NBA Draft logoNBA Draft

Ranking Worst NBA Draft Busts of Past 25 Years

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 20, 2013

Ranking Worst NBA Draft Busts of Past 25 Years

1 of 52

    Just as the names of superstars will never be forgotten once they're finished creating highlights and winning championships, so too will the names of the worst NBA draft busts live on forever.

    The problem is, they'll do so in infamy.

    The traditional definition of a draft bust is a player who was erroneously selected when there was a better option on the board. We think about players like Marvin Williams because he was drafted ahead of Chris Paul and Deron Williams.

    But Marvin had a fairly solid career. He wasn't able to live up to the expectations associated with a No. 2 pick, but he still put together a decent career coming out of North Carolina. So should that make him a massive draft bust? 

    Not in my mind. 

    To determine these draft busts, the 50 worst picks of the last 25 years, I'm turning to a completely objective formula. It's one rooted in historical comparisons, as each draft pick has consistent expectations associated with it over the years. 

     

    Note: All statistics, unless otherwise indicated, come from Basketball-Reference.com and Sports-Reference.com/cbb. 

How Draft Busts Are Determined

2 of 52

    What exactly can teams count on when they make a draft pick? Well, unless a team releases or trades a player, they are under the organization's control after the draft for up to four years, the maximum length of a rookie contract. So really, when looking at draft steals, we should focus almost exclusively on the first four years of a player's career. 

    "Almost" is used because sometimes a player's first four seasons in the NBA aren't necessarily the four years that came directly after he was drafted.

    As a result, I looked at the first four years of win-shares data for a player, as provided by Basketball-Reference.com. Win shares are an advanced basketball metric calculated so that one win share is exactly equal to one win provided by that player to his team's cause. It's the combination of offensive win shares and defensive win shares, a full breakdown of which can be found on this page, called "Calculating Win Shares."

    Win shares are inherently flawed because they can't completely sum up a player's value, but it's the best number we have for turning overall value into a single metric that goes up based on both volume and quality.

    Starting with the year 1982, I've looked at each and every single player drafted into the Association, tracking their draft position and the amount of win shares they produced in their first four seasons in the league. It is important to note that I only evaluated data through the 2009 draft because the players taken in 2010-2013 have not yet played out their first four seasons in the league.

    After I had data for all 2,437 players drafted from 1982-2009, I took the average number of four-year win shares for each draft position and plotted them on a scatterplot (which you can see in the embedded picture with draft position along the x-axis and four-year win shares along the y-axis).

    Using a best-fit logistical regression, I found the following formula: Four-year win shares = -6.031* ln (draft position) + 25.388.

    For the statistically inclined out there, that equation has a coefficient of determination (r^2) of 0.92083. For the non-statistically inclined, the equation fits ridiculously well. 

    Using this formula, we can plug in a number for draft position and have the formula show how many four-year win shares a player drafted there should be expected to produce. For example, the first overall pick of a draft should produce 25.388 Win Shares, while the 30th overall pick should produce 4.875. 

    With that data firmly established, we can tell exactly how much players have exceeded or failed to live up to the expectations associated with the slot in which they were drafted. That can be done by subtracting the expected win shares based on the draft position from the actual number of four-year win shares that players produced.

    If the difference is positive, the player exceeded expectations by that much and was a bit of a steal. If the difference is negative, the player failed to live up to the expectations and was a bit of a bust. 

    Let's use Michael Jordan as an example, even though he didn't get drafted in the past 25 years.

    Jordan was drafted third overall, so he should have been expected to produce 18.76 four-year win shares. The shooting guard actually produced 53.6 over the first four years of his career, meaning that the Chicago Bulls "stole" 34.84 four-year win shares when they drafted him. This was still a great pick, obviously. 

    In fact, it was the second best since 1982.

    It's important to realize exactly what we're looking at. As some of you may have realized, even No. 1 picks may be considered steals. Likewise, even non-lottery picks can be major busts if they perform poorly enough.

    Because this article reveals the 50 biggest busts of the past 25 years, but players drafted from 2010-12 are not yet eligible, here you can find a list of recently drafted players who look like they could "earn" a spot on this list in the future. 

    • From 2010: Evan Turner, Wesley Johnson, Ekpe Udoh, Al-Farouq Aminu, Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry, Luke Babbitt. 
    • From 2011: Jan Vesely, Bismack Biyombo, Jimmer Fredette. 
    • From 2012: Thomas Robinson, Austin Rivers.

    Going forward, you'll find a few pieces of information on each slide. There's the typical description of where each player was drafted and by what team. Additionally, you'll find how many four-year win shares each player earned as well as a brief player description. 

    Finally, you'll see a projection of where the player in question should have been drafted. That was determined via a little bit of algebraic manipulation and based on how many four-year win shares the player earned.

    Now, read on to find out the 50 biggest draft busts since the 1988 NBA draft. You will be surprised, especially if you don't remember that objectivity eliminates injuries and such from the list of excuses for a lack of performance.  

     

    Note: The above explanation is a modified version of what I wrote here.

50. Reece Gaines: -9.66

3 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2003

    Team Drafted By: Orlando Magic

    Draft Position: No. 15

    Four-Year Win Shares: -0.6

     

    It's always telling when you can't even find a picture of an NBA player in an NBA uniform. That's usually because they enjoyed a short career without much success, as was the case for this Louisville product. 

