The NBA draft is upon us, and the draft order is officially set. But, what if general managers weren’t just limited to this year's eligible draftees? What if the talent pool was expanded across time and space, allowing all of the basketball’s greatest prospects in history to be eligible for this year’s draft?
Below is the actual order of this years draft, compiled with every team need and their corresponding pick. As such, teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, and New York Knicks will be excluded from the draft due to trading their respective picks.
Just before we begin, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind--
The LeBron James Rule
No Current NBA Players can be Selected (It would be tough for two Tim Duncan’s to be playing at once)
Players Will Only Be Judged on their Body of Work Prior to being drafted (for example: Jordan isn’t retroactively the best prospect, let alone the drafts most coveted shooting guard)
The “Kareem Is The Best Player But I need A Guard” Rule
A team has to draft a player corresponding to their greatest need (sorry Philly, you already have too many centers)
So with all that said, let's get to the draft!
1. Philadelphia 76ers
Draft Needs: Guards or Small Forward
Player Selected: Oscar Robertson
With Dario Saric and Joel Embiid finally joining the 76ers, they have a plethora of big men to choose from. On the other hand, the team has a noticeable lack of talent in their backcourt. So, it’s only natural to add 3 time College Player of the Year Oscar Robertson, giving Brett Brown and his anemic Sixers a walking triple-double threat who can add immediate leadership. Plus with two other picks in the back half of the draft (24th and 26th), the Sixers are bound to find more weapons to outfit their new Point Guard with.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Draft Needs: Small Forward or Center
Player Selected: Lew Alcindor
Thanks to the Sixers loaded front court, Alcindor will be staying in the city of Los Angeles. Not only did the Lakers walk away with the greatest prospect in the draft, but he’ll be joining an impressive young core of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. Safe to say the Lakers have a bright future ahead of them-- especially if they snag a high profile free agents like Demar Derozan or Harrison Barnes.
3. Boston Celtics (via Nets)
Draft Needs: Power Forward, Center, Another Scorer
Player Selected: Wilt Chamberlain
The Boston Celtics are a young team already making waves thanks to their brilliant coach Brad Stevens and point guard Isaiah Thomas. Couple that with a plethora of first-round picks in the next several years (including 3 in this draft) and their future looks promising to say the least. So the first step in revitalizing the Celtics will be treating the noticeable lack of big men, as well as adding another high-profile scorer to assist Isaiah Thomas. So who better than “Goliath”?
4. Phoenix Suns
Draft Needs: Power Forward, Small Forward, Defense
Player Selected: Arvydas Sabonis
Arvydas was a highly coveted international prospect, with a skillset covering every facet imaginable. He could block shots, score in the post, shoot beyond the arch, rebound, and even move the ball like Duncan or Bill Russell. Sadly he was unable to join the league due to prior obligations to the U.S.S.R’s national team (at that point professionals couldn’t play in the olympics). Luckily that isn’t an issue anymore, so the Suns will look to Arvydas to anchor their non-existent defense and add to their growing variety of capable scorers.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
Draft Needs: Point Guard, Power Forward or Center
Player Selected: Magic Johnson
The Minnesota Timberwolves have slowly retooled since the departure of Kevin Love, adding phenom’s like Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns. Now they’ll look to improve upon the point guard position, replacing Ricky Rubio with Michigan State’s fearless leader, Magic Johnson. Magic, Wiggins, Towns and now Tom Thibodeau? Sounds like a future dynasty to me.
6. New Orleans Pelicans
Draft Needs: Anyone Not Named Anthony Davis
Player Selected: Pete Maravich
The Pelicans will be staying in Louisiana for their selection, drafting LSU sensation, and the NCAA’s all time leading scorer (with an insane 44.2 points per game) Pete Maravich. With a skillset eerily similar to the league’s reigning MVP, Stephen Curry, Maravich will help balance the talent of Anthony Davis in the front court to create an unstoppable duo.
7. Denver Nuggets
Draft Needs: Anyone, Shooting
Player Selected: Larry Bird
The Nuggets have a roster filled with young talent, with not a single player clocking in over the age of 27. Their main concern is a noticeable lack of shooting, as well as a scorer who can take over when need be. So they’ll be drafting Indiana State’s one-man-army Larry Bird, a great rebounding stretch-four who has an incredible knack for getting his teammates involved.
9. Sacramento Kings
Draft Needs: Guards, Defense
Player Selected: David Thompson
The Sacramento Kings are just a mess. Extremely talented yet unable to come together as a team. But, with that said, the team still needs a reliable shooting guard, and there isn’t a single prospect more appealing than NC State’s David Thompson (Jordan before Jordan). His unbelievable athleticism and savvy post moves will make him an instant scoring threat, adding to the Kings already impressive offense.
