5th Overall – Steven Adams (Phoenix Suns)
Original Pick: Alex Len
I believe Jimmy Butler said it best when he said that he is strong (using some colorful language to do so). Steven Adams has been a starter for the Thunder and has done very well in that spot, being a consistent scorer for the team. He is also the second leading rebounder on the team behind Westbrook obviously. He is also their defensive anchor. Steven Adams, without a doubt, deserved to be a top five pick looking back at this draft. Think of how much better the Suns could've been with him instead of Alex Len.
20 2014: 1st Overall – Joel Embiid (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Original Pick: Andrew Wiggins
JoJo is without a doubt the best player in this draft. Aside from the early injury struggles that he has had, Embiid has since gotten to full health and was a huge reason Philly finally turned the corner this past season. Joel Embiid is also the best trash talker in the game. He also has quite the offensive ability. He usually plays at the high post giving him the options to set the pick and either roll to the basket or pop out for the shot. He also dominates the defensive end of the floor which has led to him being a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
19 2014: 2nd Overall – Nikola Jokic (Milwaukee Bucks)
Original Pick: Jabari Parker
The Joker is one of the more underrated centers in the league. He scores the ball with ease and defends with the best of them He is also quite the passer. Jokic has some of the best passing highlights as well.
You can almost always count on him making the perfect no-look pass to his teammates for an easy dunk or a wide open 3.
He can fool the defense so easily because he is so talented at scoring the ball himself that they are scared about being embarrassed by him.
18 2014: 3rd Overall – Andrew Wiggins (Philadelphia 76ers)
Original Pick: Joel Embiid
With Joel Embiid off the board in this re-draft, Wiggins isn't a bad consolation prize for Philly here. Wiggins is a great offensive player, even if he is not a shutdown defender, or even much of a defender at all. Wiggins' ability to score is what puts him up so high. The Timberwolves believed in him and gave him a very good contract to show it. He still has room to improve in both efficiency and defense. He was a big reason that the Wolves finally broke their longest playoff drought in NBA history and is on his way to help them win their first playoff series.
17 2014: 4th Overall – Dario Saric (Orlando Magic)
Original Pick: Aaron Gordon
Saric was originally drafted by the Magic and was a draft day trade. He joined the 76ers after playing out his last few years in Europe. He came over and has shown he has the juice. Had he not been a draft-and-stash, he probably would have gone higher than his original draft spot at 12 anyway. Saric is an overall good player. He contributes on both ends of the floor. Saric is a great player and deserves way more credit than given.
16 2014: 5th Overall – Clint Capela (Utah Jazz)
Original Pick: Dante Exum
Clint is the rebounding, shot blocking, anchor for the Houston Rockets and has been pivotal in their success for the last few years. Without Capela in this lineup, they would not be able to have the success they've had on defense.
His length and athleticism helps him block shots at their peak, as well as catching lobs on the opposite end of the court.
Going from the 25th pick to the 5th pick just how badly teams missed on him back in 2014.
15 2015: 1st Overall – Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Original Pick: Karl-Anthony Towns
I don't think anyone would argue against this pick. It was a no-brainer then, and it's a no-brainer now. From his offensive abilities to his defensive prowess, KAT can hurt you any way he sees fit. He can stretch the floor or go to work down in the post. He can guard other bigs or even hold his own for most of the guards in the league when he gets switched on them. Towns is the cornerstone of the Timberwolves, so hopefully they can keep him happy.
14 2015: 2nd Overall – Devin Booker (Los Angeles Lakers)
Original Pick: D'Angelo Russell
Boy, did the Lakers whiff on this pick. Devin Booker is an absolute scoring machine. He scored 70 points in a game, and he shows no signs of slowing down. Booker should be getting a lot more help this offseason, with incoming rookies Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges. Those three players should develop pretty well side-by-side. They will be a really scary team in this league once again, just as they were when Steve Nash was running things. Devin Booker is just the start of it all.
13 2015: 3rd Overall – Kristaps Porzingis (Philadelphia 76ers)
Original Pick: Jahlil Okafor
"The Process" would've been a lot quicker in Philly, had they taken Porzingis over Okafor. Looking back at the 2015 draft, there is quite the dropoff in talent outside of the three best players.
Porzingis is one of the best players in the NBA and proves it every night.
He was on the way to a career season before he suffered an ACL injury this season. Now it remains to be seen how he bounces back from this injury. The Knicks can't afford to rush him back.
12 2015: 4th Overall – Myles Turner (New York Knicks)
Original Pick: Kristaps Porzingis
As you can see, there's quite the dropoff in talent outside of the top three players from 2015, with all due respect to Turner.
Myles Turner played in 20 less games than he did last year due to injury. That also resulted in him going down in every category. That being said, he is going to be way more available this season and that should lead to him being a great player once again. He is without a doubt the 4th best player from this draft class.
11 2015: 5th Overall – Terry Rozier (Orlando Magic)
Original Pick: Mario Hezonja
There is a reason that he got the title of Scary Terry this offseason. He really flourished in the absence of Kyrie Irving this past season. He could be the starting point guard on a team that was not as talented as the Celtics are. He has developed into a very clutch player and can score with ease. He's hit some very difficult late in games to put his team ahead and win games in crunch time.
