Re-Drafting the 2005 NBA Draft Class

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 13, 2020

Re-Drafting the 2005 NBA Draft Class

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    The 2005 NBA draft produced an all-time-great point guard, one of the best modern wings nobody remembers and a pair of smallish gunners who lit up arenas right out of high school.

    Too bad they all came off the board in the wrong order.

    We'll fix that by reorganizing the 2005 draft, taking the best player available at each slot. Roster fit doesn't matter here; prioritizing positional needs never works out anyway. The new top 30 will consider a player's peak years along with his longevity, and we're going to pretend as if the team gets its pick's full-career services.

    This class is heavy on conventional point guards and non-stretch bigs, which helps convey just how different the league's priorities were 15 years ago. With the benefit of hindsight, let's get everybody into their proper draft slots.

1. Milwaukee Bucks: Chris Paul

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    Chris Paul didn't need a renaissance season with the Oklahoma City Thunder to solidify his case as one of the greatest point guards of all time, but his excellent 2019-20 underscores how much better he's been than the rest of his draft class.

    Win shares aren't a perfect stat, but consider this: CP3's 8.1 win shares in this, his age-34 season, represent a higher total than all but four players in the 2005 draft amassed in any season of their careers. Basically, a 34-year-old Paul is better now than almost any of his contemporaries ever were.

    He's first among 2005 picks in total points, assists and steals. His 10 All-Star nods are more than the rest of the 2005 class has combined. He's got more than twice as many career win shares as his next-closest draftmate, and he's head and shoulders above the field in box plus-minus and Value Over Replacement Player.

    If you take every season played by a 2005 draftee and sort it by descending box plus-minus, Paul occupies the top 13 spots.

    An eight-time All-NBA honoree with nine seasons deemed worthy of the All-Defensive team, Paul was Rookie of the Year in 2005-06, led the league in steals six times, led the league in assists four times and is the only player in NBA history to average at least 18.0 points, 9.0 assists and 2.0 steals for his career. 

    There is no remotely credible argument for taking anyone over the Point God. That'd actually be true of most drafts, but it's shockingly obvious in this one. He's orders of magnitude better than anyone selected in 2005.

                    

    Actual Pick: Andrew Bogut

    Paul's Actual Draft Slot:  4th, New Orleans Hornets

2. Atlanta Hawks: Deron Williams

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    When Deron Williams was averaging at least 18.0 points and 10.0 assists in each season from 2007-08 until 2010-11, it wasn't completely ridiculous to ask if he was as good as Chris Paul. Though D-Will didn't sustain his peak play beyond 2011-12 (while Paul stayed a superstar for nearly another decade), that strong run made him the rare 2005 pick to even temporarily approach CP3's level.

    Strong enough to power through contact and equipped with early-career springs that produced loads of above-the-rim highlights, Williams could also reduce opposing guards to ash with a filthy crossover package.

    Though inconsistent from deep in his first few seasons, Williams settled in as a solid three-point shooter, finishing his career at 35.7 percent.

    Williams earned his reputation as a difficult player to manage and was reduced to a perimeter shooter by injuries later in his career, so he lacks the intangibles and longevity you'd ideally want in a pick this high. But his prime years were stellar, marked by three All-Star Games and All-NBA second-team nods in 2007-08 and 2009-10.

                 

    Actual Pick: Marvin Williams

    Williams' Actual Draft Slot: 3rd, Utah Jazz

3. Utah Jazz: Danny Granger

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    Danny Granger's 586 career games rank 21st among players picked in 2005, but the quality of his best years more than makes up for a lack of quantity.

    Granger had the best non-CP3 season of anyone in this class. That year was 2008-09, when the 25-year-old wing averaged 25.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.0 steal per game. Granger earned an All-Star berth that year, not to mention Most Improved Player.

    He shot 38.2 percent from deep in 2006-07, 40.4 percent in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and turned in three more years over 36.0 percent before injuries struck in 2012. From that point on, Granger was never the same, and his career came to an end in 2014-15 after three seasons of obviously diminished mobility and single-digit scoring averages.

