Denton: If 2007 NBA Draft Was Redone

By John Denton
June 17, 2013

ORLANDO – In the days, weeks, months and years following the June 27th NBA Draft, the players selected will become subject to revisionist history. Not only will that draft class be forever linked, but those players will also be compared against one another every time they face off.

Because the impact of a high draft pick can be so great – or disastrous, for that matter – there will be much attention paid to the order that players are selected in the NBA Draft later this month. The Orlando Magic have the second pick, just behind the Cleveland Cavaliers at the top of the draft order. Washington, Charlotte and Phoenix round out the top five picks.

The Magic have a long history of getting it right when they select in the top five of the NBA Draft, picking Dennis Scott (1990), Shaquille O’Neal (1992), Chris Webber (who was traded for Penny Hardaway in 1993), Mike Miller (2000) and Dwight Howard (2004). O’Neal, Hardaway and Scott formed the foundation on Orlando’s 1995 team that reached the NBA Finals, while Howard led the 2009 Magic to the NBA Finals. And Miller emerged from a weak draft class in 2000 as the Rookie of the Year.

The course of history in the NBA could have been dramatically different had players been properly evaluated and drafted accordingly. While some picks were dead on, most GMs would like a do-over with the benefit of history to make their picks.

Imagine if any of three Hall of Famers Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley or John Stockton had gone No. 2 to Portland instead of Sam Bowie in 1984. What if Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade or Chis Bosh had been taken by the Detroit Pistons in 2003 instead of wasting that pick on Darko Milicic? And what if Portland, and not Oklahoma City, had grabbed Kevin Durant with the top pick in 2007 rather than the brittle Greg Oden?

As the saying goes, hindsight is always 20/20, so with the benefit of history before us let’s look back at the past 10 years of NBA Drafts and pick how those draft nights should have unfolded. There have been draft night home runs and major misses in recent years, so let’s pinpoint how the top five picks (plus the Magic’s picks) of those drafts should have played out.

Today, we’re going to break down the 2007 NBA Draft – a draft that was notable for Portland’s bad luck with Oden, OKC striking it rich with Durant and the Bulls wisely plucking Joakim Noah with the ninth pick. Three Florida Gators – Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Noah were selected in the first nine picks, while Chris Richard and Tauren Green joined them as draftees in the second round.

When the Boston Celtics missed out on landing Oden or Durant, they sprung to action and traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to pair with Paul Pierce. What followed was a championship in 2008.

The Magic did not have a first-round draft pick in 2007 by virtue of their pick going to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Darko Milicic. The Pistons used that selection to pick point guard Rodney Stuckey, whose career has tailed off following a strong start. Future Magic players Arron Afflalo (27th pick) and Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis (35th pick) were selected in the 2007 NBA Draft.

Here’s how the 2007 NBA Draft might unfold today if GMs were given a do over:

 

PICK NBA TEAM ACTUAL SELECTION TODAY'S PICK
1 Blazers Greg Oden Kevin Durant

 

REVIEW: There was tremendous debate in the weeks leading up to the 2007 NBA Draft about whether the Blazers should have taken Oden or Durant, and the opted for the Ohio State center despite his long history of injuries. Of course, Oden missed all of his rookie season and made it through parts of just two more seasons before ending up out of basketball because of injuries to both of his knees. Meanwhile, Durant has evolved into a four-time scoring champion and a cornerstone for a Thunder team that got to the NBA Finals in 2012.

 

PICK NBA TEAM ACTUAL SELECTION TODAY'S PICK
2 Thunder Kevin Durant Al Horford

 

REVIEW: If Oden didn’t go first, he undoubtedly would have gone second in 2007. But knowing now what GMs didn’t know then about his proclivity for injuries, teams would have passed up the center for the more reliable Horford. While he’s hardly considered a franchise player, Horford is a steady piece on and off the floor for the Hawks. He’s made two all-star teams and has once been named an All-NBA performer. His basketball smarts and toughness are big reasons why the Hawks have consistently been one of the NBA’s best defensive teams for years.

 

PICK NBA TEAM ACTUAL SELECTION TODAY'S PICK
3 Hawks Al Horford Marc Gasol

 

REVIEW: If Oden didn’t go first, he undoubtedly would have gone second in 2007. But knowing now what GMs didn’t know then about his proclivity for injuries, teams would have passed up the center for the more reliable Horford. While he’s hardly considered a franchise player, Horford is a steady piece on and off the floor for the Hawks. He’s made two all-star teams and has once been named an All-NBA performer. His basketball smarts and toughness are big reasons why the Hawks have consistently been one of the NBA’s best defensive teams for years.

 

PICK NBA TEAM ACTUAL SELECTION TODAY'S PICK
4 Grizzlies Mike Conley Jr. Joakim Noah

 

REVIEW: The Grizzlies had the NBA’s worst record in 2006-07 and they would have had a tough choice here with the No. 4 pick. Conley was a star at Ohio State and has now become one of the game’s best point guards even though he is overlooked by most. But the Grizzles were extremely thin in the middle at the time after trading Pau Gasol and could have used a defensive anchor in the middle such as Noah. Coaches, GMs and teammates love Noah because of his selfless, hustling style of play, and he has become one of the NBA’s most impactful big men because of the wide variety of things he can do.

 

PICK NBA TEAM ACTUAL SELECTION TODAY'S PICK
5 Celtics Jeff Green Mike Conley Jr.

 

REVIEW: The Celtics, which had the second-worst record in the NBA in the 2006-07 season, were devastated when they fell to No. 5 in the draft and missed out getting Oden or Durant. But team president Danny Ainge made the best of a bad situation by trading Al Jefferson and Sebastian Telfair to Minnesota for Garnett and Jeff Green and Delonte West to Seattle for Ray Allen. Allen and Garnett, along with Paul Pierce, proved to be the foundation of the 2008 team that won the NBA title. An equally important move was Ainge refusing to trade Rajon Rondo to Minnesota or Seattle when those team initially demanded that he be involved in those trades.

 

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

 

 

 

 




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