    Over the course of three seasons, Reece Gaines played 71 games, suiting up for three different teams: the Magic, Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks. 

    He finished up his career in the Association averaging only 1.7 points, 0.7 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game. If it weren't for his semi-adequate defense, he would have emerged as an even bigger bust than he already does. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 74

49. Chauncey Billups: -9.66

4 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1997

    Team Drafted By: Boston Celtics

    Draft Position: No. 3

    Four-Year Win Shares: 9.1

     

    This is where I get to recap the distinction between my definition of a draft bust and the more traditional one. 

    By the latter, Chauncey Billups comes nowhere near qualifying. He managed to get his career going after joining the Detroit Pistons and eventually made multiple All-Star teams, won a championship and was even named Finals MVP. That doesn't sound much like a draft bust, right? 

    However, by my definition, only the first four years of a career matter when evaluating a draft pick. That's literally the longest duration a team can control a player before he can leave no matter what the organization does. It's the only portion of a career you're guaranteed to control when you make a selection. 

    By that definition, Billups was most assuredly a bust for the Boston Celtics, especially because he played only 51 games in green before he was traded to the Toronto Raptors. 

    It wasn't until the seventh season of his career that Mr. Big Shot really started to make a major impact, and that's not what you look for in a No. 3 pick. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 15

48. Shelden Williams: -9.78

5 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2006

    Team Drafted By: Atlanta Hawks

    Draft Position: No. 5

    Four-Year Win Shares: 5.9

     

    Seeing as Brandon Roy, Randy Foye and Rudy Gay were the next three players selected in the 2006 NBA draft, Shelden Williams qualifies as a draft bust by both definitions. 

    "The Landlord" never held down the paint like he did at Duke. Injuries plagued the early portion of his career, and his skills just never translated to the next level. 

    Williams was a quality per-minute rebounder. Nothing less, and certainly nothing more. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 25

47. Donyell Marshall: -9.93

6 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1994

    Team Drafted By: Minnesota Timberwolves

    Draft Position: No. 4

    Four-Year Win Shares: 7.1

     

    As a junior, Donyell Marshall absolutely tortured the Big East during his final season with the Connecticut Huskies. He averaged 25.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game while shooting 51.1 percent from the field. 

    It wasn't all that surprising that the Minnesota Timberwolves used the No. 4 pick of the 1994 NBA draft on him. What was more surprising was that he completely failed to live up to the expectations. 

    Historically, fourth picks are supposed to earn 17.03 win shares over the first four years of their careers. Marshall earned less than half of that, although he exceed the total rather significantly later on his career. 

    His shooting efficiency just never made the jump to the NBA. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 21

46. Darius Miles: -10.06

7 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2000

    Team Drafted By: Los Angeles Clippers

    Draft Position: No. 3

    Four-Year Win Shares: 8.7

     

    A member of the infamous 2000 draft class, Darius Miles is the first of three players who will appear here from that year. 

    Miles was actually having a so-so start to his career, certainly nothing that would earn him a spot in these rankings, primarily because he was able to provide quality defensive play for the Los Angeles Clippers. But then the 2002-03 season, his first with the Cleveland Cavaliers, killed his progress. 

    After he and Harold Jamison were traded for Andre Miller and Bryant Stith, Miles forgot how to play offense. 

    He averaged 9.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, but he added 2.7 turnovers per contest and shot only 41 percent from the field without adding a single three-pointer. All things considered, he produced minus-2.7 offensive win shares. 

    Only 18 seasons in NBA history have been worse. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 16

45. Yinka Dare: -10.17

8 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1994

    Team Drafted By: New Jersey Nets

    Draft Position: No. 14

    Four-Year Win Shares: -0.7

     

    The seven-footer from Nigeria played only 110 games in the NBA over the course of four seasons, all of which were spent with the New Jersey Nets. 

    When he left the league for good in 1998, he did so with career averages of 2.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 0.1 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. Amazingly enough, he recorded a total of four assists during his NBA life. 

    Yinka Dare's impact was limited to the defensive end of the court, and he was quite literally a negative offensive contributor. If he wasn't pulling down rebounds and flailing away in an attempt to block shots, he wasn't doing anything else. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 76

44. Pervis Ellison: -10.19

9 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1989

    Team Drafted By: Sacramento Kings

    Draft Position: No. 1

    Four-Year Win Shares: 15.1

     

    "Never Nervous" Pervis Ellison never lived up to his status as the No. 1 pick of the 1989 NBA draft. 

    Even though he averaged 20.0 points and 11.2 rebounds per game during his third season in the league, his value was limited because he turned the ball over far too often and wasn't much of a defensive presence. 

    It only took the Sacramento Kings, the team that drafted Ellison, one year to cut ties with him. He was part of a three-team trade that sent him to the Washington Bullets. 

    Ellison, the 1992 Most Improved Player, never maintained much consistent success in the NBA, and while he was far from being a scrub, he was just as far from justifying the No. 1 selection. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 5

43. Mateen Cleaves: -10.27

10 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2000

    Team Drafted By: Detroit Pistons

    Draft Position: No. 14

    Four-Year Win Shares: -0.8

     

    Here's a general rule of thumb for you: When you're a lottery pick, at least try to earn positive win shares so you don't have to wind up on a future version of these rankings. 