    Monta Ellis is the only 2005 pick with more years averaging at least 20.0 points per game, and Granger has two of the three seasons in which a 2005 selection averaged at least a block and a steal. The complete lack of quality wings in this draft further elevates Granger's value.

    He's this class' ultimate "here for a good time, not a long time" talent.

                 

    Actual Pick: Deron Williams

    Granger's Actual Draft Slot: 17th, Indiana Pacers 

4. New Orleans Hornets: Andrew Bogut

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    There are more accomplished scorers in this class, and there are several bigs with better box-score numbers, but Andrew Bogut is the best defensive center available. Most probably forget he also had a strikingly complete two-way game before freak injuries sapped his scoring touch.

    He averaged between 11.3 and 15.9 points per game from 2006-07 until 2011-12, pairing his points with excellent court vision. Later in his career, he'd operate as the elbow hub of some early-dynasty Golden State Warriors attacks.

    An All-Rookie first-team selection, Bogut also made the All-NBA third team in 2009-10 and All-Defensive second team in 2014-15. The advanced metrics suggest he deserved more hardware.

    Bogut ranked fifth in the entire NBA in ESPN's Defensive Real Plus-Minus in 2013-14, second in 2014-15 and first in 2015-16. A decade into his career, the Australian center was among the league's elite defensive difference-makers. 

    Intuitive, always in the right help position and this class' leader with 1,091 career blocks, Bogut is also one of only two players selected in 2005 with at least 6,000 rebounds and 1,500 assists.

                    

    Actual Pick: Chris Paul

    Bogut's Actual Draft Slot: 1st, Milwaukee Bucks 

5. Charlotte Bobcats: David Lee

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    David Lee didn't play much defense during his career, perfecting the art of performatively clapping and calling out directions as his team changed ends of the floor, only to turn into a matador when the opposing offense's action came his way.

    Offensively, though, Lee was a force.

    Technically a lefty but ambidextrous around the basket, Lee had a bevy of short hooks and up-and-under moves at his disposal. He had great hands as a roller and made an early-career living cleaning up messes around the rim. He topped 20 points per game twice and finished his career at 13.5 overall‚ÄĒsixth-highest¬†among players picked in 2005.

    Capable of distributing from the elbows and a quality mid-range shooter (insofar as there's ever quality in such shots) for much of his time with the Warriors, Lee collected a pair of All-Star trips and landed on the 2012-13 All-NBA third team.

    He's this class' leader in total rebounds and is easily the highest-ranked big man in assists, sitting eighth overall with 1,825 helpers over his 12-year career. Don't sleep on his athleticism, either. Lee was a high school dunk champ, even if James White was robbed.

    It's true the Warriors unlocked their full potential when Draymond Green took an injured Lee's starting spot before the 2014-15 season, but let's not use that as a condemnation of a darn good player.

                 

    Actual Pick: Raymond Felton

    Lee's Actual Draft Slot: 30th, New York Knicks 

6. Portland Trail Blazers: Andrew Bynum

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    The younger set will remember Andrew Bynum best for his series of evolving hairstyles during an injury-wiped 2012-13 campaign. Before that, he was one of the league's most promising centers.

    Snagged out of high school by the Lakers, Bynum was an All-Star-caliber conventional 5 by the time he turned 20. That year, 2007-08, he averaged 13.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks while posting a 65.9 true shooting percentage. He only stayed healthy for 35 games in that breakout campaign, perhaps a portent that injury would define his brief career. He suited up for all 82 games in 2006-07 but never played more than 65 after that.

    Still, he was a starter for two Lakers championship teams, and he upgraded from aforesaid All-Star-caliber status to the real deal in 2011-12 when he averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 boards and 1.9 blocks in a career-high 35.2 minutes per contest. Those numbers were also good enough for an All-NBA second-team nod.

    Shipped out in the four-team megadeal that brought Dwight Howard to L.A. (the first time) in 2012, Bynum's career was effectively over upon exiting Los Angeles. He missed all of 2012-13 and played a total of 52 more contests until hanging it up for good in 2014 at age 26.

