Every May, NBA teams in the draft lottery hope and pray that the ping pong balls will bounce their way so they can obtain a selection towards the front of the line. Yet, while the opportunity to select first or second is quite the luxury as you have your pick of the litter, it doesn't always translate to the selection of a pivotal piece for your franchise, let alone a franchise player.
While franchise players such as Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving and Karl Anthony-Towns have all been selected first respectively, there have also been a number of those who proved that the last thing they were worthy of was the number one selection in the NBA Draft. Teams make mishaps at all slots and in each and every season. This is not a trend that is going to change today, tomorrow or ever for that matter. Here, we take a look at fifteen current NBA Superstars and what team they should have been drafted by.
15 Kevin Durant - Portland Trail Blazers
Kevin Durant sent shockwaves across the league on July 4th, 2016 when he declared he was departing the Oklahoma City Thunder in order to sign with the Golden State Warriors. While Thunder fans were understandably upset over the fact that they had lost the face of their franchise, they were at least fortunate to have "KD" play for their Sooner State basketball club for eight seasons. The same cannot be said about Rip City's franchise, the Portland Trail Blazers. Having the number one pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the Trail Blazers elected to select promising Ohio State big man Greg Oden over the lanky, scoring Texas Longhorn, Durant. Oden only ended up playing two seasons for the Blazers and only accumulated eighty-two games for the team (the equivalent of one whole regular season). Oden has been out of the NBA since 2014 while Durant remains one of the NBA's top players to this day.
14 Stephen Curry - Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves didn't just pass on Stephen Curry once in the 2009 NBA Draft, but they passed on him twice! To add insult to injury, the Wolves didn't just select one point guard before Curry, but they selected two! First, the Glenn Taylor-owned franchise selected Ricky Rubio from Spain who, to his credit, has proven to be a serviceable PG for the team to this day. Second, the Wolves took Syracuse Orange PG Jonny Flynn, who proved to be a massive bust. Flynn has been out of the league since 2012 and last played professionally in 2014 in Italy for Orlandina Basket. Meanwhile, Curry is the two-time reigning NBA MVP, a four-time NBA All-Star, arguably the game's best PG and arguably the game's most deadly shooter from behind the arc.
13 Carmelo Anthony - Detroit Pistons
By way of good fortune due to a prior trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, the Detroit Pistons had landed the number two pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. The Pistons were coming off a fifty win season and had a promising core spearheaded by the likes of Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace. President Joe Dumars felt he had the team's nucleus with the exception of a starting power forward. As a result, Dumars selected Darko Milicic with the second overall pick while leaving the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade still up for selection. Hindsight is 20/20 and the reasoning behind the Pistons selecting Milicic was not just to plug in the four slot, but also because they felt they had a promising three in Prince. No disrespect to Prince, but had Dumars went with Anthony it's likely the Pistons would've raised at least another championship banner in the 2000s to go along with their 2004 one.
12 Chris Paul - Atlanta Hawks
Having the second pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, it was a foregone conclusion that the Atlanta Hawks were going to select a PG as they were clearly in need of one. The only question was would it be the Fighting Illini's Deron Williams or the Wake Forest Demon Deacons Chris Paul. Surprising all parties, the Hawks opted to select neither of the playmakers and instead took freshman Marvin Williams of the 2005 NCAA Champion North Carolina Tar Heels. Williams proved to be a robust cog for the Hawks as he played with them until the 2012 season. However, he never proved to be a franchise player as Deron Williams was with the Utah Jazz or that Chris Paul was with the New Orleans Hornets and continues to be with the Los Angeles Clippers.
11 Kristaps Porzingis - Los Angeles Lakers
Today, it's hard to imagine that Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis was bombarded with boos when he was selected forth overall by the New York Knicks in the 2015 NBA Draft. Then again, you'd be hard-pressed to find many Knicks that weren't booed when selected by the orange and blue on draft night. The Knicks are a woeful and dreadful team to watch, however, Porzingis is a (and arguably their only) bright spot. At just twenty-one years of age, the 7'3'' Porzingis has proven to be the most promising player from the 2015 NBA Draft with the exception of Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns. Porzingis has career averages of 18.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 2.0 BPG and figures to considerably improve as he hits his prime.
