Hindsight is 20/20: The 2004 NBA Redraft
The third entry in this series, the 2004 NBA draft actually produced a solid class. While it didn’t feature the star power that the previous class had, it still featured multiple all-stars and solid producers in the NBA. Here’s my redraft of this draft, should be interesting.
1. Orlando Magic – 2003 Pick: C Dwight Howard 2012 Pick: Howard – You really can’t change this pick, Howard is a once-in-a-lifetime player and has definitely produced in the NBA, since finishing 3rd to Emeka Okafor for Rookie of the Year, Howard has exploded as a annual MVP Candidate, and a stallworth on the defensive end as evidenced by his 3 Defensive Players of the Years, 4x All-NBA First Team, and even the Slam Dunk Champion of 2008. Phil Jackson once famously said if he were to start a franchise with any one current player, he’d take Howard. I think the Magic would keep their pick too.
2. Charlotte Bobcats – 2003 Pick:
PF/C Emeka Okafor 2012 Pick: SF/PF Josh Smith – It’s either Smith or Andre Iguodala for 2nd overall, and since the Bobcats were starting up, I think they’d prefer to have the more explosive, offensive player at this position. While Okafar wasn’t a horrid pick (won rookie of the year), but he never blossomed into the player that Smith has become.
3. Chicago Bulls – 2003 Pick: G Ben Gordon 2012 Pick: Gordon – While Igudala is arguably the better player at this point, Gordon provided a severe spark off the bench as their 6th men, and average 15 points as a rookie. He proved to be extremely valuable in future playoff series as he became their go-to scorer in the 4th. I think they’d stick with their pick.
4. Los Angeles Clippers – 2003 Pick:
PG Shaun Livingston 2012 Pick: PG Devin Harris – When Harris was on, he was one of the fastest PG in the league, leading high scoring offenses in Dallas and later in New Jersey. The Clips really needed a PG, hence the original pick of Livingston. However, the high schooler was unable to live up to his potential due to this freak accident, but he continues to play to this day as a back up in Milwaukee.
5. Dallas Mavericks – 2003 Pick:
PG Devin Harris 2012 Pick: PF/C Al Jefferson – this would have been a match made in heaven, although Dallas would go onto to sign C Erick Dampier in FA after this draft. The selection of Jefferson would negate that Mark Cuban Mistake, and it would allow Dirk to fully concentrate on playing outside and hitting jumpers.
6. Atlanta Hawks – 2003 Pick:
G/F Josh Childress 2012 Pick: G/F Andre Iguodala – Right position, wrong player. While Childress was a nice role player, Iguodala became one of the best defensive-perimeter stoppers in the game, while bringing a ton of athleticism. This Hawks team was in a major flux, a year away from trading for Joe Johnson and gaining an identity. The next year, they ending up drafting another tweener in UNC’s Marvin Williams, bypassing both Chris Paul & Deron Williams, ignoring their point guard position.
7. Chicago Bulls – 2003 Pick: SF Luol Deng 2012 Pick: Deng – I doubt the bulls would switch this pick, as the players that may have tempted them to change (Jefferson, Smith, Iguodala) are already off the board. Deng was an all-star in 2012 and is a vital cog in the East’s #1 seed (although they just lost to Philly, but obviously missed 2011 MVP Derrick Rose).
8. Toronto Raptors – 2003 Pick:
C Rafael Araujo 2012 Pick: Okafor – The Raptors finished 7th in scoring in 2005, but still missed the playoffs by going 36-46 due to their lack of size. Okafor has been a solid commodity in the NBA since 2004 and would be a nice piece next to PF Chris Bosh. Araujo flamed out and was barely heard from while in the ‘Association.
9. Philadelphia 76ers – 2003 Pick: Iguodala 2012 Pick: PG Jameer Nelson – Nelson wouldn’t have had to travel far as he played college ball in Philly’s own St. Josephs. The 2005 Philly team was dominanted by the aging Allen Iverson, however they had nothing from their other guard position. Nelson would have been able to play off of Iverson and help spread the ball around. At this point, with Iggy already off the board, the other top prospects wouldn’t be upgrades compared to Nelson.
10. Cleveland Cavaliers – 2003 Pick:
SF Luke Jackson 2012 Pick: SG Kevin Martin – Martin would have been a good fit next to Lebron and could have given the Cavs a better young nucleus. Jackson was a bust on the next level, other options include future & present Cav Andreson Varejao.
11. Golden State Warriors – 2003 Pick:
C Andris Biedrins 2012 Pick: F/C Anderson Varejao – Varejao is known as a hustler while Biedrins has been a ‘bustler since signing a massive 6 year/$54 million extension in 2008. Imagine the hard working Varejao running in those late 2000 Warriors team with guys like Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, Stephen Jackson and Monta… We Believe, yes we do.
12. Seattle Supersonics – 2003 Pick:
F/C Robert Swift 2012 Pick: PF Kris Humphries – The Sonics jumped from 5th to 1st in the Northwest division from 2004 to 2005, so this pick probably wouldn’t have impacted them as much as one would expect. I understand their rationale behind Swift, as the high schooler had a lot of potential and the Sonics really needed more size, but at this point, they should have stuck to the board and taken the best player. In 2012, that would be the former Mr. Kardashian, Kris Humphries who would eventually become a solid rebounder in New Jersey (after several pit stops).
13. Portland Trailblazers – 2003 Pick:
PG Sebastian Telfair 2012 Pick: Livingstone – Although Livingstone had that tragic injury while playing for the Clips, perhaps he wouldn’t have had it while playing in Portland. You know the Butterfly Effect right? Maybe he becomes the next Magic Johnson afterall, or maybe he gets worse due to the supposed terrible Portland training staff. The Blazers went with the right position, but Telfair never developed into the next ‘Starbury like his cousin. You should still check out his documentary though, Coney Island in the House!
14. Utah Jazz – 2004 Pick: Humphries 2012 Pick: G/F Trevor Ariza – This pick comes down to Ariza, Tony Allen or J.R. Smith, and I opted to go with the better defender who could still score (sorry “Trick or Treat” Tony Allen). The 2005 Utah team had plenty of size due to the addition of Mehmet Okur and Carlos Boozer, but the Jazz could have used a swingman before the future arrival of Deron Williams.
By no means will this be remembered as the 2003 draft class with 4 potential hall-0f-famers, but it still produced the NBA’s best center/defensive player in addition to a ton of high-end starters and vital role players. If teams picking in the lottery had picked wiser, they probably wouldn’t have stayed in the depths of the NBA and instead risen to the playoffs. You live and you learn.
Best available: G/F Tony Allen, G/F Josh Childress, G/F J.R. Smith, G/F Dorell Right, G Delonte West, PG Chris Duhon, G Sasha Vujacic, PG Sebastian Telfair, C Andris Biedrins.