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15 Years Later: Redrafting The First Round Of The NBA's Legendary 2003 Draft

The privilege of every fan is to have the right to question and second guess the experts who have billions of dollars at their disposal in order to evaluate young adults on the caliber of their athletic ability. The amateur draft in any professional sport is the great unknown. Franchises immediate future and extended future can be jeopardized in one fell swoop by failing to identify which 19 or 20 year old will have the most success 3 years down the road.

In 2003, unbeknownst to some at the time, the stakes were even higher. When we look back in retrospect, as fans love to do, we can pin point where a team went wrong, or where they lucked out. 2003 brought us LeBron James who would meet unprecedented high expectations as well as Darko Milicic failing to come anywhere near his. Longevity is always an ingredient when determining a players success, whereas it is expected that the top selections would still be playing, several other later picks, some discussed further here https://www.thesportster.com/basketball/nba-players-who-will-retire-after-this-season-and-wont/ continue to play as well. General managers sometimes draft poorly due to roster needs or attempting to maintain team culture, this redraft does not quantify a 'good pick' by just taking into account team needs, but their statistical success as well.

We begin with the #1 pick and work our way to #29. Get your David Stern voice ready, because, with the number one pick, the Cleveland Cavaliers select...

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29 Cleveland Cavaliers Select LeBron James

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Granted, James may have left Cleveland by making a decision on where he would sign as a free agent on national television, but it is better to love and to have lost than to have never loved at all. The Ohio native would go on to win countless personal awards, but going into this draft the scouting report on the high schooler included the following shortcomings: "James is being selected No. 1 overall for his talent, not his skills. Wing players without reliable jump shots are often ineffective in the NBA, and some have speculated that James could fit into that category."

Luckily James has remained effective throughout his NBA career despite his actual skill level at playing basketball is not as high as some pro ballers. Although, his four MVP trophies might disagree.

28 Detroit Pistons Select Dwyane Wade

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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In 1997 the Grizzlies traded a 2003 draft pick for Otis Thorpe. Joe Dumars was expectedly happy with how the ping pong balls bounced. He was quoted on May 23rd when asked about the choice between Darko Milicic and Carmelo Anthony. "It's cut and dry that we are going to get a great pick...They are both great players, both are considered consensus impact players." The Pistons would select Milicic, Anthony would have been a poor pick as well for the 'team first' concept of the Pistons.

The correct pick was Dwyane Wade, but the Pistons had Richard Hamilton at shooting guard.

A championship caliber team around Wade would have been perfect for him. Plus the phrase, "I am taking my talents to Motor City." just does not sound like they would ever be spoken.

27 Denver Nuggets Select Carmelo Anthony

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets know a good thing when they see it, and a 6 foot 8 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, is a good thing. The Nuggets had just finished a 17-65 season, which saw Juwan Howard and James Posey be their 1-2 punch. Such is the life of teams who get the #3 overall pick. Anthony was given the keys to the kingdom to do whatever he wanted, which was shoot.

On his way to being named to the All Rookie First Team, Anthony took 1465 field goals - that is 524 more than the next guy.

Hopefully if the Nuggets are forced to trade him again 8 years later, they get more than just Kosta Koufos and some picks. That was not such a good thing.

26 Toronto Raptors Select Chris Bosh

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Although true that CB4 would get his wish granted and be traded out of Toronto in 2010, he did leave as the Raptors all time leader in points, rebounds, blocks, double doubles and free throws made. Those stats mean they should change their team name before attempting to change this selection.

A 24-58 record had Vince Carter hoping for some kind of help.

The 6'11" freshman out of Georgia Tech would provide that help, starting in his rookie year. In that year Bosh would average 11 points and 7 rebounds, it ended up equally only 9 extra wins, but within 4 years of entering the league he would lead Toronto to the playoffs for the first time in 5 years.

