2002 NBA Draft Redux

The 2002 NBA draft was arguably the worst draft for guards in league history. First of all, the only two guards taken in the lottery were Jay Williams (No. 2 overall) and DeJuan Wagner (No. 5), and neither of them last more than a few seasons in the league. Surprisingly, there also weren’t any sleeper guards in the class, other than John Salmons (No. 26), that would have snuck into the lottery in a do-over.

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3599#1] HOUSTON ROCKETS –
YAO MING / CHINA / C
Size: 7-5 310
’05 team needs: C, SF
Actual selection: SAME
Analysis: What, not Amare?! I’m sure just about everyone has Stoudemire being the top overall selection in this draft, but it’s pure ignorance to think that. Neither player has been particularly durable during their respective careers, and both are currently battling what appear to be serious injuries. But don’t forget that Amare already missed an entire year (’05-’06) after having microfracture surgery and Yao has him beat on marketing and All-Star appearances. Career statistics are comparable, but Yao has Stoudemire beat in career EWA, PER and VA.

3607#2] CHICAGO BULLS –
AMARE STOUDEMIRE / CYPRESS CREEK HS / PF
Size: 6-10 245
’05 team needs: PG, PF
Actual selection: JAY WILLIAMS
Analysis: Some may think that I undervalue Stoudemire – and that may be true to an extent – but I’m just not a huge fan. He’s not the most durable player in the league, he doesn’t defend and his attitude is questionable at best. That being said, he’s arguably the best talent in the class and is still an All-Star caliber player when he wants to be. I wouldn’t build a team around him, but he’s still good enough to be a star in this league.

3632#3] GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS –
CARLOS BOOZER / DUKE / PF
Size: 6-9 255
’05 team needs: C, PF
Actual selection: MIKE DUNLEAVY, JR.
Analysis: Boozer’s actually the low-post bruiser the Warriors have lacked over the years and would have been a better pick here than his college teammate, Mike Dunleavy. I’d personally rather have Caron Butler because of Boozer’s durability issues, but Boozer’s PER and EWA still beats Butler’s over the course of their careers, so that’s difficult to ignore. There’s absolutely no way Boozer should have slipped into the second round after scouts had three years to watch him play at Duke.

3608#4] MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES –
CARON BUTLER / CONNECTICUT / SF
Size: 6-7 230
’05 team needs: SF, SG
Actual selection: DREW GOODEN
Analysis: Gooden looked like he’d have a very productive career during his rookie season, but he lost focus somewhere along the way. Now he’s best known for his whacky facial hair. Plus, the Grizzlies already had a power forward named Pau Gasol. Butler, on the other hand, is an All-Star caliber player and is one of the better wing forwards in the entire league, when healthy. Jerry West had some disappoint draft picks while in Memphis, and passing on Butler is an example of that.

3621#5] DENVER NUGGETS –
TAYSHAUN PRINCE / KENTUCKY / SF
Size: 6-9 205
’05 team needs: SF, PF
Actual selection: NICKOLOZ TSKITISHVILI
Analysis: Another great example of a GM swinging for the fences. Some believe Kiki Vandeweghe took a kid he knew was going to be a project in the attempt to have the league’s worst record and, thus, the best shot at LeBron James in 2003. Prince, however, was a late first round steal and would have aided the rebuilding effort. He would have also given the Nuggets an excuse to pass on Carmelo Anthony in ’03 and perhaps taken Chris Bosh instead.

3605#6] CLEVELAND CAVALIERS –
NENE HALARIO / BRAZIL / PF
Size: 6-11 250
’05 team needs: SG, PF
Actual selection: DEJUAN WAGNER
Analysis: I remember being completely shocked when I heard Wagner’s name at this spot while watching the ’03 draft. The Cavs front office must have bought into the idea that was being tossed around that Wagner was the next Allen Iverson. He’s out of the league now. Nene, however, would have given the Cavaliers the inside presence they had with Boozer and he would have likely stayed around much longer, too.