    Mateen Cleaves couldn't do that over the first four years of his career, thanks to his putrid offensive displays. Although he was at least a competent defender, Cleaves recorded minus-2.3 offensive win shares during the time frame in question. 

    That's what happens when you shoot 39.5 percent from the field and average 1.5 turnovers in just 12.4 minutes per game. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 77

42. Rodney White: -10.34

11 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2001

    Team Drafted By: Detroit Pistons

    Draft Position: No. 9

    Four-Year Win Shares: 1.8

     

    Rodney White was at least able to hit the positives, but he was a No. 9 pick, so the expectations were naturally higher for him. 

    No matter which team he played for over his four-year career, White was horribly inefficient. He finished his NBA career averaging 7.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.3 turnovers per game on 42.4 percent shooting from the field. 

    His 2002-03 season, the first one he spent with the Detroit Pistons, was too poor for him to ever recover. Even though he spent just over 20 minutes per game on the court, he recorded 2.2 turnovers per contest and barely kept his field-goal percentage over basketball's version of the Mendoza line. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 50

41. William Avery: -10.37

12 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1999

    Team Drafted By: Minnesota Timberwolves

    Draft Position: No. 14

    Four-Year Win Shares: -0.9

     

    William Avery spent three seasons playing at the sport's highest level before he signed on with the Philadelphia 76ers and was waived before playing a single game. 

    He never spent a season averaging more than 10 minutes per game on the court, and that was largely due to his inability to hit shots with any consistency. He retired with a career field-goal percentage of just 33, and he actually managed to hit only 28.9 percent of his shots during the 2001-02 campaign, the last of his NBA career. 

    Avery was never particularly outstanding at Duke, but he could at least hit shots. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 78

40. Yaroslav Korolev: -10.50

13 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2005

    Team Drafted By: Los Angeles Clippers

    Draft Position: No. 12

    Four-Year Win Shares: -0.1

     

    Much like it's a bad sign when you can't find a single NBA picture of a player, it's also a negative omen when this is the best one you can find.

    Just to clarify, Yaroslav Korolev is the one on the Los Angeles Clippers. 

    Korolev played a total of 168 minutes during his NBA career, and they were spread out over the course of 34 games and two seasons. 

    The single best game of his career came just seven contests in: seven points, two rebounds and an assist in a victory over the Charlotte Bobcats in December of 2005.

    Again, that was the best game played by a lottery pick. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 68

39. Rex Chapman: -10.65

14 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1988

    Team Drafted By: Charlotte Hornets

    Draft Position: No. 8

    Four-Year Win Shares: 2.2

     

    The early portion of Rex Chapman's career is a great reminder that points per game can be an extremely overrated statistic. 

    Over the first four years he spent in the NBA, the Kentucky product averaged 16.2 points per game. The problem was that he did so on 42.3 percent shooting from the field, and his free throws and three-pointers weren't enough to bring up the level of efficiency. When you factor in his turnovers, Chapman actually earned negative offensive win shares. 

    He would go on to carve out a lengthy career in the Association, but this combo guard never justified the No. 8 pick the Charlotte Hornets spent on him in 1988. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 47

38. Shawn Respert: -10.75

15 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1995

    Team Drafted By: Portland Trail Blazers (traded to the Milwaukee Bucks)

    Draft Position: No. 8

    Four-Year Win Shares: 2.1

     

    A 6'1" player out of Michigan State who didn't possess even a tiny bit of passing skill, Shawn Respert didn't fit in well at shooting guard. 

    He spent four seasons in the NBA, playing in 172 games before bowing out of the league upon being waived by the Phoenix Suns. During that time, he averaged 4.9 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game on 41.4 percent shooting. 

    It was a far cry from the 25.6 points per game this consensus All-American put up during his final season as a Spartan.

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 48

37. Aleksandar Radojevic: -10.80

16 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1999

    Team Drafted By: Toronto Raptors

    Draft Position: No. 12

    Four-Year Win Shares: -0.4

     

    Again, it's never a good sign when this is the type of picture I get to pick for a player. 

    Believe it or not, this 7'3" center is one of three players in NBA history with the first name Aleksandar. Sasha Pavlovic is another, but he never went by it. 

    Radojevic played just 15 games in the Association, and he shot only 30.8 percent from the field. He was exclusively a defensive contributor for the Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz, and he didn't even do that particularly well. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 72

36. Fran Vasquez: -10.93

17 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2005

    Team Drafted By: Orlando Magic

    Draft Position: No. 11

    Four-Year Win Shares: 0

     

    Fran Vasquez never played a single minute in the NBA, so it's pretty tough for him to justify the No. 11 pick that the Orlando Magic spent on him back in 2005. 

    Technically, it's still possible for him to join the Association, but it's looking more and more unlikely as the years progress. 

    Magic fans might still be mad about the fact that he spurned Orlando for a chance to remain in the Spanish ACB League. He now plays for Unicaja Malaga.

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 67

35. Glenn Robinson: -10.99

18 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1994

    Team Drafted By: Milwaukee Bucks

    Draft Position: No. 1

    Four-Year Win Shares: 14.6

     

    No. 1 picks are rightfully held to a higher standard than the rest of the draft class, and historically, they're expected to earn 25.39 win shares over the course of their first four seasons. 

