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The NBA's Biggest Draft Busts of the Last 20 Years

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The NBA's Biggest Draft Busts of the Last 20 Years
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

When talking about the NBA draft, so many names come to mind when you mention the word, "bust".

In every draft, there is almost a lock that there will be at least one future bust in the years to come.

Virtually every team has had their share of disappointing draft selections, but here are the players that define the term, "bust" in the last 20 years. 

  

30. Tony Battie (Drafted fifth overall in 1997)

Career Stats: 6.5 PTS, 5.4 REB, 0.6 AST, 0.5 STL, 0.9 BLK

Battie never amounted to much more than a decent role player at any point in his career.  More production had to be expected from the top five overall pick in the 1997 draft. 

Notable players selected after Battie: Tracy McGrady and Stephen Jackson

 

29. Felton Spencer (Drafted sixth overall in 1990)

Career Stats: 5.2 PTS, 5.4 REB, 0.3 AST, 0.4 STL, 0.8 BLK

The 1990 NBA draft wasn't exactly filled with an abundance of promising stars, but there were better options than Felton Spencer at the sixth overall selection.

Notable players selected after Spencer: Tyrone Hill, Antonio Davis, Cedric Ceballos and Toni Kukoc

 

28. Antonio Daniels (Drafted fourth overall in 1997)

Career Stats: 7.6 PTS, 1.9 REB, 3.4 AST, 0.7 STL, 0.1 BLK

Daniels won an NBA championship in only his second year in the league as a member of the San Antonio Spurs.  However, he only played a minor role in the team's success, coming off the bench and backing-up Avery Johnson.

For most of Daniels' career, he played the back-up point guard role for his respective teams.

Notable players selected after Daniels: Tracy McGrady and Stephen Jackson

 

27. Eddy Curry (Drafted fourth overall in 2001)

Career Stats: 13.4 PTS, 5.3 REB, 0.6 AST, 0.3 STL, 0.8 BLK

The only thing that keeps Curry from being higher on this list is that he actually has had a knack for putting the ball in the hoop, but that is the one and only positive thing that can be said about him.  

Every other aspect that relates to the game of basketball, Curry simply can not remotely do well.  Curry is having his struggles to get back on the hardwood nowadays, due to serious knee issues and being out of shape. His playing career is in serious jeopardy. 

Notable players selected after Curry: Jason Richardson, Joe Johnson, Richard Jefferson, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Tony Parker, Samuel Dalembert, Gilbert Arenas and Mehmet Okur

 

26. Marcus Fizer (Drafted fourth overall in 2000)

Career Stats: 9.6 PTS, 4.6 REB, 1.2 AST, 0.5 STL, 0.3 BLK

Fizer had a few somewhat efficient years to start out his career, but never could build off of them.  His last season was in 2005-06 with the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets in which he only recorded three games.

Notable players selected after Fizer: Mike Miller, Jamal Crawford, Hedo Turkoglu and Michael Redd

 

25. DeSagana Diop (Drafted eighth overall in 2001)

Career Stats: 2.1 PTS, 3.9 REB, 0.4 AST, 0.4 STL, 1.1 BLK

Diop's only real value since being drafted has been coming off the bench sparingly and providing somewhat of a defensive presence. 

Notable players selected after Diop: Joe Johnson, Richard Jefferson, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Tony Parker, Samuel Dalembert, Gilbert Arenas and Mehmet Okur

 

24. Rodney White (Drafted ninth overall in 2001)

Career Stats: 7.1 PTS, 2.2 REB, 1.1 AST, 0.5 STL, 0.3 BLK

Rodney White was taken as the ninth overall pick in 2001 and he has already been out of the NBA for five years.  White exited the NBA at the age of 24, after only playing four seasons.

Notable Players selected after White: Joe Johnson, Richard Jefferson, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Tony Parker, Samuel Dalembert, Gilbert Arenas and Mehmet Okur

 

23. Doug Smith (Drafted sixth overall in 1991)

Career Stats: 8.0 PTS, 4.2 REB, 1.4 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.5 BLK

Smith was only around in the NBA for five seasons before his career came to an end. His .425 career field goal percentage did not help his case for a longer career, especially coming from a 6'10" tall forward.   

Notable players selected after Smith: Terrell Brandon

 

22. Mark Macon (Drafted eighth overall in 1991)

Career Stats: 6.7 PTS, 1.9 REB, 1.7 AST, 1.4 STL, 0.1 BLK

Macon was awarded second team All-Rookie honors in 1992 and he seemed he had adjusted quite nicely to the NBA scene in his first season.  However, Macon only stuck around in the NBA for 175 more games after his rookie year before being out of the game for good in 1999.

Notable players selected after Macon: Terrell Brandon

 

21. Tom Hammonds (Drafted ninth overall in 1989)

Career Stats: 5.3 PTS, 3.3 REB, 0.6 AST, 0.2 STL, 0.2 BLK

If the Washington Bullets were looking to grab a power forward in the 1989 draft, I think they should have given Shawn Kemp another glance before selecting Hammonds with the ninth overall pick.

