Draft busts, draft steals, and everything in between: every SINGLE NBA Draft has them all. Some drafts are just more infamous for their numerable draft busts; likewise, other drafts are renowned for their remarkable draft steals. With that, it is rare that the top 3 overall picks of a Draft go on to be the outright three best players of their class. This then raises the question: what would each draft look like if the three best players actually went top 3 in the draft?
In this piece, we went back to the past decade and redrafted the top 3 overall picks based on each player’s careers after getting drafted. The list spans the 2010 Draft to the 2019 Draft. We will be taking into consideration both individual and team accolades and awards, as well as a more subjective look at each player’s ability. The best player according to these parameters will be redrafted first overall, and so on.
Let’s get into the redraft of the past decade, starting with the 2010 Draft.
2010 NBA Draft
1st Overall: Paul George
2nd Overall: John Wall
3rd Overall: DeMarcus Cousins
Nothing too egregious for the first draft of this list. The actual number 1 overall pick of the 2010 Draft, John Wall, just falls to the 2nd overall pick in this hypothetical situation. Wall has indeed been one of the best point guards in the league for a good part of the past decade, with 5 All-Star appearances, an All-NBA selection, and an All-Defensive selection.
However, for all the memes, unflattering nicknames, and corner three-pointers that went astray, Paul George has undoubtedly had the best career out of anyone drafted this year. PG13 is a 6x All-Star, 5x All-NBA selection, 4x All-Defensive selection, 1x steals champion, and former Most Improved Player. Most notably, George came third in Most Valuable Player voting in 2019. He jumps all the way from the 10th overall pick to 1st overall in this redraft.
As for the third pick, DeMarcus Cousins pips the likes of Gordon Hayward, Eric Bledsoe, and Hassan Whiteside; he was the best center in the league for quite a bit of time while he was with the Sacramento Kings. The scouts weren’t far-off, as he was actually picked just two spots below with the 5th overall pick.
The actual top three picks of this draft were John Wall, Evan Turner, and Derrick Favors. Turner as a “can’t miss” prospect has been a bust, while Derrick Favors has somewhat had a more respectable career, though not much more than that. George and Cousins easily beat both of them out.
2011 NBA Draft
1st Overall: Kawhi Leonard
2nd Overall: Kyrie Irving
3rd Overall: Klay Thompson
The 2011 Draft arguably produced the best draft class of the whole decade. Its second round alone produced such players as Bogdan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Thomas, and Dāvis Bertāns. It had a myriad of 1st round draft steals like Jimmy Butler, Nikola Vučević, and Tobias Harris. The three best players of the bunch, however, are championship-caliber players Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and Klay Thompson.
Kawhi Leonard takes the top spot; the Klaw is a 2x Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 4x All-Star, 2x DPOY, 1x steals champion, 4x All-NBA selection, and 6x All-Defensive selection.
It’s a much harder choice when deciding between Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson for the second overall pick redraft. Thompson has 3 championships to Irving’s 1, so he’s ahead on team accolades. Irving, meanwhile, has 6 All-Star appearances to Thompson’s 5. Irving is currently averaging more points, rebounds, and assists; Thompson is a much better defender. In the end, we went with Uncle Drew as the number two pick for being a more consistent superstar than Thompson. The latter’s had his fair share of moments, of course; in fact, he has a higher career-high in points than Irving. However, his trade is more of the utility 3-and-D player, and his brilliant moments are a bit few and far.
Thompson still slides in third overall, though, beating out the likes of Kemba Walker and the aforementioned Butler.
The three redrafted players easily outshine Derrick Williams and Enes Kanter, the top 2 and 3 picks of this year’s Draft, respectively. Kanter is having an alright career, but it’s been pretty disappointing when considering his placement in such a good class. Williams, however, has been far worse: he’s been out of the league for two years now and has been an absolute bust of a second overall pick.
2012 NBA Draft
1st Overall: Anthony Davis
2nd Overall: Damian Lillard
3rd Overall: Bradley Beal
Remarkably, only one of the top 3 picks were redrafted. Anthony Davis was the consensus number 1 pick of that class, and he has been the best big man in the NBA for quite some time now. Davis is an NBA Champion, a 3x blocks champion, 7x All-Star, 4x All-NBA selection, and 4x All-Defensive selection. He still remains the best player to come out of the 2012 Draft; he keeps his status as the number 1 overall pick.
Bradley Beal has also been spectacular and has also justified his 3rd overall selection nicely. The Washington Wizard has been a 2x All-Star and is his team’s undisputed number 1 option.
Meanwhile, Damian Lillard has exploded all the way to the 2nd overall pick of this redraft, although he was actually just drafted 3 picks later. It is a real debate between Davis and Lillard, although Davis’ Championship run cemented him to the number 1 overall pick. Lillard hasn’t done too badly in the past decade, mind you; he was at least a top 3 point guard last decade. Dame is a 5x All-Star and a 5x All-NBA selection and has been a borderline MVP candidate over the past 3 years.
