Revisionist history is something that permeates throughout sports. “What could have been” resonates when another scenario could have been better than the chosen reality. This is especially true years after draft classes have been selected. TSFJ scribes Johnathan Tillman and Matt Whitener have set forth not only on redrafting the past two decades of the NBA, but also changing how history will play via our NBA Re-Draft series.
Already in this Re-Draft era, there have been some legitimate changes to re-write history in significant ways, starting at the top. In 2007, bumping Kevin Durant up a slot was a no-brainer, just as were the cases of moving Amar’e Stoudemire, Chris Paul, Andre Iguodala, Chris Bosh and Brandon Roy into their respective years’ top five.
However, the class of 2008 offers a trio of very unique situations from the onset of things. There is the debate between two future MVPs in Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. The questions of fit and knowing what we know now all play heavily into this, but its deeper than that. Even knowing about the longevity of Westbrook and what he brings, would the Bulls pass on the hometown hero who still managed the transform the team’s fortunes in short order (although the window closed far sooner than hoped for)? It’s hard to say.
There is also the mind-blowing presence of the Miami Heat in this top three, who could ultimately take whoever the Bulls don’t want or add another All-Star to the mix to be on hand when LeBron James and Chris Bosh come to town in a few years. The potential is here to make one of the most talented starting fives in NBA history, something their original pick at #2 had nothing to do with.
There are scenarios a plenty with this class of 2008, and that’s just all before even getting out the top five. So, let’s get into it, but first, a look around our Re-Draft league before heading in for the picks.
- Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose, Memphis
Original Pick: Same
At the time of this draft there was no doubt he was top guy, and looking back at it — if injury hadn’t intervened when it did — he was on track to be the best of the lot as well. While Rose didn’t have the same top-shelf longevity that others in this class did, his peak was better than that of any other player available. In 2011, he became the youngest MVP in NBA history at 22 when he averaged 25 points, 7.7 assists and four rebounds a night.
He was one of the most explosive point guards of all-time, but matched it with a high basketball IQ and on-the-fly decision making. During his four-year peak, he led his hometown Bulls to their best years of any era that didn’t involve Michael Jordan. Although a string of knee injuries transformed him as a player and robbed him of his elite athleticism, Rose still has averaged 18.8 points and settled into a second life as a strong sixth man. Regardless of everything else, he is one of the foremost hometown heroes in NBA history and its unfathomable that he’d slide past this pick.
- Miami Heat: Kevin Love, UCLA (+3)
Original Pick: Michael Beasley
Given how we’ve constructed Miami’s roster around Dwyane Wade post-Shaq and pre-LeBron, Kevin Love provides Wade with space and scoring that was absent in those years where it was solely his team. Yes, Love is young and isn’t as good a long-range shooter as he is currently, but he is an interior post presence that can take the pressure off Wade constantly diving to the rim.
- Memphis Grizzlies (from Timberwolves): Russell Westbrook, UCLA (+1)
Original Pick: O.J. Mayo
Westbrook overshot even the wildest of estimations for his career, becoming the runaway statistically dominant player in this class. He is tops in Win Shares (101.3), points (23.2 PPG), assists (8.3) and is fourth in rebounds at 7.1 per game. Along with Oscar Robertson, he is one of two players ever to average a triple-double and the only to do so twice. He is one of five players with both assist and scoring titles in his career, and the only to do each twice. While its easy to criticize him for being single-minded in his approach at times, his presence could transform the upside of perennially competitive Grizzlies squad over the next decade.
- Seattle SuperSonics: Eric Gordon, Indiana (+3)
Original Pick: Westbrook
Eric Gordon is a very good scorer and shooter. He’s managed to have a decent career as a bench scorer despite injuries piling up. The team that would controversially become the Oklahoma City Thunder a few weeks later misses on Westbrook after not getting Durant the previous year, so the construction of the “new” franchise will be a lot tougher. Drafting Gordon at least provides some depth and offensive punch.
- Minnesota Timberwolves (from Grizzlies): Brook Lopez, Stanford (+5)
Original Pick: Love
Lopez may be among the most underappreciated players of his generation, as his one All-Star appearance suggests. He has averaged double-digits in every season of his career, and never averaged fewer than 17 points per night between his second and eighth seasons. Lopez also is a solid presence in the key, averaging 1.8 blocks a night for his career. As he settles into his 30s, he has also extended his range beyond the three-point line, hitting 34% of his threes since the 2017 season, while taking over five per game.
- New York Knicks: Danilo Gallinari, Olimpia Milano (Italy)
Original Pick: Same
For the past two decades, laughing at the Knicks selections has become commonplace. In real life, there were a lot of experts who were high on the 6’10” versatile forward from Italy. But because the Knicks selected him sixth, the pick was ridiculed. After overcoming injuries, Gallinari has become a very good scorer and playmaker. The Knicks still need a lot of help but he’s a good start.
- Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M (+28)
Original Pick: Gordon
One of the most exciting presences around the rim on both ends of the court, Jordan lands back with the Clips, but in a first-round capacity this time. He is one of the best alley-oop finishers ever (peace to Brandon Knight), which played a big part in his string of leading the league in field-goal percentage for five straight seasons between 2013 and 2017. Jordan also has four seasons of averaging two blocks a game and averaged 13 rebounds a night in six consecutive seasons, leading the league in 2014 and 2015.
- Milwaukee Bucks: Serge Ibaka, L’Hospitalet (Spain) (+16)
Original Pick: Joe Alexander, West Virginia
In our Redraft universe, we’ve have Chris Paul in Milwaukee with very little help. So drafting Serge Ibaka at least provides CP3 with a lob threat. Serge was an incredible rim protector in his younger days so the Bucks at least have an anchor in the paint.
- Charlotte Bobcats: Nicolas Batum, Le Mans (France) (+16)
Original Pick: D.J. Augustin
While he never met the ceiling his $166 million worth of contract extensions indicated, he also has been one of the most unique contributors in the game. Batum was one of the first super-toolsy, three-and-D types of the era where that type of player really rose to prominence. He is a talented offensive facilitator that allows other players to take on less of that burden. Between 2013 and 2018, he joined LeBron James and James Harden as the only players with 5,000 points, 2,000 rebounds, 2,000 assists and 200 blocks.
- New Jersey Nets: Roy Hibbert, Georgetown (+7)
Original Pick: B. Lopez
There is no other player since the turn of the millennium who symbolizes the antiquated basketball times of thirty years ago like Roy Hibbett. He’s as traditional a center as it got — slow and prodding but an excellent rim protector — and his value quickly diminishes. But there is no denying that he was productive and a solid pick that’s worthy of being drafted higher than he was.
- Portland Trail Blazers (from Pacers): Goran Dragic, Union Olimpia (Slovenia) (+34)
Original Pick: Jerryd Bayless
One of the most unique players of his generation, the career of ‘The Dragon’ has taken on several significant evolutions. After starting just eight games over his first three seasons, he became an elite-level heat check starter by his fifth season. He then became an All-NBA selection by 2014 and an All-Star in 2018. Overall, Dragic has posted nine consecutive seasons in double-digit points and is one of the best at-the rim finishers in the game, shooting 65% within three feet of the rim, despite his 6’3, 190 pound frame.
- Sacramento Kings: Michael Beasley, Kansas State (-10)
Original Pick: Jason Thompson
I (Till) maintain that Michael Beasley is one of the ten best college talents I’ve ever seen. He’s an offensive savant and has been as long as he’s been playing basketball. In his one season at Kansas State, Beasley averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds per game. For whatever reasons, the talent didn’t develop into the All-Star many felt he’d become. He still deserves to be drafted in the lottery.
- Indiana Pacers (from Trail Blazers): O.J. Mayo, USC (-10)
Original Pick: Brandon Rush
Mayo brought a heap of hype with him to the league, after being one of the most hallowed high schoolers of the past 20 years. He made a quick impact, averaging 18.5 points as a rookie, but he never reached that level again. He settled in as a volume scorer who tended to disrupt the flow of his teams more than he helped. But if you needed a bucket, he could certainly find one for you, thus he fills a need for this rebuilding Pacers squad.
- Golden State Warriors: D.J. Augustin, Texas (-5)
Original Pick: Anthony Randolph, LSU
Journeymen point guards have to do to things really well in order to stay in the NBA — shoot from distance and not cost the team possessions. DJ Augustin is really good at both those things, despite being a smallish pro guard. Over the eight teams he’s played for, Darryl Gerard Augustin Jr. averages just under double figures in points while shooting 38% from three for his career. He’s a solid addition to any team’s rotation.
- Phoenix Suns (from Hawks): George Hill, IUPUI (+11)
Original Pick: Robin Lopez
Hill is one of those guys that built to last. He does everything that’s needed in a backcourt, capable of contributing both on the ball and off, while also adding in important leadership intangibles. However, those aren’t the things that are immediately evident on draft day, so his value takes a big rise in a forum such as this. Alongside Steve Nash in Phoenix, Hill would find an immediate slot to fit in, especially in fill in as an on-ball defender.
- Philadelphia 76ers: Courtney Lee, Western Kentucky (+6)
Original Pick: Marrese Speights
Yet another veteran guard who had managed to be around for over a decade. Courtney Lee is a decent two-way player that won’t be a liability on either end. He’s a career 48% from the field, and isn’t a terrible defender. His career has also spanned eight different teams, but he is a quality starter and even more valuable as a bench player.
- Indiana Pacers (from Raptors): Robin Lopez, Stanford (-2)
Original Pick: Hibbert
The ‘other’ Lopez brother has done well for himself, too. He has been able to be plug-and-play starter in the middle for nearly any team that needs a solid seven-footer for over a decade. That is because he’s one of the best technical centers of his generation; the type of big that happily does the dirty work and selfless elements that make push a team forward.
- Washington Wizards: Javale McGee, Nevada
Original Pick: Same
It’s been endearing to watch JaVale McGee go from court jester to respected rim protector. The Wizards team he was originally drafted to had too many jokesters on the team without a veteran presence that could install discipline. But JaVale is a champion and vital to team defense. He’s super athletic for his height, even after this many years of playing and the hindrance of asthma limiting his minutes. (Also, he’s part of a dope hoops lineage.)
