Revisiting the 2005 NBA Draft
The 2005 NBA Draft would change the course of the future of two teams -- the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks. There was no clear-cut No. 1 pick, but Utah's Andrew Bogut was big, skilled and NBA ready. He wasn't the most convincing or dominant No. 1 pick, especially with Dwight Howard averaging a double-double in his rookie season, but he appeared to be the best choice for the Bucks.
Meanwhile, the Hawks decided on a player who was a sixth man of his college team. Marvin Williams had all the physical tools to be a star but played just one season at North Carolina. He fed off the Tar Heels' national title run and opted for the draft. It sounded like a good idea, although he was only 19. It's not that these were poor choices. Neither Bogut nor Williams are busts. They are productive NBA players, but when compared with the next two drafted, they are disappointments.
The Utah Jazz, making a rare top 5 appearance in the lottery, made the best of its pick by taking physical Illinois guard Deron Williams, a Jason Kidd clone with more advanced offensive skills. And then New Orleans changed the course of its organization by selecting Wake Forest guard Chris Paul, who took two short years to turn into a megastar. This will always go down as the draft that two franchise point guards were passed up in favor of two solid but not spectacular players.
So if you are then-Bucks general manager Larry Miller, what do you do? Milwaukee opts for the rugged, physical point guard who played at nearby Illinois. Since the Bucks had been burned with the brittleness of T.J. Ford, they pass on Paul and take Deron Williams first. That leaves Atlanta GM Billy Knight the chance to take Paul, and after heavy convincing, he does it. Remember, he took Shelden Williams over Brandon Roy (just wait for the 2006 Revisiting the Draft).
Paul in Atlanta makes sense. He is Atlanta's first all-star caliber point guard since Doc Rivers. His style fits well with the Hawks' system and immediately becomes a fan favorite. So that leaves the Jazz to take a chance on New Mexico swingman Danny Granger, who has quietly emerged as the third-best player in this draft. Granger took a few years to develop but has turned into a prolific scorer and franchise cornerstone.
The Hornets take a kid from nearby Mississippi in Monta Ellis, who turned down a scholarship offer to Miss. State and entered the draft. He turned out to be one of the quickest and most dynamic players in this draft. Golden State knew something because it signed him to a two-year guaranteed deal despite being a second-round pick. Only a severe ankle injury suffered while messing around on a moped prevented him from competing for an All-Star bid this past season.
Charlotte was fifth and took local boy Raymond Felton, who has been solid but not the impact player expected, which is why the Bobcats took D.J. Augustin three years later. Instead, Charlotte will take Bogut and pair him with Emeka Okafor for a nice post duo. Bogut has battled injuries but has become a solid defender and effective shot blocker.
The Portland Trail Blazers are next at six and they took Seattle prep standout Martell Webster, known as a superior shooter. Webster has been a disappointment at best, injury prone and slow to adapt to the NBA game. Instead, the Blazers take another Seattle-area kid in Marvin Williams.
The Toronto Raptors stunned NBA observers by taking UConn forward Charlie Villanueva, who stunned his coaches by leaving the Huskies two years early. Instead, the Raptors decide on prep center Andrew Bynum, only because, for some reason, they didn't like Villanueva and traded him after one year. Villanueva falls to the New York Knicks at No. 8. New York appeared to take the steal of the draft in Channing Frye, but after a strong start he was dealt to Portland in the Zach Randolph deal where his career has stalled. Villanueva, the New York native, makes a splash at the Garden.
Golden State nabbed Arizona State forward Ike Diogu and then did nothing with him until dealing him to Indiana in the Stephen Jackson trade. It's undecided whether Diogu can be a quality NBA player but the Warriors pass him up and take Washington guard Nate Robinson, who would have flourished in Don Nelson's fast-paced offense.
Since the Lakers can no longer take Bynum, GM Mitch Kupchak decides on Felton, who can run Phil Jackson's triangle offense. And if you want to talk about busts, Orlando GM Otis Smith can comment on lottery mistakes. He took Spanish center Fran Vazquez (pictured right), who showed up to New York, posed in all the draft photos and then decided he wasn't ready for the NBA. Vazquez is still toiling in Spain and the Magic still hold his rights, but it's been four years now.
As a do-over, Orlando takes Florida forward David Lee, a wildly popular pick in central Florida. Could you imagine Lee's energy with Howard's defense? The Clippers almost one-upped the Magic and took 18-year-old Russian Yaroslav Korolev, who played 34 total games before being waived two years ago. He is now playing in Russia.
So the Clips take Jarrett Jack, who isn't spectacular but has turned into a steady guard. The Bobcats spent the second of their two lottery picks on Sean May, who has battled injuries and weight problems and may be close to being out of the league. So Charlotte takes Providence forward Ryan Gomes, who had an equally productive college career and has turned into a viable scoring option in Minnesota.
The Timberwolves virtually wasted a pick on the selfish and one dimensional Rashad McCants, who spent three years sulking and shooting before being traded to Sacramento. Kevin McHale makes up for that miscue with Syracuse forward Hakim Warrick, who has put up solid numbers in anonymity in Memphis.
Of course, Francisco Garcia, Jason Maxiell, Linas Kleiza, Louis Williams and Ronny Turiaf were also worthy picks.
The way it was:
1) Andrew Bogut – Milwaukee
2) Marvin Williams – Atlanta
3) Deron Williams – Utah
4) Chris Paul – New Orleans
5) Raymond Felton – Charlotte
6) Martell Webster – Portland
7) Charlie Villanueva – Toronto
8) Channing Frye – New York
9) Ike Diogu – Golden State
10) Andrew Bynum – Los Angeles Lakers
11) Fran Vazquez – Orlando
12) Yaroslav Korolev – Los Angeles Clippers
13) Sean May – Charlotte
14) Rashard McCants – Minnesota
The way it should have been:
1) Deron Williams – Milwaukee
2) Chris Paul – Atlanta
3) Danny Granger – Utah
4) Monta Ellis – New Orleans
5) Andrew Bogut – Charlotte
6) Marvin Williams – Portland
7) Andrew Bynum – Toronto
8) Charlie Villanueva – New York
9) Nate Robinson – Golden State
10) Raymond Felton – Los Angeles Lakers
11) David Lee – Orlando
12) Jarrett Jack– Los Angeles Clippers
13) Ryan Gomes – Charlotte
14) Hakim Warrick – Minnesota