10 2016: 1st Overall – Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)
Original Pick: Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons is without a doubt the best player from this draft. Although he missed his first season due to injury, his second season was led by him dominating the league in any way he wanted to.
Philly fans gathered a huge sigh of relief, as Simmons rebounded from his injury and wound up winning Rookie of the Year.
The only thing him holding him back is his lack of a jump shot. During the season, he only made 30 shots from outside the paint. In the playoffs, he did not even attempt that many. He needs to work on that so he can really become great, but his is still going to be a force without it.
9 2016: 2nd Overall – Jaylen Brown (Los Angeles Lakers)
Original Pick: Brandon Ingram
Jaylen Brown’s second season was far better than his first. His second playoff appearance was miles better than his first one as well. He showed that he can be a big player in the NBA. He was so important in their postseason success that he has definitely secured his place as a man in green for the long haul. Jaylen Brown is undoubtedly the second-best player in this draft. He'll be a big part of the Celtics for the foreseeable future, while he could've been that for the Lakers.
8 2016: 3rd Overall – Jamal Murray (Boston Celtics)
Original Pick: Jaylen Brown
Jamal Murray proved why he should have been taken sooner in the 2016 draft this season. He went up in every category and was given the nod at starter for 80 games this season. He averaged 16.4 points along with 3.4 assists. He might be a bit of a liability on the defensive end, but what he does for the offense on the other end more than makes up for it. He helped the Nuggets all season and they were one game away from reaching the playoffs. If he continues to improve, the Nuggets should be back in the postseason soon.
7 2016: 4th Overall – Brandon Ingram (Phoenix Suns)
Original Pick: Dragan Bender
Brando Ingram has real star potential. It is yet to be realized but he still needs more time to develop.
He has shown a lot of flashes of being great.
The Lakers are treating him just right. He went up in all categories in this season compared to his first season. He did have a lot of injuries this past season, but this offseason should give him plenty of time to fully heal and be ready to contribute to whatever needs to team needs to be great.
6 2016: 5th Overall – Buddy Hield (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Original Pick: Kris Dunn
Buddy Hield has been a great player. He will not be the “next Steph Curry” as he was referred to by Vlade Divac when he did the most one-sided trade in the world and traded DeMarcus Cousins for him, Tyreke Evans, and a few draft picks. But he will be a very good role player in his time, even as a starter. Hield still holds a lot of potential and it is good that the Kings are buying into him.
5 2017: 1st Overall – Jayson Tatum
Original Pick: Markelle Fultz
Jayson Tatum showed everything and so much more you want from a rookie this season and showed even more during the postseason. His stats went up in almost every category from the regular to the postseason. He really carried this team to the Eastern Conference Finals and more than that, he went right at the King, LeBron James. Finding how each one of these young guys will handle the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward will be a fun challenge for Brad Stevens.
4 2017: 2nd Overall – Donovan Mitchell (Los Angeles Lakers)
Original Pick: Lonzo Ball
Donovan Mitchell was only the runner-up to Rookie of the Year this season because Ben Simmons missed his actual rookie year to an injury. But in terms of the 2017 draft class, Mitchell was the best rookie this past season.
Mitchell is looking like the steal of the 2017 draft, as the Jazz shocked the NBA this year by reaching the second round of the playoffs, despite losing Gordon Hayward last offseason.
While Lonzo Ball showed signs of improvement as the season went on and while he has buffed up this offseason, Mitchell looks like he should've been the Lakers pick last year.
3 2017: 3rd Overall – Lauri Markkanen (Boston Celtics)
Original Pick: Jayson Tatum
Lauri Markkanen is constantly compared to Dirk Nowitzki. It might be a bit soon to compare him to this German great, but the likeness is there. Both are European, can stretch the floor, and are pretty stout defensively. Lauri showed that he can really lead a team as well this season. This Bulls team was fully expected to be the worst in the league, and Lauri pushed to make sure they weren’t. They might have been the 7th worst in the league, but that is still miles better than where they could have been and they show promise.
2 2017: 4th Overall – Kyle Kuzma (Phoenix Suns)
Original Pick: Josh Jackson
You can make the argument for Donovan Mitchell being the steal of the 2017 draft, but Kyle Kuzma arguably deserves that distinction as well.
After proving his worth in the summer league, he was able to show he could do it even better in the NBA.
Starting in 37 of his 77 played games he averaged 16.1 points as well as 6.3 rebounds. After being taken 27th in the draft, the jump might be big but it is more than deserved to make this move. He is going to help the Lakers for years to come.
1 2017: 5th Overall – Dennis Smith Jr. (Sacramento Kings)
Original Pick: DeAaron Fox
Dennis Smith Jr. is a fantastic player in the NBA. He still is a bit inconsistent but he is without a doubt a legitimate starter in the NBA. With Luka Doncic coming to town, he will not have so many playmaking responsibilities and really will have to focus on his strength. With the rumors of the Mavericks having a strong play at DeMarcus Cousins, he does not have to worry about his defense so much either, so he can really be great next year.