Re-Ranking The 2003 NBA Draft Lottery

The 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday, the 26th, has been trumpeted as the “Best Draft Since 2003, Or At Least Since 2007.” In anticipation of this, here is an ultimate 2003 NBA draft lottery re-ranking, picks 1-13. I sincerely hope you’re ready for the knowledge that I’m about to drop on you.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James (2x Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 4x League MVP, 10x All Star, 8x All-NBA First Team, 2x All-NBA Second Team, 5x All-Defensive First Team, 1x All-NBA Defensive Second Team)  — When his hometown team took him with the #1 pick in 2003, LeBron James was the surest of sure things. And boy, has he delivered: four MVP’s, two consecutive titles and five Finals appearances overall (including four straight), career averages of 27.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game, on 49.7% shooting from the field; that last number stands as an unholy sum for a wing player. The 6’8″ point forward can claim almost single-handed responsibility for the nearly league-wide shift to “small ball” line-ups. On offense, James carries the responsibilities of four positions simultaneously, and defensively can credibly guard three and a half positions (he has trouble against traditional power forwards but can handle stretch-fours). Original Draft Position: #1

2. Detroit Pistons: Dwyane Wade (3x Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 10x All Star, 2x All-NBA First Team, 3x All-NBA Second Team, 3x All-NBA Third Team, 3x All-Defensive Second Team)  — The man they call “Flash” has carved out quite a career for himself. As he undergoes a rapid decline, it might be hard to remember just how spectacular he was from 2003-2011: the way he could cut inside and draw a foul seemingly every time, the crazy highlight dunks, how he outshone Shaq and Dirk in the 2006 NBA Finals. His elevation and speed have diminished a shade over time due to knee issues stemming from a full meniscus removal during his time at Marquette (in 2002). Still, though, he was the best player on a championship team in 2006, and the second-best player on two more. He boasts career averages of 24.3 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. Original Draft Position: #5

3. Denver Nuggets: Carmelo Anthony (7x All Star, 2x All-NBA Second Team, 4x All-NBA Third Team, 1x Scoring Champion) — This year’s most intriguing free agent (well he was until Lebron’s announcement), ‘Melo is one of the two most versatile scoring threats in the NBA. Although he doesn’t give you much on defense, he can shoot from all over the floor. Over his career, the small forward has averaged 25.3 points, 3.1 assists, and 6.5 rebounds per game.  Original Draft Position: #3

4. Toronto Raptors: Chris Bosh (2x Champion, 9x All Star, 1x All-NBA Second Team) — In Bosh’s final season with the Toronto Raptors, where he was The Man, the Georgia Tech product averaged 24 points and 10.8 rebounds. Of course, that team went 40-42 and missed the playoffs in a middling Eastern Conference. Since joining the Heat, Bosh has evolved into a lethal finesse shooter and an integral component to Miami’s constant switching on defense. Original Draft Position: #4

5. Miami Heat: David West (2x All Star) — It’s weird to ponder the man responsible for galvanizing the Heat’s toughest rivals in the Eastern Conference, the Pacers, over these last three seasons, being on that squad instead of fighting against it. But West is a special player — a big (listed at 6’9″, 250 lbs.), defensive stalwart and a locker-room leader, a two-time All-Star when he was on the New Orleans Hornets, and a guy who should have made the All-Star team a third time in 2013 over Chris Bosh. He may not be a Hall of Famer, but West remains a fun, throwback power forward, and a tough cover for perimeter-based fours like Bosh and Dirk Nowitzki. Original Draft Position: #18

6. Chicago Bulls: Boris Diaw (2014 Champion, 2006 NBA Most Improved Player) — Diaw is the kind of deferential player who needs to be used properly if he’s going to really flourish in an offense. He’s perfect for an uptempo, pass-happy full court system. A fat-but-mobile multi-positional forward who sees the floor like a point guard, gobbles up rebounds, and can shoot from everywhere, Diaw first found a proper showcase for his futuristic skill set in the run-and-gun Nash-Stoudemire Phoenix Suns from 2005-2008. More recently, he was an amorphous starter on this year’s Spurs, one of the most dominant Finals champions in recent memory. Original Draft Position: #21.

7. Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Kaman (1x All-Star) — Kaman is pretty much done now, and though he was never a particularly handsome man, he was at least good at basketball once. In his lone All-Star season, for a middling Clippers squad in 2010, he averaged 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds. Kaman hasn’t been particularly useful for a team since around 2011, but at his peak he was a solid low-post scoring threat. Original Draft Position: #6

8. Milwaukee Bucks: Leandro Barbosa (2007 Sixth Man of the Year) — Another eventual stud for the Phoenix Suns along with Diaw, the 6’3″ Barbosa was nicknamed “The Brazilian Blur” for his otherworldly speed, and punished opponents’ bench players with his scoring and passing. After an ACL tear in 2012, Barbosa has sadly now devolved into a 10-day contract-type player. Original Draft Position: #28

9. New York Knicks: Mo Williams (1x All-Star) — Currently a 6th Man reserve on the Portland Trailblazers, Williams used to be a scoring dynamo in his days with the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he was the best teammate poor LeBron ever played with under Dan Gilbert. The 6’1″ point guard later metamorphosed into a Jamal Crawford precursor for the Blake-led Clips. Original Draft Position: #47

10. Washington Wizards: Jose Calderon (1x 50-40-90 Club) — Calderon is one of the best-shooting point guards in the NBA, and on offense remains a great threat. He can’t defend worth a lick, but in his time on first the Toronto Raptors and now the Dallas Mavericks, Calderon has served as a high-level starting point guard on one side of the ball. Original Draft Position: Undrafted

11. Golden State Warriors: Josh Howard (1x All-Star) — Did you know there was a season for Dallas when the 6’7″ small forward Howard averaged 19.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.2 assists? He was quite the scorer before multiple knee injuries robbed him of his athleticism and a proclivity for weed robbed him of his desire to get back in shape expediently. Original Draft Position: #29

12. Seattle Supersonics: Kyle Korver (All-Time Single Season 3-Pt % Leader, Record Holder For Most Consecutive Games With A 3-Pointer Made [127]) — 6’7″ small forward Korver is almost exclusively a catch-and-shoot guy, but has a Rip Hamilton-esque knack for shaking his defenders off screens. Considering that he is a starter on the Atlanta Hawks and one of the best three-point shooters in the history of the NBA, I’d say he was taken a little low in the original 2003 draft. Original Draft Position: #57

13. Memphis Grizzlies (pick traded to Boston): Kendrick Perkins (2008 NBA Champion) — Like many others on this list, Perk suffered a crippling ACL injury and has never really been the same. The 6’9″ center’s tear came in Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals, and threw the Celtics’ rotation out of whack in Game 7. Had Perkins not gone down, there is a very good chance that his Celtics teams would have won two NBA titles in three seasons. Currently wasting $8 million on the Thunder’s salary cap sheet, Perkins is pretty much just a big body who can give you six fouls now. Original Draft Position: #27

 

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