Re-Drafting the 2000 NBA Draft Class

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 1, 2020

Re-Drafting the 2000 NBA Draft Class

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    There's something you need to know about the 2000 NBA draft class before we go any further: It's not great.

    Maybe that makes it a perfect year to cover, considering everyone seems to agree that the upcoming 2020 class is a weak one. Weak? You don't know weak.

    Go ahead and Google "2000 NBA draft." You'll see the descriptors right away. They include "hauntingly terrible" and "historically awful."

    This isn't the fault of any of the players involved. It was just a down year. Like, way down. That makes re-drafting a challenge, but that's fine. A little mental straining in these socially distanced times of physical inactivity is probably good for everyone.

    There should technically only be 29 picks here because the New Orleans Pelicans didn't yet exist in 2000, but we'll go to 30 in the interest of uniformity. The last selection here is technically the first pick of the second round.

    Across the board, we're going "best player available." It almost always seems like a mistake when a team prioritizes fit over talent, so we'll avoid it. And because there simply aren't any franchise talents in this class, there's no sense in worrying about roster balance.

    Let's see if we can put a more sensible order to one of the worst draft classes in memory.

1. New Jersey Nets: Michael Redd

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    Know how many players from the 2000 draft made an All-NBA team in their careers?

    One. And you're looking at him.

    Michael Redd's career featured some lofty highs, but circumstances beyond his control limited his prime. He came into the league behind Ray Allen on the Milwaukee Bucks' depth chart, a particularly tough spot for a player whose primary skill, outside shooting, was the exact one that made Allen a Hall of Famer. Every shooter comes up wanting in a one-to-one comparison with prime Ray Allen.

    Once he got a chance to play, though, the lefty gunner excelled.

    Notable for a shooting stroke you'd never teach (the ball often got behind Redd's head before his catapult-style release), the 6'6" guard set the NBA record for most three-pointers made in a fourth quarter. He drilled eight treys as a reserve against the Houston Rockets in 2002.

    From 2003-04 to 2008-09, Redd averaged at least 21 points per game, peaking with an average of 26.7 in 2006-07. He was an All-Star and an All-NBA third-teamer in 2003-04.

    If that seems like a modest list of achievements for a top pick in a re-draft, note that Redd has the top two (and four of the top nine) individual seasons produced by members of his class, as measured by box plus-minus.

    Knee injuries began midway through 2008-09 and recurred over the final three seasons of Redd's career, limiting him to a total of 79 games and preventing him from ever regaining his scoring prowess.

    A career 38.0 percent shooter from deep who fired away at high volume long before the three-point revolution made it cool, Redd tops all 2000 draftees in BPM and win shares per 48 minutes. He didn't have the staying power of others in this group, but he provided the most value during his short peak.

           

    Actual Pick: Kenyon Martin

    Redd's Actual Draft Slot: 43rd, Milwaukee Bucks

2. Vancouver Grizzlies: Mike Miller

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    Mike Miller is the best pure shooter in this—or almost any other—draft class.

    One of nine players in NBA history with at least 3,900 long-range attempts and a 40 percent conversion rate, the 6'8" small forward won a pair of rings as a role player late in his career with the Miami Heat, but he also got some hardware early.

    He was this class' Rookie of the Year.

    Miller was more than a three-point specialist. Surprising mid-range craft and an underrated passing eye meant he could be counted on as a secondary facilitator in his prime. Miller handed out 14 assists in two different games with the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2006-07 season and averaged a career-best 4.5 dimes with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2008-09.

    Though he was never an All-Star, Miller's no-fuss game was portable. Every team needs lights-out shooting and capable playmaking from the wing.

    Though there's no official stat to prove it, it also seems fair to assume he's the only guy to ever hit a three in the Finals while wearing only one shoe.

