Scouts in the NBA are required to have good imaginations. It's sort of like buying furniture. You have to guess about the feel down the line, how it will fit with other pieces, how it will accent everything. You may be sure at the time, but you never really know until you take it home.
Some of the worst scouting reports in NBA history come courtesy of imaginations gone wild, but others are from an inspection process that was too narrow. Dead wrong scouting reports come in all shapes and sizes.
For the sake of this exercise, we'll list players only in the Internet age, where the off-base reports still live in all their glory. After all, what good is the Internet if you don't use it as a tracking device for all the embarrassing things people once said? Exactly.
Oh, Darko. Manna from heaven you were not, but no one fooled more scouts than you did.
If you were tall, not from America, and had a jumper in 2003, chances are you were the next Dirk Nowitzki to a good handful of scouts, even if you played nothing like him. Darko Milicic came at the peak of the Euro-craze bubble, and the praise was endlessly heaped upon him.
Darko was said to be a shot-blocking, ambidextrous post scorer who could shoot from both mid-range and behind the arc with incredibly accuracy. He was a physical seven-footer and played with an incredible motor.
Strangely, that didn't sound unbelievable back then, even though you can attribute all those skills to exactly zero players in the history of the NBA. According to a lot of scouts, there was nothing on the court Darko couldn't do.
As it turned out in reality, there was nothing on the court he could do.
Money Quote: "He's the real deal. He's really one of a kind. He runs the floor, handles the ball, shoots the NBA 3-pointer, plays with his back to the basket, so you can slot him in at the 3, 4 or 5." - Chad Ford, ESPN.com
It's hard to beat up anyone for being wrong about Michael Beasley. He absolutely looked like the real deal coming out of Kansas State. He was a scorer, a monster, a physical specimen who often looked unstoppable.
Beasley's game was so easy to fall in love with that you almost have to forgive him for falling in love with it as well. Once he got to the NBA, his affinity for his jumper kept growing and growing.
It's much easier for scouts to see between the lines than between the ears. Beasley plays the dumbest brand of basketball you'll see in the NBA, complete with boatloads of contested long twos and clueless defensive decisions.
Still, you can't blame the scouts for projecting Beasley to progress as a 19-year-old instead of regress like he has. His talent felt real back then, but now it's nothing more than a mirage.
Money Quote: "He’s just a majestic player evolving off the ground.” - Rick Ditto, DraftExpress.com
Now usually if a scouting report is dead wrong, the player either ended up a bust or a steal. Kyrie Irving was neither.
The first pick in the 2011 NBA draft was still about as falsely advertised as they come. Irving was considered safe and solid, but the words "spectacular" or "superstar" weren't uttered often. The lack of buzz came mostly from Irving's athleticism, which failed to meet the standards that guys like Derrick Rose or John Wall set before him.
Because of that, Irving was labeled a "pure point guard," which is essentially code for "doesn't score." What we expected was a slow, deliberate, heady point guard who made good decisions. What we got instead? An elite scorer who is easily one of the most enjoyable players in the league to watch.
The secret that scouts glossed over? Ball-handling. Irving's manipulation of the ball and his man is otherworldly, and his deception and quickness in short bursts lets him get open with ease. He's nothing like most expected, but we don't mind one bit.
Money Quote: "Worst Case: Rich Man's Eric Maynor" - DraftExpress.com
Before the derogatory slurs from Michael Jordan or the comparisons to Bernie from Weekend at Bernie's by Kobe Bryant, Kwame Brown entered the 2001 NBA draft being compared to the league's greatest power forwards. Visions of Karl Malone and Chris Webber danced in the heads of scouts everywhere.
Brown's physical abilities were unquestionably impressive. He had an NBA body right out of high school, looking every bit the part of a franchise big man.
Of course, it's what the naked eye couldn't see that ultimately doomed Brown's career. A lack of mental toughness, desire and aggressiveness made him wilt like a flower instead of Wilt like a Chamberlain, and the former No. 1 pick never lived up to his hype as a player with actual, discernible basketball skills.
Money quote: "Brown can handle the basketball very well like a guard, and can even lead the fast break. He also has a good-looking stroke from 15-to-17 feet." - Gene Huh, FoulShots.com
The scouting report on Dwyane Wade as a whole wasn't dead wrong, but his listed weaknesses couldn't have been more off the mark.
Coming out of Marquette, Wade's mid-range game was considered shaky at best, as he was almost purely a slasher in college. But very quickly out of college, Wade's jumper from about 19-feet and in became a very viable weapon.
Shooting wasn't the biggest misconception about Wade's game, however. Most concerns about Wade stemmed from his height, a very stupid thing in retrospect.
A few ticks shorter than the "prototypical" shooting guard, Wade has made the All-Defensive team three times, has averaged five rebounds a game for his career, and may be the best shot-blocking guard the game has ever seen.
A lack of height in itself isn't a weakness if all the products of height are accomplished by a skill set. Wade was considered inadequate to the prototype, which couldn't have ended been more wrong in the end.
Money Quote: "He's a great player, but you have to question that 6-4 size Marquette listed him at. Schools lie about a players size all the time. Without shoes, it would surprise me if he is even 6-3." - Eastern Conference Scout in 2003, via Brad Friedman of USA Today.
Tyson Chandler's ascent to adulthood came with quite a few identities. He went from poor to rich and from farm boy to high school star very quickly, so maybe it makes sense that Chandler ended up completely different than advertised.
As you know him, Chandler is the anchor of a defense, the big man who stays glued to the rim on both ends of the floor. Any ventures outside of the paint are to go hit someone, then run very fast back to the paint. Chandler knows who he is now, but it wasn't always that way.
Chandler was supposed to be the next Kevin Garnett. He was a skinny, mobile 7-footer with a jumper fresh out of high school, which made for too many similarities to ignore.
Of course, if you try and picture Tyson Chandler's jumper now, your brain will probably come up with a 404 error. As far as player comparisons go, if someone is said to be like Kevin Garnett, you're safe assuming they're nothing alike. Chandler was the first player to teach us this.
Money Quote: "Most people when they first looked at Tyson wanted him to be the next Kevin Garnett, because when he was in high school he was a 7-footer who could make the jump shot." - Byron Scott via a Chandler profile at Grantland
1999: Where we thought all of our computers shutting down would start the apocalypse and where the greatest market inefficiency in sports was foreign players.
Every single team in the NBA had a shot at a future Hall of Fame player, but they all passed. The Spurs snatched up Ginobili with the 58th selection, the first in a long series of late value picks that would lead to a dynasty.
How well-known was Ginobili on draft night? This video provides your answer, where what now seems like a household name is pronounced Emmanuel Gee-No-Bee-Lee as he's drafted. Of course, he's then praised by the analyst on set next to Ernie Johnson for things we now know to be true.
So why is he on this list? Because he was passed up 57 times! Just because almost everyone was wrong doesn't make it any less wrong, right? Right.
Money Quote: "Gee-No-Bee-Lee" - Rod Thorn, unknowingly paving the way for Charles Barkley.