This is my latest installment in my NBA Re-Drafts series. As always, I will use Composite Score (my average of Wins Produced Per 48 Minutes and Win Shares Per 48 Minutes) for all seasons in which the player played 500 minutes. My team judgments are based on my looking at both Win Shares and Wins Produced without combining them into Composite Score. My data is available at 2002DraftSpreadsheet. If I have forgotten any undrafted players who had at least one qualifying season, please comment. (I haven’t gone through one where I haven’t-yet.) Here it is:
- Houston C Yao Ming Shanghai Sharks (CHN) 1980 Even though Yao’s career was cut short by injuries, I selected this pick without even looking at the Rockets’ roster. There are some reasons for that. For one, Yao has the second-best 9-Year Composite Average, behind only Carlos Boozer, of any player in this draft despite playing only 94 minutes in Years 8 and 9. This draft might not be the greatest, but that’s still pretty amazing. His Year 4 is the best single season of anyone not named Boozer or Amare. He was a franchise center. He is 7’6″. In all seriousness, there is no way you can possibly consider anyone else by any means, conventional or analytic. You just can’t.
- Chicago PF Amare Stoudemire Cypress Creek HS (FL) I really swung back and forth between Boozer and Amare, but in the end I chose Amare. Even considering how obscenely underrated Reggie Evans, no one else was even in the discussion. My rationale for picking Amare was that even though he had major injuries and an earlier, more precipitous decline, his best seasons were better, and his injury would allow his current team to pay less in Restricted Free Agency because it occurred during his contract year. With Tyson Chandler already there, this would have been an amazing dynamic duo (offense-defense and all).
- Golden St. PF Carlos Boozer Duke Jr. The best player in the draft, according to Composite Score, goes third in the draft. I’ve already explained why. This Warriors squad needed a player who could come in right away because Gilbert Arenas was walking the next year. They have Antwan Jamison, but he’s overrated, and Boozer can play the center if he has to. (Note that this is when Erick Dampier was average, before he actually became a really good player. Furthermore, the NBA Geek lists Jamison as a small forward in 2001-02.) Besides, only Yao, Reggie Evans, and Dan Gadzuric have 4-Year Averages within 30% of Boozer’s. (Yes, Gadzuric was really good for a couple of years, too.)
- Memphis C Nene Hilario Vasco da Gama (BRA) 1982 Having Pau Gasol and Shane Battier already, this is a terrible draft for the Grizzlies. The best guards in this draft are John Salmons, Devin Brown, and Fred Jones (the latter two of which are better than originally thought but were not consistently amazing). So, Memphis gets to improve at the center position. Although Stromile Swift wasn’t terrible, he wasn’t that great either (rarely better than average), and Nene is definitely an improvement. Of course, you have a major, major knee injury and testicular cancer (seriously?) thrown in there, but he really only lost two seasons. The alternatives are reaching for Dan Gadzuric and hoping that Tayshaun Prince or Mike Dunleavy can play shooting guard as well as they play small forward. (I’m not too sure about the former.)
- Denver PF Reggie Evans Iowa Sr. Between trades and Antonio McDyess rupturing his patellar, this team’s only average players are James Posey and Ryan Bowen, two guys who both played small forward. Bowen was a weird-looking white guy who rarely played. Yeah, I think this team needed help wherever it could get it. In real life, they got Nikoloz Tskitishvili. He was terrible, and who can even pronounce that (Republic of) Georgian name? Evans is a tremendous rebounder who has remained fairly consistent throughout his career. In Year 8, he doesn’t have a data point because Toronto wouldn’t let him play. You’d have trouble trading him. Rewind, let me rewrite that. He’s so underrated that it would be virtually impossible to get 25 cents on the dollar for him even though he has no major character issues. (I would accentuate the point further, but I can’t do it without cussing.) Of course, it’s better than just betting three good seasons from Drew Gooden or Dan Gadzuric. That’s more palatable than it sounds, but still….