    His career average of 1.6 blocks per game narrowly edges Bogut's 1.5 for the class lead, and Bynum's 7.7 rebounds are fourth among 2005 picks. It's hard to rank an injury-hit, high-end complementary player this high (Granger is different; he was a No. 1 option), but most teams would gladly take Bynum here knowing he could contribute as a starter on a title winner and dominate the lane as long as he was healthy.

                      

    Actual Pick: Martell Webster

    Bynum's Actual Draft Slot: 10th, Los Angeles Lakers

7. Toronto Raptors: Lou Williams

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    It's remarkable that Lou Williams' post-30 seasons elevate his re-draft status more than anything he did as a younger player.

    Always a spark off the bench, Williams' four best scoring years (as measured by points per 36 minutes) have all come since 2016. Chris Paul is this class' best example of sustaining a high level of play as advanced age sets in, but Williams is unique in improving at a stage where most of his fellow 2005 picks are either out of the league or barely hanging on.

    Williams and defense have remained unacquainted for the entirety of his 15-year career, and a willingness to take difficult shots (and make them more often than most) limits his efficiency. He's eighth in true shooting percentage among the 21 picks from 2005 who scored at least 5,000 career points.

    Still, it's hard to find volume point-producers with Lou-Will's consistency. He's been a double-figure scorer every year since 2007-08.

    The three-time Sixth Man of the Year winner is a foul-drawing savant, and once he gets moving to his left, that leaning fallaway jumper is basically unstoppable.

    At No. 7, you could do a lot worse than a decade-plus of bankable scoring to keep your second unit afloat.

                    

    Actual Pick: Charlie Villanueva

    Williams' Actual Draft Slot: 45th, Philadelphia 76ers

8. New York Knicks: Marvin Williams

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    Marvin Williams slips six spots from his actual position in 2005, and his inclusion here ahead of a handful of superior scorers and players with higher peaks is a victory for solid over spectacular.

    The 6'8" forward never averaged more than the 14.8 points per game he scored with the Hawks in 2007-08, but Williams has posted nine double-figure scoring seasons in all. Only Paul, Deron Williams and Lou Williams have more. A versatile, trustworthy, intelligent frontcourt defender, Williams was never a high block or steal producer. But he tended to be where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there.

    The addition of a credible three-point shot midway through his career gave Williams additional value, as did the league's embrace of undersized power forwards with wing skills. He shot over 40 percent from deep in two different years, and was above 35 percent nine times.

    Let's not forget durability. Williams has the most career games of anyone picked in 2005, and only Paul has more starts on his resume.

    It's not a coincidence that the East-leading Milwaukee Bucks snapped Williams up in the buyout market before the season was suspended. The 15-year vet still has a few things to offer good teams in a limited role.

                 

    Actual Pick: Channing Frye

    Williams' Actual Draft Slot: 2nd, Atlanta Hawks 

9. Golden State Warriors: Monta Ellis

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    The Warriors get their man 31 picks earlier than they did in 2005, when they took Monta Ellis out of Lanier High School at No. 40 overall.

    Ellis was raw speed personified, fitting for a guy nicknamed the Mississippi Bullet, and he tantalized fans with defensive hustle in his very earliest games. That tenacity seemed tied to Ellis' attempt to prove he belonged, and once he established himself as a high-volume scorer in his second season, he was an offense-only player.

    Slithery in the open floor, explosive at the rim and incredibly smooth when pulling up from mid-range, the 6'3" guard was at his best when catching the ball on the move. His instincts and athletic burst made him a dynamic bucket-getter, even if efficiency was never his forte.

    Ellis topped 20.0 points per game four times and had four more seasons with scoring averages between 18.9 and 19.2 points. He owns five of the 12 highest single-game scoring totals produced by 2005 draftees.

    He shot just 31.4 percent from deep over his 12-year career and never developed contact-drawing skills (he was so balletic in the air that Ellis had good reason to believe he was better served trying to finish than get fouled), which is why his 52.3 true shooting percentage ranks 29th among the 35 players picked in 2005 who took at least 1,000 career shots.