Notable players selected after Hammonds: Nick Anderson, Mookie Blaylock, Tim Hardaway, Shawn Kemp, Vlade Divac and Clifford Robinson

 

20. Patrick O'Bryant (Drafted ninth overall in 2006)

Career Stats: 2.1 PTS, 1.5 REB, 0.3 AST, 0.2 STL, 0.5 BLK

O'Bryant has only been around for three seasons, but there is very little evidence that he has even existed in the NBA.

Notable players selected after O'Bryant: Rajon Rondo and Paul Millsap

19. Dajuan Wagner (Drafted sixth overall in 2002)

Career Stats: 9.4 PTS, 1.4 REB, 1.9 AST, 0.7 STL, 0.1 BLK

The shortest lived career on this list belongs to Wagner, who only stayed in the NBA for a total of 103 games.   

Notable players selected after Wagner: Amare Stoudemire, Caron Butler and Carlos Boozer

18. Rafael Araujo (Drafted eighth overall in 2004)

Career Stats: 2.8 PTS, 2.8 REB, 0.3 AST, 0.4 STL, 0.1 BLK

Araujo has been out of the NBA for over two years now.  He only played for three seasons in the NBA, amounting to a total of 139 games in his short career.  One thing I can't get out of my mind is if Toronto would have drafted Al Jefferson instead of Araujo.

Can you imagine the duo of Chris Bosh and Al Jefferson in the post for the Raptors today?  

Notable players selected after Araujo: Andre Iguodala, Andris Biedrins, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, Jameer Nelson and Kevin Martin

 

17. Bo Kimble (Drafted eighth overall in 1990)

Career Stats: 5.5 PTS, 1.5 REB, 0.9 AST, 0.4 STL, 0.1 BLK

One of the shortest careers on this list belongs to Bo Kimble, who only recorded 105 games on the hardwood.  After only three subpar seasons, he was out the door for good. 

Notable players selected after Kimble: Tyrone Hill, Antonio Davis, Cedric Ceballos and Toni Kukoc

 

16. Ed O'Bannon (Drafted ninth overall in 1995)

Career Stats: 5.0 PTS, 2.5 REB, 0.8 AST, 0.6 STL, 0.2 BLK

O'Bannon had an outstanding college career at UCLA.  He won the John R. Wooden Award in 1995 for his brilliant senior season at UCLA.  Nevertheless, O'Bannon's NBA career only last 11 more games than his college career.

Notable players selected after O'Bannon: Michael Finley

 

15. Shawn Respert (Drafted eighth overall in 1995)

Career Stats: 4.9 PTS, 1.3 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.5 STL, 0.5 BLK

Respert was selected one pick ahead of O'Bannon in the 1995 draft and since their careers were equally disappointing, Respert gets the slight edge as the bigger bust.

Notable players selected after Respert: Michael Finley

14. Shelden Williams (Drafted fifth overall in 2006)

Career Stats: 4.7 PTS, 4.2 REB, 0.4 AST, 0.5 STL, 0.4 BLK

Do you think the Atlanta Hawks regretted not taking Brandon Roy or Rudy Gay instead of Shelden Williams?  Now that's a tough one.

Notable players selected after Williams: Brandon Roy, Randy Foye, Rudy Gay and Paul Millsap

 

13. DerMarr Johnson (Drafted sixth overall in 2000)

Career Stats: 6.2 PTS, 2.2 REB, 0.9 AST, 0.6 STL, 0.4 BLK

I am thinking that DerMarr Johnson should have stayed at the University of Cincinnati for another year or two, what do you think?

Notable players selected after Johnson: Jamal Crawford, Hedo Turkoglu and Michael Redd

 

12. Robert Traylor (Drafted sixth overall in 1998)

Career Stats: 4.8 PTS, 3.7 REB, 0.7 AST, 0.6 STL, 0.7 BLK

Dirk Nowitzki or Robert Traylor?  Can you say Do-over?

Notable players selected after Traylor: Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Al Harrington, Cuttino Mobley and Rashard Lewis

 

11. Jonathan Bender (Drafted fifth overall in 1999)

Career Stats: 5.6 PTS, 2.2 REB, 0.6 AST, 0.2 STL, 0.6 BLK

Bender was the MVP for the West in the 1999 McDonald's High School All-America game.  Not only that, but he set the record for the most points ever scored in the annual event.  He dropped 31 points, breaking the record of 30, previously held by some guy named, Michael Jordan.  

He was even being hyped as possibly the next Kevin Garnett. To say the least, Bender had high hopes of thriving in the NBA. Those hopes quickly faded as Bender could never find his groove at the NBA level. 

Notable players selected after Bender: Richard Hamilton, Andre Miller, Wally Szczerbiak, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Corey Maggette, Ron Artest, Andrei Kirilenko and Manu Ginobili

 

10. Nikoloz Tskitishvili (Drafted fifth overall in 2002)

Career Stats: 2.9 PTS, 1.8 REB, 0.7 AST, 0.3 STL, 0.3 AST

Denver's top five pick back in 2002 has been out of the NBA for three years now and only logged 175 total career games.  He didn't even manage to average three points, two rebounds or one assist per game for his career. 