- Cleveland SF Tayshaun Prince Kentucky Sr. The remaining players on this team would amount to Andre Miller, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and not much else. Miller was traded to the Clippers for pocket change, and Wins Produced doesn’t look at Big Z favorably for another year. Considering that the best point guard in this draft is either Mike Wilks or Dan Dickau (yes, this draft has no frontcourt value), the Cavs should just pick the best player available (even if he would supplant their resident Lithuanian). Luckily for Ilgauskas, Prince is (somewhat) clearly the best player on the table. (He is definitely the most consistent one left of any value.) Although not the most important player on the Pistons’ championship team (that being either Billups or Ben Wallace), he was a very important piece with a UK pedigree. He’s mile better than Dajuan Wagner, the actual selection. (In Dajuan’s defense, he did have to have much of his colon removed. Again, really?)
- New York (traded to Denver) PF Udonis Haslem Florida Sr. Haslem went undrafted in real life. In the defense of all twenty-nine NBA teams, Haslem did use his year in France to lose a lot of weight. It paid off. Haslem has been a very solid player for most of his career, and his Year 3 is the second-best season remaining (behind Dan Gadzuric’s Year 3.) Of course, his Year 6 Composite Score was .068, which is by no means anything to write home about. Over the long haul, Haslem wasn’t that great, although as I have said, he had some good seasons. Of course, that’s why he’s being picked at No. 7 and not say, 3.
- Clippers C Dan Gadzuric UCLA Sr. Only Boozer, Yao, and Reggie Evans have better 4-Year Averages in this class. Of course, this guy is a reach because he did almost nothing after that. (In Restricted Free Agency, this is the type of guy you let walk.) There are a couple of guys left who had better careers than Gadzuric, but the Clippers already had Elton Brand, Lamar Odom (who Wins Produced panned at the time), Corey Maggette, Quentin Richardson (who Win Shares isn’t too, too fond of), and Darius Miles (later traded, had a good 2003-04 according to Wins Produced). Looking at that frontcourt, maybe I should have reached even further for John Salmons, Devin Brown or Fred Jones. Nah, I’ll stick with Gadzuric, but this shows you that this draft was not stellar.
- Phoenix PF Drew Gooden Kansas Jr. Phoenix needed bigs. They had Stephon Marbury, Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion (extremely underrated), and one or two more decent years from Penny Hardaway. On the other hand, their bigs were an old Bo Outlaw (not bad, but…), an old Tom Gugliotta, and Jake Tskalidis (underrated, but still unspectacular). Gooden took two years to develop, but he became a solid big. Years 3-5 were good, 6 and 7 were bad, and 8 and 9 were decent (.112 and .083). Besides, he has a reputation as a good guy, which would hopefully help some with Starbury.
- Miami SG Devin Brown UT-San Antonio Sr. Eddie Jones and Brian Grant solidified the forward spots for the heat. This is the year before Alonzo Mourning missed a whole year because of that kidney disease he got (again, really?). However, the next best center is Nenad Krstic, a real reach who stayed in Europe for two more years. Those two factors lead me to reach for Brown. (Although John Salmons had a higher 9-Year Average, all of his average seasons are beyond the scope of his rookie contract.) Brown, when he got his chance, he was a pretty good player with a Year 2 Composite of .146, a Year 3 of .154, and a Year 5 of .117. The Year 5 can be constructed into his rookie deal via a D-League stint; having spent much of his time there that year, he only took part in 93 NBA minutes in 2002-03. Brown was just very underrated in the beginning, but do not sign that offer sheet, Heat; after Year 6, he played two more seasons, both of which were below Replacement Level (.025).
- Washington SF Caron Butler Connecticut So. Intuitively, the Wizards organization would try to do its very best to “win one for MJ.” Caron Butler has the best rookie season and 4-Year Average of any player left on the board. Part of the charm is that Butler and Jordan play the same position at (in that season) approximately the same level. This would allow Butler to give MJ a rest while also giving Jordan a solid number of minutes and a starting job.
- Clippers SG Fred Jones Oregon Sr. When covering the Clippers’ previous pick, I gave a long list of how the Clippers’ frontcourt was stacked. That narrows the list of possible selections to Salmons and Jones. However, Salmons took a really long time to develop (he had no average seasons under his rookie contract), while Fred Jones did develop while the drafting team’s control. Fred Jones has a solid Year 2 and Year 3, then declines, allowing the Clippers to not overpay for him in Restricted Free Agency (although he does have a couple of okay seasons remaining). It’s just too bad that there are still no point guards worth picking.
