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Draft Do-Over: 2008 Edition

J.J Hickson

The 2007-08 season would prove to be one of the most frustrating seasons in Cleveland Cavalier history. After competing in the NBA Finals for the first time, the Cavs would limp to a fourth best record in the Eastern Conference just a season after.

It was because of their 45-37 record that the reigning Eastern Conference Champions would own the 19th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. This would be the only pick the Cavs had on the night after a trade with the Phoenix Suns, who acquired a 2008 second-round draft pick from the Cavs in exchange for Milt Palacio back in 2002.

Due to their lack of picks, on draft night the Cavaliers acquired the draft rights to Darnell Jackson from the Miami Heat in exchange for the lower of their two second round picks in the 2009 NBA Draft.

In addition, Cleveland also purchased the rights to eventual championship player, Sasha Kaun, from the Seattle SuperSonics.

With hopes of rediscovering their winning ways, this was a big draft for the Cavaliers. Lets see how they did with their only pick.

Original Pick: JJ Hickson (#19)
Alternate Choices: Serge Ibaka, DeAndre Jordan, Goran Dragic

JJ Hickson came to the Cavaliers after one season at NC State. In his first game as a freshman, Hickson scored 31 points, making all 12 of his attempted field goals against William & Mary. He would set an NCAA Division I record for field goal percentage by a player in his first career game.

There was no pressure on the youngster, who fell behind Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varejao, Ben Wallace, and Joe Smith on the depth chart. In his rookie NBA season Hickson would feature in as many as 62 regular season games, putting up 4.0 points and cleaning up 2.7 boards, in just over eleven minutes a night.

Hickson was a part of the greatest regular season in Cavaliers history, with the 2008-09 squad posting a 66-16 record. In the following season, Hickson would be elevated to a starter in 73 of the Cavaliers games, as the team would falter to a second round playoff exit again.

Although Hickson became a fan favorite with his high flying ability, it’s hard to imagine the Cavs bowing out so early with the services of either Ibaka, Jordan or Dragic.

DeAndre Jordan seems like the obvious choice here for a redraft. Towards the end of LeBron James‘ first stint with the Cavs, Cleveland struggled with production out of the five position. The slow and aging Ilgauskas and Shaquille O’Neal forced the Cavaliers to slow down the pace and play as a half court team on the offensive end.

With the likes of Ibaka or DJ in the fold, imagining LeBron and the Cavs ripping up and down the Quicken Loans Arena hardwood is a good time. Jordan has remained with the team that drafted him, the Los Angeles Clippers, while Ibaka was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Orlando Magic in the summer.

Hickson played three seasons in wine and gold before being traded to the Sacramento Kings. Hickson bounced around the league, playing for the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, and Washington Wizards before signing in China with the Fujian Sturgeons.

Hickson is among the league’s elite in China, posting averages of 25 points and 13.6 rebounds a night. Technically an NBA free agent, Hickson returning to Cleveland doesn’t seem a far-fetched idea.

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