25 Miami Heat Select David West

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David West was originally selected 18th overall, way too late for the 2003 AP National Player of the Year. The only thing that the Heat needed more than a power forward, was a shooting guard, but with Dwyane Wade going #2 in the redraft, the Heat pick up David West. The Xavier graduate would have taken the starting spot from Malik Allen and the 9 points and 5 rebounds he averaged. West did not get an opportunity to get substantial minutes behind P.J Brown and Jamal Magloire in New Orleans. West is still playing today and it could be argued that if he entered the draft 15 years later, he still might get picked before #18.

24 Los Angeles Clippers Select Josh Howard

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In 2003 the Clippers selected Chris Kaman, good pick, but they had 4 centers already. The Clippers really needed a small forward, a graduate from Wake Forest named Josh Howard to be exact. In the '02-'03 season the Clippers had Tremaine Faulkes playing 5 minutes and Marko Jaric playing 20 minutes at the small forward position. Josh Howard started 29 games his rookie year. Antwan Jamieson averaged 6 more minutes, but Howard was starting and on a much better team than the 28-54 Clippers. The bottom line, the ACC Player of the Year and eventual NBA All Star is going #6 in a re-draft.

23 Chicago Bulls Select Mo Williams

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The Bulls had Jamal Crawford and rookie Jay Williams at that the point guard position during the '02-'03 season. Come the 2003 draft, they selected Kirk Hinrich, another quality point guard, but the 7th selection should have been Mo Williams, especially if you were looking for a point guard. The future All Star began contributing double digit points in his second year.

Williams was no stranger to averaging 6 assists a game as well, doing so in 3 season.

Additionally, the Bulls would have valued Williams more than the Jazz did who decided not to match the Milwaukee Bucks offer. How could they not, after watching Mo throw alley oops to Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry while running the backcourt with Jalen Rose.

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22 Milwaukee Bucks Select Chris Kaman

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Despite having veteran point guards Sam Cassell and Gary Payton the Milwaukee Bucks selected TJ Ford in the eight slot. If there was a redraft, the Bucks would be more than happy to take the 7 foot German who had just been named the MAC Player of the Year. Coach George Karl may not have had a center on his mind going in to the draft, but once faced with the opportunity to get 'The Caveman', they would have to take the future 2010 All Star. Add the fact that the Bucks traded Ford after 3 seasons, one of those years he missed completely due to back issues, the selection of Chris Kaman by the Bucks would be a successful one.

21 New York Knicks Select Boris Diaw

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

What a gift for Isiah Thomas, he had a power forward on his wish list and the 6 foot 8, French League Player's MVP Boris Diaw was still available. Unfortunately in 2003 , Thomas selected the 6 foot 8 Michael Sweetney who was named by The Sporting News Third Team All American. There is no comparing Diaw's 1064 career games to Sweetney's 233, Diaw was a power forward who could pass, earning his the name 'The French Magician'.

He could defend any position, a benefit to a team with three 11 year vets in Vin Baker, Allan Houston and Anfernee Hardaway.

Isiah must have known he made an error, because he chose another power forward in the 2nd round.

20 Washington Wizards Select Leandro Barbosa

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Another franchise not prepared to capitalize on the growing number of foreign players. In 2003 Barbosa slipped to #28, picked by the San Antonio Spurs. Barbosa was 6'3'' coming from São Paulo, Brazil and would go on to win the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award in 2007. Wizards' executive, Michael Jordan had every reason to be looking for a shooting guard, the two they had were Jerry Stackhouse (10th year) and Bobby Simmons. Perhaps the thought process was he was too small, but we are here to tell you in 2018 that Barbosa is the better pick than Jarvis Hayes. Not only did his career last twice as long at 14 years, his efficiency rating is higher including his later years.