- Milwaukee PF Darius Songaila Wake Forest Sr. In this draft, it’s a good thing that the Bucks already have a trio of great guards in Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, and Michael Redd. However, their leading per-36 minute rebounder was a 34-year old Earvin Johnson, followed by rookie Joel Pryzbilla. Songaila was a good rebounder who put up solid Composite Scores within the realm of his rookie contract. For some weird, unknown reason, I seem to be against drafting Mike Dunleavy. Hmm….
- Indiana PF Luis Scola Tau Ceramica (ESP) 1980 This is a solid team that could definitely afford to draft a stash player like Scola. Scola certainly was a good player to stash; when he came over he had two good seasons, a decent season, and then receded. This way, you get short-term value that you can let go and not feel worried about losing him in free agency. Besides, somehow, I don’t think drafting a wing would sit too well with Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace).
- Houston Mike Dunleavy Duke Jr. If this really happened and I was in the Houston organization, I would be thanking God Almighty until I was blue in the face. Dunleavy did not fall this far because he has been a bad player. Alternatively, he has consistently been a pretty good player. However, the way this draft was, very few teams actually needed a small forward once Tayshaun Prince was taken. Caron Butler went ahead of Dunleavy because the Wizards should have needed a win-now player, which Dunleavy wasn’t. This was just a funny case of circumstance.
- Philadelphia (traded to Golden St.) SG John Salmons Miami (FL) Sr. Salmons is another one of those guys who fell because he was a fairly mediocre player early on. At this point though, there aren’t many players who would fit here better. Salmons did become a solid player; it just took a while. For the Warriors to really cash in on this pick, they should have convinced Salmons to spend some time in Europe to hone his skills. I think that would work.
- Washington PG Mike Wilks Rice Sr. Like I said during their previous pick, the Wizards should have been looking for players who could help them right now. Unfortunately, there aren’t any of those left. However, Wilks certainly wouldn’t have hurt them, and he has the best rookie year left, aside from one-year wonder J.R. Bremer. He and Tyronn Lue could have split time, and I think it would have worked out. Wilks only had one other 500+ minute season (2006-07), but that’s in part because he was an undrafted journeyman.
- Orlando (traded to Utah) PF Jared Jeffries Indiana So. Utah, like Washington, is one of those shooting for a last hurrah for a star. In this case, there are two-John Stockton and Karl Malone. Even though Malone played in 2003-04, the ensuing season would be his last in Utah. Jeffries could not come in and produce right away, but he could learn from Malone. He would develop into an approximately average player, and he is one of the better players available.
- Utah (traded to Orlando) PF Chris Wilcox Maryland So. This team already had Tracy McGrady, the oft-injured Grant Hill, and Mike Miller, so they didn’t need help on the wing. This is especially true when you realize that the year after this draft is the one where T-Mac went bonkers and had a Composite Score of .270. That eliminates the candidacy of Matt Barnes, Damien Wilkins, Rasual Butler, Jiri Welsch, and Casey Jacobsen. That leaves Wilcox and Nenad Krstic. In that case, it’s a good thing the Magic did need bigs. Wilcox has the advantage of not staying in Europe for five years. Wilcox has had a good career, and there is no shame in selecting him.
- Toronto (traded to Lakers) SG Casey Jacobsen Stanford Jr. Jacobsen could provide a good two years of backing up Kobe Bryant. At this point, that’s practically all you can ask for.
- Portland SF Matt Barnes UCLA Sr. With many of its key players starting to decline (or be Zach Randolph), this team needed a player who could become something. Barnes became something. It just took him a while to become really something. What they could have done is draft him and sign him to a long contract in Restricted Free Agency at a discounted rate. Then, they sign him to an extension before Year 8 (when he really took off), keeping him through this year. Since we’re now extrapolating into the current future (I know it’s oxymoronic, but bear with me), I can’t say any more, but still.
