Re-Drafting the NBA Draft: Top 10 Players From Recent Years

Posted by EJacoby on June 25th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft takes place this Thursday, June 28 in Newark, and now that the NBA Finals has come to an early conclusion (just five games), New Jersey becomes the center of the basketball universe. No other professional sports amateur draft can have as much immediate impact as the NBA’s, witnessed by Oklahoma City’s rise to prominence with a core consisting of four first-round picks from the previous five years. While we await Thursday’s selections, the words ‘upside’ and ‘potential’ run rampant, as teams are selecting from a pool filled with unrefined prospects. Lottery picks (top 14 selections) are mainly underclassmen who scouts hope evolve into long term superstars, and that’s why the draft presents so many early busts and late sleepers that evaluators miss out on. The NBA Draft is more art than science, and that is no more evident than when you look back at many of the selections made in previous drafts.

After slipping on draft night, Tony Parker has led the Spurs to multiple championships (AP Photo)

Today we take a look at four recent NBA Drafts to give you a clear idea of how difficult it is to nail the top picks. We wanted to choose mostly older drafts whose players’ careers have longer sample sizes to evaluate, but also included a more recent draft since the implementation of the current ‘one-and-done’ rule that disallows high school players from the pool. Here are our revised top 10 picks from 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2006, with each player’s original selection in parentheses. Who ended up becoming the best players from drafts of the 2000s, and where were they selected?

2001

  1. Tony Parker (28, San Antonio)
  2. Pau Gasol (3, Memphis)
  3. Joe Johnson (10, Boston)
  4. Zach Randolph (19, Portland)
  5. Gilbert Arenas (31, Golden State)
  6. Gerald Wallace (25, Sacramento)
  7. Jason Richardson (5, Golden State)
  8. Tyson Chandler (2, LA Clippers)
  9. Shane Battier (6, Memphis)
  10. Richard Jefferson (13, Houston)

A fairly strong draft, 2001 is also scarred by the fact that #1 overall pick Kwame Brown was an enormous bust. Brown, selected first by Michael Jordan out of high school, is a great example of why it’s risky to draft young, unproven bigs. But that was also during the era when high school players were eligible for the draft, which is no longer the case today. Even though the current ‘one-and-done’ rule makes it difficult to assess young prospects, at least we get a full season to watch players compete at the highest level. The 2001 draft was full of quality sleepers late in the draft, highlighted by the three-time All-Star, Arenas, and three-time NBA champion and four-time All-Star, Parker, both falling past pick #27. Parker likely fell because he was such a young, foreign player; yet Gasol was a similar prospect who scouts nailed with the #3 overall selection. The 2001 draft proves how difficult it is to differentiate players of varying positions, ages, and levels of play.

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Team of the 2000s: #10 – Maryland

Posted by rtmsf on August 9th, 2009

teamof2000(2)

Ed. Note: check the category team of the 2000s for our other entries in this feature.

We are now seriously in the dog days of summer.  The July recruiting period is over, coaches are on vacation, and the college basketball news feeds have dried up like Hillary Clinton in Kenya.  Even Congress has taken the month off, meaning that RTC has been left thinking up new ways to entertain ourselves while we wait for the cool autumn breezes to arrive.  One idea we’ve been sitting on since the end of the 2009 NCAA Tournament has been to evaluate the top ten programs of the 2000s, culminating in a coronation of the Team of the 2000s.  Remember, next season – 2009-10 – actually falls into the 2010s, so when Kansas or Kentucky or Michigan St. or Butler wins that title, they’ll stake an early claim on the Team of the Next Decade, not the current one.

We used a hybrid analysis in constituting our top ten programs of the 2000s.  The numbers are extremely important – how many titles, F4s, Sweet Sixteens, NCAA Appearances, did you have?  How did you perform in your conference?  What about wins and losses?  NBA Draft picks?  Consistency?  But there’s also a qualitative component that we used – which programs ‘felt’ like they performed in the 2000s?  How do you handle programs who were consistently good vs. those who had a couple of really good years?  What if that team had a losing season, or multiple losing seasons?  All of these factors and more were considered in our analysis.  Hopefully we’ve come up with a fair representation of the top programs of the last decade, but as always, we encourage you to tell us where we’re wrong.

