2004 NBA Draft Redux

Evidence shows that the 2004 NBA draft was one of the most successful in recent league history. Some of the league’s best young talents came from this class, and there are strengths at nearly every position. At the time, there was much debate over whether the Orlando Magic should go with a savvy college veteran – Emeka Okafor – or a high school phenom – Dwight Howard – with the first overall selection. Ultimately, the Magic decided to go with Howard, though Okafor went on to win NBA Rookie of the Year honors. But looking back, there’s little doubt which player has turned out to be the premier player in the class.

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3818#1] ORLANDO MAGIC –
DWIGHT HOWARD / SW ATLANTA CHRISTIAN / C
Size: 6-11 250
’05 team needs: C, PG
Actual selection: SAME
Analysis: The Magic went with Howard on draft day, which ended up being a brilliant move that has completely reversed its fortunes. He’s still just 23-years old and is already the most dominant big man in the game. He has MVP potential if he orlcontinues to progress. After the draft, there were actually people who said Emeka Okafor should have gone ahead of him – such as ESPN’s Chad Ford and Bill Simmons — which sounds absolutely ridiculous now.

3832#2] CHARLOTTE BOBCATS –
AL JEFFERSON / PRESNTISS HS / PF
Size: 6-10 260
’05 team needs: PF, PG
Actual selection: EMEKA OKAFOR
Analysis: It’s kind of appalling to think of how many teams passed on Jefferson on draft day, while other high school kids such as Shaun Livingston were going in chathe top five. In terms of young big men in the league, only a few have shown a better combination of potential and production in their careers. There little doubt around theleague that Jefferson would be an All-Star on a playoff team, and in the right situation, could be a bonafide superstar.

3826#3] CHICAGO BULLS –
ANDRE IGUODALA / ARIZONA / SG
Size: 6-6 215
’05 team needs: SG, SF
Actual selection: BEN GORDON
Analysis: Iguodala is one of my favorites from this class because of his extreme athleticism and all-around game. If he had more opportunities to score, he too chiwould be a superstar. The Bulls went for an undersized Ben Gordon at the two-guard position when they could have had Iguodala, who would have been a home state favorite in Chicago. Shameful.

3822#4] LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS –
DEVIN HARRIS / WISCONSIN / PG
Size: 6-3 180
’05 team needs: PG, SF
Actual selection: SHAUN LIVINGSTON
Analysis: For a team needing a point guard, Harris would be a perfect fit. It actually bothers me that Shaun Livingston was anointed before he had every done lacanything and his claim to fame with the simple fact that he was bigger than other point guards. In hindsight, Harris would have been a much better solution to L.A.’s point guard problem and he would have been ready to contribute from the first day on the job.

3819#5] WASHINGTON WIZARDS –
EMEKA OKAFOR / CONNECTICUT / PF
Size: 6-10 255
’05 team needs:
Actual selection: DEVIN HARRIS
Analysis: I actually like a few other players more than Okafor, but he’s been steady and he’s a mature big man who can make a difference on both ends of the wasfloor, so it’s difficult to see him slide further than here. Though Okafor hasn’t had the career or long-term potential of Dwight Howard, I think he could be one of the most consistent players in the class for the next decade.

3834#6] ATLANTA HAWKS –
JOSH SMITH / OAK HILL ACADEMY / SF
Size: 6-9 230
’05 team needs: SF, PG
Actual selection: JOSH CHILDRESS
Analysis: The Hawks landed Smith later in the draft (No. 17), but they end up with him here under this scenario. People were ripping the Hawks for talking two atlsmall forwards (he and Josh Childress) in the first round, but it turned out pretty good, didn’t it? He might be a bit of a head-case, but he one of the most talented players in the class and once he matures and learns how to shoot the 3-ball, he could be scary good.

3824#7] CHIACGO BULLS –
LUOL DENG / DUKE / SF
Size: 6-8 220
’05 team needs: SG, SF
Actual selection: SAME
Analysis: In reality, the Bulls made the right move and snagged Deng here. He hasn’t shown the production we expected from him a few years ago, but he’s still chiincredibly young and is one of the better young wing forwards in the game. Over time, he’ll prove to be one of the best players from this class and is the type of selfless teammate that can help you win championships.

