If you've been an NBA fan for long enough, you can probably remember your team making a shameful draft pick.
Maybe a name gets called out that makes you scream in disgust because you already know that the prospect in question is going to be a major bust. Sometimes you're happy with a selection, but the guy flames out quickly and leaves you throwing up in your mouth each time you hear his name.
The shameful picks are the ones that never let the emotions die away. Every time you watch them, you can't help but shake your head and wonder what could have been.
Would your team have won championships? Would they have become a dynasty? Would they have—gasp—passed the 72-win milestone?
Think back about your team's most shameful peak, then read on for the draft memories of B/R's NBA team. But while you do so, make sure your fingers are crossed so you don't get unlucky during the 2013 NBA draft.
The Marvin Williams pick in the 2005 NBA draft was so shameful that it lives on in the memories of more than just human beings. The wall in my old house still remembers that fateful moment when the North Carolina product's name was called out, as evidenced by the dent in it.
Given the Atlanta Hawks' affinity for overrated wing players and the proclivity for selecting players who didn't pan out, there was always a solid chance that the front office would pass Marvin's name along to David Stern. That didn't stop me from heaving my television remote across the house when it was announced.
Why exactly was Williams taken over Chris Paul and Deron Williams (but mostly CP3)? I couldn't tell you then, and I certainly can't now that Paul has developed into the best point guard in the league while Marvin flounders away in Utah.
What makes this so much worse was that the Hawks desperately needed a point guard! Tryonn Lue was the starter during the 2004-05 season, and Antoine Walker finished second on the team in assists per game.
To be fair, Williams has had a fairly solid career. He's actually had six seasons in which he averaged double-digit points per game, and he topped out at 14.8 during the 2007-08 campaign. In terms of actual production, he's been better than other infamous Atlanta picks like Sheldon Williams and Acie Law IV.
But he's not Chris Paul.
-Writeup courtesy of Adam Fromal, @Fromal09
In their illustrious history, the Boston Celtics haven’t made many regretful moves. Most of the franchise’s campfire tales have happy endings, with Red Auerbach and his mystical good fortune always ending up with what they want.
But no team is perfect on draft night because that would require an ability to look into the future, something people aren’t (yet) capable of. The Celtics have had some particularly bad picks too, but they’re too difficult to fairly criticize without using hindsight as a tool—without realizing at the time that a mistake was in fact unfolding before our very eyes.
The most tragic pick is undoubtedly Len Bias, whose death had a harsh effect on the team’s long-term future. But anyone would’ve taken Bias with that pick. In 2001, Boston found themselves with three picks in the first round. They used the first on Joe Johnson, the second on Kedrick Brown and with that third fateful pick, Boston took the University of North Carolina’s Joseph Forte with the 21st overall pick.
Obviously, Forte didn’t pan out (scoring seven fewer points in his entire career than LeBron James in Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals) but same goes for tons of players who aren’t plucked in the lottery. That isn’t why Boston should be criticized.
What draws my ire today is something French point guard Tony Parker recently said to Grantland’s Bill Simmons:
You have the NBA lady, Chrissy, she comes to me and it was the 19th pick. She gives me a Celtics cap, says 'they're gonna pick you.' And it was like three minutes left on the clock, you know you get five minutes to pick somebody, and the at one minute she comes back and she takes the cap and she's like 'oh no, they changed their mind,' and they took my cap back and I was like 'what?!' and Pop stepped in and drafted me.
And that’s that.
Nobody, even Parker, knew he would grow to become the player he is today. And there’s no guarantee he would’ve matured and developed in Boston as he’s done in San Antonio. Royal jelly and all that. Every team that held a first round pick that year could’ve selected Parker, and they all passed. The Celtics let Parker slip through their fingers not once, not twice but three times.
It’s almost as if that unexplainable Celtic-related magic tried to help them out, but Boston second guessed themselves and the rest is history.
-Writeup courtesy of Michael Pina, @MichaelVPina
Over the last 10 years, the Nets have had some truly horrendous picks.
In 2003 the team selected Zoran Planinic at No. 22 over Leandro Barbosa and Josh Howard. In 2005 they passed over Danny Granger, David Lee and Monta Ellis for Antoine Wright at No. 15. Finally, in 2007, the Nets took Sean Williams at No. 17 instead of Marc Gasol, Wilson Chandler, Carl Landry, Jared Dudley and Tiago Splitter.
The Nets' biggest draft-day blunder of the last 15 years, however, occurred on June 25, 2009, when they took guard Terrence Williams at No. 11 and traded Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Tony Battie, Courtney Lee and Rafer Alston.
In a futile attempt to make a run at soon-to-be free agent LeBron James, the Nets gave away an eight-time All-Star and a 6’10” power forward that would go on to lead the NBA in 3-point shooting during 2012, for three marginal role players. Then they passed over Ty Lawson and Jrue Holiday for Terrence Williams with the No. 11 pick.
Williams was sent to the D-League in 2010 before being traded to the Houston Rockets in a three-team trade. He played the majority of the 2012-13 season in China. Anderson, meanwhile, was named the league’s most improved player in 2012, while Carter continued to play for the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks in the following seasons.
The Nets finished a disgraceful 12-70 in 2009-10. Coach Lawrence Frank was fired after an 0-16 start, and general manager Kiki Vandeweghe was named the interim coach for the remained of the season.
-Writeup courtesy of Andrew Kipp, @andrew_kipp
Nobody wants to be the guy to say no to Michael Jordan, and that’s the biggest problem the Charlotte Bobcats have with the greatest player of all-time installed as the team’s owner.
