How would you react if I told you that Kobe Bryant was no longer a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, instead joining one of the worst teams in the NBA? What if the Miami Heat suddenly started building around a dominant defensive center, leaving the Big Three in the dust?
What if you learned that LeBron James was taking his talents to...well, I don't want to spoil anything.
This can only happen when a select group of 30 NBA writers get together and participate in the second official NBA Re-Draft.
Completely redistributing all of the league’s talent across the 30 current teams, these basketball minds built 12-man rosters geared to compete with each other during the 2013-2014 season in a magical world where injuries are suddenly healed before the first game.
How much will advancing age drop veteran superstars like Kobe, Tim Duncan and Paul Pierce? Will Damian Lillard follow up his Rookie of the Year campaign by going in the first round? How high can Stephen Curry rise?
Will any members of the lackluster 2013 draft class end up in starting lineups? If so, which ones?
For the answers to all these questions and far more, this is the 2013 Re-Draft, a unique preview of the upcoming NBA season.
This article will contain the first-round results of the 12-round selection process, complete with a description of each pick, as written by the team's make-believe general manager.
Note: The full 12-round Re-Draft will be revealed on August 20th. Massive thanks go out to Geoff Sable, who created all of the photoshopped images throughout the Re-Draft. For a full list of Geoff's source images, you can click here.
If you're wondering how the Re-Draft worked, wonder no longer.
Once all 30 participants had selected which teams they would control, a random number generator determined the order of the draft.
The 12 rounds proceeded in a snake format. For those of you unfamiliar with fantasy lingo, that means that the 30th team in the first round picked first in the second round. Essentially, the draft order snakes back and forth to allow for a more even playing field.
The 30 of us selected 12-man rosters, keeping quite a few things in mind:
- We were only concerned with the 2013-14 season, so how these players develop in the future is completely and utterly irrelevant. A player is only as good as he'll be during the next campaign.
- Team fit does matter. The players selected should be able to work well together, and playing styles should not clash.
- Injuries—like Kobe Bryant's Achilles—are automatically healed for the start of the season. However, injury-prone players do remain injury-prone.
- We can form whatever type of team we wanted. If someone wanted five centers in his starting lineup, well then, that was his prerogative.
- Players are only eligible if they're going to play in the NBA next season. Foreign players, collegiate athletes and retired stars are not available to be selected.
These are the results of the first round, from pick No. 1 to pick No. 30.
You can check back soon for the results of the entire draft, team-by-team breakdowns and the official projected standings.
Actual Team: Miami Heat
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.9 blocks
Although I was tempted to give Brandon Jennings a go here, I couldn't pass up on the opportunity to do what the Knicks couldn't in 2010—bring LeBron James to the Big Apple.
A decade into his career, he's the best player in the league, and it's not even close. Neither Kevin Durant nor a healthy Derrick Rose stands a chance against him. He's that incredible.
As he's someone who can man every position on the floor, I value him most for his playmaking. It mitigates the need to have a top-tier point guard because, well, he basically is one.
There's just no stopping him on the offensive end. That, coupled with his back-to-back championships, improved three-point shooting and superior defensive abilities made this the easiest decision of my general manager career.
My apologies to Mr. Jennings. Maybe next year.
-Dan Favale, Knicks Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Chicago Bulls
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: N/A
Derrick Rose is so fast that he once played himself in one-on-one.
And both of him won.
I know, picking him over Kevin Durant is monumentally stupid. I know challenging that convention is unabashed homerism.
But this is Chicago.
Let me reiterate.
This. Is. Chicago.
How do you take anyone other than Derrick Rose in (using Stacey King voice) Chi-ca-go? Is there another city with a personality that is so intertwined with its star player in all of pro sports? Rose bleeds red. (Well we all do, but you know what I mean.)
I do think that Rose will come back strong. He should have a better jump shot, show a better understanding of the game, be physically stronger and finish at the rim better than in the past.
