2001 NBA Draft Redux

Though the 2001 NBA draft will always be defined by the Kwame Brown debacle, it has actually turned out to be a very talented class. Though the four high schoolers that were taken in the lottery – three in the top four – have failed to live up to expectations, the class has produced five All-Stars and multiple others who’ve turned out to be better than most expected. The class also produced some absolute gems in the late first (Tony Parker and Gerald Wallace) and second round (Gilbert Arenas and Mehmet Okur).

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3513#1] WASHINGTON WIZARDS –
PAU GASOL / SPAIN / PF
Size: 7-0 230
’05 team needs: PF, PG
Actual selection: KWAME BROWN
Analysis: Kwame Brown was obviously a disaster for the Wizards, but Gasol has been the best player in what has turned out to be a very talented class. Not only was he Rookie of the Year, but he’s also continued to build upon that success to the point where he’s an All-Star on the best team in the league. Though he’s a little soft defensively, he has terrific size. And when playing is natural power forward position, he’s easily one of the leagues most difficult matchups.
Career Stats: (18.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.7 BPG, .520 FG%, 584 GP)

3527#2] LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS –
TONY PARKER / FRANCE / PG
Size: 6-2 180
’05 team needs: PG, C
Actual selection: TYSON CHANDLER
Analysis: In terms of PER, Parker is consistently in the top tier of the league and is arguably one of the four or five players at his position. He’s also already won a few NBA titles, has been producing at a high level for a number of years and is still only 27 years old. Like Gasol, he also came over from Europe and immediately because a starter at an extremely young age. And in terms of production over the course of a career, Parker probably has everyone else in the class beat.
Career Stats: (16.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1 SPG, .490 FG%, 612 GP)

3520#3] ATLANTA HAWKS –
JOE JOHNSON / ARKANSAS / SG
Size: 6-7 225
’05 team needs: PF, SG
Actual selection: PAU GASOL
Analysis: The Hawks traded this pick away, along with Lorenzen Wright and Brevin Knight, to the Grizzlies for Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Big Mistake. Ending up with Gasol was obviously a steal of a deal for Memphis, but with his off the board under this scenario; grabbing Joe Johnson would make a lot of sense. Atlanta ended up with him a few years later via free agency. For the Grizzlies, he’d help transition the team from a lottery regular to a playoff contender, much like he did for the Hawks.
Career Stats: (17.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1 SPG, .789 FT%, 623 GP)

3540#4] CHICAGO BULLS –
GILBERT ARENAS / ARIZONA / CG
Size: 6-3 195
’05 team needs: SF, SG
Actual selection: EDDIE CURRY
Analysis: Arenas has as much star-power as anyone in the class, but he’s played in just over 65% of his teams regular season games over the course of his career, including most of the past two seasons. But in the games he’s played, he’s been extremely productive and his easily the best scorer in the class. He’s also young enough to assume that he’ll have many more years of productivity and is the type of marketable personality that attracts ticket holders.
Career Stats: (22.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.8 SPG, .809 FT%, 433 GP)

3523#5] GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS –
RICHARD JEFFERSON / ARIZONA / SF
Size: 6-7 220
’05 team needs: SG, SF
Actual selection: JASON RICHARDSON
Analysis: Richardson was a good pick here for the Warriors, but Jefferson may have actually been better. According to PER and VA, both players are very close over the course of their careers, but Jefferson has improved more than Richardson over the years. Jefferson’s also a solid defender when he wants to be and is consistent enough to be a good second option everywhere he plays. He’s a player that will never be a superstar, but is still very, very good.
Career Stats: (17.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3 APG, 1 SPG, .781 FT%, 571 GP)

3515#6] MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES –
JASON RICHARDSON / MICHIGAN STATE / SG
Size: 6-6 215
’05 team needs: SG, PF
Actual selection: SHANE BATTIER
Analysis: Battier wasn’t a bad pick, either, but Richardson is a couple years younger and a more explosive athlete, so he’s the pick here. Richardson actually turned out to be a better player than most expected and, in the right system, has the ability to be an outstanding scorer and outside shooter. For a team like the Grizzlies, who have a long ways to go before competing, Richardson would have been a nice fit because of his long-term potential.
Career Stats: (18.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3 APG, 1,072 3-PT FG’S, 592 GP)

3547#7] NEW JERSEY NETS –
MEMHET OKUR / TURKEY / C
Size: 6-11 255
’05 team needs: PF, SG
Actual selection: EDDIE GRIFFIN
Analysis: The Nets were fortunate enough to trade this Griffin to Houston in exchange for a package that included Richard Jefferson. That obviously worked out well. In this case, however, Okur wouldn’t be such a bad consolation prize. The Nets already had Kenyon Martin at power forward, but had a serious lack of size in the middle. Enter Okur, who has been a very solid, durable, offensive big man since entering the league a year later, in 2002.
Career Stats: (14 PPG, 7.2 RPG, .795 FT%, .377 3-PT FG%, 531 GP)

