Every NBA team's best draft pick since 2000

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By BEN LEIBOWITZ
PointAfter


Since 2000, NBA franchises have needed to draft extremely well in order to compete for championships. (Well, except for the Los Angeles Lakers.) Sure, a variety of successful teams traded for or signed important complementary pieces, but building through the draft is the most productive way to set the foundation of an organization.

Because drafting well is such an integral part of NBA success, PointAfter set out to find each team's best draft choice since the turn of the century.

SEE ALSO: Looking back at the best and worst of the NBA in 2015

To qualify as a team's best draft pick, each player must have suited up for the franchise (ideally for multiple seasons, but we made some exceptions that will become apparent later on). Players who went on to become All-Stars, make All-NBA teams and win championship trophies were the primary targets. And, although a handful of No. 1 overall choices made the cut, we rewarded teams that found diamonds in the rough. Sometimes they uncovered impressive talents in the second round, others just happened to choose the right guy at No. 9 or 10 overall.

The list is structured in descending order by draft position.

#30. Milwaukee Bucks: Michael Redd

Draft Year: 2000
Draft Slot: Second round, No. 43 overall

The Bucks drafted a couple of busts in recent memory: Yi Jianlian No. 6 overall in 2007 and Joe Alexander No. 8 overall one year later. That being said, youngsters Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker show plenty of promise.

Parker or the "Greek Freak" could stake a claim to this spot in the near future, but anytime you can unearth a future All-Star in the second round of the draft, that's an accomplishment worth acknowledging.

That's exactly what happened when Milwaukee selected Michael Redd. In addition to winning an Olympic gold medal for Team USA in 2008 in Beijing, the sharpshooting southpaw was named an All-Star and to the All-NBA Third Team in 2004. Injuries derailed his promising career, but Redd was an elite scorer at his peak.

#29. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin/DeAndre Jordan

Draft Year: 2009 & 2010
Draft Slot: First round, No. 1 overall & Second round, No. 35 overall

The best Clippers draft choice since 2000 is a tossup between their two starting big men. Blake Griffin is clearly the best player LA drafted in that timeframe, but taking a chance on DeAndre Jordan was a bold selection that required more basketball intellect then simply taking the best player at No. 1.

Jordan was a raw prospect coming out of Texas A&M, but he's developed into one of the league's best rebounders and shot blockers.

#28. Chicago Bulls: Jimmy Butler

Draft Year: 2011
Draft Slot: First round, No. 30 overall

Chicago's draft success since the turn of the century is quite impressive. After whiffing via Marcus Fizer, Eddy Curry and Jay Williams, the Bulls went on to draft eventual Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah and MVP Derrick Rose.

Either of those guys could be deemed the best draft pick for the Bulls since 2000. However, finding, drafting and developing Butler has been a more impressive chain of events.

#27. Dallas Mavericks: Josh Howard

Draft Year: 2003
Draft Slot: First round, No. 29 overall

In addition to being pegged as the Mavericks' best draft choice since 2000, we also tabbed Josh Howard as the best No. 29 overall draft choice in league history.

His peak was short-lived, but Howard earned an All-Star appearance in 2007 and averaged more points, rebounds and assists the following season.

#26. San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker

Draft Year: 2001
Draft Slot: First round, No. 28 overall

The Spurs boast a lengthy history of drafting well when the top prospects are already off the board. They drafted George Hill, Leandro Barbosa, Luis Scola and Goran Dragic in the late-first and early-second rounds (not always opting to keep those talents, but uncovering them nonetheless).

The obvious choice as San Antonio's best draft pick since 2000, however, is point guard Tony Parker. The French floor general has six All-Star berths and one Finals MVP award to his name.

#25. Boston Celtics: Tony Allen

Draft Year: 2004
Draft Slot: First round, No. 25 overall

Though Tony Allen didn't truly come into his own as a lockdown defensive player until later in his career with the Memphis Grizzlies, he was still a solid contributor with the Boston Celtics.

