As we wait for official word from the league on when the 2019-20 NBA season will resume, the nearly three-months-long struggle to live in a world with no live basketball continues. But we have a saying in this business: the content must go on.
This week, we continue our 10-part series – some might even call it a saga – looking back at every NBA draft from the past decade.
Starting with the
Cole Aldrich Draft John Wall Draft in 2010, we'll comb through, pick-by-pick, and rank the top 15 players from each class. We initially considered going deeper but decided the merits of hashing out one middling role player against another were quite limited. Now, with that said, if anyone is truly interested in debating Landry Fields vs. Ekpe Udoh, please DM me on Twitter.
Of course, we're aware that there's a chance we might not be the first ones to come up with the concept of a re-draft. The circumstances of the last few months have resulted in just about every tangible object on earth being the subject of some sort of draft. But our lists will steer clear of the typical process of selecting the best player available at each pick. RotoWire is, in fact, a fantasy basketball outlet, so we'll consider each player's fantasy value – both peak and longevity – as our number one factor.
A few notes:
- As you'll notice, there's typically significant overlap between best player and most fantasy value. In 2010, for instance, our top three picks ended up being Paul George, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins
- Off-court or chemistry concerns were not considered, unless they impacted a player's fantasy value
- Team needs and roster construction at the time of the draft were not considered
- All production since each player entered the league was taken into account, including the 2019-20 season
- In order to pare our list down to 15, Alex and I ranked our top-20 fantasy players from each draft and ordered them by average ranking
- Any references to fantasy rankings refer to a player's finish in eight-category leagues by total value (as opposed to per-game value). Research was conducted using RotoWire's Historical Fantasy Archive tool
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Actual pick: Anthony Bennett
The Greek Freak is the obvious No. 1 pick in this redraft. He's on his way to a second consecutive MVP award and has posted an average fantasy rank of 6.8 across the past four seasons.
He may never reach his true fantasy potential because of shaky free-throw shooting and deflated minutes due to the Bucks' tendency to blow out opposing teams, but that's obviously not enough to significantly downgrade him. Since making his first All-Star team in 2016-17, Antetokounmpo has averaged 26.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.4 steals. - Alex Barutha
2. Orlando Magic: Rudy Gobert
Actual pick: Victor Oladipo
While he has his limitations, Gobert is easily our No. 2 pick behind Antetokounmpo. Throwing out his rookie season, Gobert has never fallen out of the top 100. He's been a top-35 player four times and a top-20 player three times, while ranking a career-best 15th overall in 2016-17. During that season, Gobert led the league in blocks, shot 66 percent from the field, and pulled down nearly 13 boards per game. - Nick Whalen
3. Washington Wizards: Victor Oladipo
Actual pick: Otto Porter
Choosing between Oladipo and CJ McCollum for the third spot wasn't easy, as they've both had five top-100 seasons, and their average fantasy ranks are so close (112 and 114, respectively). Oladipo's torn quad tendon last season hurts his cause, and he wasn't effective this season, but fantasy owners shouldn't have been let down or surprised by his 2019-20 campaign.
Ultimately, Oladipo's breakout 2017-18 season was enough to swing the vote. That year, he ranked as the eighth-best fantasy player in the NBA, averaging 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.2 combined steals-plus-blocks. - Barutha
4. Charlotte Hornets: CJ McCollum
Actual pick: Cody Zeller
McCollum gets dinged for his first two years in the league, when he was essentially a developmental player, but he's been among the NBA's most consistent guards ever since. While McCollum lacks the high-end numbers of the truly elite fantasy players, he holds a pair of top-30 finishes, including 18th overall in 2016-17. Over the last five seasons, McCollum's average rank sits at 37th overall. - Whalen
5. Phoenix Suns: Steven Adams
Actual pick: Alex Len
Adams remains the popular choice among fantasy owners who realize it's round six in their draft and they don't have a center yet. He doesn't have the ceiling that many other fantasy options do, but he's been a consistent option at center across the past four years. During this span, he's held an average rank of 63.8, posting 12.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.2 combined steals-plus-blocks. - Barutha
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Otto Porter
Actual pick: Nerlens Noel (traded to PHI)
With two seasons inside the top-30, Porter has a case to be a spot or two higher. However, he was a non-factor early in his career, and injuries have significantly harmed his fantasy value in each of the last two seasons. After peaking at 26th overall in 2017-18, Porter has played in just 70 regular season games over the last two years. When the 2019-20 season was suspended in March, Porter had appeared in just 14 games for the Bulls. - Whalen
