The NBA draft is a time of hope and optimism for many NBA teams in the league. They are making decisions to affect their short and long term goals, and maybe even the franchise forever. Drafting the right player can change the course of an NBA team and place them in positions to win championships, make money, and build a powerful brand.
We have seen how the likes of LeBron James and Michael Jordan can completely become synonymous with a franchise, while even modern NBA rookie sensation Zion Williamson has placed New Orleans on the map. But many players have moved around and teams who drafted great players have unfortunately not had the chance to hold onto them.
Here are the best NBA teams if they kept their current crop of drafted players.
30. San Antonio Spurs
Goran Dragic, Dejounte Murray, Kyle Anderson, Lonnie Walker IV, Ian Mahinmi
Clearly, the Spurs got where they are now thanks to their solid free agency and trades. While the Spurs are not title contenders, they are not the worst team in the league.
If the Spurs are stuck with their drafted players, only Goran Dragic provides anything close to All-Star production. Murray has potential but still looks raw and limited while the rest of the lineup are role players without much impact.
29. Dallas Mavericks
Trae Young, Jalen Brunson, James Anderson, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller
The Mavericks made a huge splash by swapping Trae Young for the rights to Luka Doncic. As good as Trae is as an All-Star starter, Doncic is on another level. He’s already a top-ten player and is a superstar player.
Instead, the Mavericks would have Trae Young and a host of role players in their lineup. Clearly, the Mavs did the right thing with their trades and draft picks and are in a better position to win a title down the road.
28. Houston Rockets
Dillon Brooks, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Gay, Marcus Morris, Clint Capela
The Rockets have done a fantastic job in moving their assets to acquire superstar players. First, they trade for James Harden and then grab Dwight Howard before Chris Paul made the Rockets title contenders. Now, Westbrook accompanies Harden in the bid for a championship.
The Rockets would have nice forwards and some shooting, with Capela in the middle, but lack of any star power which they crave if they kept their draft picks.
27. Brooklyn Nets
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Kyle Korver, Kyle Kuzma, Jarett Allen, Brook Lopez
The Nets were building around low-post scorer Brook Lopez before they traded him away and he became a three-point shooter. The Nets would have two active big men in the paint and some shooting but not much else.
Kuzma is promising but he wouldn’t be enough to lead this team to a playoff series. The Nets have done pretty well for themselves so far.
26. Los Angeles Clippers
Eric Gordon, Mikal Bridges, Al-Farouq Aminu, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
The Clippers have the two biggest pieces of Lob City in DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin on the team, and some defense and shooting to fill out the lineup. But this team lacks any sort of playmaking similar to what Chris Paul used to provide.
This Clippers lineup would be tough to match up with, but still won’t be anywhere close to contending.
25. Utah Jazz
Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Paul Milsap, Enes Kanter
The Jazz would pair Hood and Burks in the backcourt while Hayward and Millsap provide All-Star quality support. Unfortunately, Hayward has suffered a major injury in his career while Millsap has aged and declined.
This team would be very good in all of the player’s respective primes, but very average if they played today.
24. Boston Celtics
Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Robert Williams
This lineup will be all about youth, toughness, and athleticism while Tatum is the #1 priority on the floor. Tatum is slowly becoming an offensive superstar before our very eyes while Brown is on his way to becoming an All-Star.
Williams, Smart, and Rozier would provide tough defense and nice impact on the floor to accompany the two young lions, Tatum and Brown. This team would be tougher than they look.
23. Milwaukee Bucks
Malcolm Brogdon, Donte DiVincenzo, Nick Powell, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker
The Bucks are only this high because Giannis is a superstar of the highest order. He can take this team and make them very hard to beat, even if the entire team is made up of role players other than Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon is a very good shooter and defender, so he will complement Giannis well.
But this team features not much more than The Greek Freak, so they are ranked 23rd.
22. Memphis Grizzlies
Michael Conley, Ja Morant, Kyle Lowry, Jaren Jackson Jr., Kevin Love
The grizzlies have had some nice draft picks that turned out to be very good players. Michael Conley is one of the most iconic Grizzlies players, having played the majority of his career in Memphis. Morant and Jackson Jr are the two most current up and coming stars of the team right now, while Lowry and Love have won NBA championships as complementary pieces.
This team would be very good on offense, but they will struggle with perimeter defense and this hurts them in the rankings.
21. Miami Heat
Josh Richardson, Tyler Herro, Bojan Bogdanovic, Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo
The Heat can field a very strong defensive team with this lineup, with great defenders across the board. Richardson and Bogdanovic are above average defensive players who can shoot it from deep, while Winslow and Adebayo are defensive specialists. Herros scoring and youth will help out a ton of offense.
Adebayo is an All-Star, and this Heat team would be very tough to score on when they are zoned in.
20. Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard, Patrick Mills, C.J. McCollum, Will Barton, Harry Giles
With Dame and C.J, this team has more than enough scoring talent. Mills and Barton are bundles of energy and more instant offense, giving the Blazers a ton of scoring ability that can set teams on fire.