           

    Actual Pick: Stromile Swift

    Miller's Actual Draft Slot: Fifth, Orlando Magic

3. Los Angeles Clippers: Hedo Turkoglu

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    Hedo Turkoglu leads all players in his class with 63.3 win shares, but he slips to third because Redd and Miller possessed an elite skill (scoring and shooting, respectively). Still, this is a nice climb from Turkoglu's real-life draft slot at No. 16.

    With 26,695 minutes and 11,022 career points (both third-best in the 2000 class), Turkoglu's game was built to last. It may have also been the most well-rounded of any of his peers. His 2007-08 season, which earned him the league's Most Improved Player award, featured averages of 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists.

    No other player in this class averaged at least 19, five and five in any season.

    Though never a real difference-maker defensively, Turkoglu was passable on that end. And at 6'10", he boasted ball-handling and playmaking skills few players his size could match. His prime seasons came with the Orlando Magic, who reached the Finals in 2008-09 and deserve credit for nudging the NBA toward four-out sets several years before those looks became fashionable.

           

    Actual Pick: Darius Miles

    Turkoglu's Actual Draft Slot: 16th, Sacramento Kings

4. Chicago Bulls: Kenyon Martin

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    Kenyon Martin was a starter on the New Jersey Nets' back-to-back Finals teams in 2002 and 2003, bringing serious athleticism to the frontcourt and thriving in a transition attack led by Jason Kidd.

    A lone All-Star season in 2003-04 saw K-Mart average 16.7 points and 9.5 rebounds. And though he generally graded out as a positive defensively, the highlight-heavy style that defined his rim protection always made it seem like his impact was much greater.

    Watching Martin slam opponents' shots against the board or dismissively catch them with both hands never gets old.

    Nobody in the 2000 class blocked more shots or grabbed more boards than Martin did, but his inefficient scoring ultimately prevented him from maintaining a top-three spot. Had he been an All-Defensive option (rather than merely a solid one for a few years), it would have been easier to overlook that underwhelming 51.3 career true shooting percentage that ranks 21st in the class.

           

    Actual Pick: Marcus Fizer

    Martin's Actual Draft Slot: First, New Jersey Nets

5. Orlando Magic: Jamal Crawford

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    This is the first instance in which a team from the 2000 draft would rather have its actual pick than the one that fell to it in the re-draft, as Jamal Crawford would have been less valuable to the Orlando Magic than Mike Miller was at No. 5.

    Still, Crawford, a walking bucket, can't fall any lower than this.

    Of the six 50-point games registered by players picked in 2000, Crawford had four of them.

    While it's true the three-time Sixth Man of the Year's career was defined by high-volume, low-efficiency (some would call it empty) scoring, you just can't look past his 19,414 points. The closest 2000 draftee in that category is Redd, and he ended his career with 11,972 points.

    A 19-year career also helped Crawford easily lead his classmates with 4,538 assists. Turkoglu is second with just 2,832 helpers.

    Most of Crawford's selling points depend on his longevity, which isn't really a consideration for teams when drafting rookies. No organization operates on a two-decade timeline.

    If you want to slot Crawford lower than this, there'd be justifications for it. He has a negative BPM for his career, and his teams got outscored when he was on the floor in 14 of his 19 seasons.

    But we've already established how unproductive this class was, and Crawford's career achievements prove he had in-demand talent for a long, long time.

           

    Actual Pick: Mike Miller

    Crawford's Actual Draft Slot: Eighth, Cleveland Cavaliers (traded to Chicago Bulls)

6. Atlanta Hawks: Quentin Richardson

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    Quentin Richardson was never an All-Star, but he provided reliable scoring and spacing for the better part of a decade.

    He led the league with 631 three-point attempts in 2004-05 as a member of the Phoenix Suns, benefitting from head coach Mike D'Antoni's permanent green light and the setups of MVP point guard Steve Nash. Though 631 long-range tries looks like a quaint total now, it was the third-highest in history when Richardson did it.

    He tied Kyle Korver for the league lead with 226 makes that year.

