NBA Draft: Every Western Conference Team's Top Pick Since 2000
Midway through the second round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs makes this quite an exciting time of year for basketball fans.
What’s even more electrifying about this year is the impending offseason full of potential to utterly shake up the entire Association.
LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki and Amar’e Stoudemire—sounds like a starting All Star lineup right?
The thing is, any one of these superstars have the ability to turn a loser into a winner, a pretender into a legit championship contender.
The list of stars available in free agency goes on and on, but they’re not the only ones available.
2010’s NBA Draft looms large as well, as it takes place on June 24th 7 p.m.-12 a.m. ET, and it is chock full of talent. John Wall, Evan Turner, and DeMarcus Cousins are only a few of the collegiate stars about to make the transition to the pros, but before we get to them, let’s examine their predecessors.
The last decade has given a wealth of athletic and talented players to the NBA, from Carmelo Anthony to Kevin Durant, and the following is each wild West team’s best draft pick of the last decade.
Read, think, comment, discuss, and enjoy! Who is your favorite team’s top pick? Did they make the list?
Los Angeles Clippers—Chris Kaman 2003 (Pick Six)
The Clippers are arguably the worst franchise in the NBA, especially when it comes to talent management, making this selection one of the most difficult on the list.
Luckily for LA's other team, they took center Chris Kaman in 2005 and he's been huge for them since.
Kaman's been the Clippers best player for the last few years at least, actually making the All Star game this season.
It's just too bad they haven't built around one of the true remaining big men in the NBA. Although, tightwad owner Donald Sterling has recently said he is planning on spending big money soon. If that comes to fruition is anyone's guess.
Sacramento Kings—Tyreke Evans 2009 (Pick Four)
Yes, Tyreke Evans has only been in the league for one year, but after trading away Kevin Martin this season, he's their best pick hands down.
Evans is already a star with style and he has a wealth of talent to spare.
Evans took home the 2010 Rookie of the Year trophy recently and the last person to average over 20 points, over five rebounds and assists was LeBron James—which has brought comparisons to the current best baller in the world.
Golden State Warriors—Monta Ellis 2005 (Pick 40)
Monta Ellis is a stellar basketball player, the best the Warriors have drafted in a long, long time. That is, besides Golden State taking Stephen Curry in last year's draft.
And while Curry may develop into a better player than Ellis, no one has given more to the Warriors for four years.
Still, there are some knocks on Ellis' game, including that he takes too many shots and he would likely be best suited being the No. 2 player on a team rather than the go-to guy.
Phoenix Suns—Amar’e Stoudemire 2002 (Pick Nine)
Amar'e is an absolute beast in the Association.
His 6'10", 250 pound frame makes him bigger than nearly everyone in the NBA, but he's no slow-footed fool.
Stoudemire is way too fast, far too athletic to be placed into a category with normal centers and his dynamic play has benefited the Suns for seven seasons.
Amar'e's game is within the paint as he is too powerful to box out on the boards and he grabs rebounds at high numbers, putting many back for tip-dunks or slashing through the lane for a strong bucket.
Los Angeles Lakers—Andrew Bynum 2005 (Pick 10)
Bynum may have started his career slowly, but he's blossoming into a legit center in the NBA to be sure.
He averaged a career-high in scoring this season (15 per) and his second highest amount of rebounds (8.2) as he, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant are currently on track to taking home back to back titles after sweeping the Jazz Monday.
Memphis Grizzlies—Rudy Gay 2006 (Pick Eight)
Rudy Gay is quickly becoming a standout forward in a league full of stellar threes. Due to that fact, and that he plays in one of the NBA's smallest markets in Memphis, Gay is hardly ever mentioned as one of the most valuable players in the Association.
Still, no one can question his value to the young Grizzlies as they continue to improve as a team overall.
Houston Rockets—Yao Ming 2002 (Pick One)
Yao Ming is the only player on this list that isn't currently playing, but he still deserves recognition.
Not only was he an amazing basketball player, but the Rockets took one of the most massive gambles in NBA Draft history when they selected Ming from China—and at No. 1 overall to boot.
At 7'6" Ming was a spectacle just too see on a court, but the fact that he could ball was even more spectacular.
Sure, Ming was soft on defense and his feet were super slow, but let's not take anything away from the mountainous man from the far East.