    Glenn Robinson was by no means a bad player. In fact, he was pretty valuable for the Milwaukee Bucks right when he entered the league out of Purdue, and he even averaged 21.9 points per game as a rookie. 

    The problem was, Robinson never truly became an all-around player, and he was mostly just a scorer for the squad. He never really made anyone Fear the Deer solely because of him. 

    Due to his lack of true efficiency in the scoring column and the dearth of contributions elsewhere, his win share totals were relatively lackluster. I say "relatively" because he's held to the historical standards of a No. 1 pick. 

    Robinson's 14.6 four-year win shares aren't terrible, but they're what's expected from a No. 6 pick, not a No. 1. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 6

34. Michael Beasley: -11.01

19 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2008

    Team Drafted By: Miami Heat

    Draft Position: No. 2

    Four-Year Win Shares: 10.2

     

    It's lucky for Michael Beasley that we're not counting the fifth season of a career here, because he earned minus-1.5 win shares for the Phoenix Suns during the 2012-13 campaign. 

    The No. 2 pick from the 2008 NBA draft has yet to remind anyone of the scoring and rebounding machine he was as a freshman for Kansas State. In fact, he's been a broken-down machine throughout his NBA career. 

    Beasley has been quite lazy on the court, failing to attack the boards with the same vigor that he did in college. His efficiency has also waned as his career has progressed, but he hasn't stopped hoisting up too many attempts. 

    The Miami Heat portion of his career was passable, but nothing else has worked out for him. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 12

33. Ed O'Bannon: -11.04

20 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1995

    Team Drafted By: New Jersey Nets

    Draft Position: No. 9 

    Four-Year Win Shares: 1.1

     

    Ed O'Bannon couldn't mentally handle the NBA, and he flamed out after just two seasons, playing out his professional career in lesser leagues. 

    The problem was that he just couldn't earn consistent playing time or find the bottom of the net. He averaged only 16.1 minutes per game during those two years and shot only 36.7 percent from the field. If that seems bad, it's even worse when you consider that the lefty shot 53.3 percent during his final season at UCLA. 

    Fortunately for O'Bannon, he can at least play a little bit of defense. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 56

32. Terrence Williams: -11.13

21 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2009

    Team Drafted By: New Jersey Nets

    Draft Position: No. 11

    Four-Year Win Shares: -0.2

     

    I have to admit that I was completely wrong about Terrence Williams. I expected him to come out of Louisville and take the league by storm. 

    Little did I realize that Williams wasn't aware you were allowed to score with jumpers. At least that's what his game makes you think. 

    The former Cardinal has already played for four different teams, and his lack of offensive ability—unless in transition—has prevented him from ever finding a consistent spot in the rotation. Not even his versatile defense has been able to change that up to this point.

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 70

31. Randy White: -11.15

22 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1989

    Team Drafted By: Dallas Mavericks

    Draft Position: No. 8 

    Four-Year Win Shares: 1.7

     

    As seems to be the case with many of these players, Randy White piled up the negative offensive win shares because he just couldn't find his shooting stroke once he joined the professional ranks.

    He finished up his NBA career, all of which was spent with the Dallas Mavericks, shooting 40.1 percent from the field, and that's aided ever so slightly by the performance in his fifth year. Well, "performance."

    In four years, White racked up minus-three offensive win shares. At some point, you'd have thought Dallas would tell him to corral his shooting instincts and swing the ball around the key. 

    But no. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 51


30. Mouhamed Sene: -11.20

23 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2006

    Team Drafted By: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Draft Position: No. 10

    Four-Year Win Shares: 0.3

     

    Mouhamed Sene topped out at 10 points in his career, and that was the only time he hit double figures. That should say a lot about how much he struggled offensively. 

    There just wasn't much to this 6'11" big man's offensive game. He made more of an impact on defense, where he could use his imposing length and height to terrorize smaller players, but he still didn't stick around long enough in the NBA to come anywhere near justifying his lofty draft position. 

    When a top-10 pick should have gone undrafted, that's when you know we're well within "bust" territory.

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 64

29. Corey Brewer: -11.25

24 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2007

    Team Drafted By: Minnesota Timberwolves

    Draft Position: No. 7

    Four-Year Win Shares: 2.4

     

    Corey Brewer is slowly carving out a niche for himself in the NBA now that his defensive instincts are getting to the point where they can match his aggressiveness, but that was a lengthy process that left the Minnesota Timberwolves quite disappointed they drafted him. 

    Brewer has displayed the occasional touch from the perimeter, but he struggles to score once he steps inside the three-point arc. On top of that, his passing is futile, and he doesn't rebound well for a man who occasionally lines up at small forward. 

    It's not too late for Brewer to make it in this league, but it is too late for him to avoid being called the 29th-biggest bust of the past 25 years. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 45

28. Luke Jackson: -11.30

25 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2004

    Team Drafted By: Cleveland Cavaliers

    Draft Position: No. 10

    Four-Year Win Shares: 0.2

     

    Over the course of four seasons, Luke Jackson played 73 games, and he did so in five different uniforms. None of them looked like the Oregon Ducks one you can see up above, which is probably a testament to his extreme lack of playing time. 

