Denton: If 2005 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 2005 NBA Draft – a draft that is still painful to many Magic fans because of Orlando’s selection of 6-foot-11 Spanish center Fran Vazquez. Vazquez fell on draft night because teams were wary of him being unwilling to leave Europe to play in the NBA. He showed up in Orlando the day after the draft, but never returned again, instead signing a contract in Spain. To this day, the Magic still own the rights to Vazquez, who has evolved into a solid player, but he’s never played a game in the NBA.

Here’s how the 2005 NBA Draft might unfold today if GMs were given a do over:


1 Bucks Andrew Bogut Chris Paul


REVIEW: While Bogut wasn’t a terrible pick, injuries derailed much of his time in Milwaukee. Paul most certainly would have been the better selection here with the top pick. Paul thrived initially in the small market of New Orleans before eventually forcing his way out to Los Angeles. Would the same have happened in frigid Milwaukee?  


2 Hawks Marvin Williams Deron Williams


REVIEW: The Hawks were one of the worst teams of the early 2000s largely because of picks like the one of Marvin Williams in 2005. In desperate need of a steady point guard, the Hawks bypassed both Paul and Williams and instead went with a college freshman who was good at a few things, but great at none of them.


3 Jazz Deron Williams Andrew Bogut


REVIEW: Bogut, a native of Australia, went to school at the University of Utah and he would have been a big hit with the fans in Salt Lake City. He was a third-team All-NBA player by 2010 and he led the NBA in blocked shots by 2011. His career experienced a rebirth in Golden State where he was finally able to stay healthy this past season.


4 Hornets Chris Paul Andrew Bynum


REVIEW: Bynum was the youngest player ever to play in a NBA game in 2005 when he was just 18 years, six days old, and maybe that could explain some of his injury and maturity issues through the years. Bynum’s promise looked unlimited when he played for the Lakers, but after missing all of last season with injuries to both knees, some wonder if he’ll ever be able to play at an elite level again.


5 Bobcats Raymond Felton David Lee


REVIEW: As has been the case throughout their history, the draft lottery was not kind to the Bobcats, who were stuck with the fifth pick in a four-star player draft. The Bobcats could have gone a variety of different directions here with Lee, Danny Granger, Jarrett Jack, Louis Williams or even Marcin Gortat, but they instead settled for Felton. Felton has become a serviceable point guard, but his limitations defensively have made him a huge liability through the years.


11 MAGIC Fran Vazquez Danny Granger


REVIEW: Vazquez was projected in the top five of most mock drafts in the days leading up to the draft, but several teams backed off the shot-blocking center following a workout in New York City. The Magic were not in attendance at that workout, but picked Vazquez when he plummeted to No. 11. Vazquez visited Orlando the day after the draft, posing for pictures next to the lockers of Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady, but he never returned to Central Florida after signing a professional contract in Spain. The Magic have continued to monitor Vazquez, who would likely be a reserve role player in the NBA, but there have been few attempts to bring him to Orlando because of his reluctance to leave Spain and the lofty buyout in his contract. Had Orlando drafted Granger, they likely never would have had to spend $118 million on Rashard Lewis in 2008.


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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