10 Damian Lillard - Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings have been notorious for striking out in the NBA Draft Lottery for the past decade (with the exception of DeMarcus Cousins). The likes of Willie Cauley-Stein, Ben McLemore, Thomas Robinson and Nik Stauskas are just some of the names that have been notable underachievers for the team that plays out of California's state capital. Lillard was selected one slot after the Kings pick at number six by the Portland Trail Blazers and serves as the face of the franchise today. The three teams selecting prior to the Kings, the Bobcats, Wizards and Cavaliers all had franchise PGs (Kemba Walker, John Wall and Kyrie Irving) which meant they wouldn't have needed Lillard. Then again, the Kings had a not-too-shabby PG by the name of Isaiah Thomas who is currently tearing it up in Boston as a MVP candidate for the 2015-2016 NBA season. Sadly, this only adds insult to injury for fans of the Kings.
9 Paul George - Los Angeles Clippers
Deciding that a Small Forward was their most pivotal need at the time of the 2010 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Clippers decided to select Wake Forest Demon Deacon Sophomore Al-Farouq Aminu with the eighth overall pick. To make matters worse, the two teams to follow the Clippers also selected small forwards. At number nine, the Utah Jazz drafted Gordon Hayward which has to sting for Clippers fans in present day. But, it got worse. At number ten, the Indiana Pacers selected one of the NBA's best two way players, Paul George. Aminu only lasted in the City of Angels for a season before he was shipped out to New Orleans in the trade that brought CP3 to L.A. Aminu has only averaged double digits in his points once in his career and while his pro game has been decent, especially on defense, he has failed to live up to expectations since entering the league.
8 LaMarcus Aldridge - Toronto Raptors
If you were to argue that the 2006 NBA Draft had the worst top five picks in the history of an NBA Draft, many wouldn't argue with you. Andrea Bargnani, Adam Morrison, Tyrus Thomas and Shelden Williams were selected one, three, four and five respectively. Yet, at number two there was a lone bright spot. A lone bright spot by way of the Lone Star State by the name of LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge was actually selected by the Chicago Bulls with the second overall pick but they shipped him out on draft night for Tyrus Thomas. Something tells me that they might want a do-over there! Bargnani could score, but was a defensive liability that was more trouble than he was worth. Aldridge continues to serve as one of the league's best power forwards to this day and if the Raptors could do it all over they'd surely select Aldridge over Bargnani.
7 Klay Thompson - Milwaukee Bucks
With the exception of Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker who were selected first and ninth overall, the 2011 NBA's top ten draft picks have been rather lackluster; none as lackluster as the self-proclaimed "European Blake Griffin," Jan Vesely! At number eleven, the Warriors nabbed a sharpshooter by way of Washington State who currently serves as one half of the NBA's most deadly backcourts along with Stephen Curry. Klay Thompson is not just a part of one of the NBA's best backcourts, but he is one of the league's best two guards (and many, especially Charles Barkley, would argue that he's the game's best two guard). The Bucks selected a two guard before Thompson by the name of Jimmer Fredette who never ended up playing for the team as he was traded on draft night to the Sacramento Kings. In return the Bucks received Tobias Harris, Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston and Beno Udrih. Maybe it's me, but something tells me they'd rather have Thompson.
6 Kemba Walker - Detroit Pistons
In need of a PG, the Detroit Pistons decided to select Kentucky Wildcats star Brandon Knight with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Despite bouncing around the league and playing for three teams in seven years, Knight has been a serviceable player in all of his stops. However, he didn't prove to be the franchise PG that the Pistons were hoping for. Unfortunately for them, the Charlotte Bobcats took who they could have with the ninth overall pick when they selected UConn's Kema Walker. Walker's progressed in each and every season as the franchise of the Charlotte Hornets and was rewarded with his first All-Star selection in the 2016-2017 NBA season. At just twenty-six, Walker looks like he is just getting started.