9. Toronto Raptors (via Knicks)
Draft Needs: Power Forward, Shooting Guard, Rebounding
Players Selected: Elvin Hayes
The University of Houston’s Elvin Hayes is the perfect fit for the Toronto Raptors, especially with the possibility of losing both Bismack Biyombo and Demar Derozan. A stretch-four who can make space of Valanciunas, rebound, defend, and make up for the possible loss of Derozan on the scoreboard.
10. Milwaukee Bucks
Draft Needs: Small Forward and Rebounding
Player Selection: Rick Barry
In all likelihood the Bucks would be in desperate need of a point guard if it weren’t for Jason Kidd’s revolutionary idea to place Giannis at the point. So, they’ll need to fill the hole he’s left at the Small Forward position. Enter Rick Barry, a forward who can space the floor, rebound, and get his teammates involved. He may not be the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, but he’s one more highly talented young asset to add to their impressive core.
11. Orlando Magic
Draft Needs: Best Available Player Other Than Center
Draft Selection: Jerry Lucas
Jerry Lucas was the man at THE Ohio State University, voted twice as the consensus player of the year. A great scorer with the ability to crash the boards, Lucas is going to fill the void that Ersan Ilyasova leaves at the power forward position.
12. Utah Jazz
Draft Needs: Scoring
Draft Selection: Michael Jordan
The Utah Jazz are a strong defensive minded team, despite having an incredible young core of players. But, they still need a scorer who can take over late in games, aside from Gordon Hayward. So Utah takes a gamble on a sensational junior out of UNC who’s shown obscene athleticism, but maybe not the consistency of other prospects like David Thompson or Maravich. Hopefully the rumors are true, and Dean Smith really is the only person who can stop Jordan from scoring more than 20 points a game.
13. Phoenix Suns (via Wizards)
Draft Needs: Small Forward, Center, Defense
Player Selected: Bill Walton
Phoenix has a bright future offensively, but not even Sabonis could cure their defensive deficiencies. So, the Suns will look to strengthen their interior defense and add another fantastic passer in UCLA legend Bill Walton. Not only is he a steal at number 13, but he’ll certainly succeed alongside a like minded player like Sabonis.
14. Chicago Bulls
Draft Needs: Point Guard and Center
Player Selection: Shaquille O’Neal
Now that Chicago is reportedly losing their long time motor and emotional leader Joakim Noah, they’ll also need to fill the gaping whole in their interior defense. So, who better than LSU’s beast Shaquille O’Neal? With his inhuman physique, shot blocking, and offensive repertoire-- Shaq is sure to take the city of Chicago by storm alongside Butler and Rose.
15. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets)
Draft Needs: Anyone,Shooting
Player Selected: Jerry West
Zeke from Cabin Creek was a revolutionary shooter who could dominate from the wing or the point in his historic career in Morgantown. So not only will he create space alongside new teammate Larry Bird, but Denver will have the flexibility to grow West alongside last years draft pick Emmanuel Mudiay.
16. Boston Celtics (via Mavericks)
Draft Needs: Power Forward
Player Selected: Bob Pettit
The Celtics already used their first pick to draft Kansas Jayhawk-turned Harlem Globetrotting center Wilt Chamberlain, a strong post presence who can anchor their impressive defense. So, why not draft a great stretch four who can grab any of the boards Wilt misses? Well LSU superstar Bob Pettit can do all of that and more.
17. Memphis Grizzlies
Draft Needs: Shooting Guard, Small Forward
Player Selected: Bernard King
Bernard King is everything the Memphis Grizzlies could ever want in a draftee. A scorer with a treasure chest of moves, who’s not afraid to use them. And, his ability to crash the boards doesn’t hurt either.
18. Detroit Pistons
Draft Needs: Small Forward, Power Forward, Shooting
Player Selected: Bill Bradley
Bill Bradley was an electric scorer at Princeton with a variety of weapons to kill the opposition. Including a deadly jumper, and a soft touch around the rim. Adding with someone like Bradley will definitely give the Pistons leeway to play a little smaller when Drummond is benched down the stretch.
19. Denver Nuggets (via Blazers)
Draft Needs: Anyone
Player Selected: Bill Russell
The Nuggets have already added superb shooters like West and Larry, so why not strengthen their interior defense and add a shot blocker? Well hello Bill Russell, a revolutionary shot blocker out of San Francisco, who has no real comparison in today's game. The shot blocking of Whiteside, plus the body and lateral quickness of a Kawhi Leonard or Scottie Pippen.
20. Indiana Pacers
Draft Needs: Point Guard, Power Forward
Player Selected: Isiah Thomas
The Indiana Pacers are a team trending smaller under executive Larry Bird, hoping to find an emphasis on guard play structured around Paul George. So, why not stay in the state of Indiana and draft one of Bobby Knight’s brightest? Not only will Isaiah Thomas be the perfect player to distribute the ball amongst the Pacers scorers, but he’ll add a much-needed dose of scoring down the stretch (unlike some of the other Pacers guards).
