If you’re a GM, you’re constantly going to be making moves, and naturally, some of them may come back to bite you in the rear, as you never know how things can end up a couple of years later.
More often than not, GMs make bold moves they believe are for the best, but end up being huge mistakes, as they let go of some of their best talents in order to clear cap space or pile more assets.
Drafting is not an easy thing to do, as projections tend to fail and scouts often overlook intangibles. Naturally, several teams wind up getting rid of some of the players they draft and wind up regretting then in the end. Today, we’re going to rank all NBA teams if they had kept the players they drafted.
30. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr, Trae Young, Justin Anderson, Kelly Olynynk, Tyler Zeller
The Dallas Mavericks would have quite an interesting backcourt with Smith and Young. Both are good playmakers, both can also play off ball, neither of them is a good defender. Justin Anderson hasn’t been able to prove his worth so far in the league as a borderline role player, while Olynyk struggled to take a step forward as a stretch four. As for Zeller, he’s not starting material in this league.
29. Brooklyn Nets: Pat Connaughton, Kyle Korver, Kyle Kuzma, Brook Lopez, Jarrett Allen
Playmaking would be a huge issue for this squad, as Pat Connaughton is more of an off-ball player as well as Korver and Kuzma. Still, they could be a problem for opposing teams when it comes to three-point shooting with that kind of personnel. Moreover, Jarrett Allen is quickly developing into one of the most feared rim protectors in the league, already swatting the biggest stars in the world.
28. Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker, Malik Monk, Mikal Bridges, Tobias Harris, Cody Zeller
As a matter of fact, I kind of like this Hornets team, and that’s why I have some faith in them if they’re able to keep Kemba Walker. Bridges has a lot of upside and Malik Monk may turn into a walking bucket should the team finally give him enough touches. As for Zeller, he’s an average big man and a solid rim runner, while Tobias Harris may be the team’s X-Factor. He’s a borderline All-Star and keeps getting better and better as years go by.
27. Houston Rockets: Jeremy Lamb, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Gay, Nikola Mirotic, Clint Capela
It sure looks like the Rockets’ front office has never truly cared about landing a young point guard for the future, at least with their very own picks. Even so, this team would be really interesting to watch, with Batum handling the playmaking duties and three sharpshooters like Gay, Lamb and Mirotic. Also, they really nailed it with Capela, one of the best rim protectors in the world.
26. Utah Jazz: Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Gorgui Dieng, Enes Kanter
This Utah Jazz team isn’t nearly half as fun as the one they have nowadays, so props to the team’s front office for all of the moves they’ve done. Hayward has really regressed since his injury, and both Exum and Hood have been injury prone and disappointing. As for the Dieng-Kanter pairing, it could actually be quite fun to watch, with the former helping the latter on defense.
25. New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway Jr, Trevor Ariza, Danilo Gallinari, Kristaps Porzingis
The New York Knicks have drafted some great players over the years, but they just can’t seem to hold on to them beyond their rookie deals. Still, this roster would have two great defenders in Ntilikina and Ariza and a lot of shooting as well. Gallinari’s health is always going to be a concern, but he’s a stud when healthy.
24. San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker, George Hill, Goran Dragic, Kyle Anderson, Ian Mahinmi
The San Antonio Spurs haven’t been able to snag a high lottery pick in ages, as they’ve always been a playoff contender. Still, Gregg Popovich has made the most of their late 1st round and 2nd round picks, but this team wouldn’t have the slightest shot at Championship contention, not even with Popovich pulling the strings.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio, Andre Roberson, Wayne Ellington, Lauri Markkanen, Karl-Anthony Towns
The Timberwolves would have a solid crew and a huge shot at contention with Ricky Rubio pulling the strings of the offense and Markkanen and Towns going to work down low. Andre Roberson is an offensive non-factor, but is one of the best defenders in the league, while Wayne Ellington could be their three-point specialist.
22. Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Teague, Luka Doncic, John Collins, Al Horford, Pau Gasol
Well, this could be really fun to watch. For starters, they’re all more than capable of knocking down a three-pointer or two, while Teague, Doncic and Horford are great creators. Gasol’s prime is far behind him but he could still contribute in the offensive end, while John Collins keeps making strides as one of the most exciting prospects in the league. On a side note: do the Hawks regret trading away Luka Doncic?