#10 – Maryland

#10 v3 - Maryland 2000s

Overview.  Had we reviewed the first half of the 2000s separately, Gary Williams’ program would have been right there with Duke and Michigan St. as the top program, with five NCAA appearances, two F4s and a title in 2002 to its credit.  However, the Terrapin program has fallen off considerably in the second half of the decade, with the Terps failing to make the NCAAs in three of the last five seasons and only winning a total of two NCAA games in the other two appearances (cf. with 14 wins from 2000-04).  Of the twenty-three programs we considered, Maryland had the worst overall W/L record, yet it’s a testament to their early-decade postseason success that they still managed to sneak into our top ten of the 2000s.  One positive for the program throughout the decade has been its relative consistency.  Although the Terps haven’t been a mainstay in the NCAA Tournament in recent years, they’re always in the conversation.  The program hasn’t endured a losing season since 1993, and even in their ‘bad’ years, Gary Williams still manages to coax a 19-13 type of year out of his players (resulting in NIT appearances).  The Maryland program is still a program to be feared (“fear the turtle”), but there are legitimate questions as to whether this program can again achieve the success that it did at the beginning of the decade under its current leadership.

02 maryland t-shirt

Pinnacle.  Clearly the 2002 national title team featuring Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter and Chris Wilcox.  This team exorcised several years of obsesssive frustration on the part of Terp fans with respect to its most hated rival, Duke, and in so doing gave Maryland its long-awaited first national championship.  But it wasn’t easy: in fact, conventional wisdom at the time said that UM would never get there with that particular group.  When Maryland blew not one, not two, but THREE, games to Duke in utterly confounding collapses in 2001, there was a prevailing sentiment that the Terp program simply could not get over the mental hurdle necessary to beat the Devils and (by proxy) win a national title.  After an early-season shellacking in Cameron in 2002, though, the Terps finally put it all together and reeled off thirteen ACC wins in a row (including a convincing win over Duke in College Park) to win the regular season and secure a #1 NCAA seed.  Then, with the fortuitous news that the Devils were knocked out in the Sweet Sixteen by Indiana and Jared Jeffries, the Terps cruised through the field without worry about facing their longtime nemesis, and behind the scintillating shooting of Juan Dixon (26 ppg on 54% shooting), they cut down the nets for their first and only national championship.

Tailspin.   Other than the gut-punch moments in 2001 mentioned above, we’d have to say that Terp fans must be extremely frustrated by recent vintage Maryland teams consistently tanking down the stretch of the regular season.  In 2005, Maryland was a promising 15-7 coming off a win vs. Duke – they lost five of their next six games (incl. 0-1 in the ACC Tourney).  In 2006, the Terps were 14-4 only to finish 5-8 (1-1 ACCT) and settle for another NIT bid.  In 2008, they sat at 16-8 prior to a 2-6 finish (0-1 ACCT) that again led to the NIT.  Even last year, the Terps finished 1-3 prior to making a nice run in the ACC Tourney, and the one season they actually finished strong (7-0 down the streetch in 2007), they were one-and-done in the ACC.  These disappointing finishes have led some observers to ask questions regarding the leadership capabilities of their longtime coach – has he gotten complacent after winning his national title?

duke signs for maryland

Outlook for 2010s:  Grade: B+. As long as the irascible Gary Williams is heading the ship at Maryland, there’s no reason to believe that the Terps will fall off sharply:  Maryland will remain competitive both in the ACC and nationally.  The question is whether he has the fire and drive to once again get Maryland to the top of the food chain, and we don’t think he does.  In order to prove us wrong, he’ll have to step up his recruiting in the fertile DC/Baltimore area.  Consider that in the last seven years since the 2002 championship, all-world players such as Kevin Durant, Ty Lawson and Carmelo Anthony went to schools outside of the area – two of them won titles, the other was a NPOY.  Would Maryland’s fortunes change substantially if they were once again keeping players like that close to home?  Of course they would.  The flip side of this is what might happen should Williams decide to retire in the next few years – where would the Maryland program go from there?  Williams has already had public battles with Maryland officials over recruiting and his graduation rate is abominable, and it wouldn’t shock us if he hung up the whistle (or had it hung up for him) before the end of his contract in 2012.   Some people question whether the Maryland program would flourish without Williams, remembering the dark days of the 80s under Bob Wade, but we disagree.  The recruiting bounty in the area alone is enough to attract a top-flight coach, and Maryland has historically supported its basketball program to the max.  Some new blood on the sidelines could once again move this program up from the top 20s (where it is now) to a top 10 program, but the key question to answer is how much longer will the state of flux with Williams last?

