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If the NBA Was Being Redrafted, Who Would Be Picked First?

Lance SmithCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2016

If the NBA Was Being Redrafted, Who Would Be Picked First?

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    Imagine that today was the first day of the NBA, and every team would take part in a draft to decide their entire rosters.

    The rankings were the smallest market teams to the largest in a set pattern, determined by multiple stats including city sizes, loyalty of fan bases and TV deals.

    In the first round, teams will have to decide who their franchise player is, what kind of a team they want to be, who they think will be the easiest to build around, etc. Age and health are significant factors. Imagine that the teams already know exactly what the players are like.

    This isn't about gaining fans—forget about their current contracts. It's really just about winning. I am prepared for endless criticisms, so let's begin.

1. New Orleans Hornets

2 of 31

    Pick: Dwight Howard

    Position: Center

    Age: 25

    With the first pick in the NBA Fantasy Draft, the New Orleans Hornets take Dwight Howard.

    Is he the best player in the NBA? Nah. I'll say he's probably in the top five, but in the top 10 for sure. The reason he goes first is because of how bad the center position is right now.

    For example, if you have the best center in the NBA paired with the 8th best point guard, you have Dwight Howard with, perhaps, Stephen Curry. That's a good foundation. But if you have the best point guard with the 8th best center, you have Chris Paul possibly with Chris Kaman.

    Not sure if that team will get past the first round if those are your two best players. Take note, as I will use this principle a lot.

    If you have Dwight Howard and nobody else of much value, you are still automatically a solid defensive and rebounding team. 

    With any additional perimeter shooting, this will be a team that can score, as well. Dwight Howard has proven that if you can surround him with any considerable talent, you are automatically an elite team.

    He's young, he has taken a team to the Finals and he's durable. He's by far the most dominant post player in the world, and if he had more than an incredible body, he'd be one of the greatest basketball players who ever lived.  

2. Memphis Grizzlies

3 of 31

    Pick: LeBron James

    Position: Small forward/point guard/power forward/shooting guard

    Age: 26

    Outside of NBA Finals games and occasional fourth quarters, LeBron James is the best player in the NBA.

    If there were more talented centers in the league, he would've been drafted first. The guy took what would've been almost the worst team in the history of the NBA to multiple 60-win seasons. In fact, he made Mo Williams an All-Star. Crazy, huh?

    He can dominate at almost anything on the court and is capable of averaging a triple double.

    If he got his head straight, he would be just about unstoppable, no strings attached. He's still young and healthy, and he really wants to win. Honestly, I'm not sure that there's anybody who can make too much of an argument in being chosen over LeBron. 

3. Milwaukee Bucks

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    Pick: Chris Paul

    Position: Point guard

    Age: 26

    I'm sure there are some knowledgeable NBA fans out there cursing me right now. But hear me out.

    In the powerful Western Conference, the Hornets won 46 games. The team's only other notable player, David West, missed a large chunk of the second half of the season.

    This team would've won at least 50 games in the Western Conference with Marco Belinelli starting at shooting guard. Trevor Ariza wasn't much better, as he had one of his worst career offensive years.

    Then, still without David West, the team almost knocked the Lakers out of the Playoffs. If you had turned on the NBA Playoffs with no prior basketball experience, you would say that Chris Paul was easily the best player in the NBA.

    I don't even think his knee had fully recovered at any point before the season ended. 

    Chris Paul is arguably the best ball-handler, passer, and defensive point guard in the NBA. Without Rajan Rondo and Steve Nash, there would be no major competition. But can Rondo shoot? Can Steve Nash play defense? Don't make me laugh.

    Derrick Rose had a career year and definitely earned his MVP award, but most NBA experts agree that Chris Paul is still better when healthy, and he just controls too many aspects of the game to take anybody else left over him.

4. Charlotte Bobcats

5 of 31

    Pick: Kevin Durant

    Position: Small forward/shooting guard

    Age: 23

    Kevin Durant, while not the most arrogant or outspoken player, is a born leader, capable of carrying his team on his back with his excellent athleticism and unguardable jump shot.

    He's as clutch as the best of them, and his rebounding is solid. Why is Durant here? He's young, he has limitless potential, he's already the two-time reigning scoring leader and the small forward position is pretty weak. 

    Last year, he didn't make the leap that most expected of him. This was partially because of an early injury and he was hardly mentioned in the MVP conversation.