It’s unconventional to think this, but I expect Rose to have the best season of his career. He’s going to be playing with a colossal chip on his shoulder, and he plays better with a chip. I would not be surprised to see him win his second MVP.
-Kelly Scaletta, Bulls Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 28.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks
Emotionally crushed by the prospect of picking third in a draft that featured a clear top two, I was delighted to see Kelly Scaletta suffer a case of crippling homerism that resulted in Derrick Rose coming off the board with the second pick. (Don't worry, my own homer picks would come soon enough.)
There, smiling back at me with the promise of lankiness, chest tattoos and unparalleled scoring prowess was Kevin Durant. I swooped in, ecstatic to start my team with the the most efficient high-volume bucket-getter in the game.
In the first round, there's really no better strategy than snatching up the best player available. And when said best player is just 24 years old and has already proven he can be the top dog on a team that makes it all the way to the NBA Finals, it's pretty easy to pull the trigger.
Welcome aboard, KD. Please shoot liberally.
-Grant Hughes, Warriors Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Los Angeles Clippers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 2.4 steals, 0.1 blocks
Can you win a championship with a point guard as your best player?
Well, it has never happened in the three-point era outside of the city of Detroit. Paul’s inability to reach even a conference finals and point guard being the league’s deepest position gives me some pause. Am I starting to hate this pick a little bit?
No, no. Snap out of it. This is Chris Paul we’re talking about. He’s the league’s best point guard and one of the best to ever play the position.
Why? Because Paul actually plays defense (sorry, James Harden and Kevin Love) and makes a huge impact on both ends. No one provides their teammates with easier looks (looking at you, Russell Westbrook), and there’s no one I’d rather have in the clutch (shots fired at Zombie Kobe Bryant!) to create a good scoring chance.
The San Antonio Spurs as we know them are gone, and I’ve put a restraining order on Vinny Del Negro coming anywhere near the team. We can win a ring with CP3.
-D.J. Foster, Clippers Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.3 points, 14.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.5 blocks
I would have felt better about drafting Kevin Love a handful of picks later in the top 10, but I'm more than comfortable with this No. 5 selection in the end. While scorers like James Harden, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony were still available, and Love has plenty of lingering health concerns, I'll gladly look forward to video game-like points and rebounds, along with a ton of three-pointers.
What's more, he's the kind of guy you can build just about any team and style around. His passing and unselfishness are highly underrated, he creates a ton of offense from other's misses and his own floor stretching opens things up for the rest of the team.
Now I'll just have to figure out how to "hide" him on defense with my future selections.
Easily considered the best power forward two seasons ago, I'm banking on the fact that his hands are fully healthy after last year's freak accidents and that he can easily bounce back to being a fringe MVP candidate again.
A bit of a reach? Perhaps, but not by all that much, and it's great to see him back in Minnesota.
-Joel Cordes, Timberwolves Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 23.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.3 blocks
I was looking for an elite shot-creator with the No. 6 pick, and though I considered James Harden for a while, I ultimately settled on Russell Westbrook. Harden's an impressive offensive player, but I wanted my top player to be a solid defender, too.
Westbrook may not be the perfect player—those pull-up jumpers in transition can be infuriating—but he's a terrific all-around guard and coming off a Hall of Fame-caliber season.
Will he be quite as effective without Kevin Durant around? Maybe not. But he plays hard night in and night out, he's quite possibly the most athletic player in the league not named “LeBron James” and he's one of only a handful of players who can get a half-decent shot off whenever he wants to.
That's someone you want on your team, right?
-Luke Petkac, Thunder Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Houston Rockets
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 25.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.5 blocks
You simply have to acquire an alpha dog capable of carrying an NBA team with your first-round pick in the Re-Draft. With the seventh overall pick, my Phoenix Suns decided to go with James Harden.
The bearded one broke out for the Houston Rockets last year in his first season as a full-time starter. He led a young and inexperienced team to a playoff berth, which seemed like an impossible outcome for the Rockets prior to the acquisition of Harden.
I could have targeted alpha dogs with championship rings like Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade or Dirk Nowitzki, but the youth and upside of Harden—entering his second season as “the man”—was too much to ignore.