The Adam Morrison draft choice will live in shame forever. Although Morrison didn’t look like the flame-out in the NBA that he wound up being after his rookie season, there were several more appealing picks available at the time of the draft.
The Bobcats are a team that has needed someone to build around since their inception.
In the 2006 draft, names like Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay and even Rajon Rondo went well after Morrison was selected in the third overall slot. While Rondo wasn’t the player in college that he’s morphed into during his NBA career, it’s easy to see why a player like Roy (yes, even with the chronic knee issues) and especially Gay would have been more appropriate choices.
We always have the benefit of hindsight with these issues, but Bobcats fans have to be especially upset when guys like Ryan Hollins (drafted No. 50 overall) have a longer career than Morrison did in the NBA.
-Writeup courtesy of Ethan Norof, @Mr_Norof
The Chicago Bulls did not make the wrong choice in 2006 when they took LaMarcus Aldridge with the second pick of the draft.
The heartbreak started immediately before they picked him, when they announced they had swapped Aldridge for Victor “This Trade Made Me” Khryapa and Tyrus Thomas, the fourth pick in the same draft.
Khryapa went on to amass 105 whole points in a Bulls’ uniform, along with 77 rebounds and 29 assists. Can I get a, “Woot! Woot?” In three and a half seasons, Thomas put up an “eye-popping” 7.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Stellar.
That’s just shy of the meager 18.3 points and 7.8 boards a game that Aldridge has been logging for Portland since the trade, as he’s become one of the best two-way power forwards, making it to the All-Star Game each of the last two years.
What makes it even more fun is Aldridge’s penchant for torturing the Bulls, averaging 28 points and nine boards a contest over the last four years.
The Bulls managed to offload their mistake onto the Charlotte Bobcats for a future first-round draft pick, although it looks more and more like we might have to wait until 2016 to collect. Michael Jordan may have a hand in a seventh Bulls banner after all!
-Writeup courtesy of Kelly Scaletta, @KellyScaletta
The Cleveland Cavaliers selected LeBron James with the No. 1 overall pick in 2003.
Twelve months later, they earned an opportunity to add a Top-10 player from the 2004 Draft to begin building a young core of talent around James.
In what admittedly proved to be a weak draft overall—with Emeka Okafor going second, Josh Childress sixth and Rafael Araújo being selected eighth—the Cavaliers missed badly themselves with Luke Jackson at No. 10.
Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Jameer Nelson, Delonte West and Tony Allen were among the names called later in the first round.
Nelson, specifically, could’ve become the Cleveland Cavaliers' point guard of the future. Instead, he’d team up with Dwight Howard and later helped the Orlando Magic’s young core eliminate the Cavaliers from the 2009 playoffs.
Jefferson and Josh Smith would’ve fit nicely into the starting power forward role that was later assumed by Drew Gooden in the 2007 NBA Finals. J.R. Smith…who knows what his offensive firepower would’ve done for LeBron’s Cavaliers.
Delonte West would later play with James for a time in Cleveland but Tony Allen never did.
Jackson, meanwhile, appeared in 46 games for the Cavs, averaging 2.8 points and one rebound from 2004 to 2005.
Jackson would play in 40 more games combined from 2006 to 2008 after that as a member of the Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat before his NBA career concluded.
-Writeup courtesy of Brendan Bowers, @BowersCLE
Unlike most other NBA franchises, the Dallas Mavericks haven't had a huge bust in the NBA Draft over the last decade.
Not that they've had many good ones either, but the Mavericks just have not been that active in the draft over the Mark Cuban era. Most of their booms and busts during the last 10 years have come via free agency or trading, partially because the Mavericks have been so consistent that they haven't had a lottery pick in that time period until this year.
If picking one however, it has to be one of the few Mavs first-round picks in that decade: Maurice Ager from Michigan State.
Despite only being selected 28th overall in the 2006 NBA Draft, many Mavericks fans had high hopes that he could be a big producer in the NBA after a great college career at Michigan State. Instead, Ager just didn't have what it took to cut it in the NBA and only played two seasons as a Mav, totaling 44 games. Ager's shooting didn't translate from college, and he was a below-average defender.
What is really troubling about the Ager pick is that still on the board at that time in the 2006 draft were players such as Paul Millsap, Steve Novak, and J.J. Barea.
-Writeup courtesy of Ross Bentley, @imRossBentley
It didn’t take very long for the Denver Nuggets to realize they made a monumental mistake with their No. 5 pick in 2002.
After playing 16.3 minutes and posting a weak 3.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists in his rookie season, Nikoloz Tskitishvili had no better than a limited role for the rest of his four-year NBA career.
Add the fact that he’s a 7-footer, only put up 0.2 blocks and shot 30.4 percent from the floor in his four seasons. This guy wasn’t just a bust. He was one of the worst lottery picks in NBA history.
Denver should have known this before Tskitishvili shook hands with NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Other than the fact that he could run the floor and shoot from three, which was still questionable since his three-point percentage was an atrocious 23.5 percent in his NBA run, what in the world was the Nuggets front office thinking at the time?
Was Tskitishvili supposed to be the next Dirk Nowitzki? At least Dirk could post someone up inside whereas Tskitishvili could only score in the paint by finding gaps in the defense.
Imagine if Denver hadn’t passed on Amar’e Stoudemire. He could have teamed up with Andre Miller when he was in his prime, and the Nuggets would have developed a monstrous offensive attack.