    Still, his stats were quite impressive and are probably better than they look considering how much more his teammates touched the ball last year.

    In fact, some of them might've touched it a little too much for their own good. Anyway, it's no secret that Durant is capable of being a point forward to some extent, and definitely of averaging well beyond 30 points per game.

    Russell Westbrook may not be the right fit for the Thunder anymore, but I don't think the Bobcats are going to have to worry about that with the redraft, as Westbrook will certainly go during the  first round.

5. Indiana Pacers

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    Pick: Dwyane Wade

    Position: Shooting guard/Point guard

    Age: 29

    This was a tough pick. Dwyane Wade is polished, very talented, consistent and freakishly athletic. He's proven himself able to lead his team through every level of pressure, and he can run your offense when needed.

    He may be 29, but he still seems multiple years away from showing any signs of age despite the fact that he's off to a rough start this season because of injuries. For now, Wade is the next guy picked to run a franchise.

    With Wade, a clutch leader, relentless slasher and perimeter defender who puts up as many blocks and rebounds as a starting center, there's no real catch.

    He's not known for playing at the superhuman level at times that LeBron or Chris Paul do, but it's hard to complain about that too much as long as he has a Finals MVP award.

6. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Pick: Derrick Rose

    Position: Point guard/shooting guard

    Age: 23

    Five days younger than Durant, Derrick Rose is the reigning MVP winner. While he's not really a true point guard, eight assists per game is an impressive stat, especially when coupled with 24 points.

    Derrick Rose, unlike Durant, did make a huge leap last season, going from All-Star possible to MVP. He led his Bulls to having the best record in NBA, despite a lot of early injuries.

    People say that last year's Bulls didn't have enough power outside of Rose offensively. I disagree. I just think that they didn't step up in the Playoffs.

    By drafting Derrick Rose, the Thunder just took one of the best all-around athletes the game has seen in a long time. Combine that with a steadily improving jumper, a great attitude, impressive defense and some crazy moves on or off the ground and you have a player that reminds me a lot of of Allen Iverson, just as a team player.

    Why did Rose drop to 6th? Because the point guard position is loaded.

7. Sacramento Kings

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    Pick: Deron Williams

    Position: Point guard

    Age: 27

    Deron Williams is another one of the best all-around point guards and players in the entire league. A walking 20/10, Williams plays good defense and really excels in every part of the game offensively.

    He has a very good shot, a great ability to finish at the rim, excellent handles, and even better court vision. Like Chris Paul, D-Will prefers to dish out 10 assists, but he can get 30 without too much effort when it's needed. 

    The red flag with Williams is that, last season, he caused his head coach to quit. And, it wasn't just any head coach. It was Jerry Sloan. Sloan refuses to admit that it was Williams, and Williams claims that if he caused the coach to quit, he would've asked for a trade.

    But, we all know that Williams arrogance really destroyed the Jazz's season. Still, his new start in New Jersey went excellently, and his nagging wrist injury has now been surgically fixed.

    By picking Williams, the Kings have to accept a player whose ego may be hard to control at times. Hopefully Williams learned his lesson. If so, he's an excellent player to build an organization around.

8. Minnesota Timber Wolves

9 of 31

    Pick: Blake Griffin

    Position: Power forward/center

    Age: 22

    At this point, Griffin is the one of the best rebounders in the NBA, probably the best dunker in the NBA and a rather consistent low post threat.

    He's also only one year into his career. 23 and 12 is pretty good for a rookie coming off a lost season from an injury. Obviously he's going to get a lot better.

    By taking Blake Griffin, the Timber Wolves aren't ensuring any immediate success. But, they are insuring consistency and effectiveness at the power forward spot, and at the very least, they won't ever have trouble selling tickets.

    Some people are even predicting Griffin to be the best power forward who ever lived. I'm not sure about that, but this man will be even more of an absolute beast in a couple years.

9. Denver Nuggets

10 of 31

    Pick: Kobe Bryant

    Position: Shooting guard

    Age: 33

    The best player of the past decade, Kobe Bryant can still take over any game at any level despite his age of 33.

    Some still think he's the best in the game. So why has he dropped to ninth? There is no guarantee that he'll be as good as he was last year.

    He is 33, which is close to the end for most guys. He also has multiple nagging injuries, and his attitude has been as questionable as ever lately.

