Like most basketball fans, I am excited for the upcoming NBA season. There are so many questions surrounding offseason moves that I cannot wait for regular season games to start.
This past summer I was sitting on the edge of my seat as I watched the NBA draft. I saw each team strategically pick players based off of their weaknesses from the previous year.
As I was watching, I began to think about what the league would look like if every team was forced to keep the players they drafted. I imagined a league where players could not leave a franchise during free agency and trades were considered against the rules. What if every player a team drafted was who they were stuck with for their entire career?
Just for fun, I went back and looked at the past 15 NBA drafts. I marked notable All-Star picks and placed them on the team that drafted them. The outcome allowed me to make a list of teams who draft extremely well and others who struggled. I understand that some draft picks are contingent on that a star player left the franchise during free agency. An example would be the Cavaliers would have never had the #1 pick to draft Irving had Lebron remained in Cleveland. However, they could have drafted poorly and picked Derrick Williams ( #2 ) or Enes Kanter ( #3 ) in that spot as well. For the sake of argument, I am going to only look at who each team drafted and base my opinion off that.
After I made the list of teams and their notable draft picks, I put a few of my buddies in a room and we argued it out. I wanted to see what their opinion was and where they felt each team was ranked. What we came up with was pretty remarkable.
1. The Detroit Pistons, Dallas Mavericks, and Miami Heat have not drafted well.
Between the three teams, they have drafted four All-Stars in the past 15 years. Considering they have combined for five of the last 10 championships, you would expect this number to be higher. These franchises are well known for making big splashes during free agency and dealing away big contracts to secure cap space.
2. The Lakers would be on a 15 year championship drought.
Los Angeles was not the worst, subsequently, they were also not the best at drafting either. Marc Gasol and Andrew Bynum would have been a great duo down low, but guards Jordan Farmer and Toney Douglas would have struggled to get them the ball. Speaking in the Lakers defense, they have only had one lottery pick in the past 15 years. Still, nothing would help this team survive against the other extremely talented teams in the league.
3. Phoenix Suns would have won a championship by now.
The Suns were a solid team with the Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire duo a few years ago. Imagine the same type of duo, but remove Nash and insert Rondo. The Suns would have been unstoppable. Now I know I described Stoudemire as the most overpaid player in the league (Top 5 Overpaid NBA Players), but his talent two years ago is not overrated. Plus with Rondo in the lineup, it would make it easier on him to play his role and not overplay everything.
Based off of who they drafted, the Suns starting lineup would currently be Rajon Rondo, Shawn Marion, Luol Deng, Amare Stoudemire, and Marcin Gortat with Nate Robinson, Robin Lopez, and Markieff Morris coming off the bench. Three to Five years ago, they would have been the team to beat and statistically the favorites to win it all.