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.
The class of 2005 showcased a league in real-time transition. With the exception of the ultimate exception in LeBron James two years prior, it had been 10 years since a non-post player had gone number one overall. And with the top pick, the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t break rank either, opting for Andrew Bogut at #1.
While Bogut wasn’t a bust by any means, he was a throwback to an era that was rapidly going out of style. The class of 2005 was the beginning of the league moving away from building from the inside-out, as the age of the point gawd was upon us. The emergence of Chris Paul and Deron Williams proved that there was another way of going about things and soon enough, the NBA would be a guard-driven game unlike ever before.
This was also the final draft to date that allowed high schoolers to jump directly to the NBA. Although there wasn’t one overwhelming prospect in the group, this class ended up featuring many of the teenage talents that went on to have the most enduring and successful pro careers of the many years of preps jumping into the league. Maybe this is a policy that could be reconsidered, no?
At any rate, here is TSFJ’s remix of the 2005 NBA Draft, with Brother Till kicking things off, by bringing the best guard to Milwaukee since Oscar Robertson.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Chris Paul, Wake Forest (+3)
Original Pick: Andrew Bogut
In this alternate universe, Paul is more than just a future Hall of Famer, the best player in his Draft class and the latest version of basketball’s transcendent floor general. This construction of the Milwaukee Bucks needs him, as there is a glaring void both in the backcourt and in star power. Paul has the ability to improve teams he lands on, and can bring the best out of role players. He would have to score more on this team, but at nearly 20 points a game for his career average, CP3 is up to the task.
His 179.54 wins shares are 14th most all-time, while he sits in the top 10 all-time in assists and steals.
2. Atlanta Hawks: Danny Granger, New Mexico (+15)
Original pick: Marvin Williams
Injuries shortened Granger’s best years, but at his peak, he’s arguably the second-best player in this draft. Over a five-year span between 2008 and 2012, Granger averaged 21.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, along with a block and a steal per game. In addition, he shot over 38% from three in four of those five seasons and made an All-Star appearance in 2009. A trio of Granger, Joe Johnson and Josh Smith is a matchup handful to take on.
3. Utah Jazz (from Blazers): Deron Williams, Illinois
Original pick: Same
There was a time when Williams was about as good as Chris Paul. Bigger, stronger and a more explosive scorer, Williams was a matchup nightmare. But lower leg injuries took a toll on him, so he’s not as highly remembered as Paul will be. But he is absolutely worth remaining the third overall pick here.
Sidenote. Is Deron Williams a Hall of Famer? You can go to onlinecasinosports.com and wager on questions like this, as his point god skills and resume make a compelling case.
4. New Orleans Hornets: Andrew Bogut, Utah (-3)
Original pick: Chris Paul
Bogut wasn’t a reach as a number one pick at the time and still maintains easy top-five value in hindsight. Although never an All-Star like his classmates that both proceed and follow him here, Bogut was regularly a strong rebounder and shot-blocker throughout his career. He averaged over two blocks a night for three consecutive seasons from 2010 through 2012, leading the league with 2.5 per night in 2011. He made third-team All-NBA in 2009-10, when he averaged 15.9 points, 10.2 boards and 2.5 blocks.
5. Charlotte Bobcats: Lou Williams, South Gwinnett (MS) HS (+40)
Original pick: Raymond Felton
The main reason why Williams is arguably the game’s best sixth man of all-time is because Antawn Jamison broke his jaw early in his career in Philly. Allen Iverson returned to the Sixers and Lou Will was relegated to the bench. Fifteen years in the NBA and no team or coach has offered him a starting role since, despite him averaging over 20 points a game the past two full seasons and being most team’s best closing player. Here, Charlotte needs a guard that can be a lethal offensive threat with the ball in his hands.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (from Jazz): David Lee, Florida (+24)
Original pick: Martell Webster
After often playing out of position in college, Lee returned to his natural spot at the four as a pro and bloomed. Beginning in his second season, he posted eight straight seasons of averaging double-digit points, including two years of 20 PPG. A hard worker around the rim, he also posted four seasons of averaging a double-double and was one of the best passing bigs in the game. Lee made two All-Star appearances as well, one in each conference.