    By drafting the Black Mamba, the Nuggets will be extremely relevant for at least a couple years (if they can also get a good big man, of course). Kobe is the ultimate finisher, or just the ultimate clutch performer in general.

    While playing very solid (albeit overrated) defense, he has a perfectly formulated set of moves to set up his stellar array of jumpers. Still, there will always be high drama surrounding him. But if everything goes right, the Nuggets will be imminent contenders for a little while.

10. New Jersey Nets

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    Pick: Russell Westbrook

    Position: Point guard/shooting guard

    Age: 23 

    Despite having become an NBA superstar, Russell Westbrook ended this season having become one of the craziest NBA ball hogs. His jumper is decent, but Westbrook is simply too athletic to not be one of the most explosive players in the NBA.

    He is dominant above the rim, both as a scorer and a rebounder, and his defense is stellar. If only he could pass the ball more!

    Westbrook is young and is still learning how to be a team player. If placed on a team where he truly was "The Man," he could shine. His potential is through the roof and nobody yet knows just how much better he'll get.

11. Los Angeles Clippers

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    Pick: LaMarcus Aldridge

    Position: Power forward/center

    Age: 26

    Another instance where the best pick isn't necessarily the best player left. But he's just finally starting to tap his potential.

    Aldridge is a very good rebounder, passer out of the post, defensive player and he's just a great personality to have on a team. He's a capable leader, and other players love being his teammate.

    But more than anything else, he's the best traditional (not European-style) post scorer in the league, and he shows it every night. 

    The Spurs should now draft for the future, as Aldridge still is not quite in his prime. He showed last year that he can really take it to the next level through adversity. Really, he can just take it to the next level.

    I can see him, as soon as next season, averaging 25/10/3/1/2. He's actually not that far away. His only red flag is a recurring heart problem that required an operation.

    Apparently, it should be forgotten about very soon. Some are skeptical. I guess we'll see.

12. San Antonio Spurs

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    Pick: Dirk Nowitzki

    Position: Power forward/center

    Age: 33

    Forgive me for letting Dirk drop this low. He is, when on, unstoppable, although he's not at his best yet this season.

    But he did drop this far for a reason: the Nets have not drafted themselves a future franchise. By taking Dirk, they are going for a championship now and accepting that in two or three years, hopefully with a ring or two, they'll have to rebuild. 

    But Dirk truly is unstoppable. It's one thing to be arguably the greatest shooter who ever lived. It's another thing to be so at seven feet tall.

    Contested threes, free throws, one-legged fade aways from 15 or more feet—it's all the same to the German. He doesn't play much defense and he has very little athleticism, but his timely scoring can carry any team against anybody.  

13. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Pick: Carmelo Anthony

    Position: Small forward/power forward

    Age: 27

    Carmelo pulled a nasty move doing what could've ruined the Nuggets' season last year. They rebounded (no pun intended) gallantly, but his attitude and work ethic was really questioned.

    He wanted to be paired with another superstar, even if it was at the expense of others, and the whole "Melodrama" ordeal made him pretty infamous.

    Like Deron Williams, all the drama around his trade took away from another statistically impressive season, and he missed the All-NBA teams. 

    What hasn't been doubted through all of this is that Carmelo Anthony is the most versatile scorer in the NBA. He can drive or shoot on bigger forwards, and he destroys most small forwards in the post and on the glass.

    He doesn't play a lick of defense, but there was a reason that he made the Nuggets relevant for a long time. 

14. Golden State Warriors

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    Pick: Rajon Rondo

    Position: Point guard

    Age: 25

    Taking Rondo here is really a wildcard. He could end up being a bit of a bust, but he could be a steal.

    If he continues to progress the way he has been, it should be about right. Right now, Rondo is trying to prove that his game is not just reliant on Boston's Big Three hitting shots, and that on defense he doesn't just go for steals so he can look good.

    Obviously, Rondo has been working on his jumper a lot. On opening day against the Knicks, he scored 31 points, with multiple 18-footers, and dished out 13 assists without Paul Pierce playing.

    He also recorded 5 steals without gambling too much, as he completely locked up the point guard spot on defense.

    Rondo is already arguably the best ball-handler and passer in the NBA. When he doesn't take too many risks, he's arguably the best defensive point guard in the NBA.