19 Golden State Warriors Select Udonis Haslem

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Haslem was not even drafted in 2003, but he would look good in a Warriors uniform to this day. After obtaining his degree in leisure service management from Florida, Haslem went to pay in France for a year, then signed as a free agent with the Miami Heat. The Warriors were fresh off a 38-44 season with Chris Mills and Troy Murphy playing power forward, there would be plenty of playing time for the future all time leading rebounder for the Miami Heat. The Warriors however, selected Mikael Pietrus who ended up logging 14 minutes his rookie season playing behind Nick Van Excel and Speedy Claxton. If a re- draft took place, Haslem would be the 3rd player in a row drafted from overseas.

18 Seattle Supersonics Select Kyle Korver

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In his career Korver has hit forty-three percent of his shots from behind the arc and is still playing 20 minutes per game in 2018. The Supersonics originally selected Nick Collison with the 12th pick, who was an effective player, but history shows us Korver did not belong as the 51st pick, this team was where he belonged. The Supersonics already had the offensive scheme to integrate Korver into, right behind Rashard Lewis (another shooting small forward, just not as good). Maybe it is the '20 point checklist' he uses as keys to his shot, maybe it is because he looks like he would enjoy spending an afternoon in a coffee shop blogging, either way the Supersonics should have went with Korver.

17 Memphis Grizzlies Select Kirk Hinrich

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In 2003, with the 13th pick, the Grizzlies selected point guard Marcus Banks, then traded him that day to the Celtics for point guard Troy Bell. Guess what? None of that happens in the redraft because Hinrich is a better point guard than both of them. Which is probably why he was picked #10 in 2003. Hinrich was able to come out of Kansas and start on a very poor Bulls team. He managed to average 12 points and nearly 7 assists per game. Kirk may not have usurped Jason Williams from the starting role right away, but he would have been much more successful that Troy Bell who played 34 career minutes.

16 Seattle Supersonics Select T.J Ford

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With their second pick in the first round the Seattle Supersonics chose point guard Luke Ridnour with the 14th selection. In this redraft the position stays the same, but the player is TJ Ford. Luck would have it for the Supersonics that the best player available in the redraft happens to be at the exact position they need. Ford had very good numbers, despite missing his entire second season due to a back injury. While #8 might have been too early to spend a lottery pick on, at this point it is the correct choice. Antonio Daniels and Ronald Murray would easily give way to TJ Ford in the starting line up.

15 Orlando Magic Select Kendrick Perkins

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During their 2002-2003 season the Magic were 42-40, they had four players listed as centers, but none of them started regularly and 2 barely got off the bench. It seemed logical to take swingman Reece Gaines with the 15th pick, his 38 games played with the Magic was of little help. In order to right the wrongs of the previous 4 centers they acquired, Kendrick Perkins (who became known as one of, if not, the toughest players in the NBA) should have been selected to become their center. He only averaged double digits in scoring once in his career, but the fact that he has more than 400 personal fouls than field goals made, has to count for something.

14 Boston Celtics Select ZaZa Pachulia

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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Pachulia is a great pick at number 16, any player who is still able to make an NBA roster after 15 years as to be considered a first round pick in any redraft. The center/power forward from Georgia was selected #42 in 2003.

Despite the Celtics having some size already, Pachulia would have hustled and sacrificed his body off the bench in order to help his team win.

Coaches need role players, hence the reason why the Warriors acquired him to play alongside the 'small ballers' the last 2 seasons. ZaZa has value and that value equates to a #16 selection in the 2003 redraft.

13 Phoenix Suns Select Mickael Pietrus

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The Suns were correct to have their radar set on a foreign player, they were wrong in setting it in Serbia and Montenegro where Zarko Cabaarkapa was, instead of France where Mickael Pietrus was. The Suns were 44-38 with Stephan Marbury running the point for 40 minutes per game and 11 year vet Randy Brown backing him up for 8 minutes. They were set with Hardaway and Joe Johnson at shooting guard, but at small forward they had Dan Langhi backing up Shawn Marion. Pietrus' versatility would have been a good fit for this high tempo offense. Add the fact that Pietrus went #11 in 2003, getting him at #17 in the redraft is a steal.