21. Detroit Pistons: Spencer Dinwiddie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Khris Middleton, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond
Even though the Detroit Pistons would’ve had a very well rounded up squad, they would still find the way to miss the playoffs. The Monroe-Drummond twin towers were a spacing problem, but the team gave up early on three players that went on to thrive elsewhere in Dinwiddie, KCP and Middleton. All of them are great three-point shooters, willing facilitators and even above the average defenders.
20. Los Angeles Clippers: Shaun Livingston, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
This team would actually make some serious noise in the Western Conference. Livingston is one of the best backcourt defenders in the league and an underrated playmaker. Aminu is an outstanding wing stopper, and Gordon and Griffin would be more than able to carry the load in the offensive end. As for DeAndre Jordan, he’s a dominant rebounder on both sides of the glass and a top-tier rim protector.
19. Phoenix Suns: Rajon Rondo, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Deandre Ayton
The Phoenix Suns have been looking for a starting point guard for years, yet they could’ve had one should they kept Rajon Rondo. With Rondo on board and shooters like Bogdanovic and Booker beside him, they could finally make the playoffs. Josh Jackson would be relieved of offensive duties and could help make up for Ayton’s defensive meltdowns.
18. Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade, Josh Richardson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Michael Beasley, Bam Adebayo
Dwyane Wade actually entered the league as a point guard, and he’s already shown that he thrives as a playmaker. Josh Richardson is slowly becoming one of the best two-way players in the league, and Bojan and Beasley could get buckets for years. Bam Adebayo will be a stud once Hassan Whiteside is finally out of the picture.
17. Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Jefferson
Danny Ainge has made a terrific job in the NBA Draft and you can tell so by the fact that 4 out of these 5 players are still on the team and have a major role. Tatum and Brown are superstars in the making, while Smart is one of the peskiest defenders in the league. Big Al Jefferson may be on his way out, but he was a beast in the post during his prime. As for Rozier, he can ball, but he needs to find a new home in order to take a step forward.
16. Washington Wizards: John Wall, Jordan Clarkson, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr, JaVale McGee
The Washington Wizards have been a disaster for years, and they haven’t been able to fix their woes via Draft either. Even so, this team could compete in the Eastern Conference, featuring a lot of shooting that could perfectly suit John Wall’s run and gun kind of play. Also, JaVale McGee has finally proved his doubters wrong and grown as a great rim-running big man.
15. Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans, Marvin Bagley, DeMarcus Cousins
The Sacramento Kings are a much better team now that they traded away DeMarcus Cousins, but still, they could’ve been a huge threat in the West if they have kept all of these players. Fox’s defense would’ve made up for Thomas’ terrible defense, and Evans as the team’s 5th scoring option tells you enough about the kind of offense they could’ve had.
14. Toronto Raptors: Delon Wright, DeMar DeRozan, PJ Tucker, Pascal Siakam, Jonas Valanciunas
The Toronto Raptors have actually been quite solid when it comes to drafting, even though that hasn’t translated in much playoff success. With this team, they’d have Wright and Tucker as lockdown defenders with the team’s offense flowing through DeRozan and Siakam, and Valanciunas rounding up the middle as a pick and roll specialist.
13. Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard, Patty Mills, CJ McCollum, Will Barton, Zach Collins
The Portland Trail Blazers really love guards, apparently, with a three-guard set featuring Lillard, Mills and McCollum. That kind of lineup won’t get you many stops, but you’ll have threes for days. Will Barton is also an explosive scorer and Collins can stretch the floor with his shooting, but defense is going to be a huge issue here.
12. Memphis Grizzlies: Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, DeMarre Carroll, Kevin Love, Jaren Jackson Jr
Truth to be told, I actually like this squad. Both Conley and Lowry can run the point or play off-ball, and every team needs a 3 and D specialist of the likes of DeMarre Carroll. Obviously, their forte would be the team’s frontcourt, with a couple of guys that could either pound below the rim, play in the post, or pull up from distance to knock down three-pointers.
11. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Marc Gasol
The Los Angeles Lakers have been struggling for years, while they could’ve had one of the best squads of the decade should they kept all of their Draft picks. A Ball-Russell backcourt would’ve dominated for years, while Randle just keeps getting better and better. Brandon Ingram could’ve been their Harrison Barnes, and we all know what Marc Gasol is capable of.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Malcolm Brogdon, Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dirk Nowitzki, Thon Maker
The Milwaukee Bucks wouldn’t be able to go small, but they would have an all-shooting lineup for the ages. Jabari Parker may not be much of a defender, but he’s a light out scorer from all three levels. Dirk and Giannis playing together would be a treat to the eyes, and Malcolm Brogdon is one of the best role players in the league. As for Maker, he’s still pretty much in debt.
9. New Orleans Pelicans: Chris Paul, JR Smith, Buddy Hield, Nerlens Noel, Anthony Davis
This team would be extremely fun to watch. On one hand, Chris Paul running pick and roll with Davis would be deadly. Also, Smith and Hield would really help them stretch the floor. As for their frontcourt, a Noel-Davis pairing would provide lockdown defense below the rim. Sadly, we never got to see the Kentucky duo go side by side in the league.
8. Indiana Pacers: Lance Stephenson, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Myles Turner, Miles Plumlee
Once again, the Pacers have never truly cared much about landing a point guard in the Draft, and sadly for them, the only player they still have on their roster is Myles Turner, whose upside is off the charts. Could you imagine having Paul George and Kawhi Leonard in the same team? That’s what Lakers fans dreamed of. Instead, they got Lance Stephenson.
7. Philadelphia 76ers: Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Ben Simmons, Nikola Vucevic, Joel Embiid
The Philadelphia 76ers trusted the process and it sure paid off, but truth to be told, this squad wouldn’t be so bad either. Holiday and Iguodala are lockdown defenders, Vucevic and Embiid a couple of the most offensively gifted big men in the league, and Ben Simmons is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of talent.
6. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo, JJ Redick, Dario Saric, Aaron Gordon, Dwight Howard
The Orlando Magic has been through a never-ending rebuilding process and it looks like that’s not going to end any time soon. Still, they would’ve been a problem with this kind of squad. They’d have a physical, dominant and incredibly athletic frontcourt, a lot of shooting with Redick and Saric, and one of the best guards in the world on Oladipo.
5. Denver Nuggets: Donovan Mitchell, Jamal Murray, Carmelo Anthony, Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert
The Denver Nuggets have been a pleasant surprise all year long, but they could’ve been even better had they kept these guys. Donovan Mitchell was the biggest steal in last year’s Draft, Jamal Murray is a two-way stud already, and a Gobert-Jokic 1-2 punch down low would be the best in the league. As for Carmelo, you still have to respect his scoring ability.
4. Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose, Gary Harris, Jimmy Butler, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jusuf Nurkic
The Chicago Bulls have completely wasted their latest Draft picks and that’s one of the main reasons why the Gar/Pax era has been so mediocre. None of those players are still on the team and they all have All-Star potential or have been to the All-Star Game multiple times. This is just sad to think about, especially if you notice the fact that they traded Harris and Nurkic for Doug McDermott.
3. Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Regardless of what everybody says, the Golden State Warriors built their dynasty through the Draft. This was pretty much the same starting five they featured during their 1st Championship run, and they could still be Championship contenders with this roster. Barnes was never nearly half as good as expected but still played a major role for them.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, Danny Green, Andrew Wiggins, LeBron James, Tristan Thompson
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been blessed with 4 1st overall picks over the last 16 years, yet they haven’t made the most of them except for the 2016 Championship. Still, this team would run the East nowadays with Irving and LeBron back together and Wiggins learning a trick or two from the King.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams
And obviously, no team in the world could stop this Oklahoma City Thunder squad. Sam Presti drafted 3 MVPs, 3 Scoring Champions, and 2 Defensive Player of the Year Candidates - 3 if you count Durant. This team could’ve been a dynasty, even though there’s still a possibility that James Harden and Russell Westbrook would’ve never been as good as today if they had stayed together.