7. Sacramento Kings: Dennis Schroder
Actual pick: Ben McLemore
It's been unclear for most of Schroder's career what type of role he's best suited for, and that's reflected in his fluctuating fantasy values. From his sophomore year onward, his ranks are: 152, 126, 44, 69, 105, 55. Given the circumstances, holding an average rank of 68.3 across the past four years is very solid, even if fantasy owners got burned in 2018-19. During this span, Schroder has averaged 17.8 points, 5.2 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 0.9 steals. - Barutha
8. Detroit Pistons: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Actual pick: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
His reputation has taken a hit in recent years, but Caldwell-Pope has been a rosterable player in five of his seven NBA seasons. From 2014-19, KCP had an average rank of 92nd overall, with a high of 62nd in 2017-18, when he averaged 13.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.4 steals, and 2.1 made threes (38% 3PT). - Whalen
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Gorgui Dieng
Actual pick: Trey Burke (traded to UTA)
They say the brightest flames burn the quickest. We may not have appreciated it in the moment, but from 2014-15 through 2016-17, we were all witnesses to Prime Gorgui Dieng. During that stretch, he held an average fantasy rank of 42 (better than Joel Embiid this season), averaging 9.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals. Imagine drafting Karl-Anthony Towns when you already have your guy at center. - Barutha
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Nerlens Noel
Actual pick: CJ McCollum
As a Nerlens Noel truther, I was thrilled that he made our top-10. Ranking outside the top 300 in 2017-18 – as well as missing all of his rookie season – hurts Noel, but he (very) quietly has a pair of top-55 finishes to his name. Even as a backup in 2019-20, Noel ranked inside the top 100 thanks to 2.5 blocks/steals in just 18 minutes per game. - Whalen
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Mason Plumlee
Actual pick: Michael Carter-Williams
Plumlee has been relegated to mostly being Nikola Jokic's backup at this point, but he enjoyed a nice two-year stretch (2015-16 through 2016-17) where he started 146 games. He ranked 72nd and 71st, respectively, averaging 9.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.9 combined blocks-plus-steals. - Barutha
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tim Hardaway Jr.
Actual pick: Steven Adams
I was a little higher than Alex on Hardaway, which isn't saying much considering who's behind him on this list. But I rewarded him for his consistency. Despite the fact that he's never cracked the top 100, Hardaway is always hanging around the fringes, averaging a rank of 126th over the last four seasons. His fantasy profile is very limited, but Hardaway can always be counted on for high-volume threes (2.9 makes per game in 2019-20). - Whalen
13. Dallas Mavericks: Kelly Olynyk
Actual pick: Kelly Olynyk (traded to BOS)
Like Hardaway, Olynyk is one of those players that every owner considers picking up for a week or two at some point. He peaked in 2017-18 with a 71st overall finish, but he has only one other top-120 season. However, Olynyk has never fallen below rank 173, and that came during his rookie season in Boston. - Whalen
14. Utah Jazz: Michael Carter-Williams
Actual pick: Shabazz Muhammad (traded to MIN)
Carter-Williams was given the benefit of the doubt early in his career after taking home Rookie of the Year honors, and his role as a point guard on bad teams allowed him to rack up numbers. He ranked 50th as a rookie and 83rd as a sophomore but never cracked the top 140 again after it became clear he wasn't a starting-caliber point guard. - Barutha
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Cody Zeller
Actual pick: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Though he never came close to living up to his billing as the No. 4 pick in this draft, Zeller's scoring and rebounding numbers have always been respectable. Injuries have ravaged his career of late, as he's missed at least 20 games in five of the last six years, including logging 33- and 49-game seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively. Zeller peaked in 2015-16 with a 122nd overall finish. - Whalen
Alex Len: He's far from living up to expectations as the fifth overall pick, but Len hasn't exactly been irrelevant, either. He's been an option in deep fantasy leagues since his sophomore year, with an average rank of 163. Len topped out at 133 in 2016-17 when he averaged 8.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.8 combined blocks-plus-steals.
Tony Snell: Finished 138th overall in 2016-17. That's more than enough to land an Honorable Mention spot in this draft.
Allen Crabbe: Ranked 94th in 2017-18 while averaging 13.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 steals-plus-blocks. The rest of his career hasn't nearly been as good, as his average fantasy rank is 254.
Ben McLemore: Climbed all the way up to 80th overall in his second NBA season, thanks almost entirely to high-volume shooting and playing all 82 games.
Trey Burke: His two best seasons were his rookie and sophomore campaigns when he was ranked 139th back-to-back, averaging 12.8 points, 5.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds. Has not cracked the top 225 since.