12 New Orleans Hornets Select Matt Bonner

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The two time NBA champion was originally selected 45th overall in 2003 by the Bulls, then traded to Toronto who asked him to play a year overseas. In 2016 Doug Smith from The Star called Bonner "The gold standard by which Raptors’ second-rounders' should be measured." There is no question that Bonner is the best second round draft pick in franchise history, because in a redraft, he is selected #18. The two time Academic All American standing at 6'10" would be the power forward the Hornets wanted with their 2003 pick of David West. The Hornets only had three players 6'10" or over, meaning the 'Red Rocket' and his forty-two shooting percentage from beyond the arc would get plenty of NBA court time.

11 Utah Jazz Select Luke Ridnour

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The Jazz used the #19 pick to select Sasha Pavlovic in 2003, then in 2004 the Charlotte Bobcats drafted Pavlovic from the Jazz in the expansion draft. Thanks to a redraft, the Bobcats would have to find somebody else, because there is no way that Luke Ridnour gets left unprotected. Ridnour frequently tallied double digits I points and over 5 assists per game, a point guard who could shoot and rack up assists, remind you of anybody?. Carlos Arroyo would have had only one year experience on the former PAC-10 Player of the Year who would have surpassed him in the starters role rather quickly. Ridnour played 14 season in the NBA, maybe he would have been the next John Stockton.

10 Boston Celtics Select Keith Bogans

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With the Celtics solving their power forward problem four picks ago, now with the 20th pick the Celtics select point guard Keith Bogans. Luke Ridnour slipping one more spot would have been ideal for the Celtics, but Bogans' 6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist per game and less than 1 turnover per game might just be enough to come in as a rookie and out play J.R. Bremer, Shammond Williams and Tony Delk to become the starting point guard. The Celtics original pick was shooting guard Dahntay Jones who had his moments in the NBA, one of them being drafted too early.

9 Atlanta Hawks Select Dahntay Jones

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Maybe Jones was not picked that much earlier than he should have been. The Hawks got this pick from the Indiana Pacers and in 2003 they lucked out that Boris Diaw was just sitting there waiting for them. 15 years later doing a re-draft, not as lucky. The Hawks acquire shooting guard Dahntay Jones with the 21st pick. Jones' 1.8 points and twenty-five percent shooting probably does not move the needle much for the 35-47 Atlanta Hawks, although he might purge some minutes off of Ira Newbie. As his career progressed he worked his way up to double digits and he would have blossomed and filled a position, just as the Hawks would need him to.

8 New Jersey Nets Select Nick Collison

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The Nets originally selected swing man Zoran Planinic out of Croatia. Zoran would total 148 games played in the NBA. In the redraft, they select Nick Collison. One word describes Collison, loyal, he is the only member of the 2003 draft to remain with one team his whole career. The 6”10” power forward has had a solid career, averaging 20 minutes and 6 points per game. With the Nets he would have provided a different look for defenders than starter Kenyon Martin and would bang the boards harder than fellow power forward Brian Scalabrine. Collison would coexist nicely next to Dikembe Mutombo in the Nets front court. Coaches love options, they can never have too many of them while making in game adjustments.

7 The Portland Trailblazers Select Travis Outlaw

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When it is meant to be it is meant to be. In 2003 the Trailblazers selected Travis Outlaw with the 23rd pick, if they had the chance to do it all over again, they would. This was a competitive Trailblazer team, their starting 5 were pretty much set. Pippen was in his 15th year, so the Trailblazers would forward think and prepare for the future by drafting Outlaw, straight out of high school. No better situation than to be tutored by Scottie Pippen. It is also very fortunate that he is with the same team so he will still be anointed with the nickname “Bonesaw”. I hope Sabonis came up with that.

