With the 2017 NBA Finals all but officially over, it's time to start thinking about the NBA Draft.
We're still two weeks away from the Boston Celtics taking Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 pick — a selection the Celtics probably won't regret in a few years' time. Still, not every pick ends up turning into a bona fide superstar.
To prepare you for your favorite team's worst-case draft day scenario, here's the one pick each team wishes it could do over, ranked from the selections that were a minor inconvenience to those that changed the course of NBA history.
A quick note before we get started: We tried to account for how realistic a pick would have been in the moment in which it happened. We're not going to hold every team's feet to the flames for passing on Manu Ginobili or Isaiah Thomas, for example, but if a player came off the board 10 picks later than the choice a team made, then that's a clear mistake.
Houston Rockets: Hakeem Olajuwon over Michael Jordan (1984, Pick No. 1)
This is one of the toughest decisions in NBA history. As great as Hakeem was, would you take Jordan over him if you could go back to that fateful day in 1984?
I would, because I like it when my favorite team wins all of the championships, but it's a close call to be sure.
This is a tough one for Cleveland. On the one hand, the idea of Stoudemire (aove) playing alongside LeBron James is too good to pass up. On the other, if the Cavs have Amar'e for the 2002-03 season, they probably win another game or two.
And in that scenario, they might miss out on the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 draft, so we can't have this draft "miss" any higher than No. 29.
Orlando Magic: Mario Hezonja over Devin Booker (2015, Pick No. 5)
It might be too soon to make this declaration, but Orlando needs the kind of star power Booker (above, right) is already on his way to providing if the Magic are going to climb out of this perpetual rebuild.
The other option for Orlando is Fran Vasquez, of course. Selected in 2005 with the 11th pick, the Spanish standout never came stateside. On the other hand, the Magic didn't miss out on any real stars behind Vasquez, so I don't have a problem with Orlando taking a chance on a foreign player who didn't pan out.
Toronto Raptors: Rafael Araujo over Andre Iguodala (2004, Pick No. 8)
Taking Michael Bradley over Zach Randolph in 2001 was a pretty big mistake as well, but I prefer the versatility and defensive excellence of Iguodala (9) to Z-Bo's destructive force at power forward.
Other than that, though, the Raptors haven't been around long enough to really screw up a draft.
Chicago Bulls: Brad Sellers over John Salley (1986, Pick No. 9)
Modern Bulls fans are scoffing at this one. Surely taking Tyrus Thomas over LaMarcus Aldridge is the more egregrious draft mistake by Chicago, right?
Maybe; if you want to argue that one, we won't stand in your way. Instead, we'll imagine what might have been if the Bulls deprived Detroit from taking Salley — like the possibility of Jordan winning eight championships without the Bad Boy Pistons to stop him.
New Orleans Pelicans: Hilton Armstrong over Kyle Lowry (2006, Pick No. 12)
The Pelicans haven't had many drafts to screw up in the franchise's young history, but passing on both Rajon Rondo and Lowry (7) to take a guy who averaged 3.0 points per game in his career really wasn't the right play.
John E. SokolowskiJohn E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Like the Cavaliers, the Nuggets passed on a chance to pair Stoudemire (1) with a star from the 2003 draft class. If Denver has STAT around for the 2009 Western Conference finals, maybe Carmelo Anthony decides he doesn't need to head to New York.
Boston Celtics: Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo over Draymond Green (2012, Picks No. 21, 22)
For those wondering, we're not considering the Len Bias pick. That kind of personal tragedy doesn't qualify for this list.
The Melo pick ended in tragedy as well, but this is about basketball. The Celtics needed a versatile forward in 2012, and with picks 21 and 22, asking Boston to take a guy who went in the early part of the second round seems reasonable.
The only reason this miss doesn't rank higher is because no one expected Green (23) to turn into the future Hall of Famer he is today.
Los Angeles Lakers: Devean George over Andrei Kirilenko (1999, Pick No. 23)
The Lakers are a tough team to fit into this exercise. They've so rarely drafted in the lottery, and when they've had a top pick, they've tended to nail the decision.
Still, consider how dominant the Lakers' first three-peat team would be had AK-47 made his way to L.A. With that kind of firepower, perhaps Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant could have worked things out to keep winning rings.