Given the "Trick-or-Treat Tony" nickname by sports fanatic Bill Simmons, Allen admittedly wasn't all that consistent for the Celtics. Perhaps down the line Jared Sullinger (the No. 21 overall pick in 2012) will take over this spot.

#24. Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Teague

Draft Year: 2009
Draft Slot: First round, No. 19 overall

There's a case to be made here for Al Horford, the No. 3 overall pick in 2007, but nabbing Jeff Teague at No. 19 two years later was the savvier move.

With other point guards like Darren Collison, Eric Maynor and Rodrigue Beaubois still on the board, Atlanta's brass opted for Teague. The Wake Forest product was clearly the best of that crop in hindsight.

#23. Los Angeles Lakers: Andrew Bynum

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Draft Year: 2005
Draft Slot: First round, No. 10 overall

The end of Andrew Bynum's career was abrupt, marred by knee injuries and awful hair styles.

But when the big man was just a youngster suiting up for the Los Angeles Lakers, he put together some impressive seasons. He peaked in 2011-12 by averaging 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game while shooting 55.8 percent from the field.

#22. Brooklyn Nets: Brook Lopez

Draft Year: 2008
Draft Slot: First round, No. 10 overall

The more skilled of the two Lopez twins, Brook has been great for the Nets when healthy. Unfortunately, the "when healthy" qualifier has eluded the big man in recent years.

He played just five games in 2011-12 and 17 games in 2013-14. Sandwiched in between, Lopez was named an All-Star. He's one of very few bright spots to be found on a Nets franchise with questionable direction.

#21. Indiana Pacers: Paul George

Draft Year: 2010
Draft Slot: First round, No. 10 overall

Even though Paul George missed nearly all of the 2014-15 campaign due to a broken leg, he's still been one of the best draft picks in recent memory.

He was selected behind guys like Evan Turner, Wesley Johnson, Ekpe Udoh and Al-Farouq Aminu. After playing just six games last season, "PG-13" is posting the best numbers of his career this season.

#20. Philadelphia 76ers: Andre Iguodala

Draft Year: 2004
Draft Slot: First round, No. 9 overall

Andre Iguodala currently fills a role as Golden State's glue guy. "Iggy" adds rebounding, passing, three-point shooting and, of course, stellar perimeter defense to the Warriors' well-oiled machine.

But before he was a role player in the Bay Area, Iguodala was a go-to scorer for the Philadelphia 76ers. He averaged at least 18 points, five rebounds and four assists per game with Philly for three consecutive seasons. He was named to his first and only All-Star team in 2012 as a Sixer.

#19. Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward

Draft Year: 2010
Draft Slot: First round, No. 9 overall

Even though drafting Gordon Hayward one spot ahead of Paul George will likely be viewed as a mistake when it's all said and done, the Butler product certainly hasn't been a slouch in Utah.

After sputtering through the 2013-14 season in his first year as an alpha dog scorer (41.3 percent shooting from the field, 30.4 percent from long range), Hayward has blossomed. He's shooting the ball far more efficiently while averaging more than 19 points per contest since his fourth year in the pros.

#18. Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker

Draft Year: 2011
Draft Slot: First round, No. 9 overall

Kemba Walker was known for his clutch scoring abilities at UConn, where he won a NCAA championship in 2011. His lack of efficiency, however, translated into the pros. He converted less than 40 percent of his shots in three of his first four seasons, but is experiencing a breakout in 2015-16.

Through the first 23 games of the latest campaign, Walker is shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from distance. He's finally establishing himself as a star point guard for Charlotte.

#17. Phoenix Suns: Amar'e Stoudemire

Draft Year: 2002
Draft Slot: First round, No. 9 overall

High school product Amar'e Stoudemire fell to the No. 9 spot in the 2002 draft. Phoenix snatched him up, and "STAT" went on to win Rookie of the Year honors.

As Steve Nash's pick-and-roll partner in the years following, Stoudemire was outstanding. He earned five All-Star nods while wearing a Suns jersey. The athletic big man added four All-NBA appearances as well.

Injuries cut him down soon after he signed a $100-plus million contract to join the New York Knicks.