-Ben Leibowitz, Suns Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Indiana Pacers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.6 blocks
Although some felt as if the Los Angeles Lakers reached a tad to grab our first-round selection in Paul George, we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome PG to Los Angeles.
Not only does Paul have the type of work ethic, drive and dedication to success we have always sought in a franchise star, but Paul has also shown that he’s grown each season he’s been in the NBA. We feel very comfortable building our future around him both on and off the floor.
What appealed to us about Paul is his dedication to succeed on both ends of the court. He’s not a player who takes a single second off, and he’s always willing to do whatever his team needs from him. A multi-faceted star capable of contributing in multiple categories, Paul is a perfect fit to usher in the next era of the Lakers.
-Ethan Norof, Lakers Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: New York Knicks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 28.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks
When Carmelo Anthony fell all the way to No. 9, I was ecstatic but by no means surprised.
There's a case to be made that Melo is one of the top five players in the league, but there's an even stronger argument that he's the most one-dimensional player in the top 10.
However, his elite scoring ability is vital to me in this parity-filled Re-Draft. Sure, you could argue that Anthony is also a plus rebounder if you're playing him at small forward (which, to my surprise, I actually intend to do), but you want him for his shot-making skill and dominance with the ball in his hands. Those may be drawbacks in another GM's eyes, and I respect that.
Anthony comes warts and all.
I might have chosen a more well-rounded first pick (read: someone who plays defense) if I knew I could get another All-Star or two to play alongside him.
Regrettably, I wouldn't select again until No. 52, so there was no way I could bank on that. Better to get a dominant cornerstone and surround him with complementary pieces in this format, I say.
And I'm sure Melo doesn't mind that one bit, either.
-Josh Cohen, Jazz Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Houston Rockets
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 2.4 blocks
Following back surgery and with criticism from all corners of his new city cascading on him, Dwight Howard firmly maintained his stranglehold as the league’s top center with 17 points, a league-leading 12.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game last season.
Seeing as how he plays more comfortably as his team’s primary scoring option, taking Dwight first meant smartly composing an entire roster that complements him, from the shooters that he will provide space for to the backup centers that will be given playing time on account of his foul trouble.
With his body set to be in complete working order, we can expect Howard to return as the league’s most physically imposing player on both sides of the court when it comes to playing around the rim. Everyone else that is added to the squad will be able to feed off the most dominant rim presence since Shaquille O’Neal.
-John Friel, Nuggets Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Memphis Grizzlies
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.7 blocks
Outside of LeBron James, there’s no better all-around, superstar-caliber glue guy than Marc Gasol.
You can run your offense through him in the high post, have him take the ball down low and play pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop with equal proficiency. He’s smart enough to operate around other bigs and savvy enough to dish to perimeter players.
Oh, and he’s the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, thanks to his preternatural understanding of timing and spacing on that end.
-Josh Martin, Heat Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: San Antonio Spurs
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 2.7 blocks
Sentimental attachments notwithstanding, I was thrilled to snag Duncan with the No. 12 overall pick. He had the sixth-best PER in the NBA last season, but it's what he does outside the box scores that's been so instrumental to San Antonio's long record of elite success. He sets good picks, moves well for his size, maintains possession of blocks at a remarkable rate and makes good decisions with the ball in his hands. And even when he doesn't get the block, Duncan is a master of altering shots and defending the paint.
His range at the elbow also improves floor spacing and gives the Spurs another hub through which to run their offense. And it never hurts to have someone who can score with his back to the basket.
Some will worry that Duncan just can't contribute as much as his team needs. There's some truth to that—it'd be great if he were still a top-five player every single night. But he's still a top-20 player most nights and occasionally much better on some. Anyone who watched this postseason knows that.
No one takes better care of himself in the offseason, and the key to making the most of him is supplying the big man with someone who can give him some time off during the regular season. What matters is what Duncan does in the postseason. He's one of the most skilled and intelligent big men the game's ever seen, and he can still drop 30 in the finals. And he still runs the floor better than most his size.