    He has a perfect body for his game, and he can finish at the rim with the best of them. He can also bring down boards, and his free throw shooting is poor, but improving.

    If he can master this 18-footer, he'll be pretty much unstoppable, as he already is a walking double-double.

    He's tough and durable, and if he ever gets his three-pointer down, I don't see what's separating him from the very greatest point guards that ever lived. But none of this is guaranteed, which is why he's barely making it into our "lottery." 

15. Atlanta Hawks

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    Pick: Steve Nash

    Position: Point guard

    Age: 37

    If there was one older player in the NBA who I'd trust to propel a franchise until he retired, it would possibly be Steve Nash. Unlike Carmelo Anthony a bit before him, Steve Nash actually tries to play defense. He just can't.

    He doesn't really rebound for a guard, either. But offensively, he can do just about everything perfectly, besides dunk and post up. Arguably the greatest shooter to ever live, Steve Nash still might be the best playmaker in the NBA, even in his old age.

    His passing skills and court vision are astounding. He is an ideal leader and teammate, and at the age of 37, some say he might even be getting better in a lot of ways. 

    Obviously, there's only so far into his forties that Nash can go and still dominate. Therefore, the Hawks are drafting for a championship in the next three years, which means that their future picks will not be prospects with potential but simply the player who can most impact the team right now.

    Surely it would be nice to see Steve Nash get a ring before he retires. By the way, this is in no way a hint that he should be traded to the Hawks so he can contend for a title while the Suns get prospects in return (which he should in case you were wondering).

16. Toronto Raptors

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    Pick: Kevin Love

    Position: Power forward/center

    Age: 23

    Seeing as how Phil Jackson is technically not "eligible" for this draft, as all coaches are sticking with their current teams, Kevin Love is the best available.

    Here, the Heat are drafting for the future. As we saw this season, Love on his own can't carry a team to success in the least, but he's only getting to get better, and that's pretty scary when you consider that he put up over 20/15 last year. 

    Love is not a talented post scorer or defensive player, but he does pretty much everything else well. Skill-wise, Love is becoming one of the best rebounders the league has ever seen.

    15 RPG is crazy for a 23-year-old starting for the first time, but he actually doesn't have that much bodily advantage over any of his opponents.

    I guess he is pretty strong, but 6'9" is not impressive for a power forward, and his vertical will not raise eyebrows. He simply has a ridiculous combination of skill and tenacity on the glass.

    Love is also one of the best passing big men in the game, and is especially good at throwing outlet passes. Combine that with a nice touch around the rim and a jumper from wherever and you've got yourself an All-Star, and in my opinion, a perfect "Robin."

    Now, if only the Heat can find a "Batman".

17. Utah Jazz

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    Pick: Pau Gasol

    Age: 31

    Position: Power forward/center

    Call him soft, and you may be right. Call him a choker, and at times, you may be right about that too.

    But despite his softness, he's one of the best rebounders in the NBA, a respectable shot blocker, and generally, one of the best post scorers.

    A walking 20-10, he's easily the best player in the history of the Memphis Grizzlies. At times, he's completely unstoppable, as it isn't unlike him to score well over 10 points without missing a single shot.

    Those aren't just from open layups and putbacks—they're just as much from fadeaway jumpers and running hooks. 

    Well, that's about it with Pau Gasol. He hasn't had any major injuries in recent memory, and although he is 31, he isn't showing any signs of slowing down.

    Still, the Jazz aren't drafting completely in the long run. They should aim to have a championship team in a few years, as he will eventually age and he probably isn't going to get any better. But until then, the Jazz have a true European big man to work with.

18. Portland Trail Blazers

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    Pick: Amar'e Stoudemire

    Position: Power forward/center

    Age: 29

    Despite being a veteran, the book isn't completely written on Amar'e Stoudemire. His game has definitely evolved over the years. He used to be a powerful high-flyer with some skills in the low post and an ability to bang on the boards, similar to a slightly less dominant but more finessed Blake Griffin.

    Due to knee problems, he has lost a little bit of strength and definitely some hops. However, his conditioning is as good as ever, as his speed, quickness, and stamina cannot be matched by more than a handful of players.

    I don't believe any other big man in the NBA combines that amount of athleticism with his skill level, as he can do just about anything that big men can do offensively. He's a very good low post player, and an unbelievable high post and pick-and-roll scorer.

    His individual defense isn't horrible, but it could be a little better, despite his blocking ability.