Luckily for Nuggets fans, this enormous misread didn’t clog Denver’s judgement or displace them from the lottery during the following draft, and the franchise found Carmelo Anthony with its No. 3 overall pick.
-Writeup courtesy of Nick Juskewycz, @NickJuskewycz
Draft night has been a special affair for Golden State Warriors fans in years past.
While other fans wore t-shirts or jerseys, we wore tuxedos. This was the event of the year for us annual lottery dwellers, the night when the Warriors were actually mentioned to a national audience with hope.
Despite an eagerness of their fan base, the Warriors never really “won” many drafts. Since Mike Dunleavy was taken with the No. 3 pick in 2002, the lottery-playing Warriors had settled for two consecutive years at No. 11 (Mickael Pietrus and Andris Biedrins) followed by a No. 9 pick (Ike Diogu).
It never mattered though, as in 2006, Warriors fans waited anxiously for the next piece of hope. Though they were actually set to embark on the 2006-07 "We Believe" season, the Warriors were coming off a 37-45 record with the newly added Baron Davis.
With the team's centers—Diogu, Biedrins, Adonal Foyle—all underperforming, the Warriors were seeking a big man, a dangerous gamble the Warriors never won.
In 2006, that didn’t change.
The poisonous bait was awaiting in the form of 7-footer Patrick O'Bryant who had just made a name for himself in a breakout performance during the NCAA Tournament. It was really just two games that made O'Bryant a fashionable pick for the Warriors, as he led No. 13-seeded Bradley to upsets against Kansas and Pittsburgh.
The Warriors drafted him based on potential that never developed. Playing under rookie-burying coach Don Nelson didn’t help, and he became the first-ever lottery pick sent to the developmental league. He played rare minutes through 40 games over two seasons with the Warriors before they declined his option. O’Bryant ultimately exited the league after 50 games in three seasons with the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors.
It’s not as if other great players were selected after him. Of the noteworthy names, only Rajon Rondo, J.J. Redick Thabo Sefolosha, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Lowry stand out from the first round, and the Warriors weren't seeking a perimeter player.
Still, it highlights what’s been true of so many Warriors drafts during that era: luck was rarely on their side. O’Bryant represented that shame that for so long attached itself to a franchise that was actually set for an exciting upcoming season.
-Writeup courtesy of Jimmy Spencer, @JimmySpencerNBA
Since BoŠtjan Nachbar was drafted in 2002—a year too early to make this list—the Houston Rockets' entrant is obvious.
Say it with me: Royce White.
White would have you believe he’s the victim of a heretofore-unspoken prejudice, stymied by an insensitive and unprepared NBA in his sincere efforts to play. He says he’s a crusader in an area—mental health—in desperate need of crusading.
With respect—because countless individuals suffering from mental illness deserve our compassion and respect—I say White's in it for himself.
White played sparingly, and when he did play, he was singularly unimpressive.
If I do not sound compassionate, know that I've done six figures’ worth of personal growth in my life, and met upwards of 1,000 people—including myself—with anxieties. Many are among the bravest I have ever met, forging ahead despite debilitating fears.
But a handful—like White—use their maladies to get what they want.
He claims to want to raise the level of discourse on mental illness. In reality, he does dishonor to it, and to folks who participate as fully as they can, despite their overwhelming terrors and confusion.
Moreover, I don't think he'll play a game for the Rockets, or in the NBA.
That's as shameful as it gets for a 16th overall draft pick.
-Writeup courtesy of Marshall Zweig, @IHavetheWrite
The Indiana Pacers have drafted superbly during the past decade.
The team took both Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert at 17, got Paul George at 10, acquired George Hill in a draft-day trade for the 15th pick and nabbed Lance Stephenson at 40.
That's rare. By the time pick No. 10 rolls around, player selection is a crap shoot.
And that's why the team's biggest "mistake" stands out.
It's not that Tyler Hansbrough was an awful pick at 13 in 2009. It's just that when you look at the names taken after Hansbrough—Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson—the choice is tough to swallow.
The error was compounded by how badly the Pacers needed a point guard.
Indiana was coming off a season in which T.J. Ford lost his starting job to Jarrett Jack. The Jack from 2012-13 may have been a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, but the one who played in Indianapolis during 2008-09 was erratic. Besides, Indiana knew Jack, an unrestricted free agent, was likely to garner a larger contract offer than it was willing to pay—which happened days after the draft.
Instead of shoring up the position, they drafted Hansbrough and signed Earl Watson in free agency to back up Ford—who once again lost his job to his understudy during the year.
And that was actually less problematic than the situation the team faced two years prior when local pariah Jamaal Tinsley, Travis Diener and Flip Murray all started at least 17 games.
Somehow, after three years of point guard purgatory, the Pacers front office opted to take Hansbrough instead of Holiday, Lawson or Teague.
It was unthinkable at the time.
In hindsight, knowing what we know about those four players four years later, it is even worse.
But here's the true kicker: Had they taken Holiday, Lawson or Teague, the Pacers never would have had to give up Kawhi Leonard for Hill. You know, the Kawhi Leonard who just averaged 14.6 points per game on 51.3 percent shooting in the NBA Finals.
-Writeup courtesy of Jared Wade, @Jared_Wade
When the Los Angeles Clippers used the 12th pick of the 2005 draft on a skinny 18-year-old small forward from Russia named Yaroslav Korolev, expectations were low, mainly because Cippers fans had been conditioned over the years to not have silly things like "hopes" and "dreams."
But during Korolev's rookie year, a funny thing happened. The Clippers got good. Really good. Elton Brand hit his prime, Chris Kaman went from goofy Saint Bernard to mostly competent Saint Bernard, and Cuttino Mobley and Sam Cassell provided the grown man backcourt the team needed.