I think it's also safe to say that, short of Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose, there won't be a more determined player in the league next season.
-Stephen Babb, Spurs Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: San Antonio Spurs
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 20.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.1 blocks
Picking at lucky No. 13, I was just sitting at my computer waiting for emails to trickle in that slowly eliminated each and every player I wanted. By the time we reached double digits, I had my mind completely set on either Marc Gasol or Tony Parker.
Sure enough, Marc went at No. 11, and I was left hoping that Babb's Spurs fandom wouldn't steer him toward Parker. Well, the San Antonio ties affected him, but he picked Duncan instead.
Somehow, someway, I was left with a point guard I would've been happy drafting at No. 8.
I immediately gained a complete monopoly on ridiculous, spinning, somehow-not-traveling, beating-the-buzzer-by-so-little-that-replays-were-necessary bank shots while landing the second-best point guard in basketball. Parker may not put me on SportsCenter as often as Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose or Chris Paul, but CP3 is still the only floor general I'd rather have running my team.
With Parker as the team's foundation, I was able to avoid pigeonholing my Hawks into a fixed identity with the first pick. Depending on who was available in the second round, I'd be able to steer my squad in either a defensive or offensive direction, seeing as the French phenom excels on both ends of the court.
-Adam Fromal, Hawks Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Golden State Warriors
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 22.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.2 blocks
Stephen Curry 14 picks deep? I'll take it. He converted his talent into wins last season in a competitive Western Conference. And these weren't just ordinary wins—these were playoff wins.
He's taken the next step as a point guard while raising his star power to a new level.
It's just an additional bonus that he's silky smooth. Who wouldn't want Steph Curry handling the ball for them on a nightly basis?
As bad a man as Kyrie Irving is, I've seen Curry do his thing and experience team success. At 25 years old, he's entering the prime of his career. There's no better time to buy than right now.
-Jonathan Wasserman, Grizzlies Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Los Angeles Clippers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.6 blocks
Blake Griffin is a scary player around whom opponents must do intense planning. He shocks his man with powerful inside moves and thunderous slams. On the other end, Griffin breaks down ball-handlers and protects the paint.
The Pacers were fortunate to find such a fabulous game-changer at No. 15. This Edmond, Okla. native placed ninth with 0.196 win shares per 48 minutes last season. He’s made three straight All-Star appearances since entering the league.
Griffin is a terror while clutching the rock. He averaged 20 points per 36 minutes on 53.8 percent shooting last season, even though he received 3.7 fewer minutes per game. He even improved his free-throw percentage 13.9 percent to 66 percent.
While he shoots often, Griffin also passes well. He dished out 4.1 assists per game.
He’s a keen stopper. The 24-year-old was 19th in the league with 3.9 defensive win shares and allowed 102 points per 100 possessions. Griffin also had 1.2 steals per game.
-Tom Firme, Pacers Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Los Angeles Lakers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.3 blocks
So you’re telling me I can have one of the greatest players in history with the 16th pick?
The reasons to pass on Kobe Bryant are obvious, and for a while they can be justified. At 16, however, there’s no bigger star on the board, and there’s nobody as hungry to win.
Every year we hear about Bryant’s age, and every year he proves it's irrelevant. Even if his athleticism declines in 2014, he has an incredible mid-range game, which is a weapon he can fall back on.
But while it’s possible his athleticism regresses, recent headlines should make believers out of any cynic. According to NBA.com’s Jonathan Hartzell, Bryant has “shattered” his return timetable, and while health is moot in this Re-Draft, drive and determination and very real.
Doubt him if you want, but don’t be shocked when the Black Mamba strikes. His ability to stuff a stat sheet is well documented, and anybody fearing age must remember that a good Vino only gets better with time.
-Bryant Knox, Magic Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 22.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.4 blocks
As Kobe Bryant tumbled down our re-draft board, I was poised to scoop him up with the 17th overall pick. Bryant Knox and the Orlando Magic ended up beating me to the punch on Bryant one spot earlier, but Kyrie Irving wasn't such a terrible consolation prize.