7. Toronto Raptors: Martell Webster, Seattle Preparatory (WA) HS (-1)
Original pick: Charlie Villanueva
Few remember that NBA veteran Webster also came out of high school. The Seattle-bred guard can really shoot it. And as evidenced by his ability to stay and contribute in the NBA, he will be a quality rotation player for the Raptors.
8. New York Knicks: Marvin Williams, North Carolina (-6)
Original pick: Channing Frye
The Knicks roster at this time was all over the place and didn’t make a whole lot of sense. What does make sense at this point though is adding an ultra-versatile forward like Williams who can cover the variety of needs they have. While he never fully cashed in on the upside he possessed through two seasons at North Carolina, Williams did play 16 seasons and averaged double-digits in points in nine of them (10.3 PPG) along with just over five boards per night.
9. Golden State Warriors: Channing Frye, Arizona (-1)
Original pick: Ike Diogu, Arizona State
Don Nelson is the Warriors head coach at this time, and he is unconventional enough in his basketball thinking to select Frye here. The seven-foot forward was turned into a stretch big before the Draft, with coaches telling him to step behind the three-point line and develop that part of his game. Frye is a career 38.8 percent shooter from deep, so the tinkering with his abilities worked.
10. Los Angeles Lakers: Raymond Felton, North Carolina (-5)
Original pick: Andrew Bynum
With holes at both center and point guard, the Lakers really can’t go wrong addressing either need here. But having selected Kendrick Perkins two years ago in our 2003 Re-Draft, taking Felton here makes more sense than going with Bynum. Coming off leading North Carolina to a National Championship, Felton was a prized prospect at the time. He had a consistent career and totaled 10,000 points, 5,000 assists and 1,000 steals as a pro, levels that only CP3 reached as a pro from this class.
11. Orlando Magic: Gerald Green, Gulf Shores (TX) Academy (+7)
Original pick: Fran Vazquez, Brazil
More high schoolers! Gerald Green is best known for his uncanny jumping ability. But coming out of high school, he was also known as a capable jump shooter. Orlando needs wing athleticism with the departure of Tracy McGrady and Green more than helps there, even if he isn’t the flat-out scorer McGrady was.
12. Los Angeles Clippers: Andrew Bynum, St. Joseph (NJ) HS (-2)
Original pick: Yaroslav Korolev, CSKA Moscow
Bynum was a frustrating player to watch, simply because he fluctuated between realizing and falling short of his potential so often. At his best, he was an All-Star level big who played an important part of two championship teams. His best season came in 2011-12, when he averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and two blocks per night over 60 games, before missing the next year with a knee injury. Injuries, quirky attitude and inconsistency plagued him too though and ultimately influence his legacy as much as the upside of his career.
13. Charlotte Bobcats (from Cavaliers): Julius Hodge, North Carolina State (+7)
Original pick: Sean May
Julius Hodge did not last that long in the NBA. But in this re-draft reality, Charlotte needs to get bigger on the perimeter. Hodge is 6’7″, a solid playmaker and defender of multiple positions. It is possible Charlotte would have kept him in North Carolina, given their needs and the ease of marketability with selecting him. Maybe being drafted to a different situation changes his career trajectory for the better
14. Minnesota Timberwolves: Monta Ellis, Lanier (MS) HS (+26)
Original pick: Rashad McCants, North Carolina
There were few shots that Monta saw that he didn’t like, as he made his bread as a volume scorer of the highest order. He averaged over 20 PPG in four separate seasons, with a high of 25.5 in the 2009-10 season, while averaging either 18 or 19 PPG in four other seasons. He accomplished this by pulling down a huge haul of minutes played, twice leading the league by averaging over 40 minutes per night. However, he shot only 31% from three in his career, while finishing within the top 10 in attempts four times.