    The Cleveland Cavaliers quickly realized that they'd made a mistake by wasting the No. 10 pick on this small forward, so they traded him to the Boston Celtics for Dwayne Jones. He was waived 13 days later, and then he lived on non-guaranteed contracts for the rest of his NBA days. 

    Jackson was a consensus All-American in 2004 leading into the draft, but he was a consensus benchwarmer at the professional level. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 65

27. Doug Smith: -11.38

26 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1991

    Team Drafted By: Dallas Mavericks

    Draft Position: No. 6

    Four-Year Win Shares: 3.2

     

    Amazingly enough, Doug Smith is the only Doug Smith to ever play in the NBA. Given the generic nature of the name, I'd expect that to be different. 

    To any other Doug Smiths out there, make sure you make it to the Association so you can rewrite the history of your name!

    This particular Smith was a turnover and foul machine, and that's what held him back throughout his professional career. If you look at his per-36 numbers, the power forward out of Missouri averaged 2.2 cough-ups and 6.0 fouls. That's not going to cut it if you're looking to earn playing time. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 40

26. Yi Jianlian: -11.48

27 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2007

    Team Drafted By: Milwaukee Bucks

    Draft Position: No. 6

    Four-Year Win Shares: 3.1

     

    Yi Jianlian is yet another guy who just never figured out how to shoot in the NBA. Based on his work in the Olympics, this is an aberration, but it's a fairly consistent one. 

    Over the first four seasons of his career, he averaged only 8.5 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting from the field. Yi was too dead-set on expanding his range, and it didn't turn out very well. 

    Even that wasn't the main problem. Other than scoring, Yi couldn't do much. He wasn't a great passer, failed to pull down rebounds consistently and never developed into much of a defensive presence. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 40

25. Patrick O'Bryant: -11.64

28 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2006

    Team Drafted By: Golden State Warriors

    Draft Position: No. 9

    Four-Year Win Shares: 0.5

     

    Over four seasons in the NBA, Patrick O'Bryant only managed to step onto the court 90 times. He just couldn't carve out a consistent role in the rotation whether he was playing for the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics or Toronto Raptors. 

    The seven-foot center's rebounding was particularly poor, as he topped out with just 1.7 boards per contest during the 2008-09 season. 

    Quite frankly, I never understand what the appeal was here. His best totals were 13.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Bradley. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 62

24. George McCloud: -12.05

29 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1989

    Team Drafted By: Indiana Pacers

    Draft Position: No. 7

    Four-Year Win Shares: 1.1

     

    George McCloud's big jump came during the sixth season of his career, which unfortunately doesn't mean anything for the purposes of these rankings.

    It's nice to know that the No. 7 pick in the 1989 NBA draft eventually started making good on his potential, but that's ultimately irrelevant to the Indiana Pacers, who only controlled him for the first four NBA years. 

    During those first four, McCloud averaged 5.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game while shooting just 39 percent from the field. 

    He wasn't much help on offense, and he was even worse defensively. That's not what a team wants out of the No. 7 pick. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 52

23. Jonathan Bender: -12.28

30 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1999

    Team Drafted By: Toronto Raptors

    Draft Position: No. 5

    Four-Year Win Shares: 3.4

     

    Perhaps Jonathan Bender would have been more effective if he'd (A) played 1,000 years in the future and (B) been a robot. 

    Alas, he was a human being drafted in 1999, and he struggled tremendously once he left Picayune Memorial in Mississippi for the ranks of the NBA. 

    The small forward topped out at 7.4 points per game, but that was while shooting 43 percent from the field. Amazingly enough, that was almost the highest field-goal percentage of the first four years of his career. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 38

21(tie). Joe Alexander: -12.35

31 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2008

    Team Drafted By: Milwaukee Bucks

    Draft Position: No. 8

    Four-Year Win Shares: 0.5

     

    Joe Alexander enjoyed about as nondescript an NBA career as you could ask for. That's a positive if you're afraid of the spotlight, but it's a negative if you were a Milwaukee Bucks fan hoping that this West Virginia product could justify being picked at No. 8. 

    The small forward lasted only 59 games with the Bucks before he was traded to the Chicago Bulls. Once in the Windy City, he played just eight games during the 2009-10 season. Alexander was then signed and waived by the New Orleans Hornets, and that was the end of his NBA career. 

    At least the former Mountaineer was able to put together a few good games. During his rookie season, he actually recorded 13 points, five rebounds and five assists in a January loss to the Miami Heat. The problem is, that's not too special. 

    During the 2012-13 season, there were 1,094 performances during which a player matched or exceeded all of those marks.  

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 62

21(tie). DeSagana Diop: -12.35

32 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2001

    Team Drafted By: Cleveland Cavaliers

    Draft Position: No. 8

    Four-Year Win Shares: 0.4

     

    The name DeSagana Diop is generally greeted with laughter now because he's one of those players who only comes in when the game is firmly in hand. 

    It's growing tougher and tougher to believe that he was once valued highly enough to be picked at No. 8 in the 2001 NBA draft. Something tells me the Cleveland Cavaliers seriously regret that decision now. 

    Diop spent the first four seasons of his career with the Cavs, and he averaged only 1.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. At least he was an adequate defender, because that's about all the big man brought to the table coming out of the basketball academy known as Oak Hill. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 62

20. Bo Kimble: -12.75

33 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1990

    Team Drafted By: Los Angeles Clippers

    Draft Position: No. 8

    Four-Year Win Shares: 0.1

     

    Apparently, it doesn't matter too much if a player is a consensus All-American before entering the NBA. 

