Coming into the 2015 NBA Draft, the debate was over who was the better big man to draft number one overall. Karl Anthony-Towns or Jahlil Okafor. Anthony-Towns had been tabbed the better overall player, built for the wide open up and down game the Association has morphed into, while Okafor the more historically traditional low post threat. Those two will battle it out for the rest of their careers, and we won’t know the answer for about another decade. Just like ten years ago the debate was over who was the better point guard to draft, Deron Williams or Chris Paul? That discussion actually still caused rifts as close as three or four years ago.
Ten years later we know that answer, and we also now have a clearer view of who the winners, losers, stars and bust are in the class of 2005 Draft. At first glance, this could be one of the most disappointing in NBA history. Several projected All-Stars are out of the league or journeyman bench warmers. And, there’s only one sure-fire Hall of Famer.
HALL OF FAMER: Without a doubt, Chris Paul is the best player in this draft. Paul has turned into one of the historically great point guards, and has made his case that he’s the better of the point guards between himself and Deron Williams. Today I think most would give the edge to Paul.
Paul enters the 2015-2016 season with 6,950 career assists, that’s good for 15th all-time, he also has 1,641 career steals. He’s Newman 8-time All-Star, All-NBA 7-times (4-times 1st team), 7 All-Defensive team selections (5-times 1st team), the 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year, 6-time NBA steals leader and 4-times NBA Assist leader.
Deron Williams: The 3-time All-Star and 2-time All-NBA second teamer was selected 3rd overall, ahead of CP3. Williams combines strength and quickness at the point guard at 6’3″ 205 pounds that was very rare when he first entered the league. Even though he’s on his third stop (Jazz, Nets, Mavs) and been labeled a coach killer, when D-Will is right he’s one of the lethal combo PGs we’ve ever seen. For his career he averages 17.0 points and 8.5 assist per game. Hopefully for Dallas’ sake he has a return to All-Star form.
Andrew Bynum: Selected 10th overall by the Lakers out of New Jersey’s St. Joseph’s high school in the last draft where high school players were eligible. Los Angeles got two NBA Championships (Three NBA Finals), and an All-Star appearance out of the 7 footer. The Lakers also win for trading him off just before his eventual demise. He hasn’t played in an NBA regular season game since the 2014 season due to chronic knee injuries. Bynum was drafted after Charlie Villanueva, Channing Frye and Ike Diogu.
Nate Robinson: The 5’9″ guard was selected by the Phoenix Suns at #21, but traded to the New York Knicks. While Robinson’s numbers won’t WOW you, he’s played significant roles on playoff teams with championship aspirations, most recently with the Chicago Bulls in the absence of an injured Derrick Rose. Robinson has also been a stellar defender, and then there’s what’s he’s mostly known for, being the only three-time Slam Dunk Champion. He’s currently playing for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Andrew Bogut: The Australian big man out of Utah was the number one overall pick to Milwaukee over Paul, D-Will and All-Stars Danny Granger and David Lee to name a few. This was still a time when the big man was highly coveted and teams felt you needed one to compete. But, to be fair to Bogut, he has had some very unfortunate fluke injuries. He also was a key defensive presence on an NBA Championship team with the Golden State Warriors, although, the team looked dead in the water until head coach Steve Kerr made the lineup change that saw him get a DNP-CD (did not play, coach’s decision) in a couple of the Finals games.
Marvin Williams: He was drafted #2 after Bogut by the Atlanta Hawks ahead of all the same players bypassed by Milwaukee for Bogut. Williams who left North Carolina after winning a National Championship in his freshman season, was labeled a can’t miss prospect. His decorated high school career, and National Freshman of the Year season is why so many “experts” were high on him. Williams is now on his third team (Hawks, Jazz, Hornets) with career averages of 10.4 ppg, 1.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds.