As was mentioned, the first and third pick is untouched for this redraft. Meanwhile, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was the actual 2nd overall pick of this draft. While Lillard is known for his tremendous scoring and long-range bombs, Kidd-Gilchrist is famous for his wacky jump shot and certified draft bust status.
2013 NBA Draft
1st Overall: Giannis Antetokounmpo
2nd Overall: Victor Oladipo
3rd Overall: Rudy Gobert
It’s no contest for the 2013 Draft as to who’s the redrafted number 1 pick. Giannis Antetokounmpo has come out of this particularly weak class as arguably the best player drafted this past decade. The two-time MVP has come all the way from outside the lottery to the top of his class, and no one really comes close.
The next best player would be Victor Oladipo. The former Most Improved Player has carved out a very good career after getting traded to the Indiana Pacers in 2017. After being initially labeled as a somewhat disappointing number 2 selection, he is now a 2x All-Star, 1x steals champion, 1x All-NBA selection, 1x All-Defensive selection. Vic keeps his place as the 2nd overall pick.
Rudy Gobert takes the third overall spot over C.J. McCollum. The Frenchman heavily outweighs McCollum in terms of individual accolades, with 2 DPOY awards, 1 All-Star appearance, 3 All-NBA selections, and 4 All-Defensive selections to C.J.’s Most Improved Player award. The latter just falls outside the top three of this redraft.
This draft is particularly well-known for having Anthony Bennett as its 1st overall pick, arguably the worst draft bust in history. Replacing him with the Greek Freak was a no-brainer. Otto Porter was the third pick of that draft. Porter hasn’t had a bad time in the league, but both Gobert and McCollum have had much better careers than him. Either would have been better third overall picks.
2014 NBA Draft
1st Overall: Nikola Jokić
2nd Overall: Joel Embiid
3rd Overall: Zach LaVine
No one predicted the 2014 Draft Class to come down to the battle of the two greatest centers of the league today.
That’s exactly what transpired, however, as it produced both Joel Embiid with the 3rd pick and Nikola Jokić with the 41st pick. Jokić has had more Playoff success than Embiid and is less injury-prone. Embiid, meanwhile, has 3 All-Star appearances to Jokić’s 2 and has 2 All-Defensive selections to boot. It is worth noting that Jokić is the consensus best center in the league as of now, with the Serbian establishing himself further last Playoffs. So far, Jokić has shown his capability to make his team better, while Embiid has shown less of that transformative ability. Hence, the Joker takes the top spot here. Jojo still outdoes his actual placement by one as he takes second place.
The high-flying Zach LaVine is redrafted to the third overall pick from his actual selection of 13th overall. The Chicago Bull is just ahead of the likes of Jusuf Nurkić, Spencer Dinwiddie, Bogdan Bogdanović, and Jerami Grant.
Similar to 2013, the 2014 class is known for its draft busts, more specifically the top two picks Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. The man known as Maple Jordan has failed to live up to his impossibly high expectations, never really making that jump to superstar status. Meanwhile, Parker has never really established himself and has played himself out of the Sacramento Kings rotation.
2015 NBA Draft
1st Overall: Karl-Anthony Towns
2nd Overall: Devin Booker
3rd Overall: Kristaps Porziņģis
In what’s looking like a trend in this piece, at least one top 3 pick keeps his status as such. In this case, Karl-Anthony Towns keeps his place as the number 1 overall pick of this redraft, his only real competition being another Kentucky Wildcat in Devin Booker. While the 1x All-Star Devin Booker has proven himself to be a steal at pick #13, Towns has had more individual accolades and more team success. The Dominican-American is a 2x All-Star and a 1x All-NBA selection, making him the most decorated player of his class.
Meanwhile, 4th overall pick Kristaps Porziņģis jumps up one pick into 3rd. This selection was a toss-up between himself and the actual 2nd overall pick, D’Angelo Russell. The Latvian has been a better scorer for a longer period of time than D’Lo and arguably has a higher ceiling. Most teams would find way more value in a sharpshooting unicorn Porziņģis than the undersized combo guard in Russell.
We were so close to uniting the best friends Towns, Booker, and Russell in the redraft. Alas, Russell falls from the 2nd overall pick to make way for Booker and Porziņģis. Meanwhile, Jahlil Okafor as the actual third overall pick has disappointed as of late and has failed to translate his back-to-the-basket dominance to the league.
2016 NBA Draft
1st Overall: Ben Simmons
2nd Overall: Pascal Siakam
3rd Overall: Brandon Ingram
Not much has changed for this year’s Draft. Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram have proven themselves worthy of their top 3 status, although the latter falls down 1 selection. Simmons has looked to be on the cusp of greatness for 3 seasons now, despite his refusal to take jump shots. The Australian is a 2x All-Star, 1x steals champion, 1x All-NBA selection, and 1x All-Defensive selection. He has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone, but it is imperative for him to improve his shooting sooner rather than later.
