Sometimes NBA GMs miss the mark on talent assessment, and the 2006 NBA draft class was the most unbalanced blend of guys who could have been good, guys who were almost good, and guys who just shouldn’t have even been drafted. Mixed with the obscure guy we can’t remember or never knew.
It was one of the worst draft classes in NBA history with a few memorable nuggets mixed in amongst all the fools gold.
The first overall pick is about to be traded as a bad contract, the third overall isn’t in the league and never played a meaningful NBA minute; and it doesn’t get much better.
That said, I believe this is how the top-10 would go if it were done today, but I have to point out some guys who went high and wouldn’t even be drafted—like Adam Morrison, yep, it was him, No. 3 overall out of Gonzaga to the Bobcats. And we wonder why they are still awful.
1) Rajon Rondo (21st overall) – Boston
Rajon Rondo has been the best distributor in the league the last two seasons, but he just tore his ACL. Rajon Rondo is shooting the mid-range jumper much more effectively, gambling less defensively and playing smarter basketball. If any player in this draft class has Hall of Fame potential it is the Kentucky product.
2) LaMarcus Aldridge (2nd overall) – Chicago Bulls
LaMarcus Aldridge is a solid second overall pick. The only problem is that the team who drafted him (Chicago), didn’t keep its player. They dealt him (and a 2007 2nd-round pick) to the Portland Trail Blazers for No. 4 overall pick Tyrus Thomas of LSU and Victor Khryapa. Thomas went on to be a bust while Aldridge was an All-Star in 2012 and 2013. Well done, Portland.
3) Rudy Gay (6th overall) -Houston Rockets
The Rockets traded Rudy Gay and Stromile Swift for Shane Battier on draft night. That move didn’t make sense then, and it doesn’t make sense now. Battier is a very good defender, to be sure, but Gay is a solid defender and a premier scorer.
Gay can play both ends of the floor; Battier can only play on one. I’d say the Rockets regret dealing both Stromile
Swift (who reasonably still had some potential, though he was a bust—the guy could score a little) and Gay for Battier, notwithstanding the vital role Battier has performed for the reigning NBA champions.
Rudy Gay is now in Toronto, and the situation seems to be very favorable. In his first five games with the Raptors, he averaged 22 points per game and they went 4-1. Things are looking up in Toronto and Rudy Gay is a legitimate potential All-Star. By that, I mean he may make an appearance or two, though at this point he’ll have already spent half his NBA career as just a very good scorer.
4) Paul Millsap (47th overall)- Utah
Paul Millsap is a great undersized power forward who has been mentioned in a lot NBA trade rumors. He’s a great defender with quick hands and together with Al Jefferson has helped the Jazz stay relevant with a very lackluster and below average roster.
When Utah fans are excited about Gordon Hayward, you know Millsap and Jefferson are earning their weight in salt. The real mystery is how the fourth best player in the draft class fell to the bottom half of the second round. The Jazz hit a home run with this second round pick and they’ve known it his whole career. Why would they trade him now?
5) Kyle Lowry (24th overall)- Memphis Grizzlies
Kyle Lowry is the second best point guard in this draft class, and a top-10 NBA point guard today (at least he was in 2011-12), and he went No. 24 overall. Lowry is a great rebounder, great passer, and the Grizzlies definitely regret having given up on him.
They dealt him after two and a half seasons for Adonal Foyle, Mike Wilks, and a 2009 NBA Draft pick that turned into DeMarre Carroll. I’m pretty sure the Rockets regret given up on Lowry, too. Though Lowry’s stats have declined, his per-36 numbers remain roughly the same. He’s still playing good basketball, and Jose Calderon is out of the way now.
He’s a legit top-5 talent for a draft class, and all five of these guys are. It just gets a lot worse. The Grizzlies basically got DeMarre Carroll for their No. 24 overall pick, three seasons later in 2009.