NBA Draft 2012: 10 Biggest Draft Mistakes in NBA History

Ben ShapiroAnalyst IIIMay 30, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: 10 Biggest Draft Mistakes in NBA History

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    With the NBA Draft Lottery upon us the image of a future superstar such as LeBron James, Blake Griffin, or Derek Rose, standing on a stage next to David Stern may be fresh in the minds of NBA fans.  A college star or high school legend celebrating the start of a career that will surely be filled with highlights, awards, and hopefully titles. 

    After all the teams that come up with the top picks will surely land the top players, at least that's how it's supposed to work. 

    NBA general managers may be focused on avoiding a slightly different scenario.

    They're going to want to avoid the dreaded draft night mistake.

    The seemingly "can't miss" top pick who shows great promise but never comes close to fulfilling it. The fact of the matter is that there are no guarantees. 

    While some top picks will fulfill, or even exceed expectations, others will head in a different direction.

    Using the 1984 Draft as a chronological starting point here are the ten biggest draft mistakes in modern NBA history. 

10. 2006 Draft: Adam Morrison, Charlotte Bobcats

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    Adam Morrison: No. 3 Pick, 2006 draft, Charlotte Bobcats

    Gonzaga is a school that seems to have the "underdog" label permanently attached. Adam Morrison took the school to new heights. He scored at will, hit dramatic buzzer beaters and created an almost cult-like following around the nation for himself and his school. 

    Once drafted into the NBA, Morrison played so poorly that it didn't take long for him to become an afterthought. 

    What saves Morrison from being known as an even larger bust is that he was picked third as opposed to first or second. Also helping is that the overall quality of his draft class is quite unimpressive.

    Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo were all selected after Morrison. Roy had to retire early, and the rest of the 2006 class is nothing that amazing.

    Still, Morrison stands out as a bad pick in a fairly mediocre draft. He only spent four seasons in the league and one was lost to injury. During the three in which he actually played, he averaged only 7.5 points per game on 37.3 percent shooting. That's pretty bad regardless of where or when you're drafted.  


9. 2005 Draft: Marvin Williams, Atlanta Hawks

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    Marvin Williams: No. 2 Pick, 2005 draft, Atlanta Hawks

    Sometimes a pick is bad because of how terrible the player is. Other times it's more a result of who that team didn't pick

    Such is the case with Marvin Williams. Williams looked every bit the part of "can't miss" star after helping the North Carolina Tar Heels win a national championship as a freshman. 

    The Atlanta Hawks had the No. 2 pick, and when the Milwaukee Bucks selected Andrew Bogut, the Hawks pounced on Williams. 

    At the time it didn't look like a bad pick. Seven years have passed and the Hawks have spent most of them struggling at the point guard position.  

    The two picks that immediately followed Williams in that draft were named Chris Paul and Deron Williams. The Hawks passed up two of the best point guards in the league and came away with a player who has yet to develop into much more than a solid off-the-bench contributor. 

    That's a major draft day gaffe. 

8. 1987 Draft: Dennis Hopson, New Jersey Nets

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    Dennis Hopson: No. 3 Pick, 1987 draft, New Jersey Nets

    Dennis Hopson averaged 29 points per game as a senior at Ohio State University. 

    Those are the types of numbers that will attract the attention of NBA scouts. 

    Hopson got to the NBA and averaged 9.6 points per game on 40.4 percent shooting. Those are the types of numbers that make coaches cringe.

    Worse still, the numbers never really got better.

    Adding insult to injury is that the 1987 draft was a pretty strong draft. David Robinson was gone by the time the Nets took Hopson at No 3.

    But players like Scottie Pippen, Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson and Horace Grant were still available.

    Hopson lasted only five seasons in the NBA. Those guys listed above all accomplished quite a bit more. 

7. 2009 Draft: Hasheem Thabeet, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Hasheem Thabeet: No. 2 Pick, 2009 draft, Memphis Grizzlies

    If Hasheem Thabeet does indeed become a prototypical NBA bust, it won't be a first. NBA scouts and general managers have always been easily seduced by combinations of athleticism and height.  

    At 7'3", Thabeet is very tall, and when he left UConn to head to the NBA he looked for all practical purposes like a player who at the very least would grab a bunch of rebounds and block a ton of shots.

    So far that hasn't been the case. In fact, Thabeet can barely get off the bench in the NBA. He's been on three different teams and his high for average minutes per game in a lowly 13 in his rookie season.

    At only 25 years old, Thabeet could still salvage his NBA career. It's unlikely he'll ever live up to the expectations that are thrust upon a player who is selected with the No. 2 overall pick.

    One would have to think that Memphis would have preferred players such as James Harden, Tyreke Evans or Ricky Rubio, all of whom were chosen immediately after Thabeet. Instead the Grizzlies fell prey to the all too common temptation of size and athleticism that has resulted in some of the draft's biggest busts of all time.   

6. 2001 Draft: Kwame Brown, Washington Wizards

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    Kwame Brown: No. 1 Pick, 2001 draft, Washington Wizards

    Kwame Brown was in the right place, at the right time. The NBA was ushering in a new century. The Los Angeles Lakers were winning titles, and they were doing it with the help of a 22-year-old budding superstar named Kobe Bryant who was drafted out of high school in 1996.