    A rugged 6'6" swingman, Richardson also threw his weight around on the boards. His 10.1 percent rebound rate ranks first among guards and swingmen in the 2000 class.

    The next couple of selections could occupy this spot, but neither of them popularized the double-head-tap celebration after made threes. That distinction earns Richardson the edge here—along with his 8.5 value over replacement player figure, which ranks an appropriate sixth in this class.

         

    Actual Pick: DerMarr Johnson

    Richardson's Actual Draft Slot: 18th, Los Angeles Clippers

7. Chicago Bulls: Morris Peterson

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    Morris Peterson climbs 14 spots from his real-life draft position and earns the less significant (but still fun) distinction of ranking second among lefties picked in 2000.

    Though he was never on Redd's level as a scorer, Mo Pete has his fellow southpaw licked in the buzzer-beater department.

    Peterson's three-point heave on March 30, 2007, against the Washington Wizards still stands out as one of the most improbable late-game answered prayers in recent memory. If you can watch that clip 13 years later and avoid yelling "Michael Ruffin, what are you doing?!" you're a better person than I am.

    An All-Rookie selection, Peterson went on to average double figures in scoring four times, topping out with a career-best average of 16.8 points per game in 2005-06.

    He ranks eighth among 2000 draftees in points, sixth in made threes and fourth in steals. His career 49.5 effective field-goal percentage is fourth among players in his class who attempted at least 6,000 shots.

           

    Actual Pick: Chris Mihm (traded to Cavaliers)

    Peterson's Actual Draft Slot: 21st, Toronto Raptors

8: Cleveland Cavaliers: Jamaal Magloire

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    If you know anything about Jamaal Magloire, there's a good chance it's that he's regarded as one of the least impressive All-Star selections in a long time.

    That doesn't matter so much here, as the 6'11" center's All-Star nod in 2003-04 stands out as the last one we'll see in this class. Redd made it twice, Martin made it once, and Magloire is the third and final 2000 draftee on that very short list.

    His averages of 13.6 points and 10.3 rebounds that season were both career bests, and he amassed them in an era during which conventional centers still mattered. 

    The 2000 Cavaliers clearly prized help at the 5 considering they dealt Jamal Crawford for Chris Mihm on draft night, so the fit here lines up perfectly. Even if positional needs weren't a concern (which they almost never will be in our re-draft), Magloire is the best player left on the board. He lasted a dozen seasons, started 82 games three different times and, again: All-Star!

    From here, we're trafficking in journeymen, washouts and talented prospects who didn't reach their potential.

                

    Actual Pick: Jamal Crawford (traded to Bulls)

    Magloire's Actual Draft Slot: 19th, Charlotte Hornets

9. Houston Rockets: Darius Miles

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    Based on production, Darius Miles doesn't belong this high.

    But we've exhausted the 2000 draft class' store of stars, and we're almost out of serviceable starters. So now's the time to take a risk, and nobody in this class had more upside than Miles, who, at the time, was the highest-drafted high school player ever.

    Maybe if a team other than the Donald Sterling-owned Los Angeles Clippers had drafted Miles, things would have turned out differently. By his own account, going from high school in Saint Louis to immediate stardom in Los Angeles was too much for him. Perhaps an alternate past would have produced a longer career and a brighter future.

    Knee troubles ended Miles' career at age 24, notwithstanding a brief, unsuccessful comeback attempt in Memphis when he was 27. But before he broke down, Miles' talent was undeniable.

    A rangy 6'9" small forward with supreme athleticism, length and a bottomless reservoir of raw skill, Miles was an All-Rookie first-teamer with averages of 9.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. He was part of a true phenomenon in L.A., cultivating a nationwide fan base by playing a flashy, uptempo style that produced a torrent of highlights.

    Let's never forget this one.

    Miles and Kenyon Martin are the only players drafted in 2000 to average at least one block and one steal for an entire season, and though injury and immaturity prevented him from delivering on his potential, the former showed flashes like few others in this class.