15. New Jersey Nets: CJ Miles, Skyline (TX) HS (+19)
Original pick: Antoine Wright, Texas A&M
Miles makes the sixth high schooler taken in the first half of this Draft. That says a lot about these players and their abilities to work hard and to stay in the NBA long-term, especially the perimeter players. As a testament, with the exception of Andrew Bynum (ironically, the lone All-Star among the six), every player is still playing today. Miles is a bit of a journeyman but he continues wherever he has landed. At nearly 6’8″, he’s a big wing who can space the floor and knock down shots, perfect for playing next to Jason Kidd and Vince Carter.
16. Toronto Raptors (from Sixers): Charlie Villanueva, Connecticut (-9)
Original pick: Joey Graham
After originally landing in T-Dot with the seventh pick in the real ’05 Draft, Villaneuva still finds his way there nine choices later. He was one of the earliest incarnations of the stretch four that specialized –or perhaps insisted upon shooting – the three. He did the vast majority of his work as a spot-up shooter in space, with his 16.2 points in his fourth year representing his career-high campaign.
17. Indiana Pacers: Jason Maxiell, Cincinnati (+9)
Original pick: Danny Granger
Even as the NBA changed approaches towards the middle of the decade, part of the philosophy of team makeup included a bruising interior forward to bring a level of toughness to a roster. Whether he was short for his position or not that offensively gifted, that player made up for it in hustle, defense and rebounding. Jason Maxiell fits that mold perfectly. He was a key part of Detroit’s rotation while the Pistons were contending. Here, he helps the Pacers continue that gritty tradition Dale and Antonio Davis started a generation ago.
18. Boston Celtics: Marcin Gortat, RheinEnergie Koln (Germany) (+39)
Original pick: Gerald Green
Gortat was better and more consistent than he gets credit for. Every time he got a chance to contribute in a significant way, he stepped up and did so. Originally the third-to-last player taken, he represents one of the biggest draft value picks of the last two decades. Gortat’s 61.3 win shares are sixth-best among this class, as he posted a double-double in two seasons and averaged 12.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks over a seven-year span between ages 26 and 32.
19. Memphis Grizzlies: Hakim Warrick, Syracuse
Original pick: same
Our iteration of the Grizzles takes on a different feel without Pau Gasol. With Michael Redd, Damon Stoudemire, Kyle Korver and others, this team is way more perimeter-oriented. Memphis needed athleticism and shot-blocking next to Brendan Haywood’s positional post defending. Enter Warrick to be weak-side help and to rim-run in transition.
20. Denver Nuggets (from Wizards): Sean May, North Carolina (-7)
Original pick: Julius Hodge
May was the star of the National Championship game, putting up 26 points and 10 rebounds to lead North Carolina over Illinois ahead of this draft. Yet as a pro, he was always a tweener and never physically adapted to the NBA. He performed well enough in spurts, such as 11.9 points and 6.7 rebounds his second season, but injuries defined his career more than anything. He played in only parts of four seasons and missed his third season completely due to microfracture surgery on his knee, something he never rallied from.
21. New York Knicks (from Suns): Ersan Ilyasova, Ulkerspor (Turkey) (+15)
Original pick: Nate Robinson
The Knicks have an interesting makeup in this alternate reality. Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis are roughly the same height and starting in the same backcourt, making them faster and more athletic off the dribble than most other teams. But they also have Chris Kaman to dump the ball into the post. Our draftings plus real-world trades and signings give the Knicks a “4-out, 1-in” jump shot-based offense. Ilyasova gets added here because he is an incredibly tough shot maker. And at 6’10”, he has the size and skill to be a problem for opponents.
22. Portland Trail Blazers: Andray Blatche, South Kent School (CT) Prep (+27)
Original pick: Jarrett Jack
Blatche superseded his original selection as the 49th overall pick, posting five seasons of averaging double figures. While he was creative with the ball for being 6’11, Blatche was an oft-inefficient scorer and didn’t physically fit into what was needed on the defensive side of the floor. He played his final NBA game at 27 when he signed with the Chinese Basketball Association, where he played an additional five seasons.