3516#8] CLEVELAND CAVALIERS –
SHANE BATTIER / DUKE / SF
Size: 6-8 220
’05 team needs: C, SF
Actual selection: DESAGANA DIOP
Analysis: Battier has been fairly productive over the course of his career, but he doesn’t have the long-term potential and career longevity of some of the younger guys in class. He is, however, the best defensive player in the class and does a little bit of everything on the offensive end of the floor. His maturity and leadership ability would help aid the rebuilding effort in Cleveland and is the consummate professional any NBA team would appreciate.
Career Stats: (10 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1 BPG, .388 FT%, 618 GP)

3531#9] DETROIT PISTONS –
ZACH RANDOLPH / MICHIGAN STATE / PF
Size: 6-9 265
’05 team needs: PF, SG
Actual selection: RODNEY WHITE
Analysis: On production alone, Randolph would probably be taken higher than this spot. But he’s notoriously selfish and doesn’t play any defense. Still, he’s a huge talent offensively. He can score rather effortlessly on the low-block and has a jumper with range out to 20 feet. And on a team such as the Pistons, with a veteran frontcourt including Ben Wallace, Michael Curry and Jerome Williams, Randolph likely would be as destructive to the locker room as he has been elsewhere.
Career Stats: (16.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, .770 FT%, 506 GP)

3512#10] BOSTON CELTICS –
TYSON CHANDLER / DOMINQUEZ HS / C
Size: 7-1 235
’05 team needs: C, SF
Actual selection: JOE JOHNSON
Analysis: The C’s ended up with Johnson here, but traded him away only a year later. Chandler took a few years to develop as a player and still isn’t an offensive force, but has size and can rebound and defend the paint – which is sometimes enough to get a player a spot in the top ten. With a desperate need for size, the Celtics would have certainly given him a long look here. He’s still only 26 years old and, if he can stay healthy, should be in the NBA another decade.
Career Stats: (8.2 PPG, 9 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 1 APG, .556 FG%, 537 GP)

3533#11] BOSTON CELTICS –
GERALD WALLACE / ALABAMA / SF
Size: 6-7 215
’05 team needs: C, SF
Actual selection: KEDRICK BROWN
Analysis: Meanwhile, Wallace was developing his game on an established playoff team in Sacramento. He didn’t see much playing time until year four, when the Bobcats selected him in the expansion draft. Since then his game has really taken off and he’s now, at only 26 years old, one of the premier players at his position. But he’s had a difficult time staying healthy throughout his career, which has limited his productivity on the court.
Career Stats: (12.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1 BPG, 468 GP)

3514#12] SEATTLE SUPERSONICS –
EDDY CURRY / THORNWOOD HS / C
Size: 6-11 305
’05 team needs: PF, SG
Actual selection: VLADIMIR RADMANOVIC
Analysis: Like Randolph, Curry has a very good low-post scorer which, combined with his size, should put him higher in this exercise. But he doesn’t play any defense whatsoever and his conditioning, low-running motor and inability to rebound, despite his size, puts a limit on his production and upside as a player. He also doesn’t posses the hustle, grit and toughness you’d expect from someone with his size.
Career Stats: (13.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, .546 FG%, 504 GP)

3524#13] HOUSTON ROCKETS –
TROY MURPHY / NOTRE DAME / PF
Size: 6-11 245
’05 team needs: PF, C
Actual selection: RICHARD JEFFERSON
Analysis: Instead of trading for Eddie Griffin, taking Murphy here would be a better choice for the Rockets. Murphy is a rugged rebounder, but isn’t a great defender. Despite his size, which is ideal for the NBA power forward position, he often gets outmuscled and overpowered by lesser players, despite this advantage. But he has quite the package offensively. He’s an outstanding shooter with range and can also take the ball to the hole or post up against smaller defenders.
Career Stats: (11.7 PPG, 8.4 RPG, .785 FT%, .397 3-PT%, 549 GP)

3534#14] GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS –
SAMUEL DALEMBERT / SETON HALL / C
Size: 6-11 235
’05 team needs: C, SG
Actual selection: TROY MURPHY
Analysis: Needing some size in the middle, the Warriors have a few options – including Brendan Haywood – but Dalembert would likely be the pick here. Haywood has has also been fairly productive, but Dalembert is better on both sides of the ball. He’s also a couple years younger and he’s been one of the more consistent big men in the league in terms of PER and TS% over the years. His long arms help him to be a particularly good rebounder and shot blocker.
Career Stats: (8.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2 BPG, .524 FG%, 500 GP)

*Email Andrew at ajohn135@gmail.com

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2 Responses to “2001 NBA Draft Redux”

  1. This class gets dumped on all the time because of the high school kids that became busts at the top. But in reality, this has proved to be one of the better classes of the last decade. There were some terrific players plucked in the second round (as mentioned above) and there are at least 10 different players that have turned out to be regular starters in this league. Not too many classes can boast that.

  2. I was a little surprised myself when I wrote this one. I had always thought of this draft as being tainted by Kwame Brown and a much of high schoolers who never lived up to expectations (such as Brown, Ousmane Cisse and Sagana Diop). But there have been a number of players who have gone on to have very productive careers, so I would have to agree that this is probably one of the better classes of the past decade. There are at least a dozen players that could’ve been taken in the lottery and not be considered a “bust” years down the road. Unfortunately, most of them weren’t actually taken in the lottery.

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