    He has often been forced to play center, but paired up with a good inside presence, he is one of the best power forwards in the NBA, and one of the last players in this draft that can carry a team to 50 wins as their unquestionable best player. 

    Like Pau Gasol, his age isn't really indicative of where he is in his career. I truly believe that while his athleticism isn't going anywhere for a while, his skills might continue to improve yet.

    Also like Gasol, Stoudemire absolutely thrives when paired with a noteworthy guard, so if the Blazers can snag one of the many talented point or shooting guards this league has to offer, they may be a contender in a short amount of time.

19. Orlando Magic

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    Pick: Chris Bosh

    Position: Power forward

    Age: 27

    The Magic take Chris Bosh 19th overall. I'm sure that a lot of you are shaking your heads right now, and that's fine. However, I'm going to say right now that Chris Bosh's 2009-2010 campaign, his last season as a Raptor, was almost MVP worthy, as he and he alone carried them to a 40-win season.

    He put up 24 PPG, 10.8 RPG, and 2.4 APG to go with a block, while shooting over .500. He was actually their only good player, and I remember, from when he dropped 40 against my Warriors, one of the announcers yelling in awe "Wow. Chris Bosh is really just Kobe Bryant at 6'11".

    And back then, it was true.

    That Chris Bosh, who probably will never be found when with D-Wade and LeBron, is one of the league's true superstars. He's still young, so if the Magic can get that version of Chris Bosh by letting him run the show, they might be able to make a title run while he's still in his prime.

    Throw in a solid center, some role players, and a guard who can score and you've got an elite team.

20. Miami Heat

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    Pick: John Wall

    Age: 21

    Position: Point guard

    The Heat had a choice here. They could settle for mediocrity, which is the worst thing in the NBA.

    They could get the best available player and auction them off to a contender, or they could draft for the future. Kevin Love was by far the best candidate for the latter, but John Wall is still worth their while.

    He put up 16-8 last year, which is good for a rookie on last year's Wizards, but Wall has the potential to be one of the best point guard's of this era. He has off-the-charts athleticism, great handles, and he's a great passer.

    He can finish at the rim, and he has a decent jumper. He isn't the greatest defender, but he gets a lot of steals and a lot of rebounds. In short, he's a poor man's Rajon Rondo who can put up an occasional quadruple-double. 

    I'm calling him a poor man's Rondo, but that's as a rookie. He's a future superstar, and I feel like that's enough for the Heat here. They shouldn't surround him with talented veterans, but with raw prospects. Let them lose now and play the lottery, but in three or four years, watch out.

21. Washington Wizards

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    Pick: Zach Randolph

    Position: Power forward/center

    Age: 30

    This is the first case of a team drafting the best available player so they can sell him at market value.

    Zach Randolph is really transforming his career from one of a stat-stuffer to one of a team player with high stats. His numbers haven't changed much, but his value has increased substantially from what they have been for the past decade.

    All of a sudden, we have a Zach Randolph who is not a black hole on offense, and who does try of defense. He still will put up a shockingly ungraceful, but still impressive, 20 PPG, but now it's efficient and in the flow of the offense.

    And 12.2 RPG is good for third best in the league. As I said, his stats are similar to what they were back in the Jail Blazers days, but this guy has heart.

    This is generally where I comment on what he means to his team, but it would be unwise of the Wizards to keep him.

    He's towards the end of his prime, so he won't help them in the long run, but he's still good enough to keep them out of the best part of the lottery.

    A classic example of the purgatory that is NBA .500 ball, he would be excellent trade bait, as he is an All-Star quality player that will bring back plenty of prospects and draft picks from a team that wants to win now.

22. Detroit Pistons

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    Pick: Joe Johnson

    Position: Shooting guard/point guard/small forward

    Age: 30

    Unfortunately for the Pistons, Joe Johnson is 30. He won't be there for them to build around a couple years down the road.

    However, he's not quite good enough to make them a 50-win team. Or maybe he is. We don't know, because he just came off the worst season of his prime. If all of a sudden he's just lost it, the Pistons are screwed.

    But assuming he'll come back to being his old self for a couple more years, the Pistons can try to build a contender around him, and if things don't work out quite right, they can sell him for a lot. 

    Ignoring his horrific shooting year last year, Joe Johnson is arguably the most versatile perimeter player in the NBA. By trade he's a shooting guard, but he easily has the size to play small forward.