6 The Los Angeles Lakers Select Steve Blake

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In 2003 the Lakers chose power forward Brian Cook to beef up their front court and compliment their center Shaquille O’Neal with the #24 pick. Fifteen years later, Blake is the choice here. A member of the All ACC team and fresh off of being the starting point guard for the National Champions. Blake's numbers would not end up equalling some of the other point guards in this draft, but he takes care of the ball, which is ultimately all one has to do when playing in Los Angeles alongside Kobe and Shaq. What more could you ask for?

5 Detroit Pistons Select Darko Milicic

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Joe Dumars gets his guy, in 2003 the Pistons drafted Darko Milicic out of Serbia and Montengro and in the redraft 15 years later, they draft him again, 23 picks later with number 25, but they get him. Clealry there is no chance that Dumars passes on the 7 footer with this pick. Perhaps if they did not already have Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince and properly drafted Dwyane Wade with the #2 pick over all, perhaps they go for the still available Willie Green or Travis Hansen. Aside from what would have happened if Milicic was still available in 2003, Milicic is the correct pick. His best season may have been 7 points and 6 rebounds, but that was with the pressure of being #2 overall. As the 25th pick, there is no expectations, there are several players picked in the teens who had shorter careers than him. In a redraft, Darko Milicic becomes a Piston.

4 Minnesota Timberwolves Select Jarvis Hayes

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The Timberwolves selected Ndudi Ebi twenty-sixth overall in 2003. Ebi would go on to play 19 career games in the NBA over two years. It is not the end of the world when you swing and miss with a late round pick, but it is always better to hit. Even in a redraft there is no guarantee and the Timberwolves end up taking the best player available. Coming off a 51-31 season, the T’Wolves were led by their power forward Kevin Garnett. While they had an aging backcourt, there is no upgrade available at that position in this redraft. So, just like in 2003 the Timberwolves will select a small forward out of Georgia.

3 Memphis Grizzlies Select Jason Kapono

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Kapono moves up 4 spots in the redraft to pick #27. Kapono had a 9 year career off the strength of shooting eighty-three percent from the free throw line and forty-three percent from the 3 point line. The one year he averaged double digits, he shot fifty-one percent from the arc, a weapon that the Grizzlies would be more than happy to try and utilize. The Grizzlies did have Shane Battier and Mike Miller that would create a bottle neck at small forward, but you can never have too many shooters. This late in the first round, you try and find the best player available. At #27 the future 2 time three point champion is an okay pick.

2 San Antonio Spurs Select Marquis Daniel

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The San Antonio Spurs were coming of an NBA championship and were clearly feeling very good about their team. In the #28 spot the Spurs drafted Leandro Barbosa, then traded him to Phoenix Suns. It was not meant to be during the draft and it surely would not be 15 years later. In a redraft, the Spurs would take previously undrafted Marquis Daniel. The Spurs at the time had two small forwards, a stretch big in Danny Ferry and a defensive specialist in Bruce Bowen.

Playing time would not come easily and he would be somewhere in the ballpark of the 18 minutes he logged with he Mavericks while making the NBA All Rookie Second team. Whether he went to the Spurs, or Mavericks or stayed undrafted, he will probably be most remembered for the fact that he had some Chinese characters tattooed on his arm which were intended to represent his initials, but translate to English as "healthy woman roof".

1  Dallas Mavericks Select Quinton Ross

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There can be no debate that the Mavs did a fantastic job drafting Josh Howard with the 29th pick of the first round. This however, is a redraft 15 years later and Josh Howard is not still available. This time around the Mavs will still be able to address their need a small forward by drafting previously undrafted Quinton Ross. With 7 year vet Michael Finley occupying the starters role at small forward, the WAC Player of the Year would have time to ease into the NBA. his career average of 4 points of game would be of little concern to the Mavericks who were coming off a 62-20 season. Ross' value would be rooted in that he averaged over 20 minutes a game for Clippers in his first 4 seasons, a very good compliment to Finley. It would have been a feel good story, as Ross was born in Dallas and ended up there for a season 6 years after being drafted anyways.

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