2003 NBA re-draft: The way it should have been

The 2003 NBA Draft class is considered one of the GOAT draft classes in league history, along with the 1996 and 1984 groups.

Not only does the ’03 class have one of the two main GOAT candidates as the No. 1 pick but it also features three other current or future Hall-of-Famers right after him, along with an abundance of serviceable role players.

Below, check out our re-draft for the 2003 class, with players going in the order we believe they’d go in today.

No. 1 pick: LeBron James

Considered the GOAT by some, LeBron James faced nearly insurmountable expectations heading into the NBA, proclaimed to be a future Hall-of-Famer before dribbling a basketball even once as a professional, and has undoubtedly surpassed them all. The all-time leading scorer in the NBA, James could do everything at an elite level, be it get buckets, create for others or rebound the ball, as well as defend multiple positions. Even as his once-otherworldly explosiveness has dwindled, James remains a Top 10 player in the league into his late-30s thanks to how well he has adapted his game as he has aged. The only question now is: Will he be able to add to his four-ring total before it’s all said and done?

Actual position: No. 1
Career earnings: $434,986,078
Career stats: 27.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 7.3 apg, 50.5 FG%, 34.5 3P%
Career Salary Info

No. 2 pick: Dwyane Wade

When he was drafted fifth overall in 2003 by the Miami Heat, no one knew Dwyane Wade was about to embark on a career that would leave him considered as a Top 3 shooting guard of all time, according to many. As a prospect, Wade lacked a jumper but did display his elite athleticism and craftiness even at Marquette, causing Miami to take him in the Top 5 that year despite him being a bit older than a lot of his peers in that draft class, a decision the Heat would not regret, as Wade would help Miami win three championships during his time there over two different eras of greatness. His playoff runs from 2005 and 2006, in particular, are what made him a legend, but his contributions and willingness to take a sidekick role during the 2012 and 2013 championships were likewise very commendable and impressive. We also can’t forget that Wade’s peak probably came between those two eras, as in 2009 and 2010, Wade was a borderline MVP-level producer.

Actual position: No. 5
Career earnings: $199,499,205
Career stats: 22.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.4 apg, 48.0 FG%, 29.3 3P%
Career Salary Info

No. 3 pick: Carmelo Anthony

Coming out of Syracuse a national champion already, it’s unfortunate Carmelo Anthony never had a good enough team around him to make a similar deep playoff run in the NBA. Regardless, outside of that, Anthony is another first-ballot Hall-of-Famer from this draft class, one of the smoothest scorers of all time thanks to his face-up game, quick first step and deceptive jab step. There’s also FIBA Melo to discuss, as Anthony was one of the best Team USA performers of all time, winning three Olympic gold medals with the Americans. Sure, he could have passed the ball more in his prime or played better defense, but as far as bucket-getting, few in league history can match Anthony’s prowess.

Actual position: No. 3
Career earnings: $240,843,702
Career stats: 22.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 44.7 FG%, 35.5 3P%
Career Salary Info

No. 4 pick: Chris Bosh

One member of the 2003 draft class who is already in the Hall of Fame, though for unfortunate, health-related-retirement reasons, Chris Bosh will greet two of his former teammates in Springfield one day, as the first member of the Big 3 Heat to receive the honor. Many may not remember but Bosh was truly a special player in his heyday, even before going to Miami, an All-Star-level big man with a feathery jumper, a quick first step and creativity in the low block. Bosh also had quick feet and good length that helped him defend when forced to switch. The big lefty was already great in his era but one has to wonder how he would have fared in today’s NBA, where he would have been shooting threes instead of deep twos and been a very effective floor-spacing center. There’s a chance a prime Bosh in 2023 would have put up even more impressive numbers.

Actual position: No. 4
Career earnings: $242,110,053
Career stats: 19.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 bpg, 49.4 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 5 pick: David West

Longevity grants David West the final spot in the Top 5 of our re-draft, as although the drop-off seems steep going from four future Hall-of-Famers to this Hall-of-Very-Gooder, West was still a two-time All-Star in his career as well as a two-time NBA champion. Alongside Chris Paul in New Orleans, West was a deadly pick-and-pop finisher thanks to his smooth outside jumper and strong screen setting. West was then a mainstay on various Indiana Pacers teams that were the Big 3 Heat’s toughest foe in the East for various playoff runs, as his ability to post up Miami’s smaller defenders gave Indiana a puncher’s chance in those series. West then finally finished up his career as mostly a reserve for Golden State but was very effective when called upon, finishing plays as a fourth option on offense and providing toughness on defense and the glass.