Probably not, of course, but it's fun to dream.
San Antonio Spurs: Dwayne Schintzius over Toni Kukoc (1990, Pick No. 24)
Due to their consistent regular-season success, the Spurs haven't had many opportunities to land a star in the draft, and they're usually right on target with the picks they do make. This time, however, they let Kukoc (7) go to the Bulls, who won three straight titles with him.
Dallas Mavericks: Kelly Olynyk over Giannis Antetokounmpo (2013, Pick No. 13)
Mark Cuban's only real failure as an owner has been his inability to put a second star next to Dirk Nowitzki. If only the Mavericks had listened to Donnie Nelson, who wanted Dallas to take the Greek Freak (center) at No. 13.
New York Knicks: Tony Riker over Julius Erving (1972, Pick No. 8)
Dr. J's draft history is tricky. He started in the ABA in 1971 with the Virginia Squires; once he became draft eligible in 1972, the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks selected him with the 12th overall pick. However, Erving went on to sign with the Hawks due to a contract dispute with his agent, before a three-judge panel ruled he was required to play for the Squires.
In that light, the Knicks didn't really make a mistake by passing on Erving, but maybe his story plays out differently if he's in New York. If I were in control of the Knicks in 1972, I'd certainly take that chance even with everything we know in 2017.
If you're a little more risk-averse, though, the Knicks' selection of Michael Ray Richardson over Larry Bird is another error New York would like to correct.
NBAE/Getty ImagesDick Raphael
Phoenix Suns: Markieff Morris over Kawhi Leonard (2011, Pick No. 13)
Some argue Kawhi (2) wouldn't be the superstar he is today without the San Antonio Spurs, and I appreciate that perspective. I also feel like it sells Leonard's work ethic short.
He might not reach today's lofty heights without San Antonio's coaching and resources, but he'd be one of the best players in the NBA no matter where he was drafted — yes, even in Phoenix.
Joe CamporealeJoe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons: Darko Milicic over Dwyane Wade (2003, Pick No. 2)
The Pistons could have taken Carmelo Anthony, D-Wade, Chris Bosh, or even someone like Kendrick Perkins, but they ended up with the above big man currently spending his days as a farmer far from the spotlight.
NBAE/Getty ImagesJesse D. Garrabrant
Sacramento Kings: Thomas Robinson over Damian Lillard (2012, Pick No. 5)
Think about how different the Kings might be today had they added Lillard (left) alongside DeMarcus Cousins (right). Assuming the two could get along, Sacramento would be a perennial playoff contender instead of one of the laughingstocks of the NBA.
Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet over James Harden (2009, Pick No. 2)
In a vacuum, Thabeet (34) is one of the worst draft picks in NBA history. Throw in the fact that Memphis passed on The Beard, and this is one of the biggest draft mistakes a team could make.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Perry Jones over Draymond Green (2012, Pick No. 28)
The Sonics/Thunder have drafted well over the franchise's history — which will happen when the Portland Trail Blazers pass on Kevin Durant, of course.
Adding Green in 2012 instead of Jones (3) would have made up for Oklahoma City's decision to trade James Harden and made KD and Green teammates long before they formed the NBA's most dominant superteam in Oakland.
NBAE/Getty ImagesGregory Shamus
Miami Heat: Michael Beasley over Russell Westbrook (2008, Pick No. 2)
It's not that Beas was a complete bust, as he's averaged 12.6 points and 4.7 rebounds over a nine-year NBA career, but the Heat could have had Russell Westbrook on the roster when the Big Three came together in Miami.
In that scenario, we're still complaining about superteams — it's just that we're whining that the Heat have won the past six NBA championships.
Steve MitchellSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonny Flynn over Stephen Curry ( 2009, Pick No. 6)
That sound you just heard is thousands of Wolves fans screaming in unison — not at the thought of Flynn over Curry, mind you, but at the fact that they're constantly reminded about that decision.
Getty ImagesJim McIsaac
Atlanta Hawks: Marvin Williams over Chris Paul (2005, Pick No. 2)
The Hawks could have taken either CP3 or Deron Williams with the second pick in 2005, after Andrew Bogut went to Milwaukee at No. 1 overall. Instead, they took a decent swingman who's had a wholly forgettable NBA career.
Kirby LeeKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia 76ers: Larry Hughes over Dirk Nowitzki (1998, Pick No. 8)
The 1998 draft goes down as the most regrettable in NBA history, with no fewer than three teams wishing they could take back their first-round pick that year.
Taking Hughes was a mistake, but it's not the worst one from 1998. We'll get to that later.
Washington Wizards: Kwame Brown over Paul Gasol (2001, Pick No. 1)
For the sake of the Wizards, Michael Jordan, and Kwame Brown, we all need to write to our congressional representatives and demand that the entire national budget be put toward developing a time machine — then we need to take that time machine, go back to turn-of-the-millennium D.C., and prevent the Wizards from taking Brown with the first pick.
MAKE THE WIZ GREAT AGAIN.
Brooklyn Nets: Dennis Hopson over Scottie Pippen (1987, Pick No. 3)
If we were just talking about "draft-related decisions teams wish they could do over," the trade that sent the Boston Celtics this year's No. 1 pick and next year's unprotected selection would take the cake for the Nets.
If we're limiting ourselves to just selections that went awry instead, taking Hopson over Pippen is the clear "winner."
Los Angeles Clippers: Michael Olowokandi over Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Vince Carter (1998, Pick No. 1)
The Kandyman averaged 9.9 points and 8.0 rebounds in five seasons with the Clippers, who could have had the Big German, Paul Pierce, or Vince Carter at No. 1 in 1998.
Wasting the first overall pick is bad, but it's not as bad as having Dirk in hand and deciding to go a different direction ...
The Bucks and the Mavericks are more or less square in our book. One passed on the Greek Freak, while the other gave away the Big German (and Pat Garrity) for Robert Traylor. As promising as Giannis is, though, we're guessing Milwaukee would take the sure thing of Nowitzki's career over Antetokounmpo's potential for greatness.
Golden State Warriors: Joe Smith over Kevin Garnett (1995, Pick No. 1)
Smith played well enough for the Warriors, averaging 17.0 points and 8.2 rebounds in his three seasons in Golden State, but he's no Kevin Garnett.
And hey, if the Warriors had taken KG No. 1, maybe Minnesota would have gotten its hands on Smith without having to pay the price for tampering in 1999.
Utah Jazz: Trading the Magic Johnson pick (1979, Pick No. 1)
While we tried to avoid long-term trades of draft picks for this exercise, this one bears mentioning. The New Orleans Jazz gave up the rights to their 1979 first-round pick to the Lakers (along with another first-rounder and a second-rounder) to sign Gail Goodrich away from Los Angeles.
Goodrich averaged 14.2 points and 4.5 assists in 162 games over three seasons for New Orleans, retiring the season before the Lakers selected Johnson.
In another world, though, Showtime never happens, as Magic teams with Pistol Pete Maravich instead.
Getty ImagesAnthony Barboza
Charlotte Hornets: Trading Kobe Bryant (1996, Pick No. 13)
What is there to say about this one? The Hornets had a Hall of Famer in their midst and decided they'd rather have Vlade Divac. Oops.
Indiana Pacers: Rick Robey over Larry Bird (1978, Pick No. 3)
Teams knew they had to wait one season for Bird to come to the NBA in 1978, but that was no reason for his home-state Pacers to pass on the Hick from French Lick.
If Indiana takes Bird, the entirety of NBA history changes — although not as much as if ...
Portland Trail Blazers: Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan (1984, Pick No. 2)
The poor Blazers could have the first and second entries on this list, given that they passed on Kevin Durant to take Greg Oden in 2007.
Hakeem Olajuwon was a worthy No. 1 pick at the time, and passing on Jordan for The Dream was a far less costly error than Portland's mistake.
The Blazers could have put MJ next to Clyde Drexler — with his size, the Glide could have played small forward — and changed the course of NBA history in untold ways.
Instead, Portland went with the big man, as conventional wisdom dictates. Bowie averaged 10.5 points and 8.1 rebounds in four injury-plagued seasons with the Blazers, while Jordan went on to win a few games in his career.
Yet if Jordan is separated from Phil Jackson and Scottie Pippen, does he go 6-for-6 in the Finals? Does he even have six championships under his belt?
The counterfactuals are endless, which is good. They're our best hope for making it through the rest of June without competitive basketball to tide us over.