#16. Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond

Draft Year: 2012
Draft Slot: First round, No. 9 overall

Yet another athletic big man who should not have fallen to No. 9 overall, Andre Drummond was picked up by Detroit. Though he's an embarrassingly bad free throw shooter, Drummond has developed into the NBA's best two-way rebounder.

He's on pace to become the first player since Dennis Rodman in 1996-97 to average at least 16 rebounds per game in a season.

#15. Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry

Draft Year: 2009
Draft Slot: First round, No. 7 overall

Stephen Curry led the Warriors to their first championship in 40 years while winning MVP in 2014-15. He's quite easily the best draft pick for Golden State since the turn of the century, but it wouldn't have been possible for the Bay Area to get him if not for the remarkable draft blunder made by former Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn.

Instead of taking Curry with either the No. 5 or No. 6 pick, Kahn doubled up on two lesser point guards in Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn.

Additionally, the Warriors actually had a deal in place with the Phoenix Suns to send the No. 7 pick to the desert in exchange for Stoudemire. But when Kahn let Curry drop, Golden State backed out of the deal and took the sharpshooter from Davidson. That turned out to be a brilliant decision by G-State's brass and a crushing blow to Suns fans, who are still waiting for the organization's first championship.

#14. Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard

Draft Year: 2012
Draft Slot: First round, No. 6 overall

Having played his college career at Weber State, many NBA scouts weren't high on Damian Lillard. Going up against what many perceive to be lesser competition in the Big Sky Conference hurt his stock.

That skepticism turned out to be Portland's gain. Lillard has already made two All-Star teams for the Trail Blazers since entering the pros.

#13. Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins

Draft Year: 2010
Draft Slot: First round, No. 5 overall

DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins' reputation as a hot-headed talent likely didn't help his draft stock in 2010. He slipped slightly to No. 5 overall, where the Kings nabbed the former Kentucky Wildcat.

His raw stats in Sacramento have been stellar, but the Kings have yet to win even 30 games in a season with Cousins on board. He admittedly hasn't had much help around him, but that's still not a ringing endorsement for Cousins' bonafides as a winner.

#12. Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade

Draft Year: 2003
Draft Slot: First round, No. 5 overall

We'll make this one quick, because Dwyane Wade is probably the best Miami Heat player in history.

He leads the organization's all-time leaderboards in games, minutes, points, assists, steals and win shares.

#11. New York Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis

Draft Year: 2015
Draft Slot: First round, No. 4 overall

Is it too early to crown Latvian rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis as the Knicks' best draft choice since 2000? Perhaps, but he isn't exactly facing stiff competition.

Power forward David Lee, who was drafted No. 30 overall in 2005, is another safe bet. He made the All-Star team for New York in 2010, and he was a consistent double-double threat, which helped disguise lackluster defensive abilities.

Still, Porzingis has answered all of the questions facing him early in his career. Even future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki, who Porzingis is often compared to, said of the youngster, "He's way better than I was at 20."

#10. Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley Jr.

Draft Year: 2007
Draft Slot: First round, No. 4 overall

Mike Conley has yet to make an All-Star team in his career, but he's frequently been pegged as an All-Star snub, which shows pundits hold him in high esteem.

Praised more for his defensive prowess, Conley's scoring capabilities often get overshadowed. He's not as athletic as Russell Westbrook, as solid all-around as Chris Paul or as prolific as a shooter as Stephen Curry, but he remains one of the most competent point guards in the league.

#9. Toronto Raptors: Chris Bosh

Draft Year: 2003
Draft Slot: First round, No. 4 overall

Before Chris Bosh was winning championships as the super-third-wheel alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, he was the alpha dog for the Toronto Raptors franchise.

In seven seasons spent up North, Bosh averaged 20.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 blocks per game. He made five All-Star teams as a Raptor, and has since added five more as a member of the Miami Heat.

#8. New Orleans Pelicans: Chris Paul

Draft Year: 2005
Draft Slot: First round, No. 4 overall

Before New Orleans' basketball franchise shifted to become the Pelicans, Chris Paul led the most exciting New Orleans Hornets teams in history.

