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The NBA Draft: The 30 Best Picks by Draft Position from 2000-2008

Hindsight is 20/20
by Gelo Gonzales | Jun 22, 2011
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The 2011 NBA Draft is only a few days away and while prognosticators are already labeling this year’s class as one of the worst draft’s in history, we prefer to look at it in a glass-half-full kind of way.[firstpara] After all, it couldn’t be as bad as the 2000 Draft Class, right?

To celebrate the new generation of stars that have come through the draft in the past years, we’ve compiled a pick-by-pick revisionist list of who were the best players chosen in their respective draft spots. We’ve limited it from the laughable 2000 class all the way to the fully loaded 2008 class because we’re putting a cap on at least three years worth of experience in the NBA as a suitable way to judge their progress.

Don’t be surprised if you don’t find Blake Griffin, Steph Curry, Tyreke Evans, and John Wall on this list. They’re not eligible.

Some spots were no brainers while others were brain wreckers, but in the end, we think we got it right…at least for the most part.

And seeing as this is FHM, we welcome any and all comments. If you prefer a guy like Rafael Araujo (2004) for the 8th spot over Rudy Gay, then by God, let your voices be heard!

So now that we’ve gotten through the ceremonies, with the first pick, we chose…

1st Pick: LeBron James (2003)
Honorable Mention: Dwight Howard (2004), Derrick Rose (2008)
Picking LeBron James over Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose was a lot easier than it looked. For all the success D12 and D-Rose have had in their careers, King James remains the most dominant player in the NBA. No ifs and buts about it.

2nd Pick: Kevin Durant (2007)
Honorable Mention: LaMarcus Aldridge (2006)
Picking the two-time scoring champion was an easy choice here, especially considering that his only real threat – LaMarcus Aldridge – only came to his own as a franchise cornerstone this year. Apologies to all Darko Milicic fans, but you could only play the ‘potential’ trump card for a few seasons. Dude’s been around eight years!

3rd Pick: Pau Gasol (2001)
Honorable Mention: Carmelo Anthony (2003), Deron Williams (2005), Al Horford (2007)
Arguably the toughest draft position to gauge considering that you have three legitimate choices for the top spot – Gasol, Anthony, and Williams – with the other young buck – Horford – not too far behind. In the end, we copped out and judged it on the hardware. The bling trumps ‘em all and the Spaniard has two more rings than Anthony, Williams and Horford combined.

4th Pick: Chris Paul (2005)
Honorable Mention: Chris Bosh (2003), Russell Westbrook (2008)
Injuries have put a dampen on CP3’s career as of late, but in as much as Chris Bosh and Russell Westbrook are good players in their own right, nobody in the league – not LeBron, Kobe, D-Wade, or Durant – can control a basketball game like Chris Paul. He’s the Alpha, the Omega, and everything else in between for that Hornets team and when he’s healthy, he’s a top 5 player in the league. No questions asked.

5th Pick: Dwyane Wade (2003)
Honorable Mention: Kevin Love (2008), Devin Harris (2004)
Dwyane Wade has a stranglehold on this spot until Kevin Love leads the T-Wolves to a championship while averaging 25-20 in the Finals. We’re smitten over Love’s game, but we’re not pressing our luck on him actually doing something like that. Rest easy, Flash. This spot’s yours. Better yet, you won’t have to worry about Nikoloz Tskitishvili (2002) stealing this spot either.

6th Pick: Brandon Roy (2006)
Honorable Mention: Chris Kaman (2003), Shane Battier (2001)
We don’t know what’s going to happen with Brandon Roy in the future, but given the limited choices we had, we’re going to give this one to the sharpshooter for his pre-no-meniscus greatness while also holding out hope that he returns to his perch as one of the game’s elite.

7th Pick: Eric Gordon (2008)
Honorable Mention: Nene (2002), Luol Deng (2004)
Another tough choice between Gordon and Nene. We gave the nod to ‘Easy G’ because the burly Brazilian has only come into his own in the past few seasons after being riddled with injuries in the first half of his career. Gordon’s not a poster boy for healthiness either, but the guy can flat out ball. And when his shooting’s on, there aren’t a lot of players in this league that can keep up with him.

8th Pick: Rudy Gay (2006)
Honorable Mention: Jamal Crawford (2000)
The choice was between Rudy Gay and Jamal Crawford, who, incidentally, is one of only two players from the 2000 draft to make this list. We were considering playing the Pity Card just to give the 2000 draft some extra recognition, but bad is what bad gets. Crawford’s a good player that has remodeled his game from the shameless gunner he once was to merely an ‘occasional’ version of that, but Rudy Gay is a young thoroughbred with his best years ahead of him.

9th Pick: Amare Stoudemire (2002)
Honorable Mention: Andre Iguodala (2004), Joakim Noah (2007)
Some good players came out of the 9th pick over the years, including Iguodala and Noah, but neither of them has had as much of an impact as STAT. A lot of people might have forgotten about this, but for all of the hype and popularity Yao Ming had going on in 2002, he wasn’t the one who walked home with the Rookie of the Year award. That distinction falls on the shoulders of Amare Stoudemire.

10th Pick: Joe Johnson (2001)
Honorable Mention: Caron Butler (2002), Andrew Bynum (2005)
Another deep draft spot that has produced a couple of All-Stars, a future star, some serviceable role players, and Luke Jackson, the token white dude in every draft that could supposedly hit threes and jump out of the gym without even trying only to end up a washed up shell dominating the local rec leagues three years later. All joking aside, Joe Johnson takes this spot by a straw over the straw-chewing Butler because Joe’s been playing at a high level longer than Tuff Juice. Close call, though. Very close call.

11th Pick: Mikael Pietrus (2003)
Honorable Mention: Andris Biedrins (2004)
In as much as we had a tough time deciding who was better between Johnson and Butler at No. 10, imagine the pain that went in picking between Pietrus and Biedrins at No. 11. Like taking out screws without a screwdriver. In the end, Pietrus takes the nod over Biedrins, Acie Law IV (2007), and Jerome Moiso (2000), if only because he doesn’t suck and he’s not overpaid.

12th Pick: Nick Collison (2003)
Honorable Mention: Thaddeus Young (2007)
At this point, it becomes harder to pick out the best players from each position of the draft because many of these guys are all role players. Sure, there are some easy choices mixed in there too but, just like the 12th pick, you end up choosing between guys that aren’t stars, but have important roles on their team. We picked Nick Collison over Thad Young  for No. 12 because Collison’s the kind of guy every team needs: a bruising presence that doesn’t need touches to get his buckets and won’t complain if he doesn’t get enough burn. Plus, in case you missed it, he was the only guy in the whole playoffs that had some semblance of success in slowing down Dirk Nowitzki. That alone deserves props.

13th Pick: Richard Jefferson (2001)
Honorable Mention: Thabo Sefolosha (2006)
If you had a list of the best veteran guys that have never made an All-Star team in their careers, one of the choices has to be Richard Jefferson. Sure, he’s a role player these days with the Spurs, but back in his prime, he was a two-way beast that could get his and stop yours on a consistent basis.

14th Pick: Troy Murphy
Honorable Mention: Kris Humphries
We wanted to put Kris Humphries on the top spot, if only because we wanted to make references to his ‘Incredible Hump’ nickname and that golden horseshoe up his ass. How else could he be banging one of the hottest women on the planet? But in the end, respect has to be given to Troy Murphy, who has built a career as one of the better shooting (white) big men this side of Dallas. Plus, the dude could rebound like a goat, too.

15th Pick: Al Jefferson (2004)
Honorable Mention: Rodney Stuckey (2007)
A pretty easy choice considering the 15th pick has a pecking order in Jefferson (star), Stuckey (starter material), Robin Lopez (2008 - solid role player), and the collection of corpses that belong to Cedric Simmons (2006), Reece Gaines (2003), and Jason Collier (2000).

NEXT: Picks 16 to 30

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WORDS BY: KIRBY GARLITOS
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