Actual position: No. 18
Career earnings: $93,047,916
Career stats: 13.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.2 apg, 49.5 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 6 pick: Kyle Korver

One of the best shooters in league history, Kyle Korver was not a star in the NBA but he was a star in his role as a sharpshooter off the ball, always fighting relentlessly to get open and possessing a lightning-quick, high-elevation jumper that was very difficult for opponents to defend. Among players with at least 5,000 career three-point attempts in the NBA, Korver was actually the most accurate shooter ever at 42.9 percent, with Stephen Curry trailing just behind at 42.8 percent. Not bad for being the 51st pick in his draft class.

Actual position: No. 51
Career earnings: $82,712,208
Career stats: 9.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.7 apg, 42.9 3P%
Career Salary Info

No. 7 pick: Mo Williams

A one-time All-Star in his career, Mo Williams was a quick point guard with good scoring skills, including from three, who could get shots off and knock them down while also facilitating offense for teammates. He was particularly effective for the Cleveland Cavaliers as an off-ball point guard for James because he was a very sound three-point shooter with his feet set.

Actual position: No. 47
Career earnings: $67,606,431
Career stats: 13.2 ppg, 4.9 apg, 2.8 rpg, 37.8 3P%
Career Salary Info

No. 8 pick: Jose Calderon

Despite going undrafted, Jose Calderon enjoyed a solid 14-year career in the NBA, putting up great shooting numbers albeit without star-level volume. Calderon was a dependable floor general when he wasn’t injured, adept at setting up teammates for good looks as well as at knocking down shots, be it from three or the free-throw line, where he was a career 87.3 percent shooter.

Actual position: Undrafted
Career earnings: $86,202,087
Career stats: 8.9 ppg, 5.8 apg, 2.4 rpg, 40.7 3P%
Career Salary Info

No. 9 pick: Boris Diaw

It can be a bit of a tired trope to wonder how a player from a previous era might fare even better in the modern game – hell, we already did it with Bosh in this very re-draft article – but the same can be said for Boris Diaw, who was truly unique in his time and would likewise stand out today. Diaw could play everything from small forward to center, even handling point-guard duties from time to time throughout his career. Diaw could dribble and get to the basket, post up, set up teammates or shoot the ball despite being on the heavier side. One of the most important role players of the San Antonio Spurs’ 2014 title run, Diaw averaged 9.2 points and 3.4 assists while shooting 40.0 percent from three in the postseason that year, totally befuddling foes on how best to defend him as San Antonio coasted to the championship.

Actual position: No. 21
Career earnings: $81,865,921
Career stats: 8.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.5 apg, 49.3 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 10 pick: Leandro Barbosa

One of the faster players in the league during his prime, Leandro Barbosa could scoot down the court quicker than most any defender and finish in transition or get to the basket in the half-court against set defenses. He was also a capable outside shooter despite having a funky release on his jumper. A player mostly focused on scoring, Barbosa was a menace off the bench, winning Sixth Man of the Year in 2006-07 with the seven-seconds-or-less Phoenix Suns, when he averaged 18.1 points as mostly a reserve, as well as a championship with the Warriors in 2015.

Actual position: No. 28
Career earnings: $47,617,717
Career stats: 10.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, 38.7 3P%
Career Salary Info

No. 11 pick: Chris Kaman

As legend has it, Heat decision-maker Pat Riley considered Chris Kaman heavily for the No. 5 spot in the 2003 draft. Miami, at the time, had a bigger need at center and point guard than at off-ball guard, as the Heat had Eddie Jones as their starting shooting guard at the time, who was still averaging over 18 points nightly, leading Riley to look at players like Kaman (and two others coming up later in this re-draft) when the draft process was getting started. Kaman was no slouch, either, coming off a junior season at Central Michigan where he averaged over 22 points and 12 rebounds. He wasn’t a bad NBA player, either, making one All-Star appearance and providing low-post scoring and rebounding for many years. He just wasn’t a Wade-level player. Luckily for the Heat, Wade the draft prospect won Riley over in the end thanks to his star-level potential, which he fully met in the NBA, and then some.