Also, let's not rule out that Yao Ming plays in the NBA once again, though his future in the league looks bleak after multiple serious foot injuries.
New Orleans Hornets—Chris Paul 2005 (Pick Five)
Chris Paul had everything going for him when before injuring his left knee Jan. 29 against the Bulls.
CP3 was, in almost every major media outlet's collective mind, the NBA's best point guard.
Utah's Deron Williams took over that title in this year's first round against Denver, as those same talking heads anointed him King at point.
We shouldn't be so fast to take away from Paul what he's earned.
The man averages a double-double with deft dime skills and can score in a variety of ways, leading his team to the playoffs in 2008 and 2009.
Dallas Mavericks—Josh Howard 2003 (Pick 29)
Howard isn't currently on the Mavericks anymore after being shipped to the shipwreck in Washington as part of the Caron Butler/Brendan Haywood trade, that arguably didn't work.
But, the list of players the Mavs selected for 10 years looks more like a Russian phone book (Milovan Rakovic, Mladen Sekularac, Renaldas Seibutis) than NBA draftees.
Howard had many stumbles in Dallas, including admitting to smoking marijuana publicly, but he also helped the Mavs along in many playoff series.
San Antonio Spurs—Tony Parker 2001 (Pick 28)
Tony Parker is the little Frenchman that could.
He's really grown up in the NBA.
Minnesota Timberwolves—Jonny Flynn 2009 (Pick Six)
The T’Wolves had the most picks of all the Western teams over the last 10 years (23) and almost none of them are still with the team. In fact, Minnesota actually drafted both Brandon Roy and O.J. Mayo only to see them move on to prosper with other teams.
So, after much research, the best suitable T’Wolf from this list is Johnny Flynn. (1-23 players still on the team is terrible)
He played a strong rookie season and looks to be the starting point in Minnesota for years to come, even if Ricky Rubio ever comes to the States.
Portland Trail Blazers—Martell Webster 2005 (Pick Six)
Webster's stats are ho-hum, as is his play, and he still wins for the Blazers.
Portland and Minnesota are bringing the Northwest's drafting down, it's a good thing the other three teams are strong drafters.
Utah Jazz—Deron Williams 2005 (Pick Three)
Deron Williams, as mentioned earlier, is the current top point guard in the NBA according the ESPN, ABC, and their other affiliates.
Who could argue after his stupendous performance versus the Nuggets Utah's Round One win?
Williams led, and ultimately willed his team to victory over Denver, and despite their sweep by LA, he will likely stay in Utah for years as their best player.
Even when Carlos Boozer jumps off the Jazz' ship, Williams will do just fine with whatever players Utah puts around him with Jerry Sloan at the helm.
Oklahoma City Thunder—Kevin Durant 2007 (Pick Two)
Kevin Durant made his case to not only be a legit superstar this season, but he was the major competitor to LeBron's second straight MVP title.
The Durantula is sensational all over the court, shooting the three ball, a mid-range jumper or grabbing boards with strength.
He averaged career highs in scoring (30.1) and rebounds (7.6) this season and is only growing as an NBA star.
Denver Nuggets—Carmelo Anthony 2003 (Pick Three)
Carmelo Anthony, the No. 3 pick of 2003's divine draft, is arguably the best pick the Nuggets have made in their history, not just the last 10 years.
Melo is a star and he possesses the purest shooting stroke in the NBA today.
Whether it's a jab-step pull-up from 20, a catch-and-shoot from three or a drive for a layup—Melo knows how to score, no doubt.
He's improved his all-around game lately, namely dropping dimes that are on point and on time to teammates, and banging on the boards as well.
If Denver can ever land him a legit center, Melo should compete for a championship, especially if it's while Chauncey Billups is still on the squad.
Overall, Melo and Durant are two of the best to be drafted in the last 10 years, two of the best in the league and the two will go head to head for many years to come.
So there you have it NBA fans, the top player for every West team of the past decade.
Again I ask for your thoughts, so let's get some thoughtful discussion started below!
Rich Kurtzman is a Colorado State University Alumnus and a freelance sports journalist. Along with being the Denver Nuggets FC here on B/R, Kurtzman is the Denver Broncos FC for NFLTouchdown.com, the CSU Rams Examiner for examiner.com, a contributor for coloradosportsdesk.com and the Regional Correspondent stadiumjourney.com.
Follow Rich on twitter @ www.twitter.com/richkurt