The only problem? A sinkhole at small forward. Quinton Ross, he of the 7.8 career PER, started playoff games. The Clippers constantly played with four guys and a liability, and all the while, Yaroslav Korolev watched from the bench.
As it turned out, that's all Korolev would ever do in the NBA, as he went on to play just 168 minutes in his career.
What makes it worse is that Danny Granger, an NBA-ready contributor then and an all-star later, went five picks after Korolev did.
As for the Clippers? One win away from a Western Conference Finals, Phoenix Suns guard Raja Bell sank a corner three-pointer over LAC's other rookie that year, Daniel Ewing, effectively sending the entire franchise into a tailspin with no talented young player to pull them out of it.
Clippers draft picks have been more than generous to masochists for many moons, but this one hurt the most because the Clippers were good enough to have it actually matter.
-Writeup courtesy of D.J. Foster, @FosterDJ
The Los Angeles Lakers have only had five first-round picks in the NBA Draft during the last 10 years, and you can judge the importance and relevance of those picks by considering that none of those players will be on the Lakers’ roster on opening day.
If Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak didn’t get lucky and nab Andrew Bynum with the 10th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, the Lakers' recent first round history would be a complete bust.
Bynum’s role in two Lakers’ championship at least brought some respectability to the team’s front office, but the other choices support the theory that says the Lakers always do better blending experienced veterans rather than developing young players.
Toney Douglas, Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic and Javaris Crittenton were the Lakers’ other first-round picks during that span, and Douglas is the only player currently on an NBA roster.
Douglas never played a minute for the Lakers, and Vujacic and Farmer basically flamed out once removed from the Lakers’ championship environment, but Crittenton is the most puzzling of them all.
He's probably the Lakers’ second most talented pick in the last 10 years behind Bynum.
I watched Crittenton during his freshman year at Georgia Tech, and his potential amazed me.
Crittenton was a 6’5", 200-pound point guard with decent handles and great court vision in the open floor. His jump shot needed work and he had no concept of defense, but his size and athletic ability was tantalizing.
Crittenton’s career with the Lakers lasted 22 games before he was shipped off to Memphis in the Pau Gasol theft, and while I had distant feelings that Crittenton may have been the one that got away for the Lakers, it wasn’t long before I was glad he left.
Memphis traded Crittenton to the Washington Wizards after appearing in 28 games, and during that time he started in the first 10 games of his professional career.
It would also be the last 10 games that Crittenton would start, and due to poor decisions off the court, Crittenton may never start an NBA game again.
While Crittenton was in Washington, he reportedly was involved in a dispute with teammate Gilbert Arenas in Dec. 2009 that concluded with both players being suspended for the remainder of the regular season, and Crittenton pleading guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge on Jan. 25th, 2010.
Crittenton’s downward spiral continued as he was charged for the murder of Julian Jones on August 26th 2011.
-Writeup courtesy of Hadarii Jones
Hasheem Thabeet was the Memphis Grizzlies’ equivalent of clicking a pop-up advertisement, knowing it would be a virus. Thabeet stood 7’3” and blocked a ton of shots at Connecticut, but had all the warning signs of an incapable future pro.
He had a thin frame, struggled to size up with other big men and create his own shot and didn’t have any moves in the post.
His DraftExpress.com profile also noted among his many weaknesses: questions about his age (he was said to be 22 at the time), an inconsistent effort level and poor man-to-man defense.
One would hesitate to call him an ideal player for Lionel Hollins, who had the interim tag removed from his coaching title that offseason.
Hollins would waste little time with the lanky Tanzanian. Thabeet received 13 minutes per game in his rookie season, averaging 3.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.
Midway through his sophomore campaign, Thabeet would be dealt to the Houston Rockets, along with fellow 2009 first-round bust DeMarre Carroll, for Shane Battier and Ishmael Smith.
The Grizzlies passed on James Harden, Ricky Rubio and Brandon Jennings. Harden would have bested the scoring ability of O.J. Mayo, whom the Grizz picked a year before and would place on the bench in his third season.
Even now in his fifth season, Mayo hasn’t become an explosive scorer. He put up 15.3 points per game for the Dallas Mavericks and finished with a 44.9 percent field-goal clip after numerous streaks and slumps.
Harden, who the Oklahoma City Thunder selected third, averaged 24.4 points per game this season and has averaged more per 36 minutes than Mayo in each of the past three years. His 59.9 percent true-shooting mark represents a pure shooting ability that no Grizz player can claim.
To save face, Chris Wallace could say that the year was well-spent at center by grooming Marc Gasol.
-Writeup courtesy of Tom Firme, @TFirme
Michael Beasley was supposed to be the next great NBA scorer. There were some questions about his maturity coming out of Kansas State, but his offensive talent was tantalizing to the basketball world.
When the Miami Heat selected Beasley with the No.2 pick in the 2008 draft, he and Dwyane Wade were expected to create a nearly unstoppable scoring duo.
Beasley was supposed to be Miami’s future.
Fast-forward about two years later from draft day: Game 5 of the 2010 Eastern Conference quarterfinals between the Heat and Boston Celtics. Beasley scored two points and was benched for the entire second half. It was his last game in a Heat uniform.
Beasley’s numbers weren’t terrible in his two-year Heat stint (he averaged 14.8 points during his last year). But Miami understood that he isn’t a “winning player.” He’s abysmal defensively. On the offensive end, he isn’t as skilled as was projected and doesn’t understand the concept of team-ball.