Actual position: No. 6
Career earnings: $86,527,368
Career stats: 11.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.3 apg, 48.9 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 12 pick: Josh Howard

From a late first-round pick to an All-Star appearance, two-way swingman Josh Howard was another success story from the 2003 draft class. Howard was an important member of various elite Dallas Mavericks teams alongside Dirk Nowitzki, peaking in 2006-07 when he averaged 18.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals as Dallas won 67 regular-season games before being upset by the We Believe Warriors in round one. It’s a bit sad Howard was unable to finish the job in Dallas, getting traded the season before the Mavericks won the 2010-11 championship.

Actual position: No. 29
Career earnings: $40,327,083
Career stats: 14.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, 44.8 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 13 pick: Zaza Pachulia

A feisty role player who played with a lot of tenacity, especially on the glass and as a screen-setter, Zaza Pachulia lasted 16 seasons in the NBA and was usually on good teams, eventually winning two championships as the starting center for the Warriors in 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Actual position: No. 42
Career earnings: $60,356,464
Career stats: 6.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.3 apg, 46.9 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 14 pick: Kirk Hinrich

One of the other players Riley had an eye on early in the 2003 draft process, Kirk Hinrich entered the NBA after a four-year college career at Kansas, one that culminated with him averaging 17.3 points and 1.9 steals as a senior, leading the Jayhawks to a 30-8 season and getting all the way to the national championship game where Hinrich and Co. fell to Anthony and Syracuse in a heartbreaking 81-78 result. Hinrich did enjoy a successful NBA career, lasting 13 seasons thanks to his off-the-dribble scoring and elite on-ball defense.

Actual position: No. 7
Career earnings: $71,692,268
Career stats: 10.9 ppg, 4.8 apg, 2.9 rpg, 37.5 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 15 pick: Nick Collison

It never really translated in the NBA but Hinrich’s teammate at Kansas, Nick Collison was a monster in college, averaging 18.5 points and 10.0 rebounds as a senior and earning 1st Team All-American honors before getting drafted late in the 2003 lottery. Collison would never average double-digit points or rebounds in the NBA but he did set good screens and box out well while being a well-respected teammate, so he lasted 14 seasons in the Association anyway, all with the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Well, the first four of those seasons were technically with the Seattle SuperSonics, but it’s still the same franchise.)

Actual position: No. 12
Career earnings: $60,322,642
Career stats: 5.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.0 apg, 53.4 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 16 pick: TJ Ford

Lack of size and top-level athleticism did him as far as being a star in the NBA, as did a serious spinal injury that cost him the second year of his career, but TJ Ford still lasted eight seasons in the NBA and received 2nd Team All-Rookie honors in his inaugural campaign. Ford was a star in college, named Naismith Player of the Year as a sophomore before declaring for the draft after averaging 15.0 points, 7.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game while leading Texas to the Final Four.

Actual position: No. 8
Career earnings: $43,534,324
Career stats: 11.2 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.1 rpg, 43.3 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 17 pick: Luke Ridnour

A playmaker in the NBA who had success despite lacking physically, Luke Ridnour played 12 seasons in the NBA and was a solid creator and shot-maker, capable of hitting shots off the dribble and from three-point range.

Actual position: No. 14
Career earnings: $45,269,478
Career stats: 9.3 ppg, 4.5 apg, 2.3 rpg, 43.1 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 18 pick: Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins

Now a TV personality extraordinaire, Kendrick Perkins was a solid player in the NBA, a starter for the Big Three championship Boston Celtics 2007-08 alongside Kevin Garnett. Perkins had next to no skill outside of the paint but was a tough rebounder and solid defender against opposing post-up attempts.

Actual position: No. 27
Career earnings: $56,886,841
Career stats: 5.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.0 apg, 53.0 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 19 pick: Steve Blake

Despite lacking in size, Steve Blake enjoyed a solid NBA career thanks to his fun playmaking skills and ability to hit threes, both with his feet set and off the dribble.

Actual position: No. 38
Career earnings: $36,946,977
Career stats: 6.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 4.0 apg, 38.3 3P%
Career Salary Info

No. 20 pick: Marquis Daniels

A slashing swingman who could defend multiple positions, Marquis Daniels was a three-point shot away from being the prototypical 3-and-D wing, which would have bought him even more time and a bigger role in the NBA.

Actual position: Undrafted
Career earnings: $36,697,352
Career stats: 7.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.8 apg, 45.1 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 21 pick: Carlos Delfino

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Part of the Argentinian golden generation of hoopers that won Olympic gold in Athens 2004, Carlos Delfino was a respectable swingman in the NBA, providing toughness on the wing and a serviceable three-point shot.

