We will never know the answer to “what if” questions. However, pondering the answers to those questions is still interesting.
Let’s go back and re-select the 2010 NBA Draft based on what we know now. We’ll be taking into account team needs at the time as well as the picks that were traded between teams prior to draft night.
We’ll continue to be pushing out these redrafts for each year every few days, so stay on the lookout to see how other drafts might have turned out.
1. Washington Wizards select G/F Paul George
Original pick: G John Wall
The Wizards entered the 2010 draft in need of a complete rebuild. Washington went 26-56 in a 2009-10 season where four of their top six minute-getters were 29 years old or older. Being bad and also full of veterans is not a good situation to have.
Wall was a solid pick, but given George’s superior durability and two-way play on the wing, he is the guy Washington would have preferred to kickstart its rebuild.
2. Philadelphia 76ers select G John Wall
Original pick: G/F Evan Turner
The pick of Turner made sense at the time, because most people considered him the clear second-best prospect of the draft after Wall. Philly was OK with him playing a similar position and role to Andre Iguodala, their franchise player at the time, because both guys were so versatile.
However, Turner never panned out as more than a serviceable rotation player. His jumper failed to develop and his mediocre athleticism affected all parts of his game.
Wall could have combined with Iguodala to form a devastating duo in transition. Ultimately, picking Wall here may have prevented the Sixers from trading Iggy in the summer of 2012.
3. New Jersey Nets select F Gordon Hayward
Original pick: F/C Derrick Favors
The Nets were the worst team in the NBA during the 2009-10 season back when they still played in New Jersey. The squad lost its first 18 games and ended with a terrible 12-70 record. Devin Harris, an All-Star in 2008-09, saw his play regress significantly, and most of the rest of the roster was a hodgepodge of raw young players and career journeymen.
The one bright spot from the season was center Brook Lopez, who averaged 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game as a second-year player. Considering the way the NBA was shifting more toward perimeter play, it would make little sense to add another big guy when the team needed tons of help at all the other positions.
Hayward’s all-around game at the small forward position would have complemented Lopez well. Unlike in Utah, the former Butler star would’ve gotten an opportunity to play a big role right from Day 1.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves select C DeMarcus Cousins
Original pick: F Wesley Johnson
Johnson was a complete bust in Minnesota. His shooting, physicality and feel for the game never came around to match his excellent athletic ability.
Cousins would’ve been a much better selection. There would could have been some awkwardness in the fit with fellow big men Kevin Love since neither guy is very quick on defense. But considering the way both guys develop their three-point shots, it is reasonable to suggest they might have worked things out.
An early-2010s Timberwolves core with Love, Cousins and a young pass-first point guard in Ricky Rubio is definitely one of the more entertaining what-if scenarios related to this redraft.
5. Sacramento Kings select G Eric Bledsoe
Original pick: C DeMarcus Cousins
Between the total ineptitude of the Kings’ organization and Cousins’ maturity issues, Sacramento’s selection of Cousins didn’t end as well as it should have.
With the talented Cousins off the board in this redraft, the Kings should be content taking Bledsoe. He has spent much of his career as an above-average starting point guard who can also go up a position due to his length, athleticism and strength.
The 2010 Kings would have still needed a whole lot more pieces to become a legitimate contender in the West, but adding a two-way guard like Bledsoe would have definitely helped.
6. Golden State Warriors select F/C Derrick Favors
Original pick: F/C Ekpe Udoh
The Warriors needed major help at the big men spots in 2010. Golden State’s roster was built around Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Corey Maggette and Anthony Morrow, four players 6’6” and shorter who preferred to play on the perimeter.
While Golden State ended up being one of the pioneers of the small-ball era several years later, adding a big man of Favors’ caliber still would have helped the squad tremendously. Throughout his career, he has been a reliable rebounder and finisher at the rim who knows his role well.
7. Detroit Pistons select F/C Greg Monroe
Original pick: F/C Greg Monroe
The Pistons would pick Monroe again if they had the chance. The 29-year-old big man is already out of the NBA, but he was immediately a reliable starter for seven seasons before settling in as a backup for a couple years once the NBA changed stylistically.
The reason that Detroit didn’t experience much success in the 2010s has less to do with Monroe and more to do with its other poor front-office decisions (drafting Austin Daye, Brandon Knight and Stanley Johnson, trading Khris Middleton and other questionable signings).
8. Los Angeles Clippers select F Al-Farouq Aminu
Original pick: F Al-Farouq Aminu
Even though the Clippers probably aren’t thrilled with the way Aminu’s career turned out, I believe they would take him here again. That does tell you something about the lack of depth in this class, but Aminu also turned out to be a respectable player who filled a need for the Clippers at the time.
At the time of the 2010 draft, Los Angeles had Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as key players for the squad. What you will notice about the aforementioned quartet is that it is missing a larger wing player. Aminu, for all of his offensive warts, has been tremendously versatile on defense throughout his career at 6’8” with a 7’3” wingspan.
9. Utah Jazz select G Avery Bradley
Original pick: F Gordon Hayward
Utah had actually won 53 games in 2009-10 heading into this draft, but the squad disappointed majorly the next season after a 27-13 start. The Jazz ended up going just 12-30 in their final 42 games of the 2010-11 campaign.
Trading All-Star point guard Deron Williams definitely contributed to the collapse, but the team also just wasn’t very deep. Utah had aging, defensive-minded shooting guard Raja Bell playing big minutes for the squad when he just wasn’t good anymore.
Bradley’s career in Boston got off to a slow start since the Celtics were contending and already set at his position, but the Jazz really could have used his defense and shooting early on if they had taken the former Texas guard.
10. Indiana Pacers select C Hassan Whiteside
Original pick: G/F Paul George
There is no question that the Pacers are the biggest losers in this redraft. Whiteside has made a decent career for himself, but he is not even close to the level of George.
Whiteside has always had tremendous talent. However, between his poor decisions on the court, poor attitude and lack of basketball IQ, his actual impact usually lags behind his statistical production.
It would be interesting to see if Whiteside’s career would have gone differently in Indiana than it did in Sacramento with the Kings. Sacramento initially waived him in 2012 due to issues with his attitude after two seasons mostly played in the NBA’s D-League. He finally returned to the league in 2014-15 with the Miami Heat and quickly established himself as one of the league’s strongest rim protectors.