    He scored a career-high 47 points with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2004-05 and blocked eight shots in a game as a rookie.

    Actual Pick: Joel Przybilla (traded to Bucks)

    Miles' Actual Draft Slot: Third, Los Angeles Clippers

10. Orlando Magic: Desmond Mason

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    Desmond Mason couldn't shoot. At all.

    He hit 66 threes in 643 games and never converted more than 30 percent of his deep shots in any season. He made up for that with a useful combination of athleticism and an attack mentality, which not only led to plenty of highlights but, more importantly, also yielded frequent trips to the foul line.

    Mason ranks fourth in his class with 1,839 made free throws. When you can't juice your scoring efficiency by hitting shots worth three points, racking up foul shots is the next best thing.

    Though he didn't contribute much in the passing, rebounding or defensive departments, Mason averaged at least 10 points per game for six straight years in his prime. He also participated in the dunk contest three times, winning it in 2001.

    A strict two-foot jumper (think Jason Richardson with 20 percent less bounce), Mason was among the league's best lob finishers of the early 2000s.

           

    Actual Pick: Keyon Dooling (traded to Clippers)

    Mason's Actual Draft Slot: 17th, Seattle SuperSonics

Late Lottery

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    11. Boston Celtics: Eddie House

    House could have easily gone ahead of Mason at No. 10, as his lone skill, three-point shooting, made him a valuable piece of winning teams later in his career. He shot 39.3 percent from deep and played 78 games for the 2007-08 Celtics, who won that year's title. Mike Miller is the only qualified 2000 draftee with a higher career three-point percentage than House's 39.0 percent mark.

    Though one of the worst ball-handlers to ever man the point, House's release was as quick as they come. That's how he lasted 11 seasons.

           

    12. Dallas Mavericks: Stromile Swift

    If only to protect Dirk Nowitzki from this posterization, the Mavs have good reason to snag Swift here, 10 spots lower than his actual selection in 2000. Mason may have the longest dunk reel in this class, but Swift has the most impressive jams. 

    A true head-at-the-rim leaper, Swift, perhaps out of boredom, could windmill from a standstill underneath the basket. He punctuated his jams with a signature "birdman" celebration. Bonus points for that.

    Swift ranked 13th in points, ninth in rebounds and third in total blocks among players picked in 2000. He and Joel Przybilla are the only 2000 selections with four seasons of at least 1.5 blocks per game.

            

    13. Orlando Magic: Eduardo Najera

    There's no shortage of contrast between Swift's unpolished athleticism and Najera's gritty work on the margins. Taken 38th in the real-life 2000 draft by Houston, Najera joins Michael Redd as a second-rounder who vaulted into the first round of our do-over.

    The second Mexican-born player drafted into the NBA, Najera never averaged more than 6.7 points per game and only started 85 of the 619 contests he played. But because he was always willing to defend, take charges and compete right up to the edge of sportsmanship, he managed to amass the ninth-most win shares in his class.

           

    14. Detroit Pistons: Joel Przybilla

    We close out the lottery portion of the re-draft by taking the best nickname available. Good luck topping Vanilla Gorilla.

    Przybilla originally went ninth to the Rockets, but he started his career with Milwaukee following a draft-day trade. He played his best ball for the Blazers, scoring little but obstructing opposing drivers in the lane and competing ruggedly on the glass. A starter for the better part of eight seasons with Portland, Przybilla averaged 7.1 boards and 1.5 blocks during his time there.

    His 13-year career ties him for fifth-longest in the class.

Nos. 15-20

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    15. Milwaukee Bucks: Brian Cardinal

    Cardinal actually came off the board 44th to the Pistons, so this is a substantial jump for the 12-year dirty-work specialist. Actually, that characterization undersells Cardinal a bit as he shot 37.2 percent from long range for his career, a figure bolstered by five separate seasons in which he hit better than 40 percent on threes.