Giles is still a promising talent, but he will have a large amount of pressure trying to slow down opposing bigs. Portland have done well with their draft picks since Dame and C.J. have led them to the Western Conference Finals last year.
19. New York Knicks
R.J. Barrett, Tim Hardaway Jr., Danilo Gallinari, Kristaps Porzingis, Mitchell Robinson
The Knicks shocked the NBA Universe when they traded away their franchise player in Kristaps Porzingis. Rumor has it that Porzingis requested a trade, but that didn’t mean that had to pull the trigger…
Still, the Knicks would be quite formidable with Porzingis and Robinson in the paint. That can block shots and defend the rim, giving Danilo and Tim Hardaway Jr space to shoot it from deep. Barrett will probably be an All-Star someday so this is a good lineup.
18. Washington Wizards
John Wall, Bradley Beal, Jordan Clarkson, Otto Porter, JaVale McGee
The Wizards did well with Wall and Beal, although they don’t seem to get along and Wall needs to play his way into form again after his injury. Porter and McGee can defend well, while Clarkson is instant offense.
If this team gets an in-shape and motivated John Wall with the current version of Bradley Beal, they are very formidable. But unfortunately, this is not likely to happen.
17. Charlotte Hornets
Kemba Walker, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Malik Monk, Tobias Harris, Cody Zeller
The Hornets pretty much had no chance to keep their franchise star Kemba Walker in town, but he is still a legend for the franchise. He had great years there, and Malik Monk will hope to replicate Walker’s production. Gilgeous-Alexander looks to be an All-Star talent, while Tobias Harris is already a solid third option on offense.
This team is very tough with plenty of offense and athleticism, so this would be a pretty good lineup in the East.
16. Detroit Pistons
Spencer Dinwiddie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Luke Kennard, Khris Middleton, Andre Drummond
The Pistons moved on from Andre Drummond, basically giving him away for free. Still, he is a defensive beat and the best rebounder in the NBA. Spencer Dinwiddie, KCP, and Kennard can shoot it and Dinwiddie is also an All-Star player right now. He has blossomed into quite a talent, so he will be key for this lineup.
Middleton gives the Pistons a sharpshooter and defensive stopper, basically adding a fourth perimeter player to surround Drummond.
15. Phoenix Suns
Rajon Rondo, Devin Booker, Bogdan Bogdanovic, T.J. Warren, Deandre Ayton
The Suns would have loved to have a prime Rondo right now, setting up Booker and Ayton for good looks all game long. This lineup would have plenty of scoring, athleticism, and a very versatile mix of players who can do many things.
Ayton would be the inside presence while Booker gets hot from the perimeter. Rondo holds the fort down at point guard with tough defense, while Bogdanovic does the same as small forward. Warren is not a star, but is very useful on the break and is a perfect swingman in this lineup.
14. Sacramento Kings
Isaiah Thomas, De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley III, Hassan Whiteside, DeMarcus Cousins
This team would be very scary, considering the amount of size and talent they have. A prime Isaiah and Cousins would take this team to great heights, especially with Whiteside and Bagley doing their defensive due diligence. Fox is the key here since he is probably the fastest player in the league.
This lineup can score inside and outside, defend well, and give plenty of challenges for any lineup in the NBA.
13. Toronto Raptors
Delon Wright, DeMar DeRozan, Pascal Siakam, P.J. Tucker, Jonas Valanciunas
The Raptors found a gem in DeRozan, who developed into an All-Star and great scorer for the franchise. Siakam is an even bigger gem and is currently an All-Star starter thanks to his overall play. The duo would be very entertaining to watch.
Valanciunas is a big man who can score and rebound, while very few players can play defense like P.J. Tucker in the post. Add the shooting of Delon Wright and this team would be very good.
12. Orlando Magic
Victor Oladipo, J.J. Redick, Aaron Gordon, Domantas Sabonis, Dwight Howard
Surrounding a prime Dwight Howard with Victor Oladipo and J.J. Redick would give opposing defenses fits. Howard was too much to handle down low, and Oladipo has developed into a legitimate star in the league. Redick can shoot the lights out and will be the perfect fit for the team.
But the keys here are Gordon and Sabonis. They are both very good inside scorers while Sabonis is already an All-Star. This team creates too many matchup problems and would be a nightmare to stop.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
Ricky Rubio, Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Karl-Anthony Towns
The Wolves are this high because Towns is such a great talent. He can do it all on both ends of the floor and really doesn’t have a weakness. He looks to be an MVP caliber player in the making, so surrounding him with Ricky Rubio and Kris Dunn is not a bad idea. LaVine can score the ball at a high level while Lauri Markkanen is a shot-blocking power forward who can shoot the ball and score inside.
The versatility of this team is very impressive, and KAT gives this lineup enough star power to almost crack the top ten lineups list.
10. Atlanta Hawks
Luka Doncic, Dennis Schroder, Kelly Oubre Jr., John Collins, Al Horford
The Hawks made a big move when they switched Luka Doncic for Trae Young in the NBA Draft. They clearly felt that Trae Young would be the man to lead the franchise instead of Luka, but that won’t matter with this lineup. Doncic and Dennis Schroder in the backcourt would be very formidable and can both shoot and pass.