Ingram, meanwhile, has looked like a changed man with the New Orleans Pelicans. Ingram played like a star last season; the Kevin Durant comparisons suddenly didn’t sound so outlandish. BI’s SC consists of a Most Improved Player award as well as an All-Star selection.
However, Ingram still falls to the third pick to make way for Pascal Siakam. The Cameroonian has just established himself to be the best player of the Toronto Raptors, on his way to earning an All-Star starter berth and an All-NBA selection. Siakam has also been the Most Improved Player himself a year ago. Most notably, he was a crucial part of the Raps’ first-ever NBA Championship. These accolades skyrocket Spicy P from his actual selection of 27th all the way to the 2nd overall pick of this redraft.
Only Jaylen Brown fell out of the top 3 picks of this redraft. He’s a great young player himself, only lacking that elusive All-Star appearance that the three redrafted players have. The Boston Celtic just barely misses out here.
2017 NBA Draft
1st Overall: Jayson Tatum
2nd Overall: Donovan Mitchell
3rd Overall: Bam Adebayo
The third overall pick of this year’s draft rises all the way to the first pick of the redraft. Jayson Tatum has emerged as the best player of the Boston Celtics and indeed the best player of this Draft.
Tatum just edges the 13th overall pick, Donovan Mitchell, for the top spot. Mitchell has averaged more points as the Utah Jazz’s clear-cut number 1 option, while Tatum has been flanked with way more scorers his whole career. Tatum has had more Playoff success than Mitchell, with two ECF appearances to one WCS exit. We’re leaning towards Tatum due to his bigger upside and potential, as well as his one All-NBA selection to Mitchell’s none.
The third overall pick easily goes to Bam Adebayo, who was actually picked 17th by the Miami Heat. Bam exploded last season as the Heat’s focal point in offense and defense. Like Tatum and Mitchell, he was a first-time All-Star last season and an All-Defensive selection. Adebayo has also gone the furthest in the Playoffs, reaching the NBA Finals last season in the Orlando bubble. Bam beats out young studs De’Aaron Fox and John Collins for this spot.
Similar to 2014, the top 2 spots are somewhat recognized as busts, although to a lesser extent. Markelle Fultz’s career has looked up since getting traded to the Orlando Magic, but his career so far as a number 1 pick has been disappointing at best. The same can be said for number 2 pick Lonzo Ball, who has never really made the All-Star jump that’s been expected of him every year since his rookie season.
2018 NBA Draft
1st Overall: Luka Dončić
2nd Overall: Trae Young
3rd Overall: DeAndre Ayton
Questions were asked of Luka Dončić and Trae Young as they were drafted and then traded for each other in Draft Night. Will Dončić be the next Dirk Nowitzki/Peja Stojakovic, or just the next Nemanja Bjelica/Darko Milicic? Will the undersized Young be able to shoot his shot in the more physical NBA?
The pair responded with explosive debut seasons and All-Star starter berths in just their sophomore years. Luka Dončić has played like an MVP candidate last year and has shown all-time potential. Trae Young, meanwhile, has justified the Steph Curry comparisons and has established himself as one of the best point guards in the league. Dončić does take the top spot for this redraft; the Don looks to be more versatile and has a higher ceiling than Young, and is also less of a liability on defense.
The third spot, meanwhile, is really between actual 1st overall pick DeAndre Ayton and 11th overall pick Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Bahamian-American pips the Canadian here, although it’s very, very close. Ayton seems to have a higher ceiling and has more of a potential to be a dominant force in the league.
Only Marvin Bagley III was dropped from the original top 3 picks; Trae Young has easily been the better player between the two so far. Bagley, like Ayton, has a lot to live up to as the two people selected above the transformative superstars Dončić and Young.
2019 NBA Draft
1st Overall: Ja Morant
2nd Overall: Zion Williamson
3rd Overall: Tyler Herro
Is it far too early to redraft the 2019 NBA Draft? It probably is, but we’re gonna do it anyway purely based on last season.
The 21-year old Ja Morant has shown that he has the potential to be the best point guard in the league someday; the Memphis Grizzly is already one of the better point guards in the NBA. He is athletic, creative, fearless, and has the clutch gene. Morant, like a certain Luka Dončić, has been given the responsibility to be his team’s go-to guy; he’s been brilliant so far in that regard.
Meanwhile, we haven’t actually gotten to see that much of the actual number one pick, Zion Williamson. The 6’6” power forward has only played in 24 games last season, although he’s had his moments of dominance already. He has shown just enough to warrant the second overall pick of this redraft.
The third overall pick in this redraft would be the Miami Heat’s Tyler Herro, who’s the only one of the three with Playoff experience already. The sharpshooting Herro averaged about 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in the Orlando bubble. He’s proven his worth on the big stage, with huge performances against the Boston Celtics in the ECF. Herro edges the undrafted Kendrick Nunn and the 3rd overall pick R.J. Barrett for this spot.