    It was great time to be America's top high school basketball prospect. That's what Kwame Brown was, and the Washington Wizards were eager to snatch up an 18-year-old athlete who was nearly seven feet tall and had a seemingly endless array of basketball skills.

    Be careful what you wish for.

    In 11 seasons, Brown has averaged over 10 points per game just once. He's never made it as a starter with any consistency. Brown didn't fade from the league after only a few seasons or lose his entire career to injuries, but for a top pick, he's been a tremendous disappointment. 

5. 1993 Draft: Shawn Bradley, Philadelphia 76ers

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    Shawn Bradley: No. 2 Pick, 1993 draft, Philadelphia 76ers

    If a guy is 7'6" then there's no way he won't be good at basketball, right?

    Yes, there is a way. He could be Shawn Bradley.

    Bradley was so tall that he seemed too good to be true. When the Orlando Magic chose Chris Webber, the 76ers gladly snatched up Bradley.

    To Bradley's credit, he hung around the league for a while. He played for 12 seasons, but he averaged a paltry 8.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game over that time. Those are the types of numbers one would expect from a late second-round pick, not a guy chosen No. 2 overall.  

4. 1998 Draft: Michael Olowokandi, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Michael Olowokandi: No. 1 Pick, 1998 draft, Los Angeles Clippers

    Terrible drafts are just one of several legitimate reasons that the Los Angeles Clippers had such a bad reputation as a franchise before last season.  

    Case in point: Michael Olowokandi. 

    Olowokandi was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 draft, picked ahead of Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki. 

    Over the course of a thoroughly unimpressive nine-year NBA career, Olowokandi averaged over 10 points per game just twice. He never cracked double digits in rebounds per game and he only shot 43.5 percent from the field.

    All that from a top pick who was 7'0" tall and weighed 269 pounds. 

    The "Kandi Man" was a massive bust who never even approached the expectations earned by his lofty draft position. 

     


3. 2007 Draft: Greg Oden, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Greg Oden: No. 1 Pick, 2007 draft, Portland Trail Blazers  

    Many of the players in this slideshow were huge mistakes because they just were not nearly as good as people thought they'd be. 

    Greg Oden is a little different. Sure, maybe Oden would have been terrible, or maybe he would have been amazing.  

    We may never know, though.

    That's because the only consistent thing Oden has been is injured. 

    He's had microfracture surgery on both knees. In fact, his left knee has undergone the procedure twice. He's had a broken patella, a foot injury and a chipped knee cap. In fact, add up all the injuries Oden has had, and in five years of NBA service time, he's played in the equivalent of one 82 game season

    Oden was recently released by the Blazers and will sit out all of next season recovering from his latest knee injury. 

    At only 24 years old, Oden could still end up having  a a decent career. That won't happen in Portland, though. They'll just lick their wounds from what will go down as one of the NBA draft's biggest blunders.  

2. 2003 Draft: Darko Milicic, Detroit Pistons

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    Darko Milicic. No. 2, 2003 draft, Detroit Pistons

    His selection turned out to be so flawed that a once popular NBA blog was named after him.

    Poor Darko Milicic. He's had a mediocre NBA career which has been thrust into the spotlight by virtue of his NBA draft position.

    No. 2, right after LeBron James. More importantly, right before Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Darko is the dark mark of arguably the best top five in NBA draft history.

    The 2003 draft was literally star-stocked and the one exception was Darko, a lanky European with the type of silky smooth shot that made scouts drool. 

    The one problem was that he was ill-prepared for the physical style of the NBA. 

    Darko languished on the bench in Detroit while James, Bosh, Wade and Carmelo made All-Star teams and filled SportsCenter highlight reels. 

    Darko is still a viable NBA player who gets limited minutes off the bench. The guys taken immediately after him are still superstars, and his selection at No. 2 still looks awful. 

1. 1984 Draft: Sam Bowie , Portland Trail Blazers

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    Sam Bowie: No. 2, 1984 draft, Portland Trail Blazers 

    "The guy that Portland took instead of Michael Jordan." 

    That's basically what Sam Bowie became. It's also what he was.

    After all, Jordan went third. Arguably the greatest player of all time went third in the draft.

    It's easy to forgive the Houston Rockets for passing on Jordan. The Rockets had the top pick and wisely used it on center Hakeem Olajuwon. Nothing wrong with that. Olajuwon went on to have a pretty amazing career in his own right.

    Bowie was a disaster. He was frequently injured, and when he was healthy he was not even near the level of play the top guys from the 1984 draft were.

    The three players taken immediately after Bowie were named Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and Charles Barkley. That's two Hall-of-Fame players and one (Sam Perkins) who would go on to have a very good NBA career.

    Bowie would go on to spend 11 years in the league. Not once did he play in even 70 of a season's 82 games. In the 1986-87 season Bowie played in five games. The next season he missed entirely.

    His numbers when healthy weren't awful; Bowie averaged 10.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

    It's when he's stacked against those taken directly after him in the draft that his shortcomings are magnified.