3624#7] NEW YORK KNICKS –
JOHN SALMONS / MIAMI / SG
Size: 6-7 215
’05 team needs: C, SG
Actual selection: NENE HALARIO
Analysis: The Knicks foolishly traded this pick, along with Marcus Camby and Mark Jackson, to Denver for Antonio McDyess and a throw-away draft pick. ESPN reported that former GM Scott Layden had “side stepped the firing squad” with that move. But had they instead taken Salmons and kept Camby, they would have been much more competitive during the Isiah Thomas years.

3601#8] LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS –
MIKE DUNLEAVY, JR. / DUKE / SF
Size: 6-9 215
’05 team needs: PG, SG
Actual selection: CHRIS WILCOX
Analysis: This isn’t because his dad’s the coach, but because Dunleavy is actually the next best player in the class and the Clippers would have a nice combo on the wing with he and Corey Maggette. If a point guard were available, they’d likely go that direction because they’d need an eventual replacement for Sam Cassell. But there just isn’t anybody available that would justify being taken in the top ten.

3602#9] PHOENIX SUNS –
DREW GOODEN / KANSAS / PF
Size: 6-9 250
’05 team needs: PF, C
Actual selection: AMARE STOUDEMIRE
Analysis: Most thought Stoudemire would be a year or two away from contributing, but he went on to win Rookie of the Year honors and has continued to emerge as a superstar in the league. As mentioned above, Gooden had a very solid rookie season, but it’s all gone down hill from there. He’s now one on the free agent market looking for left over scraps after other free agents signed lucrative long-term contracts.

3606#10] MIAMI HEAT –
CHRIS WILCOX / MARYLAND / PF
Size: 6-10 235
’05 team needs: SF, PG
Actual selection: CARON BUTLER
Analysis: Interestingly, it was reported that the Clippers almost drafted Caron Butler, instead of Wilcox, and shipped him and Lamar Odom to Cleveland for Andre Miller. But negotiations broke down. Under this scenario, the Heat ends up with Wilcox because Butler is already off the board. And he has actually been a halfway decent payer, except Pat Riley would have much rather had Caron Butler to package with Lamar Odom just a year later in exchange for Shaq.

3622#11] WASHINGTON WIZARDS –
NENAD KRSTIC / SERBIA / C
Size: 6-11 245
’05 team needs: C, SF
Actual selection: JARED JEFFRIES
Analysis: After the top ten, things start to get really sketchy in the class. Krstic didn’t come over right away, took his game to Russia for a few months, and has had some durability issues along the way, but he’s a solid big man when healthy. That much gets him a nod here, where the Wizards have had issues ever since Chris Webber was traded away. Jeffries was a hot name around the time of the actual draft, but has never lived up to his full potential.

3765#12] LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS –
UDONIS HASLEM / FLORIDA / PF
Size: 6-9 240
’05 team needs: PG, SG
Actual selection: MELVIN ELY
Analysis: Haslem surprisingly went undrafted after starting for three years at Florida, which is just another example of a player who is undervalued largely because he took the full college experience rather than coming out early. He’s been a fairly decent, but not great, interchangeable forward for the Miami Heat during his career in the NBA. And sometimes this late in the lottery, that’s about as much as you can expect to get out of a player.

3643#13] MILWAUKEE BUCKS –
MATT BARNES/ UCLA / SF
Size: 6-7 210
’05 team needs: PF, C
Actual selection: MARCUS HAISLIP
Analysis: Barnes was a second rounder who, after a successful career at UCLA, probably should have at least gone in the mid to late first round. He’s been all over the league – and even spent some time in the D league – but he’s carve a niche as a hustle guy who flies up and down the court and can actually score at a fairly efficient rate. He’s not a perfect fit for everyone, but I like him quite a lot better than the rest of the remaining field and certainly better than Haislip.

3653#14] INDIANA PACERS –
LUIS SCOLA / ARGENTINA / PF
Size: 6-9 245
’05 team needs: SG, C
Actual selection: FRED JONES
Analysis: Scola didn’t come to the NBA until four years after being drafted in the second round by the Spurs, but he probably would have been worth the wait for the Pacers. Freddie Jones never did anything spectacular in the league and Scola is a good, solid big man with loads of professional experience under his belt. If anything else, they could’ve used Scola’s draft rights as a valuable trading chip, but like the Spurs did.

*Email Andrew at ajohn135@gmail.com

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