    All those points (Ellis is second to Paul in career scoring for the 2005 class) were basically empty calories, but few players in this group were more aesthetically exciting than Ellis.

                        

    Actual Pick: Ike Diogu

    Ellis' Actual Draft Slot: 40th, Golden State Warriors 

10. Los Angeles Lakers: Raymond Felton

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    Raymond Felton and Chris Paul are the only guys from this class with at least 10,000 points, 5,000 assists and 1,000 steals in their careers.

    Never a star like CP3, Felton spent the first nine years of his career as a mid-tier starting point guard (which isn't intended as an insult) before sliding into a reserve role over the last five seasons. His best work came in 2010-11, when he split time between the Knicks and Nuggets, finishing with averages of 15.5 points and 8.3 assists while shooting a respectable 35.3 percent on threes.

    Coincidentally, Felton's best career game came against Ellis' Warriors in 2010. He put up 35 points, 11 assists and four steals on 13-of-17 shooting, producing a 125-119 Knicks win, despite 40 points from Ellis.

    Fifth in total minutes and third in assists among players picked in 2005, Felton proved he could run a team for the bulk of a decade. That'll do at No. 10 overall.

                   

    Actual Pick: Andrew Bynum

    Felton's Actual Draft Slot: 5th, Charlotte Bobcats 

Late Lottery

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    11. Orlando Magic: Marcin Gortat

    Gortat started his career as Dwight Howard's backup in Orlando but proved he was a quality starter in his first crack at the gig for the 2011-12 Phoenix Suns, averaging 15.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks during the 66-game season that followed the 2011 lockout.

    He's probably best remembered for his work in Washington as John Wall's pick-and-roll partner. Either that, or for having the A-plus nickname "Polish Hammer." Gortat put up per-game averages of 11.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks on 55.5 percent shooting in five seasons with the Wizards, playing one more year with the Clippers in 2018-19 before retiring.

    The advanced stats love him; Gortat is sixth among 2005 draftees with 61.3 win shares, and he ranks seventh in VORP. This is as high as we can go with a paint-bound conventional center who didn't dominate defensively, though.

                    

    12. Los Angeles Clippers: Ersan Ilyasova

    One of the preeminent charge-drawers of his era, Ilyasova's opportunistic position defense and career 36.6 percent hit rate from deep are the reasons he was still a rotation player on a dominant Bucks team before the 2019-20 season shut down.

    The 6'9" forward was especially accurate from distance earlier in his career, when he was pickier about his shots. He drilled 45.5 percent of his threes in 2011-12 and then hit 44.4 percent of them the following season. Those are the two most accurate three-point shooting seasons produced by a 2005 draftee (filtered to include seasons in which the player attempted at least 100 triples).

                 

    13. Charlotte Bobcats: Channing Frye

    There's a case to be made for Frye going ahead of Ilyasova‚ÄĒone based mostly on the fact that Frye is this class' most accurate three-point shooter. His career mark of 38.8 percent looks even better coming from a big man who blocked 540 shots, seventh-most in the class.

    Swats aside, Frye wasn't as valuable defensively as Ilyasova. And even if Frye also has the ring (2015-16 with the Cavs) Ilyasova doesn't, the Turkish forward tops him in career points, rebounds and assists per game. The capper: Ilyasova had 9.3 more win shares than Frye. That makes up for the fact that Frye was regarded as the more dangerous outside shooter.

                  

    14. Minnesota Timberwolves: Amir Johnson

    Johnson is fifth in rebounds and third in blocks among players picked in 2005, and his league-leading 301 personal fouls in 2012-13 give you an idea of his comfort with physicality around the rim. 

    A dependent offensive player (about two-thirds of his career field goals were assisted) who took 52.0 percent of his shots inside three feet, Johnson was a low-maintenance, high-efficiency finisher who consistently made his teams better on defense‚ÄĒsignificantly so in his best years with the Pistons and Raptors.

    The career highlight reel is short, but Johnson was a reliable starting big who handled the important dirty work for 14 seasons.

