Five years can be a funny time frame.
It goes a lot faster the older you get, for example, kind of like a picket fence at NASCAR races. Unless you’re watching golf, poker or soccer on television, but that’s another topic for another time.
Five years, however, is an eternity by NBA standards.
For instance, it was just five years ago this summer that Dwight Powell was an unproven and mostly unknown (in Dallas, at least) second-round draft pick of the Boston Celtics.
Over half-a-decade of NBA seasons, Powell has worked hard and become a part-time starter and full-time contributor for the Mavericks who has signed a couple of very nice contracts and proven beyond any doubt that he should have been drafted way higher in 2014 than he was.
But how much higher?
Would Powell be a lottery pick in what was a draft that was very good in terms of having two superstars in it but then has only a large group of good but not great players?
That’s what we’re here to debate as we give you the mulligan of the 2014 NBA draft.
Why 2014? Mainly because five years is enough time to know what players are capable of in the NBA. They have had time to overcome any issues and by now, they have found whatever niche it is that they might occupy. Plus, we wonder what teams would do if they could redo that draft knowing now what they clearly didn’t know then.
How else do you account for Nikola Jokic going 41st – 11 picks into the second round – to the Denver Nuggets?
If teams could do it again, Jokic would go no lower than No. 2. And possibly No. 1, although it’s difficult to argue against Joel Embiid as the No. 1 overall pick. He originally went No. 3 to Philadelphia. If Minnesota could do it over again, do you think the Timberwolves would like to have either Embiid or Jokic No. 1 after they agreed to ship Kevin Love to Cleveland in exchange for the actual top pick (Andrew Wiggins)?
Jokic and Embiid would go No. 1 and No. 2 or No. 2 and No. 1.
At No. 3 is where things get interesting. There are a handful of good players who probably would be top-10 picks. So third could be Cling Capela, originally 25th, Julius Randle (seventh), Wiggins or Aaron Gordon (fourth).
The only way to find out where Powell would have ended up going if the 2014 draft were redone is to go through it pick-by-pick.
So here we go and let the Twitter barrage begin.
No. 1: Joel Embiid (originally third). We love Jokic, but the numbers overshadow Embiid’s health issues.
No. 2: Nikola Jokic (41st). If you want the do-everything center No. 1, you’d get no argument.
No. 3: Clint Capela (25th). Probably benefits from having played with James Harden, but still impressive.
No. 4: Julius Randle (seventh). After a slow start, he’s been star material the last two seasons.
No. 5: Andrew Wiggins (first). We get the doesn’t-play-well-with-others tag, but hard to ignore the numbers.
No. 6: Aaron Gordon (fifth). Slowly has emerged into an upper-tier forward on a rising team.
No. 7: Zach LaVine (13th). Has yet to play for a playoff team, but his numbers have rocketed upward.
No. 8: Jusuf Nurkic (16th). Became a 15-point, 10-rebound, 3-assist guy before leg injury late last season.
No. 9: Jabari Parker (second). Injuries have derailed him, but when he’s healthy, he’s still a big producer.
No. 10: Marcus Smart (sixth). Still not a shooter, but does pretty much everything else on the floor.
No. 11: Dario Saric (12th). Productive shooter/rebounder still has been traded twice in three seasons.
No. 12: Gary Harris (19th). When healthy, he’s become a good two-way player, though undersized.
No. 13: Bogdan Bogdanovic (27th). Worth the wait? Kings traded for him and he’s been a great find.
No. 14: Spencer Dinwiddie (38th). A supersized point guard who has progressed into a vital role.
No. 15: Elfrid Payton (10th). Still doesn’t have a shot; other than that, he’s a complete point guard.
No. 18: Dwight Powell (45th). You can argue he’d go a few spots higher just for locker-room impact.
No. 16: Jordan Clarkson (46th). He’s shown he can score in any role.
No. 17: T.J. Warren (14th). He’s put up numbers in Phoenix but done so on wretched teams.
No. 19: Rodney Hood (23rd). Has had trouble finding a home, and his career has flattened out a bit.
No. 20: Joe Harris (33rd). He’s become one of the most feared 3-point shooters in the league.
Best of the rest: K.J. McDaniels, Dante Exum, Doug McDermott, Noah Vonleh and Nik Stauskas.