23. Sacramento Kings: Brandon Bass, LSU (+10)
Original pick: Francisco Garcia
In terms of ranking players entering the Draft in 2005, Brandon Bass is probably somewhere around the 23rd-best. But being undersized yet post-oriented was still a hindrance, despite him having a productive career because of his explosiveness and ability to catch the ball after setting screens. He developed a short face-up jumper as well.
24. Houston Rockets: Jarrett Jack, Georgia Tech (-2)
Original pick: Luther Head, Illinois
In all fairness to Jack, this probably way too low for him to go, considering the length of the career he had. He suited up for eight different teams over his 13-year career, averaging 10.8 points and 4.6 assists. But it also speaks to what his greatest strength as a pro was: being a dependable backup point who was a soldier of fortune for whatever team needed his skill set at the time.
25. Seattle Supersonics: Ian Mahinmi, Le Havre (France) (+3)
Original pick: Johan Petro, Pau-Orthez (France)
Mahinmi carved out an NBA career that continues to this day because he does what he does well enough to stay in rotations—even if he doesn’t stay on teams for long. The old adage, “You can’t teach height,” applies to Mahinmi but he does attempt to rebound and defend with that height. Seattle missed with this pick in real life and took the wrong French center. Here, Mahinmi at least turns into a serviceable, contributing big.
26. Detroit Pistons: Amir Johnson, Westchester (CA) HS (+30)
Original pick: Jason Maxiell
A physical presence around the rim that never shied away from contact, Johnson went against the grain to have a very solid 14-year career. Johnson averaged over six rebounds a night for six straight seasons while converting over 55% of his attempts from the field and committing over three fouls per game. He also was the final high schooler selected before the NBA instituted its prep-to-pro age limit following this draft.
27. Denver Nuggets (from Portland): Will Bynum, Georgia Tech (Undrafted)
Original pick: Linas Kleiza
Will Bynum is an amazing basketball player. His only knock is that he’s 5’10”. It’s why he’s had several stints in the Association yet couldn’t seem to stick around long. He’s a gifted scorer, capable of getting to the basket or creating for his jumper on anyone. Every team needs a player like that. Bynum excels in isolation and should have had longer tenure (360 total games over the course of 10 years with 2 whole years in Israel) in the NBA.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Linus Kleiza, Missouri (-1)
Original pick: Ian Mahinmi
Kleiza was the type of talented big that Gregg Popovich built a Hall of Fame career around capitalizing on. Kleiza was active around the rim with the ball in his hands and as a rebounder, averaging 15.7 points and 6.5 rebounds for his career. His biggest issue was a lack of opportunity, as he only saw real starter minutes in one of his seven seasons and left for a season in Greece during the middle of his NBA run.
29. Miami Heat: Nate Robinson, Washington (-8)
Original pick: Wayne Simien, Kansas
Yet another diminutive guard who managed to have a solid NBA career, even if it was beneath what his abilities suggest. Also a cornerback at the University of Washington, Robinson is one of the better athletes to come into the Association in the past 15 years. It’s bigger than him being the three-time Slam Dunk champion; that athleticism is why he was able to play for so long in the NBA. However, his height did work against him, as he was never able to be a long-term starter or stick with one franchise.
30. New York Knicks (from Phoenix): Francisco Garcia, Louisville (-7)
Original pick: David Lee
There is a noticeable lack of shots to go around in a Knicks backcourt that’s balancing reps between Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis and Jamal Crawford. However, Garcia adds a needed bump of versatility to the mix. Garcia was a big (6’7″) guard, that was a rugged defender who could shoot. He shot over 39% from three for three consecutive years and regularly took shifts on an opponent’s best wing.
Biggest Risers: Bynum (Undrafted), Williams (+40), Gortat (+39)
Farthest Falls: Villaneuva (-9), Robinson (-8), May (-7)
Out of the Round: Ike Diogu (#9), Fran Vazquez (#11), Yaroslav Korolev (#12), Rashad McCants (#14), Antoine Wright (#15), Joey Graham (#16), Luther Head (#24), Johan Petro (#25), Wayne Simien (#29)
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