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Where are they now? (Championship Edition)

Posted by nvr1983 on March 24th, 2008

We found an interesting piece in ESPN.com’s Daily Dime last week. They decided to list players from recent championship teams that are still in the NBA. They happened to miss a few players who we added. We might have missed a player here and there. If we did, leave a comment with an update on their status since it’s hard to keep track of all these leagues around the world.

You may notice that the number of NBA superstars from championship teams has decreased in recent years with the exception of Carmelo Anthony. We feel it is pretty clear that this is becasue a lot of guys who are NBA stars decided to skip college or not stay around long enough to win a title. We’re pretty sure Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Dwight Howard (he would be a senior now!) would have affected the NCAA tournament a little.

The list:
2006-07 Florida: Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Taurean Green, & Chris Richard.
-All of the UF guys seem like they could end up being solid pros. Even Richard who is spending time in the NBDL could end up being a decent bench guy. Horford has exceeded expectations and is challenging the much more hyped Kevin Durant for Rookie of the Year honors. The real question is whether any of them other than Horford will become stars in the league. Noah and Brewer have a chance, but we aren’t sold on them yet. We think Noah will end up being a solid contributor if he can keep his mouth shut.

2005 North Carolina: Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton, Sean May, & Marvin Williams
- All of the Tar Heels have turned into respectable NBA players, which isn’t surprising to anybody who say this team play. May hasn’t played this year due to injuries, but was putting up respectable numbers when he was healthy. Felton and Williams are definitely the studs of this group although McCants does show flashes of brilliance up in Minnesota not that anybody sees the Timberwolves play.

2004 Connecticut: Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone, & Charlie Villanueva
- While this group has turned out 3 solid NBA players (Okafor, Gordon, and Villanueva), we get the suspicion that none of these guys will turn into the superstars they were expected to be. It seems hard to believe that a lot of people thought Orlando made a mistake drafting Dwight Howard ahead of Okafor in 2004. However, this is a solid group of pros that will probably end up being the equal of the last 2 championship teams (UNC and UF).

2003 Syracuse: Carmelo Anthony & Hakim Warrick
- While Melo has lived up to the hype and is a perennial All-Star, it appears that Warrick is going to stay in the 10 PPG and 5 RPG range, which is probably worth a $8 mill/yr contract or a max contract if Warrick can wait for an offer from Isiah. Having seen this team play at the East Regional in Albany that year, this is one of our favorite championship teams particularly because they were the last team that was a big surprise winning the tournament. We knew that Gerry McNamara’s game wouldn’t work at the NBA level, but we always liked him and often thought that he was closer to Jameer Nelson in college than a lot of analysts were willing to admit.

2002 Maryland: Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, & Chris Wilcox
- The players from this team, which won the ugliest Final 4 in recent memory, have done just about what we expected as pros. Dixon has been a solid player who is often underappreciated by his team and has floated around the league but contributed everywhere he has gone. Steve Blake has provided solid if unspectacular point guard play and won a starting job in Portland for a time over the uber-hyped Sebastian Telfair. Wilcox has been somewhat of a disappointment. He puts up solid numbers, but has never turned into the star that his athletic ability suggests he could be. Of course, he was the same way in college so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

2001 Duke: Shane Battier, Chris Duhon, Carlos Boozer, & Mike Dunleavy
- It amazing that on this team with several college superstars (including Jason Williams), that Boozer turned out to be the stud of the group. While Casey Sanders’s lack of development forced him to play the center position more than he probably should have, he was a guy who was routinely abused by Brendan Haywood. Somehow, Boozer grew a pair of huevos; so much so that he stabbed a blind man in the back. Just imagine what Boozer could have become if he had stayed in Cleveland to play with Lebron James. Battier, Duhon, and Dunleavy are all solid NBA players even if they haven’t lived up to their draft status (Dunleavy) or hype (Duhon-”What a man!”). To be fair, Battier was selected after Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry, so maybe he wasn’t taken too early. The most disappointing thing about this group is that we never got to see what Jason Williams could have become. Although he struggled adjusting as a rookie with the Bulls, he showed flashes of brilliances including a triple-double against a still-in-his-prime Jason Kidd.

2000 Michigan State: Charlie Bell, Morris Peterson, & Jason Richardson
- Jason Richardson has put up solid numbers even if we have a hard time considering him a star. He’s a phenomenal athlete who has never really made the transition to the superstar (except in fantasy basketball) that many projected for him. Morris Peterson had a solid run as a consistent double-figure guy in Toronto before going to New Orleans this year. As for Bell, we never expected much out of him, but he has had a nice little career and actually averaged 13.5 PPG last year. That championship team’s heart and soul was Mateen Cleaves who had a couple of nice seasons where he was one of the top cheerleaders in the league particularly when he was on the Kings. However, he never stuck and according to Wikipedia he is now playing for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBDL.