Actual position: No. 25
Career earnings: $24,777,037
Career stats: 8.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.7 apg, 36.5 3P%
Career Salary Info

No. 22 pick: Matt Bonner

He may have had a funky release on his outside jumper but former Gator Matt Bonner could knock down threes at a high clip, a career 41.4 percent shooter from three, which helped him last 12 seasons in the NBA.

Actual position: No. 45
Career earnings: $30,128,334
Career stats: 5.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.7 apg, 46.4 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 23 pick: James Jones

Now best known for his exploits as the general manager of the Phoenix Suns, James Jones was an impactful role player for many years thanks to his outside shooting skills, where the former Miami standout hit over 40 percent from three for his career.

Actual position: No. 49
Career earnings: $25,835,822
Career stats: 5.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.5 apg, 40.1 3P%
Career Salary Info

No. 24 pick: Travis Outlaw

A defender on the wing, Travis Outlaw was mostly a spot-up-three threat or a slasher during his time in the NBA. He could also knock down shots from the midrange.

Actual position: No. 23
Career earnings: $44,871,226
Career stats: 8.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.8 apg, 42.3 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 25 pick: Mickael Pietrus

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

A fan favorite for his high-effort style of play, Mickael Pietrus could hit threes and pick up steals, a 3-and-D swingman that was an important part of the unexpected Finals run by the 2008-09 Orlando Magic.

Actual position: No. 11
Career earnings: $34,658,718
Career stats: 8.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.8 apg, 42.5 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 26 pick: Willie Green

Now the head coach for the New Orleans Pelicans, Willie Green spent years in the NBA as a bench player, someone capable of coming in and hitting threes to provide a spark of offense when called upon.

Actual position: No. 41
Career earnings: $23,373,140
Career stats: 8.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, 42.5 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 27 pick: Luke Walton

Luke Walton didn’t amount to much as a head coach but he was a decent role player, coming off the bench for two championship Lakers teams in the late 2000s. Walton would come in and keep the ball moving, hit some threes and provide some defensive energy.

Actual position: No. 32
Career earnings: $33,903,340
Career stats: 4.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 32.6 3P%
Career Salary Info

No. 28 pick: Keith Bogans

A three-point specialist who wasn’t all that consistent of a three-point shooter, Keith Bogans still lasted 11 seasons in the NBA thanks to his shooting.

Actual position: No. 43
Career earnings: $18,765,545
Career stats: 6.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 35.3 3P%
Career Salary Info

No. 29 pick: Jarvis Hayes

One of the few busts from this draft class, Jarvis Hayes was just a decent role player in the NBA, capable of providing some scoring when called upon.

Actual position: No. 10
Career earnings: $13,376,687
Career stats: 8.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, 41.5 FG%
Career Salary Info

No. 30 pick: Jason Kapono

A former three-point contest champion, Jason Kapono had good size on the wing and could really stroke it from the outside when he got going.

Actual position: No. 31
Career earnings: $28,493,023
Career stats: 8.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, 35.6 3P%
Career Salary Info

Biggest risers

Jose Manuel Calderon, Toronto Raptors
Jose Manuel Calderon, Toronto Raptors

Jose Calderon: From undrafted to No. 8
Marquis Daniels: From undrafted to No. 20
Kyle Korver: From No. 51 to No. 6 (+45)
Mo Williams: From No. 47 to No. 7 (+40)
Zaza Pachulia:
From No. 42 to No. 13 (+29)
Matt Bonner:
From No. 45 to No. 22 (+23)
Steve Blake:
From No. 38 to No. 19 (+19)
Leandro Barbosa: From No. 28 to No. 10 (+18)
Josh Howard: From No. 29 to No. 12 (+17)
James Jones:
From No. 49 to No. 23 (+16)
Willie Green: From No. 41 to No. 26 (+15)
Keith Bogans: From No. 43 to No. 28 (+15)

Highest picks not listed

Darko Milicic: No. 2
Michael Sweetney: No. 9
Marcus Banks: No. 13
Reece Gaines: No. 15
Troy Bell: No. 16
Zarko Cabarkapa: No. 17
Sasha Pavlovic: No. 19
Dahntay Jones: No. 20
Zoran Planinic: No. 22
Brian Cook: No. 24

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Story originally appeared on HoopsHype