While we received word last 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. Phoenix Suns: Trae Young
Actual pick: Deandre Ayton
We've had less than two full seasons to evaluate this class, but Young is still the clear No. 1 with an average rank of 19.5. After overcoming a woefully slow start to finish 34th overall as a rookie, Young climbed all the way up to No. 5 this season by scoring nearly 30 points per game, to go with 9.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 3.4 made threes per game. At the time the season was suspended, Young ranked second in the NBA in total points, second in assists, second in made free throws, and sixth in made threes. - Nick Whalen
2. Sacramento Kings: Luka Doncic
Actual pick: Marvin Bagley
Doncic is the clear-cut second-best fantasy player from this draft. He has an average rank of 34.5, topping out at 16 this season while making his first All-Star game and averaging 28.7 points on 20.6 shots, 9.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.1 steals. Doncic may be a better real-life player than Trae Young, but he's unquestionably behind him when it comes to fantasy. - Alex Barutha
3. Atlanta Hawks: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Actual pick: Luka Doncic (traded to DAL)
Gilgeous-Alexander followed up an impressive rookie year with an even better sophomore campaign. He ranked inside the top 30, playing in 62 of 63 games and averaging 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.7 blocks. In the long-term, Gilgeous-Alexander has an even higher fantasy ceiling, as he often functioned as a secondary playmaker behind Chris Paul. - Whalen
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Mikal Bridges
Actual pick: Jaren Jackson Jr.
Bridges goes unrecognized by most NBA fans, but he's been an effective fantasy option during his first two years in the league, posting an average rank of 73.5. Bridges hasn't missed a game in his career and is providing fantasy backers with three-and-D production. For his career, Bridges is averaging 8.5 points (1.1 threes), 3.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 combined steals-plus-blocks. - Barutha
5. Dallas Mavericks: Mitchell Robinson
Actual pick: Trae Young (traded to ATL)
If literally any other franchise was tasked with Robinson's development, he'd probably rank closer to the top-three. But, alas, the Knicks have insisted on limiting the big man's minutes in each of his first two NBA seasons. Still, that hasn't stopped Robinson from leading the league in field goal percentage (74.2% FG this season) and ranking among the league-leaders in blocks. Plus, he nearly reached 1.0 steal per game this season in just 23.1 minutes. - Whalen
6. Orlando Magic: Collin Sexton
Actual pick: Mo Bamba
Sexton's scoring ability took a leap forward this year, averaging 20.8 points on 16.7 shots. That, plus his health, is fueling a fantasy rank of 46. While his passing and defense leaves a lot to be desired, he's clearly improved since his rookie year where he ranked 124th with a similar role and workload. - Barutha
7. Chicago Bulls: Jaren Jackson Jr.
Actual pick: Wendell Carter
In a real-life re-draft, Jackson easily goes a few spots higher, but due in large part to injuries, he's been only an average fantasy contributor over his first two seasons. Jackson finished outside the top-130 as a rookie (24 missed games), and he ranked 73rd overall in 2019-20. Jackson is a good source of points, blocks, field goal percentage, and three-pointers (2.5 3PM/G), but he contributes almost no assists and is a suspiciously poor rebounder (4.7 RPG) for his size and athletic profile. - Whalen
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Deandre Ayton
Actual pick: Collin Sexton
Ayton's rookie year was great, as he ranked 44th while averaging 16.3 points on 12.3 shots, 10.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 combined steals-plus-blocks. He burned fantasy backers this season by being suspended for 25 games due to steroids. That's why, despite improvements, he lands at eighth in our re-draft. This year, in 30 appearances, he's averaging 19.0 points on 15.5 shots, 12.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.4 combined blocks-plus-steals. - Barutha
9. New York Knicks: Devonte' Graham
Actual pick: Kevin Knox
We had to knock Graham for being virtually anonymous this time a year ago, but his 33rd overall finish in 2019-20 is the fourth-best season of any player in the class. Graham's field goal percentage (38.2% FG) remains an issue, but outside of that his fantasy profile is impressive across the board. At the time of the shutdown, Graham ranked fourth in the NBA in total assists and fifth in made three-pointers. - Whalen
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Kevin Huerter
Actual pick: Mikal Bridges (traded to PHO)
Huerter has already established himself as one of the league's better three-point shooters. He's also shown to be a better playmaker than expected. In his first two seasons, he's ranked 138th and 107th. This year, Huerter is averaging 12.2 points (2.3 threes), 4.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.4 combined steals-plus-blocks. - Barutha
11. Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges
Actual pick: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (traded to LAC)
Bridges may not have made the full leap some expected this season, but he still climbed his way into the top-100, putting up 13.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.3 blocks/steals and 1.5 made threes per game. - Whalen
12. Los Angeles Clippers: Donte DiVincenzo
Actual pick: Miles Bridges (traded to CHA)
Unexpectedly, DiVincenzo became a regular and significant part of the Bucks' rotation this season after dealing with injury as a rookie and spending some time in the G league. He's ranked 95th in fantasy currently, averaging 9.4 points on 7.7 shots, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals. - Barutha
13. Los Angeles Clippers: Wendell Carter
Actual pick: Jerome Robinson
Another lottery pick who's fallen victim to injuries, Carter holds an average rank of just 195.5 over his first two seasons. He's been much better on a per-game basis, but Carter is still yet to find the shooting range that was on display during his lone season at Duke. - Whalen
14. Denver Nuggets: Josh Okogie
Actual pick: Michael Porter Jr.
Okogie has been in a solid role during his first two years with the Timberwolves. However, it's largely been underwhelming, with an average fantasy rank of 169.5. This season, Okogie is averaging 8.6 points on 6.4 shots, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 steals. - Barutha
15. Washington Wizards: Bruce Brown
Actual pick: Troy Brown
Brown nearly cracked the top-130 this season thanks to 8.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.1 steals in 58 games. He's already a monster on the defensive end, and if he can improve his scoring efficiency, Brown could be worth a late-round pick in 2020-21. - Whalen
De'Anthony Melton: Nearly cracked the top-175 this season despite averaging just 19.4 minutes per game.
Troy Brown: Brown's rookie year was underwhelming, but he's carved out a nice role with the Wizards this season, ranking 124th in fantasy while averaging 9.7 points on 8.3 shots, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals.
Marvin Bagley: Productive when healthy, but Bagley missed 20 games as a rookie before sitting out 51 of 64 games this season.
Landry Shamet: Shamet's rookie and sophomore campaigns have been similar, but he's only appeared in 47 games this season, driving his fantasy rank down. The driving force of his fantasy value is his three-point shooting, and he's averaging 2.2 made threes per game for his career.