    Bo Kimble averaged 35.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 2.9 steals and 0.7 blocks per game during his senior season for Loyola Marymount, but that obviously didn't translate well to the NBA. Leading the NCAA in scoring isn't a guarantee for professional success. 

    Once he hit the NBA, Kimble couldn't hit three-pointers nearly as well, and that limited the rest of his game. He averaged 6.9 points per game as a rookie, but that was a far cry from the numbers he put up as a collegiate senior. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 66

19. Shaun Livingston: -12.82

34 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2004

    Team Drafted By: Los Angeles Clippers

    Draft Position: No. 4

    Four-Year Win Shares: 4.2

     

    This is the first instance in which extenuating circumstances truly helped create a draft bust. It's terribly unfortunate when injuries are the reason that a player fails to live up to expectations, but objectively, they still qualify as a bust. 

    Teams don't care why a player is no longer able to produce because they still lose the production. 

    Such was the case for Shaun Livingston, whose career was off to a promising start before he completely destroyed his knee. The injury came midway through his third season, and it took him years before he was able to come remotely close to matching his old form. 

    If we prorate Livingston's 54-game campaign in 2006-07 to a full 82-game season and then assume a typical growth curve, he would have finished with 9.1 four-year win shares. That still leaves him as a draft bust, but not a big enough one to actually qualify for these rankings. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 34

18. Shawn Bradley: -12.81

35 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1993

    Team Drafted By: Philadelphia 76ers

    Draft Position: No. 2

    Four-Year Win Shares: 8.3

     

    Shawn Bradley's main problem was that height was his only asset. And man, was he tall. The one time I saw Bradley in person, he was on his knees drinking from a water fountain; it was the only way he could get his frame down that close to the faucet. 

    "Coordinated" was not a word in this 7'6" center's vocabulary. He struggled to run up and down the court, and it was tougher still for him to catch the ball when it was thrown in his general direction (which was usually just up). 

    He had a long career because of his rebounding and rim-protecting skills, but this clumsiness certainly applied to his ability to put the ball in the basket as well.

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 17

17. Mark Macon: -13.05

36 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1991

    Team Drafted By: Denver Nuggets

    Draft Position: No. 8

    Four-Year Win Shares: -0.2

     

    Mark Macon may have earned minus-0.2 win shares during his NBA career, but he earned about 19.6 awesome shares by giving us this insane picture. 

    Rather than focus on how awful Macon's professional career turned out, let's just analyze this picture. Everything about it is cool. 

    From his high-top fade to the retro Denver Nuggets jersey, he oozes early '90s swag. Add in the facial expression and the way he's delivering the ball to his teammate, and I almost feel bad I have to include him in a list of draft busts. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 70

16. Sharone Wright: -13.18

37 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1994

    Team Drafted By: Philadelphia 76ers

    Draft Position: No. 6

    Four-Year Win Shares: 1.4

     

    Sharone Wright began his career in promising fashion, averaging 11.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game as a rookie, but he quickly faded and was traded during the middle of his second year to the Toronto Raptors. 

    He actually had better offensive numbers throughout the 1995-96 season, both with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Raptors, but his defense fell off a cliff. It was almost like he had just forgotten how to guard opposing centers, and his defensive rating rose to 112. 

    The big man from Clemson never regained the defensive level he reached as a first-year player, and his offense declined drastically for the rest of his career. That's a brutal combination. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 53

15. Rafael Araujo: -13.25

38 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2004

    Team Drafted By: Toronto Raptors

    Draft Position: No. 8

    Four-Year Win Shares: -0.4

     

    The Brazilian center was picked eighth out of BYU, but he never received much of an opportunity to make a name for himself at the professional level. 

    As a rookie, Rafael Araujo received only 12.5 minutes per game, and that was the highest mark of his career. During the remaining two seasons he spent in the NBA, he averaged 11.6 and 8.9 minutes per contest. 

    It's not like Araujo was a per-minute stud waiting for an opportunity, though. Other than his work on the glass, the 6'11" big man struggled every time he stepped onto the court. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 72


14. Danny Ferry: -13.61

39 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1989

    Team Drafted By: Los Angeles Clippers

    Draft Position: No. 2

    Four-Year Win Shares: 7.5

     

    Danny Ferry has been much more successful in NBA front offices than he ever was while wearing a uniform. Atlanta Hawks fans can currently thank their lucky stars for that. 

    The Duke product was a two-time consensus All-American and won the Naismith Award in 1989, but he struggled immensely to live up to those ridiculous expectations. In fact, he shouldn't have even been a lottery pick, assuming the Los Angeles Clippers could have predicted the future more accurately. 

    A 6'10" power forward, Ferry held his own on the defensive end of the court, but he struggled to pull his weight on the more glamorous end. He just never developed a consistent scoring touch, and the rest of his offensive game wasn't much better. 

    Duke haters, you can rejoice now that another Blue Devil has made it onto this list. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 19


13. Andrea Bargnani: -14.09

40 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2006

    Team Drafted By: Toronto Raptors

    Draft Position: No. 1

    Four-Year Win Shares: 11.4

     

    We haven't quite reached the level of draft busts where a No. 1 pick should have fallen out of the lottery, but we're getting there. 