Notable players selected after Tskitishvili: Amare Stoudemire, Caron Butler and Carlos Boozer

 

9. Joe Smith (Drafted first overall in 1995)

Career Stats: 11.6 PTS, 6.7 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.6 STL, 0.9 BLK

Joe Smith had a serviceable career, but has never lived up to the potential of being a number one overall selection, especially with Garnett being taken four picks after him.

Notable players selected after Smith: Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse

 

8. Pervis Ellison (Drafted first overall in 1989)

Career Stats: 9.5 PTS, 6.7 REB, 1.5 AST, 0.6 STL, 1.6 BLK

"Never Nervous" Pervis looked like he was in store for a very bright career after his third season in the NBA.  In 1992, he won the award for the most improved player, averaging 20 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.9 steals and 2.7 blocks per game. 

After his stellar season, Ellison's career began to fade.  He averaged 7.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for the rest of his career after his inspiring season in 1992.  

Notable players selected after Ellison: Glen Rice, Tim Hardaway and Shawn Kemp

 

7. Stromile Swift (Drafted second overall in 2000)

Career Stats: 8.4 PTS, 4.6 REB, 0.5 AST, 0.6 STL, 1.2 BLK

Swift was known as an athletic freak during his college days at LSU.  It came as a shock for many people to see him struggle to perform to the level that he was seemingly capable of achieving.  Playing in only 13 games this past season, his career seems to be dwindling down.

Notable players selected after Swift: Jamal Crawford, Hedo Turkoglu and Michael Redd

 

6. Adam Morrison (Drafted third overall in 2006)

Career Stats: 8.7 PTS, 2.4 REB, 1.6 AST, 0.3 STL, 0.1 BLK

Morrison had a so-so rookie campaign, averaging 11.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists, nothing too dazzling about those numbers, but he did earn second team All-Rookie honors for his performance in his first year.  Morrison sat out all of the 2007-08 season with a knee injury. 

Morrison came back in 2008-09 and had a disappointing season to say the least.  He was traded to the LA Lakers at mid season, where he became a non-factor for the top team in the western conference, playing in only eight regular season games.

Notable players selected after Morrison: Brandon Roy, Randy Foye, Rudy Gay, Tyrus Thomas and Paul Millsap

 

5. Shawn Bradley (Drafted second overall in 1993)

Career Stats: 8.1 PTS, 6.3 REB, 0.7 AST, 0.6 STL, 2.5 BLK

Bradley stood seven feet six inches tall, but was there ever a player posterized more than Shawn Bradley?  Players of all sizes were able to throw down on the friendly giant.

There may have never been a more uncoordinated player than Bradley to ever play the game, except for maybe, Gheorghe Muresan, who stood seven feet seven inches tall and was selected 28 spots after Bradley in the same draft. 

Bradley could have easily been taken around the same time.

Notable players selected after Bradley: Anfernee Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, Sam Cassell, Nick Van Exel, Vin Baker and Allan Houston

 

4. Darko Milicic (Drafted second overall in 2003)

Career Stats: 5.5 PTS, 4.0 REB, 0.7 AST, 0.4 STL, 1.2 BLK

Detroit can never live this one down. With Carmelo, Wade and Bosh still on the board, this has to go down has one of the biggest mistakes ever made in a draft. 

Notable players selected after Milicic: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Chris Kaman, Kirk Hinrich, David West, Leandro Barbosa, Josh Howard, Mo Williams and TJ Ford

 

3. Danny Ferry (Drafted second overall in 1989)

Career Stats: 7.0 PTS, 2.8 REB, 1.3 AST, 0.4 STL, 0.3 BLK

Ferry had his best year statistically in the 1995-96 season, when he averaged 13.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.5 blocks. He had only one other season in his career where he came close to putting up those numbers again. 

Notable players selected after Ferry: Glen Rice, Tim Hardaway and Shawn Kemp

 

2. Michael Olowokandi (Drafted first overall in 1998)

Career Stats: 8.3 PTS, 6.8 REB, 0.7 AST, 0.5 STL, 1.4 BLK

It is a sad story indeed to see that "The Kandi Man" was selected before future hall of famers, such as Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce and Vince Carter.  Olowokandi had only played the game of basketball since the age of 17 and didn't exactly play the toughest competition during his college days at the University of the Pacific.

So to say the least, many people were quite skeptical that Olowokandi could live up to the hype of being a first overall selection. 

Notable players selected after Olowokandi: Mike Bibby, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce and Rashard Lewis

 

1. Kwame Brown (Drafted first overall in 2001)

Career Stats: 7.0 PTS, 5.6 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.6 STL, 0.7 BLK

Brown gets the slight edge over "The Kandi Man" as the biggest bust in the last 20 years.  In my mind, Olowokandi could defend a bit better, rebound and score a tad better than Kwame. 

Brown is only 27 years old, but he has never shown any signs thus far to why he was chosen number one overall in 2001. He has essentially already earned the notorious ranking as the worst draft selection of the last 20 years in my mind.

Notable players selected after Brown: Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Jason Richardson, Joe Johnson, Richard Jefferson, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Samuel Dalembert, Tony Parker, Gilbert Arenas and Mehmet Okur

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