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Ryan Anderson, California (+2)
Original Pick: J.J. Hickson
Anderson is the direct ancestor of the 6’10+ shooters that are now standard fare around the game. He proved himself to be more than just an off-the-bench weapon, as he became the league’s Most Improved Player in 2012. Anderson posted seven straight seasons in double figures, with his peak performance coming in 2014, when he averaged 19.8 points, while shooting 40% from three and nailing 95% of his free throws.
- Charlotte Bobcats (from Nuggets): JJ Hickson, North Carolina State (-1)
Original Pick: Alexis Ajinca, Hyeres-Toulon (France)
There was a time where the undersized but athletic power forward was being drafted somewhere around the 20th pick. JJ Hickson left NC State after his freshman year because the NBA physical ability was there. He was a really good finisher with potential to expand his offensive game. It’s hard to say if he should have been born ten years early or ten years later but maybe in a different time, his career would last longer than seven seasons.
- New Jersey Nets (from Nuggets): Brandon Rush, Kansas (-8)
Original Pick: Anderson
Knee injuries twice struck Rush and kept him from reaching his sizeable potential. While this robbed him of his athletic upside, he still established himself as a solid shooter from outside, hitting 40% of his career three point attempts.
- Orlando Magic: Mario Chalmers, Kansas (+12)
Original Pick: Lee
Former baby brother type to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers makes his way into our first round. It could be because of how think this draft ended up being. But Chalmers was a solid player for the Miami Heat. A capable shooter and defender, he doesn’t get in the way of the spacing for star players and can at least bother some guards with his ball pressure.
- Utah Jazz: Jason Thompson, Rider (-12)
Original Pick: Kosta Koufos
Over his first two pro seasons, Thompson averaged 14.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per 36 minutes. However, he never made the jump beyond being just a rotational big, even with some underwhelming (at best) Kings teams. He also was never much in the physicality or shot blocking departments, which limited his impact as well.
- Seattle SuperSonics (from Phoenix): Anthony Morrow, Georgia Tech (Undrafted)
Original Pick: Ibaka
Anthony Morrow is the best standstill shooter in this draft class. He didn’t get as much opportunity as some of the other long-range specialists like Gordon or even Ryan Anderson. But in his career from 2009-2017, he shot 41.7% from three. Lacking some other skills that may have kept him from a long-term roster spot, but shooting will always have value in the NBA.
- Portland Trail Blazers (from Rockets): Nikola Pekovic, Partizan (Serbia) (+6)
Original Pick: Batum
The Blazers struck international gold with Batum originally, and don’t do bad again here with Pekovic. Although he spent just six years in NBA after coming over in 2010, the big bodied Serb center was an effective — and physical — presence around the rim. He averaged 12.6 points per game, while shooting 51% from the field, highlighted by 17.5 PPG effort in 2014.
- San Antonio Spurs: Kosta Koufos, Ohio State (-3)
Original Pick: Hill
Koufos is a perfect big for Gregg Popovich. He’s skilled, sure-handed and capable on both ends of the floor. Next to a still All-Star Tim Duncan, Koufos would have made the center spot a little more dangerous on offense, maybe opening up more single coverage against Timmy.
- Memphis Grizzlies (from Hornets): Darrell Arthur, Kansas
Original Pick: Same
Arthur spent the majority of his career as a front court depth contributor with the Grizz, and finds his way back to that path again. An ACL injury interrupted his career, but he reinvented himself late a stretch-four shooter, making up for the lost athleticism from his early days. Over his final three seasons, he shot 41% from deep, including a 45% rate during the 2016-17 season.
- Houston Rockets (from Wizards via LA): Marreesse Speights, Florida
Original Pick: Donte Greene, Syracuse
Marreesse Speights was the third big man on those NCAA championship teams at the University of Florida behind Joakim Noah and Al Horford. He isn’t the defender either of them are, nor was he as productive offensively. But he is a serviceable backup center that had no problem getting up shots. Speights fits with Houston to at least spell Yao Ming, maybe lessening the strain on the big man’s feet.
- Seattle SuperSonics (from Pistons): Luc Mbah a Moute, UCLA (+8)
Original Pick: D.J. White, Indiana
There was nothing particularly remarkable about Mbah a Moute’s career, other than he showed up regularly for it. He was a consistent starter over the first seven years of his career, most often filling in as a defense first (and only) contributor. There’s value there, albeit if its better deployed with lesser volume on a contending team such as the soon-to-be Thunder.
- Boston Celtics: Jerryd Bayless, Arizona (-19)
Original Pick: J.R. Giddens, New Mexico
The physical gifts were there for Jerryd Bayless. Incredible athleticism for a point guard and a nose for getting to the rim that could have developed into a very good player. Instead, his career plateaued with him never maximizing that potential. In Boston, maybe seeing Paul Pierce’s work ethic turns him into a better player than he ended up being.
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