To say Irving "won" All-Star weekend in 2013 would be an understatement. He abused poor Brandon Knight in the rookie-sophomore game on Friday, won the three-point contest on Saturday, then started the second half of Sunday's All-Star Game en route to 15 points in total.
Two years into his NBA career, he's already a superstar scorer, and his ball-handling skills are wholly unparalleled. Who else can pull off moves like this against the world's most talented basketball players?
Injuries will be my biggest concern with Irving, as he missed 15 games in his rookie season and 23 games as a sophomore due to a host of bumps and bruises. While former Cavs coach Byron Scott told reporters that he didn't believe Irving to be injury-prone, the jury remains out this early into his young career.
With five of the 16 GMs before me picking up point guards with their first-round selections, I couldn't afford to wait any longer. I was more than happy to pounce on a potential superstar point man poised for a breakout season in 2013-14.
-Bryan Toporek, 76ers Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Miami Heat
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 21.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.8 blocks
At pick No. 18, Wade is an absolute steal.
A nine-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion, Wade remains one of the best guards in the NBA today.
With career averages of 24.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists, Wade can take over a game in many different ways. His talents don’t simply rely on the offensive side of the ball, however. Wade is a three-time NBA All-Defense team selection and has averaged 1.8 steals and 1.0 block per game for his career.
His leadership and heart especially stand out, and the passion Wade plays the game with is immeasurable. In 10 NBA seasons, Wade has led the Miami Heat to the playoffs nine times.
Wade is still a top-10 NBA talent, so I was thrilled to get him in the second half of the first round.
-Greg Swartz, Cavaliers Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Portland Trail Blazers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.2 blocks
Selecting Damian Lillard with the 19th overall pick was for the Brooklyn Nets.
Not only does he bring explosive backcourt scoring, but he also is able to create offense for teammates across the board. With Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry coming off the board a few picks earlier, Lillard was one of a few explosive players left in the draft who can score, facilitate and play defense.
Lillard would not have been available when the Nets picked again at No. 42, and we simply couldn’t pass on his talent.
He can easily put up 20 points, six assists and five rebounds per game after coming off a stellar Rookie of the Year campaign. When you look at the talent that is around Lillard, it’s clear that they are on the team to complement his biggest strength, which is lethal perimeter scoring.
The Nets simply need Lillard to dominate the points column of the stat sheet, and we all know he can do just that.
-Peter Emerick, Nets Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Sacramento Kings
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.7 blocks
DeMarcus Cousins definitely comes with some baggage, but that’s the only reason a player with his limitless potential is still available at this draft slot.
Position versatility ranked at the top of our draft board, and Cousins is big enough to man the middle and athletic enough to share the frontcourt with a true center.
His footwork and soft touch around the basket gives us a go-to scorer in the post. When his 270-pound frame can’t move his defender off the block, he can pull his man away from the basket and score off the dribble. When help defenders overcommit, he’s a good enough passer to spot open slashers and shooters.
Cousins might frustrate the heck of Maurice Cheeks, but he’ll make the game easier for his teammates. That’s what franchise cornerstone players are supposed to do, and that’s the reason he’s filling that role for the Pistons.
-Zach Buckley, Pistons Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Atlanta Hawks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.1 blocks
Landing in the latter half of the first round, the first two players on my mind were Al Horford and LaMarcus Aldridge, and I would gladly gobble up either should they fall far enough. As luck would have it, they were both there to be taken 21st overall.
While Aldridge seems to be held higher in the court of public opinion, I couldn't help but shake the thought that Horford was the right pick. Aldridge may be an amazing floor-spacer, but Horford's offensive efficiency is downright tantalizing.
Horford is truly a physical rebounder, impact defender, skilled offensive post player and nearly has the range that Aldridge exhibits on a nightly basis.
If taking Horford would mean giving up a bit of floor-spacing, so be it. I eventually convinced myself that there is little that Aldridge can do at a much higher level than Horford, while Horford's defensive prowess is something a team can be built around.