21. Atlanta Hawks
Draft Needs: Small Forward, Rebounding
Player Selected: Grant Hill
Atlanta is in serious danger of losing Al Horford, which would give some people cause to draft a center (i.e Ralph Sampson or Hakeem Olajuwon). But, they’re also in dire need of a small forward and added rebounding. So, with the selection of Grant Hill you get all of that and more. Scoring, playmaking, leadership, and a player who knows how to play in the confines of a team thanks to Coach K.
22. Charlotte Hornets
Draft Needs: Center, Power Forward, Offense
Player Selected: Spencer Haywood
Like Atlanta, the Hornets are in danger of losing their center. Unlike Atlanta, Al Jefferson is already showing clear signs of his advanced age. So regardless of his status, an upgrade would greatly help their team. So why not add a stretch four/five that can absolutely crash the boards? Well that’s Haywood’s M.O, and his versatility will certainly be a strength for Charlotte.
23. Boston Celtics
Draft Needs: Shooting Guard
Player Selected: Austin Carr
When you think of great scoring machines in NCAA history, legends like Wilt, Kareem, Maravich, Bernard King, Bill Bradley, and certainly Austin Carr come to mind. Was he brilliant at times and lack luster at others? Yes. Was he an unstoppable scoring machine who would be a great addition to a shallow Boston team? Definitely.
24. Philadelphia 76ers (via Heat/Cavaliers)
Draft Needs: Shooting Guard and Small Forward
Player Selected: Elgin Baylor
Brett Brown is a student of Gregg Popovich, demanding unselfish and dynamic players to manage an even more dynamic offense. So why not draft a wing who can run the fastbreak, crash the boards despite his short stature, and still find a way to average 30 points in his senior year? Combine that with the likes of Oscar Robertson, and the possibility of Noel, Saric, Okafor, and Embiid-- and you have a truly promising team.
25. Los Angeles Clippers
Draft Needs: Small Forward
Player Selected: Julius Erving
The Clippers have had their fair share of misfortune at the small forward position over the last several years. Ranging from Caron Butler, to Matt Barnes, and most recently Wesley Johnson. Hit or miss right? So the Clippers look to end their suffering by adding UMass’ second year phenom Julius Erving. He may not be the shooter that the Clippers need, but he’ll be a solid scoring presence and a capable defender thanks to his great length.
26. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder/Nuggets/Cavaliers)
Draft Needs: Shooting Guard
Player Selected: Chris Jackson
I feel like every player on this list is from LSU. Maravich, Pettit, Shaq-- okay maybe not everyone. But, anyways Philadelphia has a great squad so far, adding Oscar Robertson and Elgin Baylor to an impressive young front court. So let’s round out this starting lineup with a lights-out shooter reminiscent of Stephen Curry.
27. Toronto Raptors
Draft Needs: Shooting Guard
Player Selected: Mark Aguirre
It’s highly possible Demar Derozan could be leaving Toronto. So, Toronto needs to focus on filling that hole in the event that does happen. So why not add an athletic wing who knows his way around the rim? Mark Aguirre can do just that, adding another great scoring presence to the Raptors. And in the event Derozan does stay, Toronto now has one of the best wings in basketball. Win win.
28. Phoenix Suns (via Cavaliers/Celtics)
Draft Needs: Small Forward, Defense
Player Selected: Adrian Dantley
Devin Booker exploded in the latter half of this season as a dangerous scorer, able to rain down jumpers from practically anywhere on the floor. Couple that with the addition of Arvydas Sabonis, and another good midrange center and interior defender in Bill Walton, and the Suns have a bright future ahead of them (no pun intended). So why not add another explosive scorer to the mix? Specifically Notre Dame’s monstrous inside presence Adrian Dantley. What a lineup. I smell a future dynasty.
29. San Antonio Spurs
Draft Needs: Center or Point Guard
Player Selected: Ralph Sampson
The San Antonio Spurs could literally win a title any given season. Crazy right? Not really when you’re coached by Gregg Popovich, and your team is anchored by Old Man River Walk (maybe my favorite nickname ever). But, Duncan is losing his edge, and his battle with Father Time. And the lack of rebounding and interior defense was certainly the Spurs downfall against the Thunder in last years playoffs. So Virginia’s extremely skilled and extremely tall center Ralph Sampson will fill both of those holes, as well as add a new dimension to the Spurs already layered offense.
30. Golden State Warriors
Draft Needs: Center or Small Forward
Player Selected: David Robinson
While the impending loss of Harrison Barnes may worry Warrior fans, management has made it clear they’re willing to match any offer Barnes throws their way. So let's focus on the Warriors interior defense, led by the likes of Andrew Bogut and occasionally Festus Ezeli. Does the Warriors roster seem impenetrable (unless you’re LeBron James)? Yes. Could it improve? Definitely. Why not reinforce the interior with a strong rim protector with a knack for defense and pounding the post? Enter David Robinson. A team oriented center who will do anything to win.