The NBA Draft should be held in Vegas. Franchises gamble on players to change their team for the better. Sometimes, teams strike gold. Other times, teams mess up big time. Expectations are high on these rookies, and sometimes they just fail to deliver.
But some selections are more interesting than others. Years after a player is drafted, people ask questions.
For example, what if Team A took Player B, instead of Player A? How much better would their franchise be?
This article will examine some of the selections over the past few years that could have completely changed the landscape of the NBA should they of happened.
**Please note that I am writing this article considering how good the player is now. I realize that in different circumstances, some players may not develop into the players they are today.
For example, Durant in Portland would have been a second option to Roy, therefore may not have developed into the All-Star he is today.
Once again, I realize this, but nevertheless will write this article ignoring this fact.**
Of course, this is the most obvious case of "what could have been." Everyone thought that Darko would be Dirk v2.0, a seven footer who could shoot the ball from everywhere. Unfortunately for Detroit, they struck out in what most are calling the most star-studded Draft class ever.
Sure, the Pistons went on to win the Championship in 2004, but now they are back to the lottery as a borderline playoff team. How many championships would this team have won if they had selected Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, or Carmelo Anthony with the number two pick?
This would have a butterfly effect on the whole league. If the Pistons took Wade, Miami would be without a championship and Shaq would have ended up elsewhere. The Nuggets without Melo would be abysmal (unless they were smart enough to take Wade), and the same can be said about the Raptors.
Oden is definitely not a bust, simply injury prone. In the games he played this past season he was a beast, and ranked in the top five for blocks per 48 minutes. I'm not downplaying the talent Oden has, because it's there, rather acknowledging that Durant is a Top 10 player in the league as of now.
But imagine if Durant was selected with the number one pick back in 2007. Portland's starting lineup would look like this:
Andre Miller, Brandon Roy, Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Marcus Camby.
That is one scary lineup, and this Portland squad would definitely be in contention, while Oklahoma would have been in contention for John Wall this year. Lucky you, Thunder fans.
I might seem to be a little rough on Michael Beasley, but there is no doubting a mix of on and off court difficulties saw a quick end to his time at South Beach. I'll be the first to admit, as a Heat fan, I was high on him (not the kinda high you're used to when reading about Beasley) when we drafted him with the 2nd pick.
He was an absolute beast at college for Kansas State, and I thought it would convert to the NBA level. We all saw the outbursts of potential, but it never was consistent.
Now, if Miami had selected Brook Lopez or Kevin Love, they would have both complimented Wade well. They are both legitimate low post presences, solid defenders, and they go after every rebound.
Same can be said if Miami selected Russell Westbrook or OJ Mayo. We would have had a much feared back-court combination. Westbrook would run the show and give Dwyane Wade a break from his ball handing duties, while Mayo would be receiving open shot after open shot.
It could be argued that, if Miami drafted one of these four players instead of Beasley, Dwyane Wade would have a solid running mate. Pat Riley could of not traded Marion, as a Wade/Marion/[INSERT BETTER SELECTION HERE] trio could have done well.
And if Pat didn't trade for Jermaine O'Neal, Miami would not have had the same amount of cap space this off-season. Which of course means no Miami Thrice.
As a Heat fan, I'm reading this and thinking, maybe Michael Beasley not living up to expectations was one of the best things that could of happened to this franchise.
Harden was a solid player for Oklahoma off the bench this season. But Tyreke was Rookie of the Year.
If the Thunder selected Tyreke with the third pick in the 2009 Draft, how much better would this squad be? I also realise that Curry and possibly Jennings would of also been available, but pairing either of them with Westbrook would be disastrous. Tyreke would be a better fit playing the 2 than Curry or Jennings, who in my view, are much more suited to running the point.
Tyreke might have been the player that pushed Oklahoma over the line against the Lakers in that first round matchup. Imagine that? The all-mighty Lakers being ousted in the first round. Lakers fans everywhere would be calling for somebodies head. Phil Jackson would have retired or possibly gone to Chicago like many rumors suggested.
Maybe Phil Jackson could have been the final push for LeBron to sign with the Bulls, and maybe Dwyane Wade would have jumped ship to join his buddy? There could have been a new Big 3 in Rose, Wade and LeBron, and at the helm would be Phil Jackson?
This is all hypothetical of course, but you can't help but think of the endless possibilities.
With or without Evans, Oklahoma City will be contending quite soon.