-Jesse Dorsey, Bucks Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Portland Trail Blazers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 21.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.2 blocks
The decision to go with LaMarcus Aldridge stemmed from the fact that I wanted my first-round pick to be an offensive rock, and Aldridge is certainly that. For his career, Aldridge converts on 49.3 percent of his field goals. That’s the sort of consistency we’re looking for.
Aldridge has a reliable mid-range game, and seriously, who can resist those turnaround jumpers down on the blocks?
As he's a mortal lock to average 20 points per game, the Wizards are thrilled to scoop up a player of Aldridge’s caliber in the bottom third of the first round.
-Alec Nathan, Wizards Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Boston Celtics
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 11.1 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.2 blocks
I had my mind set on point guard at the Re-Draft's outset.
That led to an uneasy feeling as floor generals were flying off the shelves faster than Turbo Man dolls. Six picks went by, and suddenly the top three PGs were gone. Four more went before the New Orleans Pelicans got their turn at No. 23.
Thankfully, Rajon Rondo was still available.
Really, what better way to start a fictional team than with someone who can do a bit of everything? Not many players on the board at the start of the draft can fill up a stat sheet like Rondo. After 22 picks, the other all-around options were Josh Smith and Joakim Noah. However, I was set on a point guard to start and knew I'd have a chance at a talented big after the snake turned around.
With Rondo, I had a basis to build something around.
Whether he can be trusted as a cornerstone in real life remains to be seen, but in a fantasy world, stacking shooters and runners around the league's best distributor is entirely possible. Rondo hasn't averaged less than 11 dimes per game since 2009-10, when he registered 9.8 a night. Finding an actual interior scorer and finishing athletes to run with is much easier when you've already got the guy to give them the ball.
-Mike Walsh, Pelicans Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Dallas Mavericks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks
There aren't many legitimate franchise players in the NBA, as most are somewhere between good and great with no experience leading a mediocre team to outstanding results. Just three seasons ago, Dirk Nowitzki led the Dallas Mavericks—a team with a rather overrated supporting cast—to an NBA championship.
Last season, Dallas was 27-17 during its final 44 games with Nowitzki, despite an abundance of injuries and minimal star support.
If anyone can lead the Raptors to a guaranteed postseason berth, it's Dirk. He's done it before and, with a very strong supporting cast in Toronto, he'll do it again.
-Maxwell Ogden, Raptors Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Brooklyn Nets
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.4 blocks
Sitting at No. 25, your options are inherently limited. It’s unlikely you’ll find a singular player talented enough to put you in playoff contention himself, but it’s also nice that you’re not hamstrung by glaring expectations—a double-edged sword.
So I came into this pick merely hoping to find the best value on the board. Not the player I like the most, nor even one I’m particularly pleased in drafting. Such was the case when Deron Williams found himself in my purview.
We all know D-Will's game and what he's good at by now. He's a big-bodied bully of a point guard who has seen his numbers violently fluctuate on almost a month-to-month basis—just look at his monthly splits from a season ago. There were reasons for that fluctuation, most of which were injury-related, but it's pretty safe to say you cannot feel safe with Williams as your only star.
That said, the man represents great value at No. 25.
He was worth as many wins as Kobe Bryant last season despite a miserable start, and his versatility is integral on offense. He's an excellent spot-up shooter, a guy who could play a bit small at the 2 if needed and someone who works well without the ball even in a traditional “point guard” role.
The key was the way Williams played down the stretch. He found his form over the last couple months of the season and finally started looking like the guy Brooklyn paid $100 million. At No. 25, a semi-superstar isn’t half bad.
-Tyler Conway, Bobcats Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Chicago Bulls
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 2.1 blocks
Every team classified as a consistent winner in today's NBA comes equipped with a defensive-minded big man, someone capable of defending a pick-and-roll in whatever coverage his coach sees fit, owning the glass and deterring shots at the rim.