Raymond Felton: You might be sensing a theme with the North Carolina Alums and it may seem like I’m picking on them, but I’m not. Several of the 2005 Tar Heels’ stock were sky-high after winning it all, and Felton was no different. The 5th overall pick in the draft to the Charlotte Bobcats, had a very decorated college career where he was All-Confernce three straight years, one time first team, in the highly competitive ACC. He was also named the 2005 Bob Cousy award winner, given to the Nation’s top point guard. So his collegiate career justified his high selection.
Felton’s biggest knock may be that he was the third point guard selected after D-Will and CP3, so expectations and comparisons may have been unfair. However, here are some guards that have outplayed him in their careers; Monte Ellis and Jarrett Jack. Felton has played for 5 teams (Bobcats, Knicks twice, Nuggets, Trail Blazers and Mavs).
Sean May: Another Tar Heel alum, May was drafted 13th overall ahead of fellow bigs, All-Star David Lee, second rounders Brandon Bass, Ersan Ilyasova, Marcin Gortat and Amir Johnson, who are all still active in the Association. May spent five years in the NBA with the Charlotte Bobcats and Sacramento Kings with career averages of 6.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 1.0 apg before finishing his career overseas last season. Just this week his was hired to the coaching staff at his alma mater.
Rashad McCants: the 14th pick in the draft by the Minnesota T-Wolves, the 6’4″ shooting guard spent 4 years in the league, his last with the Sacramento Kings in 2009, and even a D-League stint with the Texas Legends in 2010-2011. McCants career averages: 10.0 ppg on 43% FG and 37% on 3-pointers , 1.3 apg and 2.0 rpg.
McCants may be more known for a brief relationship with Khloe Kardashian, I know what you’re thinking and I’m not going there. He’s still playing professionally in Venezuela and has been playing overseas since 2012.
Other Busts; power forward Ike Diogu drafted 9th by the Golden State Warriors, power forward Hakim Warrick drafted 19th by the Memphis Grizzlies and shooting guard Julius Hodge drafted 20th by the Denver Nuggets.
Marcin Gortat: “The Polish Hammer” as he’s known around the Association, was drafted 57th overall by the Phoenix Suns and traded to the Orlando Magic where he saw quality minutes as a backup to Dwight Howard on a team that went to the 2009 NBA Finals and 2010 Eastern Conference finals. He’s now the starter on a Washington Wizards team that has steadily improved over the past couple of season and is in the hunt for the Eastern Conference crown in 2015.
Monte Ellis: Drafted 40th overall out Lanier High School in Mississippi by the Golden State Warriors. Ellis is one of the more lethal scorers in the game averaging 19.3 ppg on 45% shooting for his career. He scored 23.8 points per game from 2009-2012 for the Warriors. In 2007 he played a key role in the #8 seeded Warriors’ upset of the #1 seeded Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs. That same season he won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.
Danny Granger: Drafted 17th overall by the Indiana Pacers, Granger was an All-Star and the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2009. A big time scorer for the Pacers, he led the team in scoring from 2007-2012. Injuries have gotten the best of him later in his career, and he’s bounced around from the L.A. Clippers, Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons, who released him before the start of the 2015 season.
David Lee: Drafted 40th by the New York Knicks after a stellar four-year career at the University of Florida, Lee has been a two-time All-Star and 3-team All-NBA teamer. Just this past season he helped the Golden State Warriors win the 2015 NBA Championship. Lee is known as a high I.Q. player with above average passing and shooting touch for a big man. He’s now with his third team, the Boston Celtics, who are counting on his veteran leadership to accelerate their rebuilding process.
Jarrett Jack: Has been a steady backup point guard and spot-starter since being drafted 22nd by the Denver Nuggets and traded to the Portland Trailblazers on draft night. Jack has contributed mightily to several playoffs teams as their first guy off the bench. He averages 4.4 apg for his career, with his career high of 6.3 apg coming in 2011-2012 when he started 39 out of 45 games during the lockout shorten season
Other notable bargains, the 45th pick Lou Williams won the 2015 Sixth Man of the Year award, Ersan Ilyasova the 36th pick, and Brandon Bass the 33rd pick.