    Andrea Bargnani literally did one thing well on the basketball court when he received consistent playing time: He could spread it with his shooting ability. 

    Does that mean that the Italian big man could hit his attempts consistently? Nope; not even a tiny bit. But it does mean that the threat of his jumper was enough for the Toronto Raptors to loosen the interior pressure during their half-court sets. 

    Bargnani had the best season of his career during the 2009-10 campaign when he averaged 17.2 points per game on 47 percent shooting—yes, better even than when he averaged 21.4 points per contest the next season—but it was too little, too late to redeem his status as a No. 1 pick. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 10

12. Bobby Hurley: -14.35

41 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1993

    Team Drafted By: Sacramento Kings

    Draft Position: No. 7

    Four-Year Win Shares: -0.7

     

    The Duke haters get more ammo here!

    Bobby Hurley was just absolutely awful for the Sacramento Kings. And I don't mean that as even the tiniest exaggeration. 

    The No. 7 pick in the 1993 NBA draft enjoyed the best offensive season of the eligible portion of his career in 1996-97 when he averaged 2.9 points and 3.0 assists per game on 36.8 percent shooting from the field. 

    Yes, that was the best. 

    And that says it all. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 76

11. DaJuan Wagner: -14.58

42 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2002

    Team Drafted By: Cleveland Cavaliers

    Draft Position: No. 6

    Four-Year Win Shares: 0

     

    Despite posting an above-average 17.2 PER over the course of the 2006-07 season, DaJuan Wagner still comes in as the 11th-biggest bust of the last 25 years. To be fair though, the 6'2" guard only played in one game for the Golden State Warriors that season, so his PER is based on the enormous sample size of seven minutes. 

    Wagner's career got off to an adequate start, but his second and third seasons in the league both saw him earn negative win shares as his health took a turn for the worse. 

    Somehow, someway, it all balances out. Wagner is one of the few players who actually had significant playing time during his career and still managed to break even in the win-share department. 

    Unfortunately, that's not what the Cleveland Cavaliers were looking for when they used the No. 6 pick on him in the 2002 NBA draft. 

    Wagner's career ended early because he had ulcerative colitis, eventually leading to the removal of his entire colon. It's a tragic story, but Wagner still objectively ranks as the No. 11 bust of the last 25 years. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 67

10. Marcus Fizer: -14.73

43 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2000

    Team Drafted By: Chicago Bulls

    Draft Position: No. 4

    Four-Year Win Shares: 2.2

     

    Marcus Fizer spent a lot of his career getting yelled at by coaches, as you can see in the picture above. He never seemed to be doing the right thing, and he needed constant direction. 

    The combo forward averaged 12.3 points per game during his second season with the Chicago Bulls, but he still managed to earn negative offensive win shares. The problem was that Fizer couldn't shoot three-pointers, struggled from the charity stripe and shot only 43.8 percent from the field. He also averaged more turnovers than assists that season. 

    Throughout the first four years of his career, Fizer quickly realized that playing in the NBA was an entirely different game than leading Iowa State through the Big 12. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 46

9. Jonny Flynn: -15.68

44 of 52

    Year Drafted: Minnesota Timberwolves

    Team Drafted By: 2009

    Draft Position: No. 6

    Four-Year Win Shares: -1.1

     

    Jonny Flynn is now an All-Star in the NBL, but that doesn't help out his status as an NBA draft bust. Technically, the Syracuse product still has one more season to accumulate win shares because he's only played three seasons in the Association and still has the talent to return as a benchwarmer, but it's been four years since he was drafted. 

    Therefore, he's eligible here. 

    Over the past 25 years, eight players have managed to play out their eligible periods and earn minus-1.0 win shares or worse. Only three of them appear in these rankings, because the other five were drafted at No. 24 or lower, and while they were draft busts, the didn't have high enough expectations to make these rankings.

    Those players, if you're curious, are Mardy Collins, Rodrick Rhodes, Sean Green, Cory Carr and Kenny Satterfield.

    Flynn is the first of the other three to appear here, but you'll see the other two quite soon. All you need to see here is what's directly below this sentence. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 81

8. Hasheem Thabeet: -16.41

45 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2009

    Team Drafted By: Memphis Grizzlies

    Draft Position: No. 2

    Four-Year Win Shares: 4.8

     

    Believe it or not, but of the top 10 draft busts of the last 25 years, only two players have earned more win shares than Hasheem Thabeet. 

    He made history for being sent to the D-League and has struggled to appear even remotely competent on the offensive end of the court, but he's a decent shot-blocker who still has time to develop into a rotation big. Remember, the Tanzanian big is only 26 years old, and he's not shrinking. 

    Thabeet just had the best season of his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder, earning 2.2 win shares, thanks mostly to his defensive contributions off the bench. That season officially placed him in the mega draft bust category, but it proved there's still hope for the future. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 30

7. Kwame Brown: -16.59

46 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2001

    Team Drafted By: Washington Wizards

    Draft Position: No. 1

    Four-Year Win Shares: 8.8

     

    Despite the fact that he's become a universal NBA punchline, Kwame Brown had a better first four years than any other player in the top 10. He's also managed to stick around in the NBA for over a decade, so that's impressive in its own right. 