When it comes to this skill set, Joakim Noah is the best of the best in a position that's critical to winning. The type of defense Noah displays doesn't take a night off, and his effort and energy has a way of seeping through to the four teammates he shares the court with.
The numbers are there if you need them, but what separates Noah from most of his colleagues is unquantifiable. With Noah you know what you're getting every minute he's out there: maniacal hustle, an understanding of where he's supposed to be on both ends at all times, a work-in-progress scoring ability and an elite passing ability for someone his size.
Noah makes those around him better, especially on the defensive end, and that's why he holds tremendous value as a first-round pick.
-Michael Pina, Rockets Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Indiana Pacers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.5 steals, 2.6 blocks
Having a late first-round pick at No. 27 and several big men coming off the board right before the selection, I wanted to grab a double-double threat and rim protector.
As he displayed in the playoffs last season, Roy Hibbert is fully prepared to become one of the NBA’s perennial centers. At 7’2”, and with a lethal wingspan, he’s a nuisance to deal with when attacking the basket and can halt the best scorers in the league.
Hibbert’s game is developing on the offensive end, and he's more than just a guy who will grab rebounds for easy putbacks. He has solid touch around the rim, establishes good position in the post and is improving in the pick-and-roll.
With a later pick yet to be named's mid-range game next to him at power forward, Hibbert should get plenty of opportunities one-on-one.
He may not make you jump out of your seat with a thunderous dunk or monstrous rejection, but Hibbert is one of the most effective post players in today’s game.
-Nick Juskewycz, Mavericks Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Detroit Pistons
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.8 blocks
Egregious shot selection notwithstanding, Josh Smith is one of the best, most versatile forwards in the NBA. He’s a freak athlete, a skilled passer and rebounder and a force of nature inside who shot 77.6 percent at the rim in 2012-13.
Obviously, he can be erratic at times and jack up a few too many jumpers, but he is one of the few players in the league who is as valuable defensively as he is offensively.
On a team with young players who can get out in transition and with a skilled center who can create room for him to work down low, Smith would have the opportunity to play to his strengths consistently.
By the time the 28th pick rolls around, you’re not going to acquire a franchise player, but a motivated Smith is as dangerous a five-tool player as anyone not named LeBron James.
-Grant Rindner, Celtics Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: New Orleans Pelicans
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.8 blocks
This pick was predicated on my belief that Anthony Davis makes "the leap" in his second season. There wasn't a player left on the board (and very few in the draft) with AD's collection of skills.
He's a big man that can run the floor like a guard (as evidenced here). His speed, length and athleticism make him a mismatch for most defenders. He's an excellent finisher around the rim, and he's even developing a sneaky mid-range jumper.
Defensively, he's a dynamic shot-blocker and finds a way to get his hands on a few steals. He's also very active on the boards. He also just turned 20.
Davis came on strong down the stretch last season before missing the final weeks with a knee injury. Given his youth, upside and unique skill set, I couldn't think of a better player to build my team around than "The Unibrow."
-Dave Leonardis, Kings Re-Draft GM
Actual Team: Brooklyn Nets
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.4 steals, 2.1 blocks
Continuing the 35-year search for a big man to replace Bill Walton, the Portland Trail Blazers selected Brook Lopez.
What Lopez lacks in rebounding and defensive tenacity, he makes up for with a soft shooting touch. He can flat-out score, as evidenced most recently by his 22.3 points per game in the playoffs against the stout Chicago Bulls defense.
Lopez is one of the league’s best rim protectors and posted a career high in blocks last year. He led all centers with a player efficiency rating of 24.8, good for fifth in the NBA behind only LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony.
Unfortunately, Lopez also finished 41st among centers in rebounding rate, despite averaging 6.9 boards per game. Good thing almost everyone else on the re-drafted Trail Blazers can hold their own on the glass.
With apologies to Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries, pairing Lopez with a more competent power forward will open up Brook’s game. It will also reduce the rebounding burden up front without sacrificing scoring.
-Sean Hojnacki, Trail Blazers Re-Draft GM