1999 Connecticut: Richard Hamilton & Jake Voskuhl
- This team, which we ranked as the best team of the past 10 years, knocked off an unbelievably loaded Duke team that might have been in the top 10 of all-time had they won that night in St. Petersburg. While Hamilton has been an excellent NBA player and one of the few guys in the league who can hit a mid-range jumper, the rest of this team has been a disappointment. We had no idea that Voskuhl was still in the league and barely noticed him when we knew he was in the league. The team’s other star Khalid El-Amin played for a short time in the NBA before finding his way to the CBA and Ukranian Basketball League before end up with Türk Telekom B.K. of the Turkish basketball league. We weren’t able to find much information about Ricky Moore, the star of the title game. We’re assuming that he had a rather undistinguished career after that night in St. Pete.

1998 Kentucky: Nazr Mohammed & Jamaal Magloire
- The Wildcats, who weren’t expected to win the title this year, were fueled by a big comeback against a very young Duke team in the South Regional finals. Looking back at this team’s roster, we couldn’t see anybody else on this team making a big impact in the NBA. Magloire had a run from 2002-2006 where he averaged around 10/10 and made an All-Star team (more the result of the lack of centers than his exceptional play) while Mohammed has had a slightly less distinguished career. His most notable achievement was helping the San Antonio Spurs win the 2005 NBA Championship (with an assist from Isiah Thomas).

1997 Arizona: Mike Bibby & Jason Terry
- Both Bibby and Terry have had excellent careers as was expected for them coming out of college. The more intereresting story is that of the team’s star Miles Simon. Simon was never considered a top NBA prospect, but we at least expected that he would stick around the league because he could make plays. Instead he spent a year in Orlando then traveled across the globe, before ending up in the CBA where as his Wikipedia page states he became “the most decorated player in CBA history”. Not exactly what we expect out of the MOP.

1996 Kentucky: Antoine Walker, Derek Anderson & Nazr Mohammed
- This was likely the last of the all-time great teams. This team was incredibly deep with 6 guys who had significant NBA careers (including Tony Delk, Ron Mercer, and Walter McCarty). This team just crushed the teams they played utilizing Pitino’s press with their superior talent and athleticism. None of the players ever became a superstar, but all of their studs had solid NBA careers including a handful of All-Star appearances and awards. We’ll leave Rick Pitino’s stint in Boston for another post.

1995 UCLA: N/A
- This team didn’t really have as many superstars as other championship teams did, but they played very well together finishing an impressive 32-1. They had 2 first-round picks (Ed O’Bannon and George Zidek) who had short-lived NBA careers. The team’s other stars were Tyus Edney, Toby Bailey, and Charles O’Bannon, but none of them ever did anything notable in the NBA.

1994 Arkansas: N/A
- Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” team used a late Scotty Thurman rainbow 3 to knock off Grant Hill’s Duke team, which basically consisted of Hill and a bunch of nobodies. Corliss “Big Nasty” Williamson had a nice career first in Sacramento then in Detroit even winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2002. Thurman ended up leaving school early, going undrafted, and playing in the CBA.

1993 UNC: N/A
- This team didn’t really have any guys we considered potential NBA All-Stars back in 1993. Of course, we were 10 at the time and were already learning to hate the Tar Heels. We’ll let you look at the starting lineup and make up your mind: Eric Montross, Brian Reese, George Lynch, Donald Williams, and Derrick Phelps. Not exactly a murderer’s row of talent there. To be fair, Montross, who hails from the same high school as Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. (Lawrence North in Indianapolis), was selected 9th overall by the Celtics and had a decent rookie season before falling off the map. George Lynch was also considered a solid prospect coming out as 12th overall to the Lakers. He only had a mediocre pro career never averaging over 8.6 PPG and his main NBA achievements on Wikipedia are wearing 3 numbers (#24, #30 and #9) while with the Lakers and being traded to the Grizzlies to clear up cap space (and buffet space) for some guy named Shaq. Phelps played briefly in the NBA. And when we say briefly we mean 3 games and 1 shot, which he missed. Donald Williams, who is best remembered for being the MOP and having a huge game against the Fab 5 in the title game, spent his professional career floating around every league on the planet except for the NBA. The more interesting thing is that the Tar Heels actually had more talent the next year when they added Jerry Stackhouse and a young Rasheed Wallace (who in a sign of things to come got tossed from the McDonald’s All-American game) to this nucleus. However, the 1994 team never really came together and lost to Bill Curley and the Boston College Eagles, which was famously captured on this SI cover.