Two months after Game 5, he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a salary dump. The Heat got rid of Beasley’s contract to allow them to re-sign Wade and sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh in the summer of 2010. It was a no-brainer for the Heat.
Clearly, everything has worked out for Miami since the trade. They’ve appeared in every NBA Finals post-Beasley and just won their second consecutive title.
Still, Pat Riley and the Miami front office have to feel shame every time they realize they passed on O.J. Mayo (3), Russell Westbrook (4), Kevin Love (5), Danilo Gallinari (6), Eric Gordon (7), Brook Lopez (10) and Roy Hibbert (17), to grab someone who averaged just over 20 minutes per game this season on a 25-win Phoenix Suns team.
-Writeup courtesy of Sam Richmond, @srichmond93
This might be surprising and even upsetting to some, but looking back, the Bucks taking Andrew Bogut with the No. 1 pick of the 2005 draft is their most shameful draft decision of the past decade.
Most may point to Yi Jianlian or Joe Alexander when asked the question, but the guys drafted behind Bogut is what make his selection sting much more than those two.
When the Bucks decided to use their No. 1 pick on Bogut, he was coming off of a great sophomore season at Utah that saw him take home a handful of awards.
The potential was certainly there, since skilled 7-footers like Bogut are relatively rare.
However, he did most of his damage in the Mountain West Conference, and the level of competition he played against wasn’t always the highest.
And despite some great seasons, Bogut’s injury woes became more and more prevalent as his career progressed, hindering his ability to stay on the court.
In a draft that consisted of arguably the best current point guard in the NBA, Chris Paul, and other highly successful players like Deron Williams, Danny Granger and David Lee, the decision to take Bogut becomes more frustrating as the years go by.
It’s not that he’s had a bad career by any means.
He’s a player with great work ethic and is extremely likeable, but one has to wonder what the Bucks might look like today had they taken Paul.
-Writeup courtesy of Jordan Rodewald
The Splash Brothers didn't have to happen. David Kahn didn't have to happen. Jonny Flynn didn't have to happen.
Steph Curry to the Minnesota Timberwolves should have happened.
But it didn't.
Really, it still doesn't make much sense why GM Kahn would have passed over Curry during his now-infamous 2009 point guard binge draft, even if he clearly had a sick infatuation during his first-ever NBA draft, selecting four lead guards overall and three in the first round.
Ricky Rubio? Great idea, even if the Wolves had to wait two years before the floppy-haired passing maestro finally came ashore. It's been worth the wait: He's one of the most fun players to watch and one of the easiest to root for. It was obvious even back then that this would be the case.
Ty Lawson? Yeah, he's a fantastic driver and scoring guard that got away, but he wouldn't have worked with Rubio (for the same reasons Flynn wouldn't). Plus, it's always been understood that Kahn was selecting Lawson for the Denver Nuggets anyways in exchange for a future pick. At least that's what he's always wanted us to believe (I think).
But Jonny Flynn? It just doesn't make any sense! He NEVER could have played next to Ricky Rubio, despite what Kahn always wanted us to believe.
Flynn was too small and had a skill set based on collegiate-level speed and athleticism. He couldn't shoot. His over-dribbling didn't fit Kurt Rambis' Triangle Offense pipe dream, his first season was an exercise in halfway respectable totals masking general inefficiency and he was in the doghouse by year two.
Oh, and he was out of the league by year three. Never good for the No. 6 pick in any draft, much less the one who comes before the guy who could have vaulted Minny into the playoffs long ago.
On the other hand, Curry actually could play both positions, (but was still technically a point guard: a HUGE must-have for Kahn, apparently), was a shooter and had an overall skill set inversely proportional to Rubio's (or even Lawson's).
The rest is ignominious history.
Curry and Lawson will be All-Stars very soon. Rubio will also be as soon as he's consistently healthy (with or without a greatly improved jumper).
Health-be-damned, the shooting-starved Wolves could have trotted out a starting lineup of Rubio, Curry, Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic last year and variations of it for the previous two. Curry also could have run the point for 2009-2011 while Minny waited for Rubio to come over.
Nope. Instead, Flynn and Kahn are mercifully out of a job, but the Wolves are still out of the playoffs while Curry, the greatest shooter of the next generation, is in another uniform.
-Writeup courtesy of Joel C. Cordes, @bball_joel
The 2006 Draft was especially awful for the then-Hornets, and selecting UConn center Hilton Armstrong at No. 12 was the worst part. NBADraft.net’s NBA comparison for Armstrong was Ervin Johnson, not as in “Magic” Johnson, but as in the stiff who bounced around the league for awhile.
In what world did taking a kid, one who averaged 9.7 points and 6.6 rebounds a game during his senior season, in the lottery seem like a good idea? Let’s also keep in mind New Orleans already had a 24-year-old named Tyson Chandler already on the roster.
The Cedric Simmons pick at No. 15 was equally terrible, but at least they flipped him in a trade for what was left of David Wesley. Armstrong lasted three seasons, never averaged more than five points and three boards a game and was shipped to Sacramento for a 2016 second-round pick.
A couple guys that could have been Hornets instead of Armstrong: Rajon Rondo (whom they passed on twice), Thabo Sefolosha (defensive stopper) and Ronnie Brewer (decent backup guard).
I realize New Orleans didn’t need Rondo at the time since they already had Chris Paul, but imagine what they could have got for him in a trade had they taken him. Even better, imagine Rondo being CP3’s replacement in New Orleans instead of Greivis Vasquez.
