2003 NBA Draft Redux

When we think of the 2003 NBA draft, we think of the names LeBron, D-Wade, Melo, Bosh … and even the infamous Darko. Draft enthusiasts generally regard the ‘03 draft class as the group with the most star power over in the last decade. And according to EWA, it was the best rookie class we’ve had over the past 20 years.

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3704#1] CLEVELAND CAVALIERS –
LEBRON JAMES / SAINT VINCENT SAINT MARY / SF
Size: 6-8 240
’05 team needs: SF, SG
Actual selection: SAME
Analysis: There’s never been any second-guessing on this one. Not only is LeBron from just outside Cleveland, but he also single-handedly put the Cavs back on the NBA map after years in NBA purgatory. He’s the league’s reigning MVP and, at the ripe age Cavsof only 24, he’s the face of the league and, barring injury, still has at least another decade of basketball left in him. At this pace, he’ll be right up there with the all-time great players in the game when he’s done playing.

3708#2] DETROIT PISTONS –
DWAYNE WADE / MARQUETTE / SG
Size: 6-4 210
’05 team needs: C, SG
Actual selection: DARKO MILICIC
Analysis: We’re going from perhaps the least-questioned draft selection in league history to arguably the most-questioned. To think that Detroit could have had its choice of D-Wade, Melo or Bosh here makes it even worse. This is why it’s sometimes betterdet to go with the safe pick rather than swing for the fences. Pistons boss Joe Dumars had a championship team and wanted a star who could have bridged the gap between the old and young players. But he passed on thee All-Stars he passed on who could have done just that. Ouch!

3706#3] DENVER NUGGETS –
CARMELO ANTHONY / SYRACUSE / SF
Size: 6-8 235
’05 team needs: SF, C
Actual selection: SAME
Analysis: Undoubtedly, there are those out there who will say that the Nuggets should have unequivocally taken Chris Bosh here over Melo – and people are free toden have that opinion. But I think the Nuggets made the right call here, despite the fact that EWA, VA and PER are all currently in favor of Bosh. Carmelo made an immediate impact, while Bosh took a year or so to develop, and he’s also a better all-around offensive player.

3707#4] TORONTO RAPTORS –
CHRIS BOSH / GEORGIA TECH / PF
Size: 6-10 215
’05 team needs: PF, PG
Actual selection: SAME
Analysis: Under this scenario, the Raptors go with Bosh, who has turned out to be everything they had hoped for and more. Few could have envisioned that a tall, skinny kid who didn’t even dominate during his one year of college would turn out to be torsuch a terrific NBA player. If Darko is the reason against swinging for the fences, Bosh is the reason for it. Bosh is already one of the best big men in the game and will be a perennial All-Star wherever he plays.

3721#5] MIAMI HEAT –
DAVID WEST / XAVIER / PF
Size: 6-9 240
’05 team needs: SG, PF
Actual selection: DWAYNE WADE
Analysis: The Miami Heat are the big losers under this scenario. Pat Riley needs to send Joe Dumars a fruit basket or something for setting a chain reaction that allowed one of four perennial All-Stars to slide to him here. But under this scenario, they miastill get an All-Star caliber forward in West, who has really blossomed as a player alongside Chris Paul in New Orleans. He wouldn’t be a perfect like Wade, but he’d be able to replace Lamar Odom, who was traded to Los Angeles.

3732#6] LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS –
JOSH HOWARD / WAKE FOREST / SF
Size: 6-7 210
’05 team needs: C, SF
Actual selection: CHRIS KAMAN
Analysis: The Clippers landed a very solid big man in Kaman, but wouldn’t Josh Howard have been a better choice? Aside from his questionable off-the-court habits, he’s turned out to be a terrific player and one of the real sleepers in the class. The Mavericks plucked Howard with the last pick in the first round back in 2003, and he’s since made an All-Star game appearance and would have to be considered one of the premier wing forwards in the league right now.

3710#7] CHIACGO BULLS –
KIRK HINRICH / KANSAS / CG
Size: 6-4 185
’05 team needs: PG, SG
Actual selection: SAME
Analysis: The Bulls knew exactly what they were getting when they drafted Hinrich and he’s consistency delivered. His ability to play both backcourt positions effectively and the fact that he produced from the first day on the job is why he gets the nod here. He’s also an ace defender, and when he wants to be, can be an outstanding scorer. There’s little doubt the Bulls made the right decision here.

3750#8] MILWAUKEE BUCKS –
MO WILLIAMS / ALABAMA / PG
Size: 6-1 190
’05 team needs: PG, PF
Actual selection: T.J. FORD
Analysis: As difficult as it would be for the Bucks to pass on Ford, Williams has probably had the better career. He’s been more durable and has had a higher ceiling for upside, culminating in an All-Star appearance this past season. Ford is the better playmaker, but we’d take Williams because of his complete body of work as a player. He was the true sleeper of the class and is still young enough that he’s likely to continue getting better.

