While we received word this week that the NBA is set to return July 31, the nearly three-months-long struggle to live in a world with no live basketball continues. But we have a saying in this business: the content must go on.
This week, we continue our 10-part series – some might even call it a saga – looking back at every NBA draft from the past decade.
Starting with the
Cole Aldrich Draft John Wall Draft in 2010, we'll comb through, pick-by-pick, and rank the top 15 players from each class. We initially considered going deeper but decided the merits of hashing out one middling role player against another were quite limited. Now, with that said, if anyone is truly interested in debating Landry Fields vs. Ekpe Udoh, please DM me on Twitter.
Of course, we're aware that there's a chance we might not be the first ones to come up with the concept of a re-draft. The circumstances of the last few months have resulted in just about every tangible object on earth being the subject of some sort of draft. But our lists will steer clear of the typical process of selecting the best player available at each pick. RotoWire is, in fact, a fantasy basketball outlet, so we'll consider each player's fantasy value – both peak and longevity – as our number one factor.
A few notes:
- As you'll notice, there's typically significant overlap between best player and most fantasy value. In 2010, for instance, our top three picks ended up being Paul George, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins
- Off-court or chemistry concerns were not considered, unless they impacted a player's fantasy value
- Team needs and roster construction at the time of the draft were not considered
- All production since each player entered the league was taken into account, including the 2019-20 season
- In order to pare our list down to 15, Alex and I ranked our top-20 fantasy players from each draft and ordered them by average ranking
- Any references to fantasy rankings refer to a player's finish in eight-category leagues by total value (as opposed to per-game value). Research was conducted using RotoWire's Historical Fantasy Archive tool
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns
Actual pick: Karl-Anthony Towns
Towns remains the No. 1 pick in our re-draft. He has an average fantasy rank of 19.4, and he only missed five total games prior to this season. In terms of real-life basketball, Towns is often criticized for poor defense. However, he's such an offensive force that he's been an elite fantasy option since he's joined the league. Since Towns' sophomore campaign, he's averaging 23.9 points with shooting splits of 53/40/84 plus 12.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.2 combined blocks-plus-steals. - Alex Barutha
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Devin Booker
Actual pick: D'Angelo Russell
Booker didn't mount a real challenge to Towns for the No. 1 spot, but he's easily our No. 2 pick. Over the last four seasons, Booker holds an average rank of 42nd, with a high of eighth overall in 2019-20. That average figure would be considerably higher had Booker not missed 18 games in 2018-19 and 28 games in 2017-18. - Nick Whalen
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Myles Turner
Actual pick: Jahlil Okafor
Turner's fantasy value has fluctuated significantly on a year-to-year basis. From 2016-17 onward he's ranked 23rd, 79th, 33rd and 72nd. But that comes out to a nice four-year average of 51.8, which is enough to land him here. Over that span, he's averaging 13.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.0 combined blocks-plus-steals and 1.3 assists. - Barutha
4. New York Knicks: D'Angelo Russell
Actual pick: Kristaps Porzingis
A top-100 player in four of his five NBA seasons, Russell can be a frustrating fantasy option, but he's been productive despite bouncing between four different teams. Russell's 2018-19 campaign in Brooklyn stands out as easily his best fantasy season. In 81 games, Russell averaged 21.1 points, 7.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.2 steals while hitting 2.9 threes per game (37% 3PT). - Whalen
5. Orlando Magic: Kristaps Porzingis
Actual pick: Mario Hezonja
Porzingis' injury history downgrades him, as he could be as high as third in our re-draft if he consistently stayed healthy. He's played only 237 games across five years, averaging 48 appearances per season. However, Porzingis' raw numbers have still been great and have often carried his fantasy value despite missed time. Putting aside the lost 2018-19 campaign, Porzingis has an average fantasy rank of 57.3. For his career, he's averaging 18.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.7 combined steals-plus-blocks, and 1.4 assists. - Barutha
6. Sacramento Kings: Josh Richardson
Actual pick: Willie Cauley-Stein
With injuries and a reduced role costing him time in 2019-20, Richardson really only has two great fantasy seasons: a 36th overall finish in 2017-18 and a 68th overall ranking in 2018-19. At this point in the draft, though, that's enough to lock him into the sixth pick. During that 2017-18 season, Richardson averaged 2.4 blocks/steals per game and posted a 45/38/85 shooting line. - Whalen
7. Denver Nuggets: Montrezl Harrell
Actual pick: Emmanuel Mudiay
It didn't seem like Harrell would ever have much of a role in the NBA across his first three seasons as an undersized center who can't stretch the floor. However, the Clippers gave him an opportunity in 2018-19 to be the team's primary option at center. He responded extremely well, ranking as the 49th-best fantasy player on the back of 16.6 points on 61.5 percent shooting, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.2 combined blocks-plus-steals. Harrell has backed that up this season, ranking as the 68th-best fantasy option. - Barutha
8. Detroit Pistons: Kelly Oubre
Actual pick: Stanley Johnson
The Tsunami Papi gets dinged for a pair of non-fantasy-relevant seasons to begin his career, but he's increased his rank in each of the last three years. Oubre topped out at 56th overall in 2019-20, but he likely would've finished inside the top 50 had it not been for a knee injury in February. In 56 games, Oubre averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.0 steals/blocks and 1.9 made threes. - Whalen
9. Charlotte Hornets: Terry Rozier
Actual pick: Frank Kaminsky
Rozier emerged in 2017-18 when Kyrie Irving appeared in only 60 games for the Celtics. Rozier was able to take over duties at point guard, ranking as the 92nd-best fantasy player on the back of 11.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.0 steals. His role was reduced last season, but the Hornets made a move to sign him in the offseason to be their starting point guard for 2019-20. This season, he's ranked 39th, averaging 18.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.0 steals. - Barutha
10. Miami Heat: Larry Nance
Actual pick: Justise Winslow
Nance has been a top-135 player in each of the last four years, including a 79th overall finish in 2018-19. Those aren't mind-blowing numbers, but Nance has often found himself the odd man out in a crowded Cavs frontcourt. Over the last three seasons, Nance is averaging fewer than 25 minutes per game. - Whalen
11. Indiana Pacers: Willie Cauley-Stein
Actual pick: Myles Turner
Cauley-Stein has one top-100 season to his name, which was in 2018-19 when he was the Kings' full-time starting center and averaged 11.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 combined steals-plus-blocks. However, he garnered very little interest in free agency over the summer and has appeared in just 54 games between the Warriors and Mavericks this season, averaging 7.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 2.0 combined steals-plus-blocks in 20.3 minutes. - Barutha
12. Utah Jazz: Delon Wright
Actual pick: Trey Lyles
A top-100 player in 2019-20, Wright averaged just 7.3 points in 21.7 minutes per game. But he complemented his scoring with solid rebounding, assists and steals numbers, as well as a 47/39/79 shooting line. - Whalen
13. Phoenix Suns: Richaun Holmes
Actual pick: Devin Booker
Holmes has stretches where he proves to be a great fantasy asset, mostly when given 30-plus minutes. However, that hasn't happened for a full season yet, so his best fantasy rank is 129th overall. When seeing 30-plus minutes this season, he's averaging 16.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 1.3 steals and 1.3 assists while shooting 69.5 percent from the field and 81.0 percent from the free-throw line. - Barutha
14. Oklahoma City Thunder: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Actual pick: Cameron Payne
Hollis-Jefferson went from top-100 player in 2017-18 to outside the top 200 in each of the last two seasons. But that 97th overall finish was impressive, especially considering he missed 14 games and hit only 13 three-pointers. - Whalen
15. Atlanta Hawks: Bobby Portis
Actual pick: Kelly Oubre (traded to WAS)
Portis has dealt with injuries and has never been in a full-time starting role, so his effect on the fantasy world since 2015 has been fairly minimal. His best season was 2017-18 when he played 73 games and averaged 13.2 points on 11.1 shots, 6.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.0 combined steals-plus-blocks. Portis can rack up numbers when given the workload, but no team has entrusted him with heavy minutes on a regular basis. - Barutha
Tyus Jones: Has a history of being a decent plug-and-play option for streamers, but Jones has never been able to grab hold of a starting role.
Cedi Osman: Didn't join the league until 2017-18 but has been solid across the past two seasons with an average rank of 132. Ultimately failed at being LeBron's successor in Cleveland.
Frank Kaminsky: He's not a complete bust, but Kaminsky has appeared in just 80 games over the last two seasons and has only one top-150 season to his name.
Emmanuel Mudiay: Injuries and a lack of offensive development have prevented Mudiay from living up to his expectations as the No. 7 overall pick. His best fantasy season was last season (???) when he played 59 games for the Knicks and averaged 14.8 points, 3.9 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 combined steals-plus-blocks.
Norman Powell: Finally broke out this season – 16.4 PPG on 50/40/84 shooting – but prior to 2019-20, Powell had never finished inside the top 200.