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August 22, 2011
Redrafting the NBA
Round One

Basketball Prospectus

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After Drew Cannon ranked the NCAA's top 100 players, we wanted to do the same for the NBA. In the interim, a host of player rankings popped up all over the Internet. So instead, we decided to try something different: Redrafting the NBA.

Over the next three weeks, Basketball Prospectus' four NBA analysts will be drafting two teams apiece for a total of eight teams and 96 players. We will be selecting players strictly on the basis of expected performance during the 2011-12 season, giving our own ranking of sorts--though one affected by positional scarcity and other outside factors. We drew for order, which will snake between rounds:

Dan A
Bradford A
Kevin A
Sebastian A
Sebastian B
Kevin B
Bradford B
Dan B

1. Dan A - LeBron James, SF, Miami Heat
Easiest pick of the draft. He's clearly the best player in the game.

2. Bradford A - Dwight Howard, C, Orlando Magic
Not only does Howard's presence virtually guarantee that a team will have a top-10 defense, but he plays a position of scarcity and gives me offense in the post, a hard thing to find.

3. Kevin A - Dwyane Wade, SG, Miami Heat
Here's where things start to get interesting, and I gave consideration to both Chris Paul and Derrick Rose here. This seems odd to say, but I think durability now gives Wade the edge over Paul, and Rose will still need to develop to reach Wade's level at both ends of the floor. Most likely, Wade will be the NBA's best guard next season.

4. Sebastian A - Chris Paul, PG, New Orleans Hornets
Much like Kevin, this went down between Chris Paul and Derrick Rose. I gave Paul the edge because I was looking for a PG who can distribute the basketball and play in the pick and roll. Rose is the better scorer, of course, but I don't need much scoring out of the point guard spot.

5. Sebastian B - Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas Mavericks
I'm taking Dirk Nowitzki with the fifth pick and he is going to be my primary scorer at the power forward spot. Sure, Dirk is aging, but this is a one-season run and it's safe to say Dirk is at the top of his game right now. He's really comfortable in the pick-and-roll when popping out, and he doesn't need to be paired with an elite point guard to have success.

6. Kevin B - Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago Bulls
Since I considered Rose the last time I picked, he's an easy selection here. The strides Rose made toward becoming an efficient shooter and a capable defender last season put him in the discussion as one of the league's top three players. Rose is the second-best option at the point after Paul.

7. Bradford B - Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Instead of pouting because Kevin took Rose, I'll go with the game's best current scorer. There are rough edges to Durant's game, particularly on the defensive end. But he's got all the intangibles to go with his enormous physical gifts. Good guy and he's an absolute gym rat, traits that make him a good bet to continue his ascension.

8. Dan B - Kobe Bryant, SG, L.A. Lakers
He's declining, but he'll still be one of the NBA's top players next year. Kobe is the last superstar available, and I don't think any of our teams could compete without one. With just 96 players, Deron Williams isn't good enough to headline a team.

Complete draft order

1. Dan A - LeBron James, SF, Miami Heat
2. Bradford A - Dwight Howard, C, Orlando Magic
3. Kevin A - Dwyane Wade, SG, Miami Heat
4. Sebastian A - Chris Paul, PG, New Orleans Hornets
5. Sebastian B - Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas Mavericks
6. Kevin B - Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago Bulls
7. Bradford B - Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
8. Dan B - Kobe Bryant, SG, L.A. Lakers

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Premium Article Blowing it Up (08/20)
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Premium Article Taking the Next Step (08/23)

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