    Cardinal parlayed solid counting stats in a career-high 76 games with the 2003-04 Warriors into a six-year, $37 million deal with the Grizzlies. Though that contract made the "overpaid" label stick with Cardinal for much of his career, he never had trouble snagging fringe rotation minutes. He was even a useful piece on the Mavs' championship bench in 2010-11.

    Also, we may have jumped the gun in crowning Przybilla the nickname champ. Cardinal was known as the Janitor because his constant dives on the floor polished up the hardwood to a pristine shine.

           

    16. Sacramento Kings: DeShawn Stevenson

    A second straight 2010-11 champ, Stevenson deserves immense credit for the evolutionary arc of his career. He came into the league out of high school with the ample swagger, minimal court sense and awful shot selection you'd expect from a prospect with lots of AAU and little seasoning in his background. In his fourth season, he took an incomprehensible 55.2 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet.

    To Stevenson's credit, he was a pretty good shooter on long twos. But those were still low-efficiency shots, even back then.

    By the end of his career, all he did was fire threes and defend. Stevenson, who ranks ninth in his class in total minutes and points and fourth in games played, hung around because he embraced a grimy, role-playing identity. That's a change few prep-to-pro draftees succeed in making.

            

    17. Seattle Sonics: Keyon Dooling

    Dooling played 728 games in his career, by far the most among 2000 draftees who were never full-time starters. He lasted a remarkable 13 seasons because he was always a respected voice on the bench and in the locker room. Though he never scored more than 25 points in a game, Dooling's energy and reliable decision-making made him a staple of potent bench units on a half-dozen teams.

            

    18. Los Angeles Clippers: Marko Jaric

    Jaric only lasted seven seasons in the league, which may be why it seems like his smooth shooting and intuitive playmaking have been too easy to forget. He was a ball hawk on defense, too, gambling his way into a career steal rate of 2.8 percent, the highest of any 2000 draftee with at least 400 games on his resume.

    Jaric averaged 9.9 points, 6.1 assists and 1.7 steals in 2004-05 while shooting 37.1 percent from deep. That was his best season, but his other six years generally featured a similar combination of long-range accuracy, decent passing and opportunistic defense.

    Also, he checked into a game with his jersey on backward one time. That doesn't affect his draft stock, but it seemed worth mentioning. Another weird note: We finally got a guy onto the team that actually drafted him. Jaric went to the Clips with the No. 30 pick in 2000.

             

    19. Charlotte Hornets: Etan Thomas

    If you remember Thomas, 6'9" out of Syracuse, it's probably because his rookie season with the Washington Wizards was also the first year some guy named Michael Jordan joined the team. Over the next three seasons, Thomas proved to be a heady, high-energy big who topped out at 8.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 2003-04.

    Though extremely limited offensively, Thomas converted the few shots he took at a high rate. His 51.3 field-goal percentage trails only Przybilla in the 2000 class.

            

    20. Philadephia 76ers: Speedy Claxton

    By pure coincidence, Claxton ends up with the same team via the same pick that landed him on the Sixers 20 years ago. Maybe the fleet-of-foot Hofstra guard was fated to be in Philly.

    A nonexistent three-point shot limited his effectiveness, but Claxton's value over replacement player ranks 10th in the class, partly because he was such a prolific thief. In the three-season span from 2003-04 to 2005-06, he was one of 13 players to average at least 10.0 points, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Most of the other guys on that list were multi-time All-Stars.

    He played for five teams in his first six seasons before knee injuries struck in 2007.

Nos. 21-30

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    21. Toronto Raptors: Chris Mihm

    Mihm falls a long way from his actual No. 7 slot with the Bulls, but outside of two straight years as the full-time starting center for the Lakers, his career was short on accomplishments. Still, his run from 2004-05 to 2005-06 (10.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks on 50.4 percent shooting from the field) is more than enough to get him on the board here.

           

    22. New York Knicks: Jason Hart

    Hart played for nine teams in 10 seasons, not including his stop in Greece along the way. His best year was 2004-05 when he averaged 9.5 points and 5.0 assists in 74 games with the Charlotte Bobcats. He set single-game career highs with 21 points (March 23, 2005) and 15 assists (Dec. 21, 2004) that season.