Instead, we got three ho-hum seasons of Hilton Armstrong and a 2016 second-rounder that won’t amount to anything.
Now, Armstrong’s playing in Greece and dominating guys half his size. Thanks for nothing, Hilton.
-Writeup courtesy of Dave Leonardis, @DaveTLeonardis
In 2006, with the 20th pick of the NBA Draft, the New York Knicks selected Renaldo Balkman out of the University of South Carolina. With the 21st selection, the Phoenix Suns took Rajon Rondo.
According to SNY, Balkman “was not even listed in the NBA draft guide.” That’s a list of the top 300 players in the draft.
That’s not all. Kyle Lowry and Paul Milsap went later as well.
Continuing a long tradition—from the 1960s (Paul Hogue over John Havlicek) through the 1970s (Michael Ray Richardson over Larry Bird) to more recent times (Frederic Weis over then-named Ron Artest)—the Knicks piled on a heap of bad draft picks in the 2000s. It’s challenging to pick the worst one.
There’s Mike Sweetney, who went 9th in 2003. Sweetney started 29 games for New York and 73 total in his four-year career.
There’s Jordan Hill, who went 8th in 2009. Hill lasted the first 24 games of the 2009-10 season in New York, then ventured off into the land of the forgotten.
Even Danilo Gallinari, 6th in 2008, could be considered a mistake—though it looks like he’ll have a solid NBA career at least, if he stays healthy. Still, the Knicks missed out on Eric Gordon, Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and Mario Chalmers. Four of those five have become Eastern Conference nemeses.
But the miss out on Rajon Rondo by a pick takes the cake, especially since Rondo has become the greatest Knick-killer of anyone else mentioned on this page.
In six partial seasons and two stints with the Knicks, Balkman started a total of 12 games and had career averages of 4.0 PPG, 0.6 APG and 3.5 RPG.
-Writeup courtesy of Vin Getz, @VinGetz
Let's rewind the clock back to the 2010 NBA draft, shall we?
The Oklahoma City Thunder had just put a scare into the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs and emerged as the league's most exciting young team. Kevin Durant and crew were freakishly athletic, they were fun as hell. But they were also flawed.
The problem? The team didn't have a true rim-protecting/rebounding center to prevent stuff like this from happening.
So imagine every Thunder fan's delight (read: horror) when OKC GM Sam Presti swapped the team's 21st and 26th first-round picks to the New Orleans Hornets for Morris Peterson and the rights to the draft's No. 11 pick...Cole Aldrich.
Seriously. That's who they got. Cole freakin' Aldrich.
To be fair, Aldrich has been given very few legitimate opportunities to prove himself. But at the same time...he's been traded twice, averages eight minutes per game and somehow couldn't manage to steal time from Kendrick Perkins, quite possibly the worst starting center in the NBA. Oh, and he once did what you saw above.
Of course, what makes all of this even worse is the fact that just four picks later, the Milwaukee Bucks chose VCU's Larry Sanders, who's developed into one of the best defensive bigs in the game today and is exactly the type of player the Thunder currently need.
Missing on a pick in the tail end of the lottery might not sound bad to fans who had to suffer through Darko Milicic or Greg Oden, but it's been a killer for the Thunder. Aldrich's development (or lack thereof) is partially what led to OKC trading for Perkins, who's coming off the worst playoff performance in NBA history and is an $8 million anchor on the Thunder's cap space.
Heck, maybe the Thunder would still have James Harden if they had drafted a little more wisely in 2010. How’s that for a franchise killer? So yeah, the Aldrich pick was pretty shameful.
But hey, at least Thunder fans got some sweet, sweet leg kicks out of the deal.
-Writeup courtesy of Luke Petkac
The Orlando Magic drafted Fran Vazquez with the 11th selection in the 2005 NBA Draft, with the intention to assemble a frontcourt that would dominate the league for years to come. In the previous year’s draft, the Magic made future superstar center Dwight Howard the first player to come off the board.
The plan was to allow Howard to slowly develop in the NBA, while Vazquez polished his all-around game before coming across the pond.
The first step of the plan went perfectly, as Howard progressed into the league’s best center. Part two was a complete bust, as Vazquez never made the transition to the NBA. Instead of signing with the Magic, Vazquez decided to continue his basketball career in Spain and never came stateside.
The potential of a Howard/Vazquez front-court, which once excited Orlando's fan base, serves as an example of how even the best-laid plans can fail to come to fruition.
The emotional distance between Howard and the Magic before the eventual trade may have never existed if Vazquez signed on and supported Superman’s mission to bring an NBA title to the Magic Kingdom.
Whether or not the arrival of Vazquez would have changed anything is unknown, but his absence was evident to Magic fans over the last decade.
It's safe to say that the 30-year old Spaniard will never suit up for the Magic, which means then GM Otis Smith’s first lottery pick was the epitome of a bust. Missing with the 11th pick is frustrating, but it's even more disappointing when the selected player never logs a single minute in the NBA.
-Writeup courtesy of Stephen Fenech, @Fenech2491
If there's one draft pick that will come to haunt the Philadelphia 76ers for years to come, it's Evan Turner.
At the time, luck seemed to be on the Sixers' side. After entering lottery night with the sixth-best odds to obtain the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA draft, the Sixers defied the percentages and moved up to No. 2 overall.
This left them in an ideal position. The 2010 draft was widely considered a two-player draft back then, with John Wall and Evan Turner as the marquee headliners.
The Sixers simply had to choose whichever player the Washington Wizards didn't grab with the No. 1 overall pick and reap the rewards accordingly. As an added bonus, the selection of Turner, the 2010 Naismith Player of the Year, would theoretically free up the team to trade Andre Iguodala.
As we know now, the plan didn't unfold as smoothly as expected. The Sixers did choose Turner with the No. 2 pick, but they opted against trading Iguodala for Turner's first two seasons in the NBA.
Their overlapping skill sets (both players thrived with the ball in their hands, both lacked a consistent jump shot) made it difficult for the two to receive much court time together. Whether Iguodala's presence stunted Turner's growth as a player or whether Turner simply lacked the athleticism necessary to thrive at the NBA level, we'll never know.
What we do know is that three years into his NBA career, Turner still hasn't posted a PER above 12.6. A league-average PER is 15.
Suffice it to say, with the No. 2 overall pick, you're not looking to select a below-average player. You're hoping to draft a potential franchise superstar, and figuring at worst, you'll find a solid starter.
Instead, there's legitimate reason to wonder whether the 2013-14 season will be Turner's last in a Sixers uniform. In a draft where Derrick Favors, Greg Monroe and Paul George were all available at the No. 2 spot, the Turner selection won't lose its sting any time soon.
-Writeup courtesy of Bryan Toporek, @BToporek
The most shameful draft pick committed by the Phoenix Suns is different from most others on this list in that the team actually drafted an All-Star talent.
Unfortunately for Suns fans, though, the front office traded Rajon Rondo, the 21st pick in the 2006 draft, to the Boston Celtics. The trade sent Rondo, an aging Brian Grant and cash considerations to Boston in exchange for a future first rounder—the Cleveland Cavaliers’ pick in 2007—and $1.9 million.
The roster move that followed the decision to deal Rondo was equally egregious, as chronicled by Bill Simmons in The Book of Basketball:
A few weeks later, (the Suns) gave Marcus Banks $24 million. Would you rather have a potential up-and-comer like Rondo for cheap money or a proven turd like Banks for five times as much? Tough call. If you just had a head injury.
So instead of having Rondo on his rookie deal, the Suns decided to pay Banks a heinous amount of money to act as Steve Nash’s backup. Remember, this was when Nash was at the height of his powers. He won back-to-back MVP awards from 2005-2006, yet the Suns brass felt the need to pay his backup $24 million and trade a promising, defensive-minded youngster who could have been mentored by Nash.
But wait, it can’t be that bad… Who did the Suns land with that future first rounder they acquired in the Rondo deal?
In 2007, Phoenix used that pick to take Rudy Fernandez 24th overall. The sharpshooting Spaniard had the potential to make Mike D’Antoni’s run-and-gun offense even more lethal than it was already, but Fernandez was also traded on draft night (to the Portland Trail Blazers) for cash.
So as a result of trading Rondo, the Suns acquired some chump change and paid an NBA dud $24 million; a contract that subsequently helped balance the trade to acquire Shaquille O’Neal from the Miami Heat—another failed experiment in the desert.
Now Rondo is a one-time NBA steals leader, two-time NBA assists leader, two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member, four-time NBA All-Star and NBA champion.
As a Suns fan myself, please excuse me while I go throw up.
-Writeup courtesy of Ben Leibowitz, @BenLebo
In 2007, the Portland Trail Blazers did what virtually every franchise would’ve done. They drafted a once-in-a-generation talent in Greg Oden, skipping over a future superstar in Kevin Durant.
From day one, Portland was enamored with its franchise center. A downtown pep rally showed how much he meant to the fanbase, but lofty expectations never came to fruition.
Despite having all-world potential, Oden began making headlines for the wrong reasons. His first season was lost before it began, his mental state was often in flux, and at one point, all anyone could talk about was nude photos that surfaced on the Internet.
Portland swung and missed on Oden, just as it had struck out with Sam Bowie years before.
In five seasons, Oden played just 82 games. He had five knee operations—including three microfracture surgeries—and he was ultimately waived in 2012.
The worst part for Portland is that Oden showed promise when healthy. It’s true that he developed a reputation for fouling, but he recorded 13 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks during his final full game in 2010.
Oden’s narrative is fixated on injuries, but it’s made immeasurably worse when observing Durant. The star has become the poster child of the Association, while Oden is known for a broken body and a dejected personality.
If Oden returns and has an impact on the league, it’s going to be a great day for fans—outside of Portland. But until that happens, the center will go down as one of the worst draft picks in NBA history.
-Writeup courtesy of Bryant Knox, @BryantKnox
It takes time for most incoming players to adjust to the NBA. For that reason, it takes a few years before the success or failure of a team’s draft pick becomes clear. However, only one year out from the 2012 draft, it’s already fair to say Thomas Robinson was the Sacramento Kings’ worst draft pick in recent memory
There are two factors that make the selection particularly bad. First and foremost, Robinson simply isn’t very good; in fact, he was pretty bad during his rookie season. But secondly, the Kings selected him with the No. 5 pick, so not only did they think he was a good player, but based on where they picked him, they envisioned him as one of the franchise’s cornerstones for years to come.
With the pick only coming one year ago, it’s hard to use revisionist’s history. But we can already point to Damian Lillard—the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year, taken one slot after Robinson with the sixth pick—as someone the Kings could have selected instead.
Sealing the deal is that Sacramento traded Robinson to the Houston Rockets midway through his rookie year. If that weren’t enough, the Rockets are now also looking to flip him because they don’t even want to pay for the final guaranteed year of his contract.
That’s saying a lot for a player who entered the league with such promise.
