You know the saying, hindsight is 20/20. This is true in particular of the NBA Draft. Every year, general managers do their best impersonation of Nostradamus by trying to predict which draftees will go on to become future All-Stars and potential Hall of Famers for their respective teams. But more often than not, the present is anything but 20/20. If anything, players are rarely ever selected in the order that they should be taken in. This means that overrated players are selected too early and underrated players are selected too late.
Logically speaking, the best players in the draft should be picked in chronological order. So, the first player in the draft should be a better player than the second, the second player should be better than the third, and so on and so forth. In hindsight, however, the draft rarely winds up this way. If anything, most drafts are totally out of order, including the number one pick, which should technically be the easiest pick to make.
For example, Anthony Bennett was selected with the number one pick this year, which shocked general managers everywhere because many felt that he could have slid all the way to the number ten spot. It is no coincidence that the Cavs have already fired the general manager who selected Bennett.
As the 2012-2013 NBA regular season quickly comes to a close, it is a good opportunity to look back upon this year’s draft to see who the top ten players in the draft really should have been, instead of what they really were.
This is a list of the top 10 players that were drafted in this year’s draft:
1. Anthony Bennett
2. Victor Oladipo
3. Otto Porter
4. Cody Zeller
5. Alex Len
6. Nerlens Noel
7. Ben McLemore
8. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
9. Trey Burke
10. C.J. McCollum
And these are the players that should have been drafted in these spots instead.
9 Portland: Tim Hardaway Jr. – 24th pick by the New York Knicks
The son of the father who had one of the best killer crossovers in NBA history, Tim Hardaway Jr., has made his mark in the Big Apple despite being selected late with the 24th pick. Hardaway has averaged 9.9 ppg, 0.8 apg, and 1.5 rpg in 22.9 minutes per game. He also wowed fans across the country with his ability to hit the three-point ball during the Rookie Challenge and has carved out a nice niche with the New York Knicks. He is the greatest young piece that the Knicks possess, which is the reason why teams want Hardaway packaged in almost any trade with the Knicks.
8 Minnesota: Giannis Antetokounmpo – 15th pick by the Milwaukee Bucks
The Greek Freak is all arms and legs. In fact, he may have grown 1.5 inches during the course of his rookie year. With the Milwaukee Bucks tanking this year, they have unleashed Giannis Antetokounmpo to see what he could do and have discovered that he can do just about anything. Giannis is still very raw and undeveloped, but he can do basically everything on the floor from shooting three-pointers to erasing shots on the defensive end. This year, he has averaged 6.9 ppg, 2.0 apg, and 4.4 rpg in 24.5 minutes per game. With Giannis being thrown into the fire this year, it will pay dividends for his development going into next year.
7 Detroit: Gorgui Dieng – 21st pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves
It’s hard to see why Gorgui Dieng fell so far into the draft after winning a NCAA Championship in college. In his first start in the NBA, Gorgui Dieng had five blocks as the starting center for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Coach Rick Adelman, much like Phil Jackson, is not a fan of giving rookies a lot of playing time, but he had no choice when Nikola Pekovic went down with an injury. Dieng has only averaged 4.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, and 0.7 bpg in 11.6 minutes per game. However, these numbers are deflated since Dieng just started getting real playing time in the past three weeks. Dieng plays above the rim and can shoot the ball with a high level of consistency from 18 feet out. If Dieng continues to improve, he could become one of the steals of this draft. Seven-footers that protect the rim are a very rare and valuable commodity in the NBA.
6 Sacramento: Ben McLemore – 7th pick by the Sacramento Kings
Ben McLemore has great size and athleticism at the two spot. In many ways, he is what made Marcus Thornton dispensable for the Sacramento Kings. So far this season, McLemore has averaged 8.2 ppg, 0.9 apg, and 2.8 rpg in 26 minutes per game. However, right now McLemore is struggling a bit with shot selection and shooting at a consistent rate. Given his size and athleticism, if McLemore’s game gets a little bit more polished and disciplined, he was selected right where he should have been.
5 Philadelphia: Cody Zeller – 4th pick by the Charlotte Bobcats
Cody Zeller was rumored to go anywhere from the 1st pick to the 6th pick because his specs were so good during the summer combine. This year, Zeller has averaged 5.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, and 0.5 bpg. He has averaged 17.2 minutes per game on a team that is bound for the playoffs for the first time in a long time. Given his present circumstances playing behind Al Jefferson and Josh McRoberts, his talents may not be fully on display for a couple more years and had Zeller been on a worse team, his stock would probably be a bit higher.
4 Phoenix: Kelly Olynyk – 13th pick by the Boston Celtics
Kelly Olynyk surprised general managers around the league when he tore it up during summer camp this past year. Fortunately, for the Boston Celtics, they stole the versatile big man with the 13th pick. Olynyk has averaged 7.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and 0.4 bpg in 19.4 minutes per game. Olynyk has demonstrated his ability to hit the 3-point ball with a relative amount of consistency, which enables him to spread out the floor as either a stretch four or stretch five. Big men that can stretch the floor are a valuable piece in today’s game and the reason why Olynyk should have been picked a bit higher than what he went for.
3 Charlotte: Nerlens Noel – 6th pick by the Philadelphia 76ers
This may be the most controversial spot in this re-draft since Nerlens Noel has not played a single game in the NBA. But he still should have been selected higher than he was and here is the reason why. If Noel was totally healthy, he would have been the unanimous number one pick in the draft. Noel is by far the best defender in this draft and he’s a 7-footer. If Noel is even remotely healthy next year, he will easily be the best defender from this draft class; making him worth the wait. There is a reason why the Sixers were okay with trading Spencer Hawes and it's probably because Noel is already healthy enough to play, but since the Sixers are in full tank mode, they have no need to rush him.
2 Washington: Trey Burke – 99th pick by the Utah Jazz
Trey Burke had a late start to the season nursing an injury, but the moment he returned to the court, he made his presence felt with the Utah Jazz. As the starting point guard, Burke has averaged 12.6 ppg, 5.5 apg, and 3.0 rpg in 31.8 minutes per game. Many believe that Burke could have easily been a contender for the Rookie of the Year Award had he been healthy the whole season. However, even if Burke doesn't win Rookie of the Year, he has shown every indication that he will have a long career in the NBA.
2. Orlando: Victor Oladipo – 2nd pick by the Orlando Magic
The hype around Victor Oladipo was there for a reason. Many experts believe that Oladipo should have been the number one pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers instead of Anthony Bennett. However, with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters already crowding the back-court, the Cavs passed on Oladipo and it is something they will regret for a very long time. Oladipo has averaged 14.2 ppg, 4.2 apg, and 4.2 rpg in 31.8 minutes per game during his rookie season. The one problem that Oladipo may face throughout his career is that he is positionless. At 6’4, Oladipo is a bit of a tweener and may struggle to find his identity as either a point guard or shooting guard.
1 Cleveland: Michael Carter-Williams – 11th pick by the Philadelphia 76ers
MCW busted out of the gate, leading the Sixers to a win over the defending champs and nearly got a triple-double in that game. This year, MCW has averaged 16.7 ppg, 6.3 apg, and 6.1 rpg in 34.5 minutes per game. Although the Sixers almost made history for consecutive losses in a row, their future looks bright with MCW at the head and Nerlens Noel on the block. And oh yeah, they own pretty much every draft pick next year in the second round. If the Sixers get some solid picks next year, like they did this year, they are going to have a great nucleus with their 6’6 point guard running the show.