15-20

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    15. New Jersey Nets: CJ Miles

    Miles developed into a high-volume three-point shooter in his late 20s with the Pacers, mostly propping up second units by sprinting off screens and firing quick-trigger lefty darts. He averaged a career-best 13.5 points per game in 2014-15 and striped 41.3 percent of his treys in 2016-17.

    Though he was mostly ineffective and inefficient before and after his mid-career surge, Miles was a real weapon for a solid five-year stretch.

                      

    16. Toronto Raptors: Brandon Bass

    Ninth among 2005 picks in total rebounds and 11th with a 49.9 career field-goal percentage, Bass banged bodies around on defense for a dozen seasons split between New Orleans, Dallas, Orlando, Boston and both Los Angeles teams. 

    Lacking interior craft, Bass compensated by shooting an uncommonly high percentage on short and mid-range jumpers. He attempted over half of his career shots between 10 feet and the arc, ranking above the 90th percentile among bigs in mid-range frequency several times in his career.

    Good thing he was also accurate on those ill-favored jumpers. 

                 

    17. Indiana Pacers: Jarrett Jack

    This must be the mid-range section of the re-draft as Jack, like Bass above him, was also a fan of the long two. He took 26.7 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet, hitting 42.8 percent of them. That small step back beyond the arc was a big one for the 13-year vet, though. He shot just 34.3 percent from deep.

    Jack was a smart, professional lead guard who racked up five seasons with at least 10.0 points and 5.0 assists per game, despite coming off the bench in 468 of his 867 carer games. Paul, Williams and Felton are the only players in this class with more than Jack's 3,952 assists.

    If he'd finished this epic demolition of Metta World Peace's ankles, Jack would have one of this class' signature highlights.

       

    18. Boston Celtics: Nate Robinson

    Robinson would go a lot higher if this re-draft were based on entertainment value. From a memorable swat of a stunned Yao Ming to a personal playoff explosion with the Bulls in 2013, the 5'9" Robinson's highlight collection is longer than most players with twice as many career games.

    The 11-year pro averaged double-figure scoring seven times, peaking at 17.2 points per game with the 2008-09 Knicks. He did his best work with the Bulls in 2012-13, though, playing all 82 games and scoring 13.1 points per game while hitting a personal best 40.5 percent from distance.

    Lack of height and length made quality defense impossible for Robinson, and he was far from a born facilitator. But this fire-starter off the bench was always ready with the gas can.

             

    19. Memphis Grizzlies: Charlie Villanueva

    Villanueva was largely a volume scorer, though he seemed on track to remedy that in the middle of his career. During his sixth season, in 2010-11, his three-point attempt rate spiked. Villanueva drilled 125 threes that year, ranking second to draftmate Frye in made triples by players 6'11" or taller.

    Villanueva actually leaned even harder into three-point specialization from that point on, attempting more threes than twos over the final five seasons of his career. But health and declining athleticism sapped his ability to score inside the arc.

    At his best, Villanueva was a dangerous pick-and-pop weapon with enough zip to blow by larger defenders who closed out too aggressively. He never topped the career-best 48-point night he hung on the Bucks in his rookie season. 

               

    20. Denver Nuggets: Gerald Green

    One of the greatest dunkers of all time and a player who extended his career by embracing a catch-and-shoot role with the Rockets in 2017-18 and 2018-19, Green ranks 18th in points, 21st in minutes and 16th in games played by 2005 picks.

    The ultra-springy 6'6" wing has a slam reel few can match. He tossed in-game lobs off the board to himself, put Josh Smith on a poster and has my personal favorite windmill alley-oop finish ever.

    The birthday cake dunk remains the most criminally underrated contest jam of the modern era. What showmanship!

21-30

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    21. Phoenix Suns: Ian Mahinmi

    A backup for the Mavs team that won a ring in 2011 and later a key reserve for Pacers squads that made the conference finals in 2013 and 2014, Mahinmi was among the players dramatically overpaid in the heavy-spending summer of 2016. 

    With career per-36 averages of 11.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, Mahinmi was (and is; he started 35 games for the Wizards in 2019-20) a quality second-string center who might have become more if not for his habit of fouling too often.