1991-92 Duke: Grant Hill
- Along with the 1996 UK team, Christian Laettner’s Blue Devils were the last of the teams that we consider truly great. To consider how big/great this team was, you have to remember that before this team, Mike Krzyzewski’s boys were the lovable losers who couldn’t win the big one despite multiple Final 4 trips. After this team, Duke became Duke. This team was really built around their 3 superstars: Laettner, Bobby Hurley, and Grant Hill. Everyone knows their college accomplishments: Laettner (#12 on ESPN’s list; maybe the top college player since 1990); Hurley (NCAA all-time assist leader); and Hill (also led Duke to the title game with a YMCA team around him in 1994). Laettner actually had a decent pro career, which most people would realize if he hadn’t been so great in college or if he wasn’t the most hated college player of all-time (multiply Joakim Noah by 100 and you get Laettner). His career highlights include an All-Star appearance as well as being an original Dream Teamer (ok, I can’t type that with a straight face). Hurley was selected 7th overall by Sacramento, but had his career derailed early with a car accident (signs of things to come for another great Duke point guard). However, we don’t think he would have ever become a great NBA PG as evident by how Jason Kidd destroyed him in the 1993 NCAA tournament. Hill actually had the best NBA career of the bunch and was considered one of the top 5-10 players in the league before multiple foot/ankle injuries eventually turned him into a shell of the player that he once was. Antonio Lang was taken 29th overall by Phoenix, but never did much in the pros. Brian Davis played a season in the NBA before floating around the basketball planet and settling on running a Duke-based group that tried to buy the Memphis Grizzlies with Laettner (the deal fell through). Thomas Hill (best known for being the guy crying after Laettner’s 1992 East Regional shot) was drafted 39th overall by Indiana, but never played in the NBA as he played in the Australian National Basketball League for a few years.

That’s all I have on these guys/teams. If you have any more information or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section.

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Maryland Responds

Posted by rtmsf on October 5th, 2007

With respect to yesterday’s story about Gary Williams’ 0% graduation rate, Maryland has since responded with a press release stating that all ten of its players that qualified under the latest GSR ratings left school before graduation to pursue professional basketball careers. These players include:

  • Chris Wilcox (left after two seasons for the NBA draft)
  • Juan Dixon (four-year player)
  • Lonny Baxter (four-year player)
  • Steve Blake (four-year player)
  • Terrence Morris (four-year player)
  • Tahj Holden (four-year player)
  • Drew Nicholas (four-year player)
  • Byron Mouton (transfer who completed eligibility at Maryland)
  • Jamar Smith (transfer who completed eligibility at Maryland)
  • Ryan Randle (transfer who completed eligibility at Maryland)

In response, Gary Williams stated, “These people are very successful people. If you go to school to improve yourself economically, where have they failed? They make more than the average college graduate. Far more. If you’re judging them just based on getting a degree, then OK, they haven’t gotten a degree.”

Gary & Bonnie

Betcha Bonnie Bernstein Got Her Degree

While we’re perfectly willing to hear GW out here, the fact of the matter is that only one of the above players left school early for the guaranteed millions (Wilcox). The other nine players exhausted their playing eligibility, and yet none of them graduated within the six-year window. Gary doesn’t see a problem with this?

He acts like Maryland was the only school to have its players move on to successful professional careers, whether here in the US or overseas. Sure, the Terps had some nasty teams in 2001 & 2002, but so did its archrival down on Tobacco Road (Duke) who still managed to graduate 67% of its players despite losing several to the League. Same thing with Michigan St. (67%), who went to three straight F4s from 1999 to 2001. Arizona (25%) and UConn (22%) were also loaded squads (Arizona – 1997 and 2001; UConn – 1999 and 2004), and yet neither of them pulled an aught – at least they graduated somebody.

Sorry, Gary, while we recognize that Maryland has improved its graduation rate in the interim (Maryland reports that four of last year’s six seniors graduated, and both of this year’s are on pace), we also have to recognize the reality that the program on your watch has consistently finished at the bottom of the ACC in this regard. It may not be at 0% for the duration of your career in College Park, but it’s painfully evident that your program places minimal emphasis on getting a degree. Shame on you.

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