Looking Back: Re-drafting The First Round Of The Top Heavy 2010 NBA Draft
At the time of the draft and in the six-plus seasons since, the 2010 NBA Draft class has been derided for a relative dearth of both top-end talent and overall depth. Despite the fact that the 2010 NBA Draft certainly cannot compare to the quality of the historically loaded classes of 2003, 1996, and 1984, the quality of the players drafted in 2010 far exceeds that of the contenders for worst class ever, which includes the astonishing and cringe-inducing classes of 2000 and 2013, among several others.
In any given draft, it is usually reasonable to assume that the players at the top will at least turn into major contributors at the NBA level and could conceivably become franchise cornerstones for a decade or more. It is also reasonable that some lottery picks will go bust — often in spectacular fashion — while a future All-NBA selection is passed over by most of the league, only to be plucked by a team with an abundance of talent already on its roster.
Looking back on the results of the 2010 NBA Draft, it is true that the lottery produced franchise-level talent (DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, and John Wall, among others) to go along with more than a few disappointments of bust-level proportions (ever thus to “raw, but physically gifted” lottery picks, Ekpe Udoh and Wesley Johnson). While a bit thin in terms of its overall depth, the 2010 class is certainly deserving of a second look through this re-draft in which each team is aided by the benefit of more than six years worth of hindsight.
- WASHINGTON WIZARDS – DEMARCUS COUSINS
Original Selection: John Wall
In the midst of a career year in which he is averaging 28.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.5 blocks per game through the first quarter of the 2016-17 season, DeMarcus Cousins has definitively affirmed his status as the best player — by a relatively wide margin — of the 2010 Draft class. Cousins’ game has improved game each season and he has even extended his range out to the three-point line to the tune of 34.6% over the last two seasons. Concerns over his attitude have been mostly overblown, as he’s shown a great deal of improvement over the last few years in that regard, and Cousins has done well to produce in a situation that is far from ideal for a player of his caliber.
- PHILADELPHIA 76ERS – PAUL GEORGE
Original Selection: Evan Turner
Likely the steal of the original draft when taken 10th by the Pacers, Paul George goes to the 76ers in this re-draft. A three-time All-Star, George has bounced back nicely from the devastating injury that cost him almost all of the 2014-15 campaign and provides the Sixers with a foundational player, potentially eliminating the need to commit to the polarizing tanking strategy now fondly or mockingly referred to as “The Process.” Of course, those who are delighted to have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons now on the roster might prefer that the Sixers pass on George in this re-draft to ensure the losing seasons that led to those high draft picks year after year.
- NEW JERSEY NETS – JOHN WALL
Original Selection: Derrick Favors
Although Favors has turned into a solid contributor in Utah, the Nets ultimately moved the third pick of this draft for a point guard in Deron Williams, whose time in Brooklyn was a major disappointment for a team with championship aspirations. The notoriously competitive John Wall could have thrived in an environment that briefly included an aging but still fiery and effective Kevin Garnett, not to mention a roster loaded with skilled and productive veterans like Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson. Since entering the league as the top overall pick in 2010, the three-time All-Star has been outstanding in Washington despite the team’s inability to live up to its own lofty expectations, with Wall putting up 18.3 points and 9.0 assists per game while also earning a selection to the 2015 NBA All-Defensive Team.
- MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES – GORDON HAYWARD
Original Selection: Wesley Johnson
Over the past three seasons, Gordon Hayward has been nothing short of a revelation in Utah, cementing his status as a legitimate franchise player while putting up an impressive line of 19.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game since the start of the 2014-15 season. In Hayward, Minnesota gets the athletic wing scorer the team surely hoped Wesley Johnson – a raw, but physically gifted player out of Syracuse University — would eventually become. Instead, Johnson has seen his minutes reduced from 26.2 minutes per game as a rookie with the Timberwolves to 12.5 per game as a member of the Clippers. Just image a starting line-up including Gordon Hayward, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Now, that’s scary.
- SACRAMENTO KINGS – HASSAN WHITESIDE
Original Selection: DeMarcus Cousins
Hassan Whiteside has had quite the journey since being drafted in the second round by the Kings back in 2010, 33rd overall, and it seems fitting that the mercurial 7-footer is available to the Kings in this re-draft since Cousins is already off the board. It’s entirely possible that Whiteside, just a few years removed from being out of the NBA and bouncing around the D-League, China, and Lebanon, continues to rise up this draft board in future years, as it appears that he is only beginning to scratch the surface of his immense talent while averaging 17.6 points, 14.7 rebounds (best in the NBA through the quarter-season mark), and 2.3 blocks per game this season. The best may be yet to come for Hassan Whiteside, who recently signed a mammoth contract with the Miami Heat.
- GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS – GREG MONROE
Original Selection: Epke Udoh
Greg Monroe, a solid big man and a double-double machine, slides up one spot from his original draft position to replace Epke Udoh, a disappointing lottery pick for Golden State. Currently in a reduced role with Milwaukee, Greg Monroe is a likely candidate to be moved at the trade deadline and any teams eyeing the 6-11 power forward/center will be hoping to get the player who averaged 14.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game during his fist six seasons in the NBA. Among the teams rumored to be interested in Monroe include the very team that selected him in this re-draft: the Golden State Warriors. With a fresh start, Monroe can easily rediscover the form that made him a solid lottery pick for the Detroit Pistons.
- DETROIT PISTONS – ERIC BLEDSOE
Original Selection: Greg Monroe
The Clippers landed Eric Bledsoe with the 18th pick of the original 2010 NBA Draft, but the point guard’s production since joining the Phoenix Suns ensures he doesn’t fall outside of the lottery in this re-draft. In his four seasons with the Suns, Bledsoe has put up 18.2 points, 5.9 assists, and 4.9 rebounds per game, giving the Pistons a solid young point guard to run the show for coach Stan Van Gundy – serving as more than ample consolation for losing out on Greg Monroe, the player they originally drafted in 2010, who went one pick earlier in our re-draft. Though it took Bledsoe sometime to get going in the NBA, he’s become an elite PG in the league and is worthy of being a lottery selection.
- LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS – DERRICK FAVORS
Original Selection: Al-Farouq Aminu
Originally the third pick in 2010, Derrick Favors drops to eighth but remains in the lottery, falling to the Clippers and taking the place of Al-Farouq Aminu. Since arriving in Utah via trade, Favors has proven to be a key contributor, averaging 15.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game since 2014-15. Injuries have hampered Favors at the outset of the 2016-17 NBA season, but the Jazz have high hopes that the former top-three pick can rejoin Hayward and Rudy Gobert soon enough to make a serious playoff run.
Aminu never panned out with the Clippers, lasting a single season in Los Angeles, before moving on to the Hornets/Pelicans, Mavericks and Trail Blazers, where he continue to play today.