By Liam Melrose
One of the most successful drafts in NBA history along with 1984 and 1996, four of the top five picks went on to become All-NBA players for a number of years as well as multiple All Star selections and NBA Championships. As well as LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh there were a number of players filling out our top 10 that had considerably consistent careers.
PICK 1: CLEVELAND CAVALIERS – LEBRON JAMES (ORIGINALLY PICK 1 - CLEVELAND CAVALIERS)
ORIGINAL PICK: LEBRON JAMES
Arguably the greatest player of all time. Deemed ‘The Chosen One’, LeBron James lived up to the hype and rose past all expectations experts had on him before he entered the league. Career averages to date of 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game show how powerful James is on the floor. He can play the point guard position or play as a big if he has to. A four-time Most Valuable player, three-time NBA Champion, and a sixteen-time NBA All Star are just a couple of accolades LeBron has achieved to date so far in what has been a once in a lifetime career.
Photo: Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images
PICK 2: DETROIT PISTONS – DWYANE WADE (ORIGINALLY PICK 5 – MIAMI HEAT)
ORIGINAL PICK: DARKO MILIČIĆ
Originally a point guard, the Detroit Pistons missed out on one of the NBA’s greatest ever shooting guards. Wade teamed up with two other superstars to come out of this draft in LeBron James and Chris Bosh in 2010, with the trio going on to win back to back NBA titles for the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013. A thirteen-time NBA All Star, three-time NBA Champion and 2006 NBA Finals MVP, Wade will go down as a future Hall of Famer.
PICK 3: DENVER NUGGETS – CARMELO ANTHONY (ORIGINALLY PICK 3 – DENVER NUGGETS)
ORIGINAL PICK: CARMELO ANTHONY
Denver would draft Carmelo Anthony again if they had their time over. Anthony blossomed into one of the league’s best shooters, especially from behind the three-point arc. While he requested a trade in 2011 to the New York Knicks, he was a four-time NBA All Star with the Nuggets as well as making the All-NBA team multiple times. He averaged 28.9 points per game in the 2006-07 season with the Nuggets, his highest scoring average in a season to date. Career averages of 23.6 points and 6.5 rebounds across seventeen seasons in the league.
PICK 4: TORONTO RAPTORS – CHRIS BOSH (ORIGINALLY PICK 4 – TORONTO RAPTORS)
ORIGINAL PICK: CHRIS BOSH
Another selection that would remain the same. Bosh has gone down as one of the greatest Raptors ever. He averaged over 20 points per game in every season in Toronto except his rookie year, with his career-best season coming in 2009-10 where the superstar center averaged 24.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. A two-time NBA Champion with the Miami Heat, and an eleven-time NBA All Star had his career cut short in 2016 due to a blood clot scare.
Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
PICK 5: MIAMI HEAT – DAVID WEST (ORIGINALLY PICK 18 – NEW ORLEANS HORNETS)
ORIGINAL PICK: DWYANE WADE
The Hornets found a diamond in the rough with David West at Pick 18. Slotting in perfectly with superstar point guard Chris Paul for a number of seasons with the Hornets at the Power Forward position. West had a consistent fifteen-year career in the NBA, with career averages of 13.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He is a two-time NBA All Star and a two-time NBA Champion with the Golden State Warriors.
PICK 6: LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS – CHRIS KAMAN (ORIGINALLY PICK 6 – LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS)
ORIGINAL PICK: CHRIS KAMAN
While many have Chris Kaman as a draft bust for Los Angeles he had a solid career before the Clippers acquired Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, he was an All Star in the 2009-10 season. Kaman had career averages of 11.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Photo: Harry How/Getty Images
PICK 7: CHICAGO BULLS – MO WILLIAMS (ORIGINALLY PICK 47 – UTAH JAZZ)
ORIGINAL PICK: KIRK HINRICH
Played the role of LeBron James’s sidekick for the years they spent together in Cleveland, Williams enjoyed a career best season in 2009-10 where he was an All Star averaging 17.8 points per game. He ended his career with a fairytale finish, securing an NBA title with LeBron James for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, before announcing his retirement. He finished his career averaging 13.2 points and 4.9 assists per game.