- Phoenix C Nenad Krstic Partizan Belgrade (SRB) 1983 Like I said earlier, Phoenix needed bigs. Unfortunately, we are now at the point where the only bigs left of note are Krstic, Lonny Baxter, Qyntel Woods, and Christian Borchardt. Unfortunately, Krstic stuck around in Europe for two more years. The alternatives are Rasual Butler (not that great for not that long), Roger Mason, Jr. (first five years, no 500+ minute seasons), Jiri Welsch (short, largely mediocre career), and Bostjan Nachbar (see Butler). I’m liking Krstic a lot more now.
- Detroit SG Jiri Welsch Union Olimpija (SLO) 1980 This is the part of the program where having one halfway-decent season is a point in your favor. His Year 2 was pretty okay, and at least he won’t rip your heart out of its socket. Enough said.
- New Jersey SG Roger Mason Virginia Jr. He didn’t have a 500+ minute season until 2007-08, but at least he did have were pretty good. This draft class didn’t have a whole lot of depth. (Note that at this point, I am just picking the best players available at any position-it’s that bad.)
- Denver (traded to New York) SF Rasual Butler LaSalle Sr. His Year 2 and Year 7 provided Composite Scores of .094, but his 9-Year scope was bookended by sub-zero seasons. However, Bostjan Nachbar is the only player remaining with multiple seasons with a Composite Score of .050 or greater. That makes Butler look much better.
- San Antonio (traded to Philadelphia) SF Bostjan Nachbar Benetton Treviso (ITA) 1980 Speaking of Nachbar (rhymes with snock bar), here he is. Again, at this point mediocrity is a plus. (I’m sorry for the increasing brevity of these later picks, but there’s just nothing to write about for these guys.)
- Lakers (traded to Toronto) PG Smush Parker Fordham Jr. The water here is so shallow, your knees break the surface. It’s embarrassing.
- Sacramento (traded to Atlanta) PF Lonny Baxter Maryland Sr. Thank goodness the Timberwolves forfeited their pick because of the Joe Smith scandal; otherwise, I’d have to suffer through another one of these picks. At least he didn’t have a subzero 500+ minute season ever.
They say that the 2000 NBA Draft is bad. This one is still better than that atrocity, but this one’s still pretty bad. I was getting to the point where anything north of the 0 line was a good year! Well, here is my traditional list of the first-rounders who didn’t make the cut in my redo:
- PG Jay Williams Duke Jr. (2-Chicago)*
- PF Nikoloz Tskitishvili Benetton Treviso (ITA) 1983 (5-Denver)
- SG Dajuan Wagner Memphis Fr. (6-Cleveland)**
- PF Melvin Ely Fresno St. Sr. (12-Clippers)
- PF Marcus Haislip Tennessee Jr. (13-Milwaukee)
- SG Juan Dixon Maryland Sr. (17-Washington)
- C Curtis Borchardt Jr. Stanford (18-Orlando-Utah)
- PF Ryan Humphrey Notre Dame Sr. (19-Utah-Orlando)
- SG Kareem Rush Missouri Sr. (20-Toronto-Lakers)
- SF Qyntel Woods Northeast Mississippi CC So. (21-Portland)
- PG Frank Williams Illinois Jr. (25-Denver-New York)
- SF Chris Jeffries Fresno St. Jr. (27-Lakers-Toronto)
- PG Dan Dickau Gonzaga Sr. (28-Sacramento-Atlanta)
Geez, Louise; there are almost as many second rounders in my re-draft as first-rounders. I’m sure most of these guys, especially Tskitishvili, could have benefitted from maxing out their pre-draft eligibility. As for the asterisks, * Jay Williams almost died in a motorcycle accident. However, his rookie year was pretty terrible anyway, and ** Dajuan Wagner suffered from ulcerative colitis and had most of his colon removed. He made a brief, unsuccessful comeback with the Warriors, then played a year in Israel before retiring. He was atrocious before the surgery though, anyway.
While on the subject of Wagner, John Calipari actually revoked his scholarship after his freshman year so that Wagner would have to declare for the NBA Draft. Gee thanks, coach, look where that got me. Honestly, I’m surprised that more Coach Cal haters don’t bring this up very often. Oh, look, he pushed this guy into the NBA. He was terrible, then got a disease and never was successful. Wow.
Back on track now. Again, these articles are not meant to end discussions; they’re meant to start them. Please comment with your opinions.