    23. Utah Jazz: DerMarr Johnson

    There's an alternate timeline in which Johnson doesn't suffer a neck injury in a 2002 car crash, and he goes on to have a long, highly productive NBA career. That injury cost him the entire 2002-03 season, and though it's remarkable Johnson came back to play 194 games from 2003-04 to 2007-08, it's still hard to avoid thinking about what might have been.

    A rangy 6'9", Johnson had a perimeter-oriented game and wasn't shy from deep. He hit 36.0 percent of his long-range shots in his second season. 

           

    24. Chicago Bulls: Primoz Brezec

    Though he couldn't get on the floor in his first three seasons with the Pacers, Brezec blossomed once the Bobcats took him in the expansion draft prior to the 2004-05 season.

    He averaged 13.0 points and 7.4 rebounds in his first year with Charlotte, then he backed that up with 12.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in 2005-06. Though he played parts of four subsequent seasons, those two years represented the entirety of Brezec's time as a productive center.

    25. Phoenix Suns: Jake Voskuhl

    The Suns didn't actually draft the UConn center, but Voskuhl spent the majority of his career and had his best seasons in Phoenix. So this one works out.

    Never shy about delivering contact underneath, Voskuhl picked up 6.5 fouls per 36 minutes in his career, the most of any player in this class (among those who saw action in at least 100 games). His 54.4 career true shooting percentage was sixth among 2000 draftees.

    It speaks to the value of big bodies when a player averages 4.0 points per game and sticks around for nine seasons.

           

    26. Denver Nuggets: Marcus Fizer

    Fizer's best season was his second with the Bulls when he averaged 12.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 76 games. Picked fourth overall in reality, he slides a long way here. Chicago was better with him on the floor in three of his four seasons there, but a torn ACL turned him into a journeyman following the 2003-04 campaign, landing him on the Bucks and Hornets before a globetrotting international career.

           

    27. Indiana Pacers: Mark Madsen

    Madsen spent his entire nine-year career on the deep bench, posting 10 double-digit scoring games in total. The 6'9" forward won rings with the Lakers in 2001 and 2002 and would have been picked first if unintentionally hilarious dancing had been among the re-draft criteria.

    28. Portland Trail Blazers: Courtney Alexander

    Alexander had the shortest career of anyone in this re-draft, concluding his NBA days at age 25 after just three seasons and 187 games.

    There was no denying his ability to get a bucket after he led the country in scoring for Fresno State in 1999-00, and he proved his point production translated to the NBA when he averaged 17.0 points in 27 games following a midseason trade to the Wizards in 2000-01. That hot stretch helped the 6'5" guard rank sixth in total points scored among rookies in 2000-01, but he was still out of the league by 2003.

    29. Los Angeles Lakers: Jake Tsakalidis

    The 7'2" Tsakalidas averaged 4.8 points and 3.9 rebounds for his career and was the starting center for some intriguing (and mostly forgotten) Suns teams that included Stephon Marbury, Anfernee Hardaway, Joe Johnson and a young Shawn Marion. He actually started over fellow Jake (Voskuhl).

    From 2001-02 to 2002-03, Phoenix had over 14 feet of Jake in the middle. That has to be a record.

    Voskuhl lasted two more years than Tsakalidis, but you could probably swap their re-draft slots without anyone noticing.

           

    30. Los Angeles Clippers: Mateen Cleaves

    Perhaps this is a sentimental pick as Cleaves only lasted six years and never topped the 5.4 points he averaged as a rookie with the Pistons. But the pass-first point guard deserves recognition for leading Michigan State to the 2000 national title and helping put Flint, Michigan, on the map as fertile ground for tough-minded hoopers. 

    The notoriously wild 2000-01 Clippers could have used the steadying presence of a decorated collegiate floor general.