3820#8] TORONTO RAPTORS –
BEN GORDON / CONNECTICUT / SG
Size: 6-2 190
’05 team needs: SG, PF
Actual selection: RAFAEL ARAUJO
Analysis: Toronto would have to give Jameer Nelson a serious look, but with Rafer Alston at the point and Vince Carter on his way out, Gordon makes the most torsense here. He’s a bit undersized for the two-guard position and doesn’t have size nor the dynamic all-around game Andre Iguodala does, he can flat-out score and has had near impeccable durability during his career.

3837#9] PHILADELPHIA 76ERS –
JAMEER NELSON / SAINT JOSEPH’S / PG
Size: 6-0 190
’05 team needs: PG, SG
Actual selection: ANDRE IGUODALA
Analysis: Having an All-Star fall to ninth is a first in doing these draft do-over’s, but Nelson has a lot of competition. He’s a terrific player on both ends of the floor and, in terms of production, has had one of the better careers out of anybody in this phiclass. So why is he this low? Because, unfortunately, he was a 22-year old NBA-ready collegiate before coming into the league, so he probably doesn’t have the long-term potential other players are still in the processes of reaching.

3843#10] CLEVELAND CAVALIERS –
KEVIN MARTIN / WESTERN CAROLINA / SG
Size: 6-7 185
’05 team needs: PG, SF
Actual selection: LUKE JACKSON
Analysis: I like Biedrins better than Martin, but I might be the minority in that debate. Martin get’s the nod here, however, because the Cavaliers already had plenty of big men and Martin’s shooting ability would help stretch the defense and open the lane clefor LeBron. Until recently, King James didn’t have many scorers around him, but Martin would immediately keep defenses honest and away from double teams on the leagues reigning MVP.

3828#11] GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS –
ANDRIS BIEDRINS / LATVIA / C
Size: 6-11 235
’05 team needs: C, PG
Actual selection: SAME
Analysis: The fact that Biedrins is still available here is telling of talent and production found within this draft class. He’s still so young, yet has impressed on so many levels that he’s not only one of the league’s best young big men, but he continues to gswget better and hasn’t yet reached his ceiling. He just oozes with talent and is so impressive because he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to make his presence felt. The Warriors did a good job grabbing him here.

3860#12] SEATTLE SUPERSONICS –
TREVOR ARIZA / UCLA / SF
Size: 6-8 210
’05 team needs: C, PF
Actual selection: ROBERT SWIFT
Analysis: Here’s what ESPN Insider Chad Ford wrote about the Sonics drafting Swift: “After suffering through so many stiffs in the middle, getting a real center with real potential is very solid.” What? Swift is the definition of the word “stiff” and, under seathis scenario; taking Ariza would’ve been a much better choice. Ariza is one of the league’s top-flight up-and-comers, while Swift is on his way out of the league. He’s one of the few blemishes on an otherwise impressive track record of former GM Rick Sund.

3823#13] PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS –
JOSH CHILDRESS / STANFORD / SF
Size: 6-7 205
’05 team needs: SF, PG
Actual selection: SEBASTIAN TELFAIR
Analysis: I’ve always wondered why Childress’ game was so highly regarded during his time in the NBA, but at least I’ll say that Portland would be ecstatic if porthey could find him available this late. Telfair was obviously drafted way too high, and way before he was ready to contribute, but Childress made a rather seamless transition to the NBA game and is only out of the league right now because of his own choosing.

3847#14] UTAH JAZZ –
ANDERSON VAREJAO / BRAZIL / PF
Size: 6-10 245
’05 team needs: PF, PG
Actual selection: KRIS HUMPHRIES
Analysis: I’m not a huge Varejao fan, but he’s a solid defensive big man and is probably the next-best player on the board. The Jazz have been seriously lacking a uthplayer who can guard the post, as opposed to its strong weakside defenders, and Varejao is the kind of scrappy hustle player Jazz fans appreciate. It sure beats what they got from Kris Humphries.

*Email Andrew at ajohn135@gmail.com

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3 Responses to “2004 NBA Draft Redux”

  1. I think it’s good that Orlando Magic chose the Superman cause he has led the Magic to two division titles and one conference title, also wining the 2008 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

  2. I don’t believe there’s any question Howard was the right pick. He’s already dominant and has a chance to be iconic if he remains hungry and consistent. Not many players have been so good at such a young age and he continues to get better each year. Few players in the league have his combination of size, skills and upside.

  3. Jeremiah J. Says:

    At pick #14 the Jazz pick up the second coming of Greg Ostertag.

    I think that Childress is highly regarded for two reasons: his eye-popping shooting efficiency and his important role on the surprising Hawks team that took the Celtics to seven games in ’08 (though he really didn’t do much in that series).

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