by Brett Callahan
Mamadou N’Diaye, Jake Tsakalidis, Igor Rakocevic, Khalid El-Amin, Scoonie Penn and, did I mention, Mamadou N’Diaye. If for nothing else positive, maybe the 2000 NBA Draft can go down in history as the draft class with the best names ever pronounced by David Stern. After the selections taken on June 28, 2000, most teams would probably jump at the chance to sway the attention away from their horrific scouting and selection process, and onto Stern’s pronunciation of Tuh-sack-a-ladies.
Deemed the NBA’s worst draft class ever by several writers over the years, the 2000 NBA Draft class certainly at least takes the cake for the last decade. When comparing the likes of recent drafts in which legitimate stars like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans continue to sprout out year after year, it’s hard to imagine a draft going so terribly wrong as the one in 2000 did. Yet, the let down of this draft from top to bottom was every bit as monumental as previously described.
Stromile Swift, Darius Miles, Marcus Fizer. Remember these guys? All top-4 picks. This all following a number one pick, Kenyon Martin, that has gone from supposed dynasty builder to an injury-prone defensive presence. This trend of now laughable roster building continued throughout the draft with such lowlights as Chris Mihm with the seventh pick, Mateen Cleaves and his heroic towel waving at the 14-spot, and Dalibor Bagaric (add to the Stern name column) with the 24th. In fact, only thirteen players from the first round, four from the second, and three undrafted free agents currently play in the NBA. They are:
Kenyon Martin (1st) – starting power forward – Denver Nuggets
Mike Miller (5th) – starting shooting guard – Washington Wizards
Jamal Crawford (8th) – sixth man – Atlanta Hawks
Joel Przybilla (9th) – Greg Oden’s replacement – Portland Trailblazers
Keyon Dooling (10th) – reserve – New Jersey Nets
Etan Thomas (12th) – reserve – Oklahoma City Thunder
Hedo Turkoglu (16th) – starting small forward – Toronto Raptors
Quentin Richardson (18th) – starting small forward – Miami Heat
Jamaal Magloire (19th) – reserve – Miami Heat
Speedy Claxton (20th) – reserve – Golden State Warriors
Morris Peterson (21st) – reserve – New Orleans Hornets
DeShawn Stevenson (23rd) – reserve – Washington Wizards
Primoz Brezec (27th) – reserve – Philadelphia 76ers
Eddie House (37th) – reserve – Boston Celtics
Michael Redd (43rd) – starting shooting guard – Milwaukee Bucks
Brian Cardinal (44th) – reserve– Minnesota Timberwolves
Jason Hart (49th) – reserve – Minnesota Timberwolves
Malik Allen – undrafted – reserve – Denver Nuggets
Ime Udoka – undrafted – reserve – Sacramento Kings
Yakhouba Diawara – undrafted – reserve – Miami Heat
Look at this list. These are the cream of the crop, the ones who survived: five starters, five consistent bench players, and ten locker spaces.
Redd, sandwiched between a nagging unproductive white forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves with an inexplicably large contract, Mark Madsen (29th), and, well, a nagging unproductive white forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves with an inexplicably large contract, Cardinal (44th), slipped to the 43rd pick? How again?
This is a draft that has produced a combined three All-Star appearances (Martin, Magloire, and Redd), one All-NBA Third Team selection (Redd), a Most Improved Player Award (Turkoglu), a Sixth Man of the Year Award (Miller), and two Van Wilder cameos (Miles, Richardson) in an entire decade. That’s half a rookie season for LeBron James.
If general managers were able to re-pick the top 5, it’d to go more like this:
1. Michael Redd
2. Hedo Turkoglu
3. Jamal Crawford
4. Kenyon Martin
5. Mike Miller
Fortunately, for the sake of this article and Madsen/Cardinal’s bank accounts, it didn’t shake out that way. And while the 2003 NBA Draft can boast for years about the Hall-of-Fame and Olympic Team selections it made in James, Anthony, Wade, and Bosh, there’s one thing they’ll never be able to take away from the class of 2000. Thank you for this, Mamadou N’Diaye, thank you.
For more Decade Awards, check out the archive.