-Writeup courtesy of Sim Risso, @SimRisso
What fun is there in venting when your team has no Darko?
The San Antonio Spurs’ front office and scouting department have combined to do an excellent job concerning the NBA Draft. Tiago Splitter (2007), Nando De Colo (2009) and Cory Joseph (2011) all remain on the Western Conference Finals-winning team today.
Though San Antonio has traded away the rights to Luis Scola and Goran Dragic, the Spurs have not suffered a memorable-for-the-wrong-reasons draft pick in recent seasons—but it doesn’t mean we can’t pick on someone.
The most underwhelming pick was Oklahoma State shooting guard James Anderson, who was selected 20th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Anderson was an impact scorer, netting 17.9 points per game for the Cowboys, and he also protected the ball relatively well committing only 2.1 turnovers per outing. The 6’6” shooter appeared to be a perfect fit behind Manu Ginobili, but, long story short, that never quite came to fruition.
In his draft introduction video, Anderson compared himself to now-Brooklyn Nets’ guard and six-time All-Star Joe Johnson. But Anderson played in 87 games for San Antonio, averaging 3.7 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists per appearance—not exactly Joe Johnson-like numbers.
San Antonio chose Anderson over a sharpshooting Quincy Pondexter, facilitating Greivis Vasquez and lockdown-defending Lance Stephenson, each of whom have pivotal roles on their respective teams.
The Anderson pick may not have lived up to expectations, but ultimately, Spurs’ fans, your team’s leadership has done a remarkable job avoiding the Darko-like picks, and that is something about which to be very proud.
-Writeup courtesy of David Kenyon, @Kenyon_BR_Cl
The Toronto Raptors are no stranger to making ill-advised draft picks, but the selection of Rafael “Hoffa” Araujo with the No. 8 pick in 2004 really takes the cake.
A tattoo of a cartoon shark on his left arm was the most memorable part of Araujo’s two-year tenure with the team. That’s pretty bad.
There were very few redeeming qualities of his game, if any. He couldn’t defend the paint, grab rebounds at a high rate or score efficiently down low. He looked confused, unfocused and uninspired every time he stepped out on the court.
It was hard to watch.
His career-averages of 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds were a tough pill for Raptors’ fans to swallow, especially considering some of the more talented players the team passed on in the draft.
Andre Iguodala—an NBA All-Star, Olympic Gold Medalist and one of the most feared perimeter defenders in the league—was taken directly after Araujo with the ninth overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers. Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Al Jefferson and Kevin Martin were all picked later in the draft, as well.
The Raptors had no business taking Araujo as early as they did. His 6’11”. 290-pound frame blinded team management and fooled them into taking him 20 picks earlier than he probably should have gone.
Araujo lasted a grand total of three seasons in the NBA (2004-07). That’s three seasons too many.
-Writeup courtesy of Christopher Walder, @WalderSports
Without question, my favorite quote from TNT’s coverage of the 2001 draft following Utah’s first round selection: “Raul Lopez reminds them most of John Stockton.”
Those are pretty tough shoes to fill. And Lopez fell just 1,391 games, 3,181 steals and 15,378 assists short of filling them.
He’s not on this slideshow because he’s personally awful (heck, Jerry Sloan started the guy for 26 of his 113 NBA games). He’s here because the Jazz apparently wanted a European point guard to be John Stockton’s successor and left some French guy named Tony Parker on the board (the Spurs snagged him four picks later at No. 28).
Now let’s play the “what if” game. What if Parker spent the first few years of his career under the tutelage of John Stockton—with his quickness and handles, can you imagine the kind of distributor he would be today? What if the Spurs never had Parker? What if the Jazz didn’t need a point guard in 2005 when Deron Williams was available?
Lopez has gone on to have a solid career overseas, but his averages as a Jazzer won’t tickle the fancy of many of their fans: 6.5 points and 3.8 assists while shooting 43 percent from the field.
Other players taken after the man who reminded them of John Stockton included Gerald Wallace (the very next pick), Gilbert Arenas, Mehmet Okur and Jarron Collins (oh wait, the Jazz were on the ball that year and took him too). Even Brian Scalabrine would have been a better pick. Can you imagine the love affair Jazz fans would have had with him?
-Writeup Courtesy of Andy Bailey, @AndrewDBailey
While Jan Vesely is currently making a compelling argument, no recent draft pick has turned out to be more disappointing for the Washington Wizards than Kwame Brown.
Under the leadership of team president Michael Jordan at the time, the Wizards spent their No. 1 overall pick on Brown, who was the top-ranked prospect in the state of Georgia coming out of high school.
While Brown had signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Florida, he instead opted to enter the 2001 NBA draft and was picked up by Washington.
2001 was certainly a year to draft high school players, with three of the top five picks coming straight out of high school, but Brown’s immaturity ended up showing through on and off the court.
In his rookie year, Brown only mustered about four points and three rebounds per game and ended up playing for the Wizards for four years before opting to try out free agency.
In those four years, Brown never averaged more than 10 points per games and hit his peak as a professional during the 2003-04 season. Since then, Brown has played for seven other teams, most recently finding himself on the Philadelphia 76ers.
Since coming into the league, Brown was extremely disappointing on the court and got into trouble off it, including being involved in a sexual assault case and a cake robbery. He got out of both situations without any formal punishments, but it still showed his lack of maturity.
The once great high school player was a huge flop in the NBA, and as he nears age 32, he has never started more than 57 games in one season and averages six points and five rebounds per game.
-Writeup courtesy of Jonathan Munshaw, @Jon_Munshaw