Drafting young players with limited college experience is always tough, but the teams that do it well tend to be the teams that win. History has shown that most star players are drafted in the top 10 picks.
So, looking back how did the teams drafting in the top 10 fare and if the draft were held today, who would be the top 10 picks?
First the top 10 picks of 2007 were:
1. Greg Oden by the Portland Trail Blazers
2. Kevin Durant by the Seattle Supersonics
3. Al Horford by the Atlanta Hawks
4. Mike Conley by the Memphis Grizzlies
5. Jeff Green by the Boston Celtics
6. Yi Jianlian by the Milwaukee Bucks
7. Corey Brewer by the Minnesota Timberwolves
8. Brandan Wright by the Charlotte Bobcats
9. Joakim Noah by the Chicago Bulls
10. Spencer Hawes by the Sacramento Kings
This draft will be remembered for the debate between Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. That debate appears to have been decided. Kevin Durant led the NBA in scoring and the Thunder to the playoffs while Oden has had major leg injuries in two of his three seasons.
There is still hope for Oden as he showed signs of being a quality defensive center when he was healthy, but it appears that his immense physical gifts will probably never be what everyone anticipated when he was a freshman at Ohio State.
Al Horford made the all-star team as a center and solved the lack of quality size problem for the Hawks. He has proved that his selection was a good one.
Conley has been a disappointment. He has taken longer to develop than hoped and despite having scorers like Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo, he only averaged 5.3 assists per game.
Jeff Green was immediately traded for Ray Allen and the Celtics won a title. The Celtics are happy. The Thunder are using him at PF and he has become a very nice player for them. Unfortunately, he is probably playing out of position, but the Thunder are probably very happy with his play so far. It is clear that this draft was the major factor in their rise into the playoffs.
Yi has been a bust. The Brewers could not wait to trade him. Now with the Nets, his failure to develop into a quality NBA player is a big reason why the Nets nearly set a record for most losses this year.
Brewer was overrated because he was on the Florida championship teams. There is always at least one player from a title team who gets overrated as a result. Brewer was that player. He has been serviceable in his third year, but not worthy of a lottery pick.
Brandan Wright is another bust. He was a skinny low post player without an outside shot in college who used his quickness to score. He is still skinny and did not even play this year due to injuries.
Joakim Noah was underrated coming out of college. He is a poor shooter and has no low post game, but he is a fantastic defensive center who blocks shots and rebounds. He gets a ton of points off of put backs and passes off of double teams. The vast majority of teams would love to have him on their roster right now. Plus, he is still getting better.
Spencer Hawes has been a disappointment. He was supposed to bring high percentage low post scoring to the Kings. He has been a bench player at best who now prefers to shoot jump shots instead of doing to hard work down low. He was a wasted pick.
So, looking back, how should the draft gone? Here is one person’s opinion:
1. Kevin Durant by the Portland Trail Blazers is a no brainer. Durant is a year or two away from competing for the MVP of the NBA. Every team would now choose him first.
2. Al Horford by the Seattle Supersonics would be next. The Thunder are still looking for a tough interior presence. With Oden’s injuries, Horford’s rise to all-star status, he makes the most sense as the second pick.
3. Greg Oden by the Atlanta Hawks would be next. Despite Oden’s injuries, he has shown real talent. He should eventually be healthy enough to play a significant role for a team.
4. Rodney Stuckey by the Memphis Grizzlies should be next. Stuckey has been a strong player for the Pistons. While he is still learning how to be a point, he has shown that he can play defense and score.
5. Jeff Green by the Boston Celtics would not be changed. He would be an even better fit for the Thunder at small forward and he has done nothing to disappoint.
6. Wilson Chandler by the Milwaukee Bucks should have been the next pick. With Andrew Bogut in place at center, Noah is not necessary. Chandler has been one of the best picks of this draft at 23. He is a quality two way player who can play small forward or shooting guard. Put him on the Bucks instead of Delfino and the Bucks beat the Hawks in the playoffs this year.
7. Joakim Noah by the Minnesota Timberwolves would have been a great fit. Al Jefferson would have been able to play his more natural PF spot and Noah’s defense would have balanced Jefferson.
8. Thaddeus Young by the Charlotte Bobcats would have been a much better fit for the Warriors. Young is a good scorer who would have thrived in Don Nelson’s offense.
9. Marc Gasol by the Chicago Bulls would fit their squad nicely. Gasol is a classic back to the basket center that scores in the low post. Any center, who can play decent defense and provide 14.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game is a keeper.
10. Aaron Brooks by the Sacramento Kings should have been the final top 10 pick of this draft. Brooks dropped to 26 because of his size, but he has shown that he is a quality point guard. At the time, the Kings did not have a good point and he would have filled that spot nicely.
So with 20/20 hindsight, this is how the 2007 draft should have gone.