    Here's a quote from Grantland's Jay Caspian Kang about Brown: 

    Kwame is now two public things. He is Kwame Brown, symbol of self-imposed failure, the punch line to every draft-day joke. But he is also Kwame Brown, employed professional basketball player, who plays with the knowledge that nothing he does on the court can really change his legacy. He could play another five years in the league, improve every season, win a championship, sign a multiyear contract, and retire at the age of 35 with a completely adequate, acceptable second career in the books, but his name will always be synonymous with youth, petulance and waste.

    The entire article is worth giving a read, and you probably won't make fun of Brown quite as often once you do.

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 16

6. Darko Milicic: -17.11

47 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2003

    Team Drafted By: Detroit Pistons

    Draft Position: No. 2

    Four-Year Win Shares: 4.1

     

    Darko Milicic's status as a draft bust is only enhanced by the players who were drafted around him. The 2003 draft class was absolutely loaded, and Darko was joined in the top five by LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade

    As the Detroit Pistons might say now, "Whoops." 

    However, even if you ignore the men surrounding Milicic on the draft board, he became a massive historical bust. 

    It took him four years to earn anything even close to resembling consistent playing time. That didn't come until the 2006-07 season with the Orlando Magic, when the seven-footer's defensive skills were finally noticed. He earned 3.3 win shares on defense alone, and that's the only thing saving him from working his way up even higher in these rankings. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 34

5. Nikoloz Tskitishvili: -17.28

48 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2002

    Team Drafted By: Denver Nuggets

    Draft Position: No. 5

    Four-Year Win Shares: -1.6

     

    The Denver Nuggets would have been better off if NIkoloz Tskitishvilli stayed in Georgia (the country, not the state). During his 2.5 seasons in the Mile High City, the seven-footer earned minus-1.5 win shares. 

    It's never good when you have to say that about a No. 5 pick in the NBA draft. It would have been more appropriate for Tskitishvilli to go undrafted than to make the lottery. 

    During his four-year NBA career, the big man actually managed to shoot just 30.4 percent from the field. That would be a good percentage if he were a baseball player, but it's not good enough for the NBA.

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 88

     

4. Greg Oden: -18.59

49 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2007

    Team Drafted By: Portland Trail Blazers

    Draft Position: No. 1

    Four-Year Win Shares: 6.1

     

    Greg Oden, just like Jonny Flynn, hasn't yet played four seasons in the NBA, but it's been well over four years since he was drafted. His knees just haven't allowed him to make any sort of consistent impact at the professional level. 

    The No. 1 pick of the 2007 NBA draft—yes, the same one in which Kevin Durant went No. 2—has actually been successful when he's managed to stay on the court. His career PER is 19.5, and that's not a fluke created by small sample size. 

    Let me put it another way: Oden has played 82 games, the same number as a full season, and he's earned 6.1 win shares. That's actually a solid season, but the problem is that Oden has played only 82 games in the same time it's taken Durant to play 461. 

    Oden's status as a draft bust—and that's a legitimate status—is due to his body, not what he's done with it.

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 22

3. Adam Morrison: -20.16

50 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2006

    Team Drafted By: Charlotte Bobcats

    Draft Position: No. 3

    Four-Year Win Shares: -1.4

     

    For the sake of tortured Charlotte Bobcats fans, let's just look at this picture of Adam Morrison and move on. All the numbers on this page already tell the story... 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 85

2. Jay Williams: -20.41

51 of 52

    Year Drafted: 2002

    Team Drafted By: Chicago Bulls

    Draft Position: No. 2

    Four-Year Win Shares: 0.8

     

    This is one of the more unfortunate stories in this slideshow, as Jay Williams was actually looking like he could live up to his status as a No. 2 pick before a motorcycle accident ruined his career. He violated the terms of his contract by even getting on in the first place, but it's still awful that one mistake completely ended his NBA career.

    Williams had already recorded a triple-double putting up 26 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists in just the seventh game of his career, and he had scored in double-digits during each of his last four games and four of the last six.

    In fact, he and John Wall are the only two players in the last 25 years who have recorded a triple-double during the first 10 games of a career.

    Williams, much like Greg Oden, is a massive bust because of injuries, but he still wasn't able to live up to his draft pick. The reason is ultimately irrelevant.  

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 59

1. Michael Olowokandi: -25.29

52 of 52

    Year Drafted: 1998

    Team Drafted By: Los Angeles Clippers

    Draft Position: No. 1

    Four-Year Win Shares: 0.1

     

    Michael Olowokandi is the biggest draft bust of the last 25 years, and it's not even remotely close. He failed to live up to the expectations by 25.29 win shares, putting a 4.88-win-share difference between himself and Jay Williams. That's about the same difference that separates Williams from the bottom portion of the top 10. 

    "The Kandi Man" was only able to earn 0.1 win shares during the first four years of his career, mostly because he was an inept offensive player. During that time period, he averaged 9.7 points, 0.7 assists and 2.1 turnovers per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the field.

    Olowokandi was actually a decent defensive big, but his offensive contributions completely negated his impact on that end of the court. 

    The seven-footer was picked at No. 1, but his performance indicates that he should have gone undrafted. There's quite a discrepancy. 

     

    Where he should have been picked: No. 66

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices