Players drafted in 2006 are finishing their fifth season in the NBA, which leads me to wonder, if we knew in 2006 what we know now, how would the 2006 draft, one of the weakest in recent memory, have looked?
#1: Toronto Raptors (27-55). Coming into the draft, Toronto's best players were Chris Bosh, who had averaged 23 and 9 the year before despite being only 21, veteran guards Mike James and Morris Peterson, who would leave that summer as free agents, and rookie Charlie Villanueva, who would be flipped for T.J. Ford two days after the draft. They decided to draft skilled international big man Andrea Bargnani, who has shown he can score, but does little else.
Despite the fact that others in the draft will have better careers, I think the best choice for Toronto would have been Brandon Roy (6th). He would have given the Raptors an elite wing to team with Bosh for a few seasons, and the team's inevitable winning would have made it easier to convince Bosh to stick around and other good players to join the Raptors (always difficult) so that Roy's eventual injury problems wouldn't have been crippling. Of course, this scenario is risky, and based on the premise that Toronto's management wouldn't give Roy a max contract and let Bosh go anyway. If you want a safer pick, then Toronto should have taken Rajon Rondo.
#2: Chicago Bulls (41-41). Chicago's future looked bright, with 23 year old Tyson Chandler, 20 year old Luol Deng, and 22 year old Ben Gordon all having played big roles the previous year. Kirk Hinrich (25) and Andres Nocioni (26) were also solid, and the team was hoping to add a star with the pick they had fleeced from the Knicks. Then they decided to trade down on draft day, draft Tyrus Thomas, and trade Tyson Chandler for P.J. Brown. It worked out okay in 2007, thanks to the acquisition of Ben Wallace and breakout seasons from Deng and Gordon, but in 2008 they only won 33 games. Of course, they picked Joakim Noah with another Knicks picked, lucked into Derrick Rose, signed Carlos Boozer, and held onto Deng, so everything worked out great in the end.
But, knowing their situation in 2006, what should they have done? Draft LaMarcus Aldridge (2nd), probably the best player available in the draft.
#3: Charlotte Bobcats (26-56). Their best player was Gerald Wallace (23), and they also had rookie Raymond Felton, promising center Emeka Okafor, and an uninspiring collection of veteran role players. And they picked Adam Morrison.
Who should they have picked? The BPA at this point is probably Rajon Rondo (21st), and in retrospect Charlotte should have taken him. Sure, there would be issues with putting him and Felton on the court at the same time, but when the cupboard is that bare, you need talent, not fit.
#4: Portland Trail Blazers (21-61). They had Zach Randolph, coming off a terrible season, and...Steve Blake and Joel Pryzbilla? Portland hit gold in this draft, somehow turning Tyrus Thomas, Victor Khryapa, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, and Trent Plaisted into LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy. The next season they got rid of Randolph.
What should they have done? Exactly what they did, except perhaps giving Roy less money. But if Chicago wouldn't trade, and with Aldridge, Rondo, and Roy gone, the best players available are Paul Millsap (who replicates Randolph), Rudy Gay, and Kyle Lowry. They would probably take Gay (8th), but none of the options are really what you'd expect from the 4th pick in the draft.
#5: Atlanta Hawks (26-56). The young Hawks had Joe Johnson, Al Harrington, Josh Smith, Josh Childress, Marvin Williams, and Zaza Pachulia. Harrington was the old man at 25, and this team with a thousand wings really needed a point guard. Instead, they drafted a 6-9 forward that busted, and was traded for Mike Bibby.
What should they have done? Taken Kyle Lowry (24th). Someone to direct the offense that could actually defend and penetrate would have made these recent Hawks even better.
#6: Minnesota Timberwolves (33-49). I think Kevin Garnett won those 33 games by himself. Minnesota needed everything. So, they decided to draft and trade Brandon Roy for Randy Foye. That did not turn out so well. 2007 would be Garnett's last in Minnesota, the Al Jefferson show bombed, and now it's Kevin Love's turn to be a great power forward on a bad team.
What should they have done? Best player available, especially with Garnett having one foot out the door. The best player left is Paul Millsap (47th).
#7: Boston Celtics (33-49) or Portland Trailblazers (21-61). This is kind of complicated. Boston essentially traded this pick to Portland for Sebastian Telfair, who swapped spots with Minnesota. To complete the circle, Minnesota and Boston had swapped Ricky Davis and Wally Szczerbiak a few months before.
Whichever team was picking, Boston or Portland (or Minnesota), the best player available was Ronnie Brewer (14th). Brewer turned out to be better than Telfair, so maybe Boston doesn't make that trade (though I don't know how that affects future cap space).
#8: Houston Rockets (34-48). The Rockets drafted Rudy Gay, and shipped him to Memphis for Shane Battier.
Needless to say, the Rockets would gladly trade anybody still available at this point for Shane Battier. Let's say, J.J. Redick (11th).
#9: Golden State Warriors (34-48). The year before their upset of Dallas in the playoffs, the Warriors, led by Jason Richardson, Troy Murphy, and Baron Davis, chose Patrick O'Bryant, who didn't do anything in the NBA.
If they had this pick back? I'm not sure if he's the BPA, but Andrea Bargnani (1st) seems like he was born to be a Warrior.
#10: Seattle Supersonics (35-47). Remember them? This team led by Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, and Luke Ridnour chose Mouhamed Sene, and international big man who barely played in the NBA.
Who should they have taken? Thabo Sefolosha (13th). Funny how things sometimes work out.
#11: Orlando Magic (36-46). Back when Dwight Howard was still figuring things out (but still good), and Tony Battie was their fourth best player, the Magic chose J.J. Redick, a good pick in retrospect.
Now, the best player left would be, imo, Tyrus Thomas, but on the chance that Stan Van Gundy might kill him, the Magic draft Boobie Gibson (42nd).
#12: New Orleans/Oklahoma City Thunder (38-44). The Hornets finished near .500 thanks to the rookie Chris Paul and David West. The Hornets drafted Hilton Armstrong with their pick, but in this redraft, get Tyrus Thomas (4th).
#13: Philadelphia 76ers (38-44): As we approach the end of the lottery, there are only a couple players left from this draft that have done anything in the NBA, and the 76ers take Randy Foye (7th).
#14: Utah Jazz (41-41): Jordan Farmar (26th) is a good backup point guard for Deron Williams.
#1 TOR: Brandon Roy
#2 CHI (to POR?): LaMarcus Aldridge
#3 CHA: Rajon Rondo
#4 POR (to CHI?): Rudy Gay
#5 ATL: Kyle Lowry
#6 MIN (to POR?): Paul Millsap
#7 BOS (to POR? to MIN?): Ronnie Brewer
#8 HOU (to MEM?): J.J. Redick
#9 GSW: Andrea Bargnani
#10 SEA: Thabo Sefolosha
#11 ORL: Daniel Gibson
#12 NOK: Tyrus Thomas
#13 PHI: Randy Foye
#14 UTA: Jordan Farmar