5 Devin Booker - Orlando Magic
Fresh off scoring seventy points against the Boston Celtics, Devin Booker's stock is at an all-time high. Truth be told, Booker has been one of the few bright spots on the Suns since he was selected thirteenth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft. However, since the Suns are such a dismal team, it wasn't until he dropped that big game on the Celtics that his name rose to such prominence. There's plenty of teams that wish they didn't pass on Booker in the 2015 NBA Draft but chief amongst them is the Orlando Magic. Selecting the first shooting guard off the board at number five, the Magic went with Croatian talent Mario Herzonja who hasn't found his touch in the NBA. In recent years the Magic have been notorious for draft gaffes and not selecting Booker is just another one they could tally on their whiteboard.
4 Kawhi Leonard - Houston Rockets
The San Antonio Spurs pulled off quite the heist when they sent George Hill packing to his home state of Indiana in exchange for the 2011 number fifteen draft pick, Kawhi Leonard. In retrospect, it's easy to say what the hell were the Pacers thinking? However, to look at it from the other side of the fence, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich claims it was the hardest decision he ever made while in charge of the team. Six years later, it's safe to say Pop's a happy camper for pulling the trigger as opposed to being gun-shy. The Sophomore Leonard wasn't considered a lottery pick, however, he was expected to be selected in the first round. At fourteen, the Houston Rockets selected Marcus Morris who was more of a four, but capable of playing the three. He's been more than decent, especially this season for the Pistons, but he hasn't become a superstar like Leonard, who eventually landed in Texas, albeit with the Spurs and not the Rockets.
3 Giannis Antetokounmpo - Oklahoma City Thunder
Truth be told, each and every one of the fourteen teams that passed on Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 2013 Draft wish they would've selected the "Greek Freak" as opposed to their original selection. Antetokounmpo is the only player from that NBA Draft class to be named to an NBA All-Star team and with the exception of CJ McCollum (selected tenth) and Rudy Gobert (selected twenty-seventh) may well be the only All-Star ever selected from this lackluster NBA Draft. Not much was known about Antetokounmpo as he was coming over from Greece, but he was described as a player who'd be able to play not just multiple positions, but possibly all five positions. The Oklahoma City Thunder had the twelfth pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and let's just say had they selected Antetokounmpo opposed to Steven Adams, we likely won't be seeing Kevin Durant in a Golden State Warriors jersey today.
2 James Harden - Memphis Grizzlies
The frontrunner for the 2016-2017 NBA MVP award, James Harden (with all due respect to Russell Westbrook) was select third overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2009 NBA Draft. Had General Manager Sam Presti opted to pay Harden as opposed to power forward Serge Ibaka, it's likely the Thunder would've hoisted a banner or two by now. But that's a story for another day. With the second pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Memphis Grizzlies selected UConn big man Hasheem Thabeet, who ended up being a massive bust. In the year prior, the Grizzlies had traded for troubled, yet promising two guard OJ Mayo which makes the selection of Harden here questionable at the time being. But, in present day, there are no questions as Harden is one of the game's most lethal scorers and creators.
1 Russell Westbrook - Miami Heat
The majority of casual and diehard NBA fans thought the Oklahoma City Thunder reached when they selected Russell Westbrook with the forth overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. After all, Westbrook had just come off a sophomore campaign in which he averaged 12.7 PPG, 4.3 APG and 3.9 RPG - a far cry from the triple-double monster he is in present day. Having the second pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, the Miami Heat selected Kansas State small forward Michael Beasley who tore it up in his freshman season with the Wildcats. But college success doesn't always translate to the pros and Beasley has bounced around from team to team since entering the league. Meanwhile, Westbrook is the first player to average a triple-double in a season since Oscar Robertson did it in 1961-62. Pat Riley sure wishes he could have this one back.