2001 NBA Draft Remix
Where “straight from the prom” prospects stopped being such a wise investment.
For every high school phenom out there annoyed at having to wait a year after graduating before entering the NBA, they can thank the Class of 2001. While the age limit wasn’t instituted until 2006, the results of the 2001 Draft no doubt planted the age limit seed in the minds’ of the powers-that-be. Four of the top eights picks in 2001 were high school kids, and considering none of them find their names in the top 10 of Draft 365′s remix, they all should be considered busts.
The high school busts in 2001 are well documented, but looking back on this draft another angle appears — this is the draft of second bananas. Now this isn’t to be taken as an insult — no team can win a championship without a secondary star. Besides, how many real ”franchise players” (defined here as a top dog you can build a championship squad around) exist? You can pretty much count them on two hands. So perhaps the 2001 Draft was bereft of franchise players, but it was full of star-level talent.
2001 NBA Draft
All-Stars: 5 (Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, Tony Parker, Gilbert Arenas, Mehmet Okur)
Biggest Bust: Eddie Griffin, New Jersey, pick No. 7
Second Round Steal: Gilbert Arenas, Golden State, pick No. 30
Winning Team (in the long run): San Antonio (Tony Parker, Richard Jefferson)
Career Scoring Leader: Jason Richardson
Career Rebounding Leader: Pau Gasol
Career Assist Leader: Tony Parker
Pick No. 1 | Washington Wizards
Actual Selection:Kwame Brown
Draft 365 Remix: Pau Gasol (3)
Looking back, this is the moment when it became clear that the legend of Michael Jordan The Player didn’t also apply to Michael Jordan The Executive. This was also the end of any chance of Kwame Brown having a solid NBA career, as the weight of expectations that come with going first overall have totally buried him. Pau Gasol, meanwhile, has become one of those crucial second bananas mentioned above. No Pau, no ring for the Lakers last year.
Pick No. 2 | Los Angeles Clippers
Actual Selection: Tyson Chandler
Draft 365 Remix: Tony Parker (28)
The Spurs continued success can be attributed to their knack for finding talented players with high draft picks (and having that Duncan cat on your team probably helps you win too). Look no further than 2001, where they nabbed a Finals MVP at pick No. 28. And at 27 years old, Tony Parker still hasn’t even hit his peak. This wasn’t a total wasted pick for the Clippers, however, as Tyson Chandler netted them Elton Brand from Chicago.
Pick No. 3 | Atlanta Hawks
Actual Selection: Pau Gasol
Draft 365 Remix: Joe Johnson (10)
The Hawks had the best player in the draft in Gasol, but they swapped this pick for, among others, Shareef Abdur-Rahim. But in a weird case of synchronicity, they still ended up with the third best player in the draft in the long haul in the form of Joe Johnson, possibly the League’s most understated star.
Pick No. 4 | Chicago Bulls
Actual Selection: Eddy Curry
Draft 365 Remix: Gilbert Arenas (30)
Agent Zero is one of the best second round picks in recent memory. When healthy (that’s the key), he is one of the most dangerous scorers in the game. Meanwhile, Eddy Curry “only” weighs 318 pounds. In case he needs some more weight loss ideas, here are some suggestions.
Pick No. 5 | Golden State Warriors
Actual Selection: Jason Richardson
Draft 365 Remix: Mehmet Okur (37)
Mehmet Okur turned out to be another second round steal in 2001. The sharp-shooting big man is the rare center that is more comfortable outside than in the paint. Would he have been a better pick than Jason Richardson? Marginally.
Pick No. 6 | Memphis Grizzlies
Actual Selection: Shane Battier
Draft 365 Remix: Jason Richardson (5)
No real problem with the pick of Shane Battier at No. 6, but you could argue that Jason Richardson has had a better career. If JRich makes sure to only put the pedal-to-the-metal on the court and not off it this season, the Suns will be happy.
Pick No. 7 | New Jersey Nets
Actual Selection: Eddie Griffin
Draft 365 Remix: Richard Jefferson (13)
The player FreeDarko dubbed “The Troubled Griffin” had a tragically short career and life. Richard Jefferson is one of the best non-All-Stars in the NBA and will probably be the best fourth option in the League next year with San Antonio.
Pick No. 8 | Cleveland Cavaliers
Actual Selection: DeSagana Diop
Draft 365 Remix: Shane Battier (6)
DeSagana Diop was the fourth — and final — high school bust in the top 10 of 2001. On the flipside, Shane Battier has enjoyed lots of media attention as of late due to all the little things he does on the court to help his team win. Houston will need more than little things from him next year if they plan on winning any games.
Pick No. 9 | Detroit Pistons
Actual Selection: Rodney White
Draft 365 Remix: Gerald Wallace (25)
If you have to ask yourself “Who’s that?” then you know a draft pick was a bust. Who’s Rodney White? He’s a scoring star in China and Puerto Rico. Gerald Wallace is a freak of nature athlete, a defensive menace and an all-around unorthodox player.
Pick No. 10 | Boston Celtics
Actual Selection: Joe Johnson
Draft 365 Remix: Zach Randolph (19)
The most dispensable 20 & 10 guy in the League totally due to his character issues. But if you need low post scoring and rebounding (and don’t mind embarrassing headlines), he’s one of the best around.
Barely missed the Top 10 Remix: Troy Murphy, Tyson Chandler, Samuel Dalembert, Eddy Curry.
Next on the Remix: The new millennium kicks off with a dud of a draft.
Read more of Jeff Fox at The Hoops Manifesto.