PICK 8: MILWAUKEE BUCKS – KYLE KORVER (ORIGINALLY PICK 51 – NEW JERSEY NETS)
ORIGINAL PICK: T.J. FORD
One of the greatest shooters the NBA has ever seen with a shooting percentage of 42.9 percent behind the three-point line across seventeen seasons in the league. He has been a strong role player on a number of contending teams later in his career.
PICK 9: NEW YORK KNICKS – JOSH HOWARD (ORIGINALLY PICK 29 – DALLAS MAVERICKS)
ORIGINAL PICK: MICHAEL SWEETNEY
An unfortunate case of an injury wrecking his career. Howard peaked in 2007 where he was an All Star in a season where he averaged 18.9 points and 6.8 rebounds for the Dallas Mavericks. The year prior Howard was the starting Small Forward for a Mavericks team that went to the 2006 NBA Finals.
PICK 10: WASHINGTON WIZARDS – KIRK HINRICH (ORIGINALLY PICK 7 – CHICAGO BULLS)
ORIGINAL PICK: JARVIS HAYES
Hinrich was never the most exciting point guard, however he spent a majority of his thirteen career with the Chicago Bulls. He leads the franchise in most three-point field goals made and sits third behind Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in both assists and steals.
By Ollie Nash
Photo: Getty Images
The Indiana Pacers are good. They’ve got a young core, led by All-Star’s Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Under their leadership they’ve made back-to-back playoff appearances and were on track for a third this season. But can they take it to the next level and challenge for a championship?
In short, no. But with some moves they can build something.
At the moment Indiana finds themselves in that awkward in-between position, where they are perennial playoff contenders, but they’re not at a conference or world champion level.
New York went through the same thing in the Carmelo Anthony era. Three playoff appearances in a row but never getting past the second round because there was no second star. First year they lose to Boston’s big three, second year to Miami’s big three and the last year funnily enough to the Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert Pacers squad.
To be fair, since Oladipo’s breakout season in 2017-18 the team has made some moves and he has missed most of it through injury. We haven’t got a big enough sample size of Oladipo with new teammates like Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren, Jeremy Lamb and Doug McDermott. But reading the team on paper, they need another star.
In the eastern conference, with all teams healthy, they probably sit fifth in line, sixth if you want to take Miami over them. Milwaukee, Toronto, Boston and Philadelphia are better and similarly to the Pacers, they all have a young core that can lead them for the next 10 years.
If you want to think ahead to next season then you can include Brooklyn as well, a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving back to lead them in a championship push.
With player movement so much stronger in the modern game this may all change, who knows, but as it stands, the Pacers are stuck in that middle pack and are already paying guys a lot of money. Sabonis is locked in for $77,000,000 over 4 years, Myles Turner is in the first year of a $72,000,000 deal and Malcolm Brogdon is in his first season of an $85,000,000 deal.
Photo: Getty Images
Now there is nothing wrong with paying these guys. Brogdon is almost a career 50-40-90 shooter and Sabonis has improved every year culminating in his first All-Star appearance this season. You can make the argument for Turner as well, his strong defence a pillar of his game and his improved three point shooting something to watch for. But paying all of these guys big money with Oladipo due for a new contract in 2021 free agency means the Pacers are putting all their eggs in this basket.
This is fine but considering their current ranking in the Eastern Conference, it’s not going to result in a championship run. That issue can be fixed when the 2021 free agency period begins. Oladipo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard (player option), Paul George (player option), LeBron James (player option), Donovan Mitchell (restricted) and Jayson Tatum (restricted) headline the historically strong free agent class. No promises that any of these guys will sign, but the option needs to be there.
If they stick with this core group, they do have age on their side. Oladipo and Sabonis turn 28 and 24 respectively this month while Brogdon and Turner are 27 and 23. But do you risk sticking with this group, led by Oladipo who is returning from a ruptured quad tendon?
If the Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers are anything to go by, then no. The window to win in this league is small and while you have a star like Oladipo and his right hand man in Sabonis, you need to find them another star.
It may mean Turner is shopped around. Sabonis and Brogdon provide playmaking and scoring alongside Oladipo so you can accept paying their contracts at the moment. Turner will be valuable on the trade market and will assist with the salary cap issue.
Just look at DeMar DeRozan in Toronto. An All-Star and great team guy but to get to that next level the team needed to make a move. Indiana is in that same conundrum and moving Turner on might be the first step in the process.
Cover Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images