Through his pick-and-pop plays with David West, pick-and-roll alley-oops to Tyson Chandler and three-point sniping support from Morris Peterson, James Posey and Peja Stojakovic, CP3 helped form an entertaining basketball product that competed admirably in the Western Conference for a number of years.

#7. Denver Nuggets: Carmelo Anthony

Draft Year: 2003
Draft Slot: First round, No. 3 overall

Carmelo Anthony forced his way out of Denver during the 2010-11 season, an unceremonious exit that left a sour taste in the mouths of Nuggets fans.

He isn't remembered fondly, but Anthony turned in some impressive campaigns and even led the Mile High City to the Western Conference Finals in 2009.

#6. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant

Draft Year: 2007
Draft Slot: First round, No. 2 overall

Though we don't usually like to lump the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise in with Seattle SuperSonics history, it makes sense in this context. The best player drafted since 2000 (originally for Seattle) remains the face of OKC's franchise.

Former MVP Kevin Durant earns the nod here, but there's still stiff competition. Nabbing Russell Westbrook No. 4 overall and Serge Ibaka No. 24 overall in 2008 were both phenomenal pickups. The Thunder compete at a high level because the team hit multiple home runs in the draft, but Durant remains the de facto "best" pick even though he fell into the franchise's lap.

#5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns

Draft Year: 2015
Draft Slot: First round, No. 1 overall

This might be another "too soon" moment, but because Minnesota's draft history is so ghastly, there truly isn't another choice for this spot.

First-round picks since 2000 that Minnesota didn't opt to trade immediately include: Ndudi Ebi, Rashad McCants, Corey Brewer, Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, Wesley Johnson, Derrick Williams and Zach LaVine.

Rubio is playing well this season, and LaVine shows promise of being more than just a high-flying dunker, but that's a pupu platter of draft whiffs otherwise. It's difficult to screw up the No. 1 overall pick. At least early on it appears Towns won't disappoint on that status (knock on wood, T-Wolves fans).

#4. Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard

Draft Year: 2004
Draft Slot: First round, No. 1 overall

Like Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard underwent an unceremonious exit from the franchise that drafted him. Before forcing his way out of Orlando, though, D12 was an absolute beast in the low post.

In addition to racking up All-Star berths and eventually leading the Magic to the NBA Finals, Howard earned three Defensive Player of the Year awards. Like him or not, that's an impressive résumé.

#3. Washington Wizards: John Wall

Draft Year: 2010
Draft Slot: First round, No. 1 overall

Throughout his first three seasons in the pros, John Wall was solid, but not spectacular. Though he averaged approximately 16 points, eight assists and four rebounds in each of his first two years, he didn't show much year-to-year growth and couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from three-point range.

Since those first few seasons getting his feet wet, Wall has made two consecutive All-Star teams and is even becoming more of a threat from long distance.

#2. Houston Rockets: Yao Ming

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Draft Year: 2002
Draft Slot: First round, No. 1 overall

The hulking, 7'6", 310-pound frame of Yao Ming dazzled fans in the NBA community after he was selected No. 1 overall by the Rockets in 2002.

He boasted a completely unique combination of sheer size and impressive touch. His turnaround baseline shots and even his prowess at the free throw line (he converted 83.3 percent of his freebies throughout his career) was a breath of fresh air compared to the bruising Shaquille O'Neal archetype. Sadly, recurring foot injuries cut Yao's career short. He retired at age 30 after playing just five games for Houston in 2010-11, following a completely lost 2009-10 campaign.

#1. Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James

Draft Year: 2003
Draft Slot: First round, No. 1 overall

LeBron James single-handedly changed Cleveland's basketball reputation from doormat to championship contender. He ostracized the fans in his home state of Ohio by opting to join the Miami Heat via free agency (where he won two titles).

But "King James" has since returned to his home state in an attempt to win the franchise its first ever Larry O'Brien trophy. Even if his pursuit isn't successful, he'll retire as the best Cavaliers player of all time.

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