    On the other hand, he has the handles to run the point in a pinch. Johnson is one of the best shooters in the NBA who can also take it to the hole and destroy smaller guards in the post and on the boards.

    Due to his great ball-handling skills, Johnson averages around 5 APG, which is very impressive for a wing. Anyway, the odds are, the Pistons don't piece together a contender around him, but teams that are already in the Playoffs will do a lot for a perennial All-Star, right? 

23. Houston Rockets

24 of 31

    Pick: Monta Ellis

    Position: Shooting guard/point guard

    Age: 26

    Right now, Monta Ellis is putting up 24 PPG and almost 8 APG. That's what Derrick Rose did last year, and he won MVP. Now, I'm not suggesting what you think I'm suggesting, but that's not something to be taken lightly.

    While he's definitely not doing everything efficiently, doing it at all is pretty tough as he doesn't have Stephen Curry to attract the defense. Monta is arguably the most athletic player in the game, when you think about it.

    He very well might be the fastest and the quickest, and I'm going to say that he can put in more minutes than anybody, not to mention that he seems to spend minutes in the air every time he jumps.

    While he is known as a ball hog, he is in the top-10 for assists every game. Not bad for a shooting guard. His ability to finish at the rim with a crafty layup might not be rivaled by any player in the league, including Derrick Rose, and he is pretty much unstoppable on fast breaks. He is just the definition of explosive.  

    The Rockets understand that it's rather difficult to build a championship team around Monta Ellis, so from here on out, they'll have to build a compatible team. They'll have to be young so that they'll have time to learn to play with each other.

    At 26, it's obvious that Monta is still learning the game. But it seems that with Monta Ellis, the Warriors are never out of a game, and usually, he's doing it on his own. Imagine putting him with an elite crew of teammates. Better yet, imagine if he could play defense...

24. Philadelphia 76ers

25 of 31

    Pick: Andrew Bynum

    Position: Center

    Age: 24

    Andrew Bynum isn't necessarily the best pick left, but centers who average 16 points, 14 boards, and 2 blocks a game are just so darn hard to come by! It's simply easier to build around a center than arguably any other position, because in this day and age, all the other ones are spewing with talent.

    So what does Andrew Bynum do? Well, he puts up 16 points, 14 boards, and 2 blocks a game. At least he is right now, and with his improved attitude, he just might keep it. By the way, he has a world of experience, but he's only 24. 

    If it wasn't for his injury history, we'd move on to the next slide. He's only averaged 51 games per year in his last four seasons. When you're 7'0", 285 lbs, stuff happens to your legs.

    At this point in the season, I'm considering the Lakers contenders up until the point where Bynum will get hurt. That's just how it feels.

    So, it seems to me like the Sixers might be afraid to build around this guy. If they take the risk and it pays off, they might be NBA champions. If they take him with the usual results, they're screwed.

    But they could always trade him immediately, as he has extremely high trade value. 

25. Phoenix Suns

26 of 31

    Pick: Andre Iguodala

    Position: Small forward/shooting guard

    Age: 27

    Do the Suns try to quickly build a team around Iggy while he's still in his prime, or do they trade him as a final piece to a contender for some pieces and picks? Unfortunately, he's too old for them to play the lottery, so their best bet is too trade the guy and start from scratch.

    The sun does not look bright right now for Phoenix, ironically.

    Luckily, he does have good trade value. He is a true point forward, as his career assists average is almost 5 per game.

    But he also averages over 16 points per game, and if he wanted to, he could put up 20. His defense and rebounding aren't matched by almost any players at his position, and he's willing to fit in wherever you need him.

    Basically, he instantly makes any team better, and he can definitely be the missing piece to a contender. So the Suns will have to trade him and play the lottery, but they might be able to really get something for him. 

26. Dallas Mavericks

27 of 31

    Pick: Eric Gordon

    Position: Shooting guard

    Age: 23

    I don't think that there was too much of a question that Gordon was the best pick left. First of all, he will be a force in this league three years down the road, but as for now, he won't take the Mavs out of the lottery.

    He is very athletic, and highly skilled in multiple ways. He won't go down as an all-time great, but he is a typical perennial All-Star who plays defense and has a great attitude. 

    With one of the last picks in the draft, the Mavericks shouldn't complain. In a few years, they'll have possibly a top-10 player, and until then, they'll accumulate prospects by sucking really bad. 

27. Boston Celtics

28 of 31

    Pick: Rudy Gay

    Position: Small forward

    Age: 25

    Now we're really running out of decent options. Rudy Gay is an athletic, versatile wing player who can do just about anything that a wing should do.

    He can score in every way, he can grab boards and he can play great defense. He's just not exactly great at anything, and while he'll certainly be an All-Star at some point, he's not a reliable guarantee like Eric Gordon above him. 

    I'll leave this one up to Danny Ainge. Gay is not good enough to put up even 25 wins without some help, but he's not a superstar that can be shopped at any price.

    I really don't know whether they should build around him and try to be a contender in a few years, or if they should shop him at the highest possible price. Keep in mind that he's still young.

    The only real problem with Gay is that last year when he was lost for the season, the Grizzlies started playing their best ball.

    Now, I won't be the first to tell you that he is not a good fit for the Grizz, but should they really have gotten better by losing their "star"? In other words, his draft stock may not be that high right now.

    But I'm sure some coercing could change that. 

28. Chicago Bulls

29 of 31

    Pick: Manu Ginobili

    Position: Shooting guard

    Age: 34

    Sorry Chicago, it's the best you've got. Manu Ginobili can score by combining his nice jumper with his unique and almost awkward arsenal of moves to get to and finish at the rim.

    He averaged 1.5 steals and 5 assists per game last year as a shooting guard, and that was only in 30 MPG. Unfortunately, he could only play 30 MPG, and this year he won't be playing any more than that. I guess he plays some really good defense for an old man though.

    The Bulls are going to have to trade this guy, but his value is really up in the air. On one hand, he has had the best career in international basketball anyone has ever had, as he's won a Euroleague title, three NBA championships and an Olympic gold medal.

    The gold medal is what's most impressive, as it was not for America, but rather for Argentina, and he pretty much did it by himself.

    Last year he made Third Team All-NBA. Hopefully some team will remember all this and pay a hefty some of prospects and picks for him. Otherwise, Chi-town is screwed.  

29. Los Angeles Lakers

30 of 31

    Pick: Al Horford

    Position: Center/power forward

    Age: 25

    I technically had to list this guy as a center, but I put him here under the pretenses that Mitch Kupchak is going to find an actual center and let this guy absolutely destroy as a power forward.

    Al Horford is 6'10" and extremely athletic, but he's a bit undersized and just out of position as a center. Regardless of that, he was the second best center in the league last year. He has a great face-up jump shot and an excellent post game, so he's highly efficient.

    In fact, if he was on a team that didn't have the worst offensive chemistry I've ever seen (if he wasn't on the Hawks), he could easily be scoring 18 or more points per game. He also grabs 10 rebounds and plays very good defense, still out of position.

    But really, you can't carry a team from the low block. He's only 25, so if the Lakers played the lottery for a few years and then let their great front office do what they do, there is only so long it could be until they'd be a contender, right?

    As of right now, Horford will be out for about three months with a torn pectoral, but it's not like the Lakers are really playing to win right now, so it's just as well.

30. New York Knicks

31 of 31

    Pick: Stephen Curry

    Position: Point guard

    Age: 23

    He has a high ceiling, why not? 

    Topping out the first round is the 23-year-old point guard out of Davidson, Stephen Curry. Just based on his first two seasons, he will eventually become the greatest shooter who ever lived.

    His shooting stats are already unbelievable; he doesn't need to get any better to be considered one of the best shooters of our time. On the other hand, he's a point guard. He is a pretty good passer, and he seems to get better at running the offense every game he plays.

    Like Steve Nash, whom he's often compared to, his shooting draws so much attention that it's not that hard to find other guys or drive in for a layup.

    If he was in the middle of the pack of starting point guards when it comes to ball-handling and explosiveness, he'd be a bona fide All-Star. His defense isn't that bad either, even though he plays on the Warriors. He stays with his man fairly well and he actually steals the ball with the best of them. 

    The only real catch with Steph is that for the second year in a row, he's having ankle problems. Luckily, nothing is permanently damaged or anything.

    Again, he's not ready to carry a team to decency, so there's no harm in taking a player of his caliber. But he does have the potential to be a key player in a championship team, and with the last pick, what more can Mike D'Antoni ask for?

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