Kelly Oubre Jr. is a young developing player who has a nice overall game so he would be a nice addition at the small forward spot. John Collins and Al Horford are key for this lineup because they can both defend, have good size inside, and they’re also athletic enough to guard multiple positions. This starting lineup would be very effective on the floor and gives them a better chance of competing for NBA titles than what they have right now with just Trae Young on the roster.
9. Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball, D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Marc Gasol
The Lakers had Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle all on their squad at some point. They also had DeAngelo Russell, a legitimate star in the league right now. All four of them together would be extremely exciting to watch, and very good, but the Lakers wanted to win-now in their pursuit of rings and shipped them all off in favor of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Marc Gasol ties the lineup altogether, using his size and skill as a 7-foot center to dominate the inside and give the young guys space to run and score. This lineup would have been one of the top 10 even without LeBron and AD on the roster.
8. Philadelphia 76ers
Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Ben Simmons, Jerami Grant, Joel Embiid
The Sixers have a good squad now, but they would have had a better squad if they kept their draft choices. Simmons and Embiid currently lead the line for the Sixers, but Williams and Holiday give them two scoring options that can shoot. They don’t have anyone as proficient at scoring the ball like them right now, mainly because Tobias Harris still plays like a power forward at times.
Grant is also key here, as one of the best shot blockers in the NBA and can shoot the ball from three. This lineup surrounds Simmons and Embiid with shooters and defenders and the Sixers would have been much better off.
7. New Orleans Pelicans
Chris Paul, Austin Rivers, Buddy Hield, Zion Williamson, Anthony Davis
Chris Paul and Austin Rivers are a good backcourt together because they defend the ball well and can also hit threes. Paul is still one of the best leaders at the point guard position and Buddy Hield is a master three-point shooter who will get plenty of looks playing alongside CP3.
But the duo of Zion Williamson and Anthony Davis has superstar impact. Williamson is a ferocious rebounder and inside scorer while we all know that AD is a top-five player in the world when he’s on his game. This team would be a legitimate title contender.
6. Indiana Pacers
Aaron Holiday, Caris LeVert, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Myles Turner
Funny enough Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are currently teammates for the Los Angeles Clippers, but the Pacers would have the luxury of their dynamic duo if they kept their draft choices. George and Leonard are perfect complementary pieces to one another because they can both shut down the opposition and also score the ball in many different ways.
Not to mention Myles Turner is a very versatile big man who can shoot from the perimeter, score inside, and rebound the ball. These three guys will be exceptional defensively and give the Pacers one of the best lineups in the league.
5. Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose, Gary Harris, Jimmy Butler, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jusuf Nurkic
This team would be sensational defensively and inside the paint. Rose loves to attack the paint so he’ll be crucial in the Bulls offense in the starting line-up. Jimmy Butler will actually be the leader of the team using his aggression on defense and also his versatile scoring ability to be the main scoring option alongside Derrick Rose.
Gary Harris is a very underrated defender and has the ability to guard both guard positions and also hit the three. Aldridge and Nurkic are formidable down low, and can both score and rebound the ball. This team is a title contender without a doubt.
4. Denver Nuggets
Jamal Murray, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Fournier, Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert
Quite surprisingly, the Nuggets would have had the dynamic duo of the Utah Jazz on their squad to add to their own duo of Murray and Jokic. Murray and Jokic are already leading Denver to a top-three seed in the West, but Gobert and Mitchell would make them a title favorite immediately. Fournier’s shooting adds another starting-caliber player to an already dominant team.
Denver has a great team right now, but this team would certainly win an NBA title if these players stayed together.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, Andrew Wiggins, LeBron James, Tristan Thompson
Anytime you draft LeBron James, you are primed to make the NBA Finals every year. You can surround him with role players, and he will still manage to make you a contender. But when the Cavs draft Kyrie Irving as well, they have an even greater chance. Luckily for the Cavs, these two played with each other and won an NBA title for Cleveland in 2015.
The sharpshooting of Harris, the athleticism of Wiggins, and the rebounding and defense of Tristan Thompson gives the Cavs the third-best team on this list.
2. Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry, Marco Belinelli, Klay Thompson, Harry Barnes, Draymond Green
The Warriors have done a sensational job in drafting the right players, and they picked the right player in Stephen Curry who has changed the NBA probably for the foreseeable future. No team in history has two shooters like Klay and Steph on one team, and Draymond Green is the perfect versatile big man in today’s game.
The Warriors win with pretty much the same team intact, so they are ranked second on this list behind a very dominant Western Conference team.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams
No doubt, the Thunder have the best lineup if they kept all their draft picks. Russ, KD, and Harden have provided scoring titles. That is phenomenal, and only one can imagine if they kept everyone together.
While James prospered after he left OKC, he might have got there alongside Russel and Kevin. The Thunder were already formidable with just Russ and KD, so with James Harden on board this team would be multiple-time NBA champs and there is no doubt.