                    

    22. Denver Nuggets: Martell Webster

    Portland took Webster, a 6'7" wing out of Seattle Prep, sixth in 2005, gambling that a player with such a pretty stroke and good size would eventually add more to his game. Webster delivered the shooting, draining 38.2 percent of his threes in 580 career games, but he never developed a complete offensive skill set.

    A 24-point quarter against the Jazz in 2008 and a dunk on a young Giannis Antetokounmpo stand out in a career that was mostly spent catching and shooting (and not defending, passing or dribbling).

           

    23. Sacramento Kings: Chuck Hayes

    Hayes is the first and only undrafted player to make the top-30 cut. Apologies to Kelenna Azubuike, who was also under consideration. A bruiser who couldn't be dislodged underneath, the ridiculously undersized 6'6" big man led the league in defensive box plus-minus in 2007-08 and could physically manhandle even the strongest opposing post threats. Just watch him refuse to yield against Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.

    Extremely low usage and inefficient from the field and line, Hayes was an offensive zero. But he was a menace on D.

           

    24. Houston Rockets: Jason Maxiell

    A little like Hayes in that he gave up size to opposing bigs, the 6'7" Maxiell distinguished himself with athleticism the Chuckwagon couldn't dream of. Once or twice a year, the longtime Pistons backup would vault up to the top of the square to reject a shot in shocking fashion.

    Though he only averaged 5.6 points per game, highlight dunks just didn't happen on Maxiell's watch.

              

    25. Seattle Sonics: Andray Blatche

    Blatche averaged a career-high 16.8 points per game in 63 starts for the 2010-11 Wizards and had four other double-digit scoring averages in a nine-year career, but he was never efficient enough to make those points matter. Among the 62 players who averaged at least 15.0 points in that 2010-11 campaign, Blatche's true shooting percentage ranked 59th.

    Though he didn't contribute to winning, the 6'11" big man had a surprisingly slick handle and could do damage against slower matchups when facing up. He ranks 20th in total points among players drafted in 2005.

           

    26. Detroit Pistons: Francisco Garcia

    Garcia spent most of his career on lottery-bound Kings teams, but he was a quality perimeter scorer with toughness to spare. The 6'7" Louisville product posted a positive defensive box plus-minus figure in all but one of his 10 seasons, often defending the opponent's most dangerous wing.

    Reliable D like that, plus three years shooting at least 39.0 percent from deep, makes Garcia a rotation-caliber wing. Those are tough to find this late in a draft.

                

    27. Portland Trail Blazers: Ronny Turiaf

    Though he only averaged 4.7 points and 3.7 boards for his career, Turiaf lasted 10 seasons on the strength of his hustle and interior defense. The 2.1 blocks per game he averaged in 2008-09 with the Warriors ranked fourth in the league among qualified players.

           

    28. San Antonio Spurs: Hakim Warrick

    Best remembered for his career at Syracuse‚ÄĒprincipally because of a standstill dunk from an obscene distance and a go-go gadget block that secured a national title‚ÄĒWarrick hung around for eight years and finished a surprising 22nd in career win shares among 2005 picks.

    Warrick played at least 68 games in six different seasons, posting above-average player efficiency ratings (higher than 15.0) in five of them.

           

    29. Miami Heat: Ryan Gomes

    Gomes' 4.6 boards per game make him the best rebounder in this class among drafted players 6'7" or shorter, and he's one of just six players in this class to post a triple-double at any point in his career.

    With four seasons averaging at least 10.9 points per game, Gomes was also a decent scoring threat as long as he didn't have to create for himself. His limitations show up in the fact that 68.2 percent of his twos and 98.2 percent of his threes were assisted.

                  

    30. New York Knicks: Luther Head

    Head was never a regular starter, but he played 80 games in each of his first two seasons, topping out in 2006-07 at 10.9 points per game. He shot a scorching 44.1 percent from three that season and finished his six-year career at 38.8 percent from beyond the arc. Though Frye shot it with much more volume and lasted longer, it's worth noting he and Head had identical career accuracy rates from deep. 

    NBA teams' social media production values have come a long way since Head's rookie initiation video.