3711#9] NEW YORK KNICKS –
T.J. FORD / TEXAS / PG
Size: 6-0 165
’05 team needs: SG, PF
Actual selection: MIKE SWEETNEY
Analysis: This was before Stephon Marbury turned into Mike Tyson, so it’s difficult to justify them taking Ford here. But the truth is, the two of them may have been able to play in the same backcourt and Ford would have likely been well liked by the fans. Instead, they went with Mike Sweetney and unfortunately had to rely on the likes of Shandon Anderson and Howard Eisley to start a large chunk of games in the backcourt the following season.

3709#10] WASHINGTON WIZARDS –
CHRIS KAMAN / CENTRAL MICHIGAN / C
Size: 7-0 255
’05 team needs: SG, PF
Actual selection: JAVIS HAYES
Analysis: Here’s an example of drafting for need over the best player available. Kaman wasn’t available here, and was anything but a sure thing, but Hayes wasn’t the best player available and the Wizards took him to fill a hole on the wing. Big mistake. Now, he’s had a decent career, but shouldn’t have been a lottery pick, let a lone top ten. Under this scenario, Kaman replaces Brendan Haywood in the middle and the Wizards build around him, Agent Zero, Butler and Jamison.

3731#11] GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS –
LEANDRO BARBOSA / BRAZIL / CG
Size: 6-3 175
’05 team needs: SF, C
Actual selection: MICKAEL PIETRUS
Analysis: Pietrus wasn’t a bad selection here, but Barbosa would have been better. His EWA, VA and PER are all better than Pietrus and his instant offense would have been an awesome fit with Don Nelson, who took over the coaching reigns in 2006. If I’m a Warriors fan, the thought of what could have been with a potential three-headed monster backcourt of Baron Davis, Jason Richardson and Barbosa is just too painful to think about. That could have been fun.

3724#12] SEATTLE SUPERSONICS –
BORIS DIAW / FRANCE / PF
Size: 6-9 220
’05 team needs: PG, PF
Actual selection: NICK COLLISON
Analysis: Instead of taking the polished collegiate veteran Nick Collison here, the relatively unknown Frenchmen would have been a much better option. He’s a versatile forward with a very solid all-around game, and he didn’t take a long time to develop as a player. Kendrick Perkins is still on the board here, but he took quite awhile to develop – and while he’s a terrific defender, his offensive game is still very limited.

3726#13] BOSTON CELTICS –
TRAVIS OUTLAW / STARKVILLE HS / SF
Size: 6-9 205
’05 team needs: C, SG
Actual selection: MARCUS BANKS
Analysis: The Celtics really needed a big man here, but went with Marcus Banks instead. So if they can go point guard, they can go with a forward with loads of upside in Outlaw. He’s shown that he can play, but has never been given the chance to become a full-time starter in Portland. Mickael Pietrus, because of his ability to defend and score, would have also made some sense, but he hasn’t had the durability and consistency to crack the lottery here.

3717#14] SEATTLE SUPERSONICS –
LUKE RIDNOUR / OREGON / PG
Size: 6-2 175
’05 team needs: PG, PF
Actual selection: SAME
Analysis: According to EWA and PER, it’s difficult to argue that the Sonics made the wrong decision taking Ridnour here. They needed a point guard to replace the departing Gary Payton and Ridnour has had a fairly steady career running the point. Because of the gaping whole inside, Zaza Pachulia would have also made a lot of sense here, as would Kendrick Perkins.

*Email Andrew at ajohn135@gmail.com

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2 Responses to “2003 NBA Draft Redux”

  1. Jeremiah J. Says:

    Lebron single-handedly brought the Cavs back to the NBA elite. And yet it seems like such an agonizing thing to be a Cavs fan these days!

    Shouldn’t Kaman be higher? He’s been injured and he’s now seen as overpaid. But the guy was putting up 15 and 12 with 2 blocks per game the year before last. Greg Oden and Andrew Bogut should hope for that kind of production. He’s the kind of center people are aiming for when they drop #1 overall picks on centers. I’d put him as high as #5, or at least #6 where he actually went. Certainly higher than Ford!

  2. Funny you should mention Kaman because I actually agonized over that exact thing. I figured he should go higher, and at one point has him penciled in at #9 to the Knicks. But I looked at his production one last time and, other than that one season where he had ridiculously good numbers, he just didn’t impress me all that much. His PER and EWA also we unimpressive.

    But you’re probably right. Because of his size, and the fact that he’s actually pretty good, he’d probably be drafted as high as No. 7. In my opinion, he hasn’t been all that impressive other than that one year.

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