The NBA Draft is incredibly interesting to compare, especially when you look at the whole picture and each individual that was taken. The pieces shuffle dramatically when mixing and matching the “What if?” possibilities. Fans swear their franchises, and thank their lucky stars for management. They wish that their favorite college star fell one more pick and they are discouraged when they pass up a “guaranteed” star. After looking at the drafts from 1989-2000, it made sense to look at the drafts from 2001-2012 to see how they stacked up to each other.
The format I used in the previous article worked quite well because most of the players had retired or were in the waning years of their career. This draft was much trickier because all of these players are in separate sections of their career. So the key for me was allowing the categories to shape most of my opinions for the older players, but forcing other factors to determine my value for players who have recently entered the league. I changed the “Championships” category to “Bill Simmons Top 50 Assets” because none of these particular players from 2007-2012 have won a championship yet. I also changed the restriction of All-NBA and All-Defensive teams to include players who made the Second or Third team because it reflects a top 15 ranking of the best players chosen by the coaches, a similar style to the All-Star team.
I typically find Player Efficiency Rating to be an excellent measurement of a player’s offensive production (it doesn’t account for defense) but it was common to find centers and power forwards with bloated numbers, while shooters and defensive stalwarts saw their number dip (to properly look at a three-point shooter, it would be best to check out his eFG percentage). The reason I mention this is because you shouldn’t compare some of the members on this list to each other and you shouldn’t compare this list to 1989-2000. Players in this era haven’t played post-prime, leaving their numbers much higher than a player that played in a few subpar years to finish out his career.
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12. 2012 NBA DRAFT
They need more time to prove themselves as they’ve only played one season in the NBA. Anthony Davis and Bradley Beal had very efficient seasons and showed signs that they will become big-time threats in the NBA, but injuries cut both of their seasons short. Damian Lillard won the Rookie Of The Year award and showed the ability to handle point guard duties while scoring at a high rate. He’ll have to improve his defense if he wants to become one of the best guards in the NBA.
11. 2006 NBA DRAFT
If Brandon Roy was still healthy and producing the numbers that he did during his three-year peak, this draft might be ranked a bit higher. Since Roy is hurt, and most likely out of basketball, this draft looks a bit more unimpressive. Rajon Rondo and LaMarcus Aldridge have developed into All-Stars but it is yet to be seen if they will be able to lead their team to the promised land. Rudy Gay was traded because of his contract and was deemed a less important part to a playoff team.
10. 2002 NBA DRAFT
Yao Ming and Amar’e Stoudemire lead this draft with a combined 14 All-Star teams and 10 All-NBA teams. Yao and Stoudemire had separate career paths, with Yao using post moves and proper footwork to do most of his damage while Stoudemire relies heavily on his athleticism and ability to hit his midrange jumper. Tayshaun Prince was an invaluable defender for the Pistons and was one of the key reasons why they were able to capture a championship in 2004.