Chris Paul was a highly touted NBA prospect coming out of Wake Forest when he declared for the 2005 draft. Some people thought that he might be the top pick in the draft, but that turned out to not be the case.
Three teams passed on Paul before the Hornets took him No. 4 overall. Which teams passed on Paul and why? And how did things work out for them? Let’s take a look.
Chris Paul’s college career
Paul played two seasons at Wake Forest. He averaged 15 points per game in his college career, along with 3.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. He was named the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2003-04, as well as earning conference All-Freshman honors that season.
Paul made the All-ACC team in each of his seasons with the Demon Deacons, The team finished each of his seasons ranked in the AP Top 25, including a final rank of No. 5 his sophomore season, but Wake Forest didn’t make it past the regional semifinal of the NCAA tournament during his time at the school. Paul’s performance got the attention of NBA teams and made him a desirable lottery pick.
Teams that passed on Chris Paul
Three teams had a chance to draft Paul but chose not to before the Hornets took him at No. 4. Which team made the biggest mistake?
The Bucks had the top pick in the ’05 draft, but ended up choosing Andrew Bogut, out of Utah. He stayed in Milwaukee for the first seven seasons of his 14-year career. He played 408 games for the Bucks, averaging 12.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game in his time there.
Those would be the best numbers he had on any of the five teams for which he played. Bogut wasn’t named an All-Star at all while with Milwaukee, but he made the 2005-06 All-Rookie team and the 2009-10 All-NBA team during his tenure with the Bucks.
The Hawks used their second overall pick in 2005 on UNC’s Marvin Williams, who is currently in his 15th season in the league. Like Bogut, Williams spent his first seven seasons with the team that drafted him before going on to play for three other teams to date.
Williams played in 487 games for the Hawks, averaging 11.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game. That points average is more than a point higher than his career numbers, while his rebounds and assist averages with the Hawks are just about spot-on with his career average. Williams made the 2005-06 All-Rookie team.
The last team that had a chance to draft Paul but didn’t was the Jazz, who took Deron Williams, out of Illinois, with the No. 3 pick in the draft. He spent 12 seasons in the league, five-plus with the Jazz before they traded him to the Nets during the 2010-11 season.
With Utah, Williams averaged 17.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 9.1 assists per game — all better than his career numbers in those categories. He also made the 2005-06 All-Rookie team, and he was a two-time All-Star as a member of the Jazz.
Why did they pass?
The question is why did those three teams pass on Chris Paul? The Bucks passed on him because they were looking for a big guy to fill in a hole at center, and the 7-foot Bogut fit the bill for them.
At 6’1″, Paul wasn’t big enough for what the Bucks were looking for, even if he may have been the best player in that year’s draft. The Hawks passed on Paul because they were intent on taking Marvin Williams, who they thought may have been the best potential talent in the draft class.
The Utah Jazz needed a point guard, the position that Paul and Deron Williams both play. The Jazz ended up going with the 6’3″ Williams because they were “enamored” with his size, according to FanSided. Williams made the Jazz contenders in the West, but they may have had a chance to pick up a title or two if they had Paul instead.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference