Ranking Anthony Bennett Among Biggest NBA Draft Busts over Last 20 Years

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterDecember 24, 2013

Ranking Anthony Bennett Among Biggest NBA Draft Busts over Last 20 Years

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    David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

    Anthony Bennett's disastrous start has us wondering if it's ever going to end. Is he really the bust he appears to be early on, or is it too soon to judge? 

    It's probably too soon, but if Bennett doesn't change directions quickly, he's going to find himself amongst awful NBA company. 

    To make this prestigious list of the worst NBA draft busts, you have to be a former top-three pick. 

    A few guys went down with injuries while others were drafted into tough situations. Some of them just stink. Regardless of the reason, these are the biggest draft disappointments over the last 20 years given the value that was assigned to their draft slot. 


    Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com

10. Atlanta Hawks: Marvin Williams, North Carolina, 2005

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    Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

    Pick: No. 2

    Notable Players Taken After: Deron Williams (No. 3), Chris Paul (No. 4)

    This wouldn't have been so bad if the Atlanta Hawks didn't pass on two franchise-caliber point guards.

    Marvin Williams wasn't even starting for North Carolina the year before he was drafted. He was one of those "potential" picks, only he hasn't been able to reach it. 

    Despite his stature as a No. 2 selection, Williams was pretty much a role player for the majority of his time in Atlanta. And now he's a role player for one of the worst teams in the league, when he should be right in his prime. 

    It's not that Williams turned out to be such a terrible player, but given who Atlanta could have had, and what Williams never turned out to be, this pick will go down as a big-time blunder.

9. Philadelphia 76ers: Shawn Bradley, Bringham Young, 1993

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    Fernando Medina/Getty Images

    Pick: No. 2

    Notable Players Taken After: Penny Hardaway (No. 3), Jamal Mashburn (No. 4), Vin Baker (No. 8), Allan Houston (No. 11)

    I'm pretty sure Shawn Bradley earned more praise for his work in Space Jam than he did as an NBA center. 

    After averaging roughly 15 points, 7.7 boards and over five blocks a game his final year at BYU, he went on a two-year mission before declaring for the draft. And the Sixers bit. 

    This one had to hurt right away, as Hardaway quickly emerged as one of the brightest stars in the game. And the awkward Bradley just never did. 

    It's amazing what teams have been willing to pass on in favor of size. Bradley sports career averages of just 8.6 points and 6.3 boards a game, and despite standing 7'6'', he finished with only one NBA season above 50 percent shooting from the floor. 



8. Charlotte Bobcats: Adam Morrison, Gonzaga, 2006

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    Jennifer Pottheiser/Getty Images

    Pick: No. 3

    Notable Players Taken After: Brandon Roy (No. 6), Rudy Gay (No. 8), Rajon Rondo (No. 21)

    Even though he was such a talented college player, there was always a bit of uncertainty surrounding Adam Morrison's NBA outlook. 

    Although i'm not sure it reached Michael Jordan, who whiffed badly on Morrison in the 2006 NBA draft. 

    To Jordan's credit, there weren't many other standout options, though Brandon Roy seemed like a pretty good bet at the time. 

    Morrison had averaged 28 points a game his final year at Gonzaga, but he lacked that next-level athleticism the NBA wing typically requires. Labeled a defensive liability early, Morrison's outlook got even darker when he tore his ACL in 2007. 

    Since returning, he's had troubling cracking rotations and making rosters. Eventually, Morrison would have to spend time overseas.

    Morrison helped make Gonzaga a household name, and his mustache and throwback look had people paying attention, but he just never had the game for the NBA.


7. Chicago Bulls: Jay Williams, Duke, 2002

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    David Kyle/Getty Images

    Pick: No. 2

    Notable Players Taken After: Amar'e Stoudemire (No. 9), Caron Butler (No. 10), Carlos Boozer (No. 35)

    Jay Williams was the man at Duke. Sophomore year, NCAA tournament, he went for 31 points and nine assists in a win over Missouri, 34 and four in a win over UCLA and 28 and six in a win over USC. After winning the National Title, Williams followed up in 2002 with a National Player of the Year award. 

    It's just a damn shame his NBA career would only last 75 games. Williams had tremendous promise and likability as a floor general.

    He crashed his motorcycle and suffered some major long-term injuries following his rookie year. To make matters worse, he violated the terms of his contract by doing so and was ultimately waived by the Bulls. 

    He attempted a comeback with the Nets and the Austin Toros of the D-League, but Williams couldn't stick. This is more of a bust by tragic accident, but that won't make the Bulls or Williams feel any better. 

6. Los Angeles Clippers: Michael Olowokandi, Pacific ,1998

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    Pick: No. 1

    Notable Players Taken After: Antawn Jamison (No. 4), Vince Carter (No. 5), Dirk Nowitzki (No. 9), Paul Pierce (No. 10)

    Swing and a miss.

    The Los Angeles Clippers decided to go with the Kandi Man from Pacific in 1998, a raw yet improving prospect who played his high school ball in London. 

    Michael Olowokandi was one of those kids who started playing organized hoops at a real late age. 

    He actually averaged 22 points and 11 boards his final year in college, and at around 7'1", 265 pounds, he had a strong, convincing NBA body. But it turned out he didn't have the game to match the frame, as Olowokandi remained fairly irrelevant for the majority of his career. 

    The Clippers would ultimately pass on two stars and two future Hall of Famers for the Kandi Man. Yikes.



5. Portland Trail Blazers: Greg Oden, Ohio State, 1997

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Pick: No. 1

    Notable Players Taken After: Kevin Durant (No. 2), Al Horford (No. 3), Mike Conley (No. 4), Joakim Noah (No. 9)

    It's tough to put blame on anyone here. Greg Oden had been viewed as a franchise-changing talent out of high school, and that view was confirmed for most following his freshman year at Ohio State. 

    He averaged 15.7 points, 9.6 boards and 3.3 blocks a game on 61 percent shooting in his one-and-done college season. Oden left a promising taste in scouts' mouths after leading the Buckeyes to the Final Four and finishing with 25 points, 12 boards and four blocks in the title game. Even with Kevin Durant on the board, nobody really questioned Portland's move to go with Oden at No. 1. 

    What can you do? Oden was ultimately forced to miss his rookie year due to microfracture surgery on his knee. And after returning to play 61 games in 2008-09, bad luck struck again. Oden fractured his patella in December 2009, and that's pretty much been all she wrote.

    When healthy, Oden was balling. He was no Hasheem Thabeet or Darko Milicic out there—which is what makes his story even more disappointing. 

    Oden is now trying to stay fit and healthy and crack the Miami Heat's rotation, and there isn't a dude in the basketball community not rooting and cheering him on. 




4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Anthony Bennett, UNLV, 2013

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    David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

    Pick: No. 1

    Notable Players Taken After: Victor Oladipo (No. 2), Micael Carter-Williams (No. 11)

    Forget the 2.4 points and two boards a game—what's scary is that Anthony Bennett looks like he doesn't belong out there. 

    He's made 21 shots and missed 51 so far. ESPN's Chad Ford even went as far as to tell Jodie Valade of the Plain Dealer that Bennett is "looking like the worst [No. 1 pick] in the last 20 years.

    Only it wasn't Bennett's fault the Cavs reached way too high. 

    “I’m just as surprised as everyone else,” Bennett told Benjamin Hoffman of The New York Times after the Cleveland Cavaliers did the unthinkable and took him first overall. “I didn’t really have any idea who’s going No. 1 or who was going No. 2. I heard everything was up for grabs.”

    Bennett wasn't the only one surprised. Given the uncertainty of his position and Cleveland's crowded frontcourt, the pick never made much sense to begin with. 

    Really, both Bennett and the Cavs should share the blame on this one. Bennett wasn't deserving of the honor in the first place and was never in position to live up to No. 1 overall expectations. 

    Still, he's been painful to watch out there. He can't make an open jumper or finish at the rim, and appears heavier on his feet than he did a year ago. 

    At this rate, it looks like he's heading straight towards tweener status. It's too early for me too call him the worst No. 1 pick in 20 years, but he's certainly headed down that road fast.





3. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut , 2009

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    Joe Murphy/Getty Images

    Pick: No. 2

    Notable Players Taken After: James Harden (No. 3), Ricky Rubio (No. 5), Stephen Curry (No. 7)

    You know it's bad when your 3.1-point-per-game rookie scoring average is your career high. 

    Hasheem Thabeet entered the 2009 NBA draft as the ultimate boom-or-bust draft pick in the field. He averaged a double-double and over four blocks for a Connecticut team in 2009 that reached the Final Four. And at 7'3'', Thabeet had the Grizzlies convinced he was the ultimate rim-protector. 


    Memphis went with Thabeet's size over the skill sets of James Harden, Ricky Rubio and Stephen Curry. And it's probably haunted owner Michael Heisley's dreams ever since. 


2. Washington Wizards: Kwame Brown, Glynn Academy, 2001

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Pick: No. 1

    Notable Players Taken After: Tyson Chandler (No. 2), Pau Gasol (No. 3), Joe Johnson (No. 10), Zach Randolph (No. 19), Tony Parker (No. 28)

    "We don't know what he is capable of doing, and we don't know when to expect dividends, but it became apparent after we saw him work out that he has the skills and desire," said Michael Jordan of Kwame Brown right after botching the pick (per David DuPree of USA Today).

    A highly touted high school player, Brown just never developed into the skilled big man many projected him to be.

    Somehow, he's lasted 12 years in the league as a benchwarmer and low-end backup. At one point, he convinced Phil Jackson he was a valuable interior defender and actually earned a starting role with the Lakers in 2006-07. 

    And then he lost it. The Lakers would eventually ship him off to Memphis, where he was soon waived. 

    With a career average of 6.6 points per game, Brown will go down as one of the worst No. 1 draft busts in the history of the NBA. 

1. Detroit Pistons: Darko Milicic, Serbia Montenegro, 2003

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    M. David Leeds/Getty Images

    Pick: No. 2

    Notable Players Taken After: Carmelo Anthony (No. 3), Chris Bosh (No. 4), Dwyane Wade (No. 5)

    That's right, the Pistons passed on 'Melo, D-Wade and Chris Bosh for an international kid with frosted tips.

    This just seemed like a bonehead decision from the start. Carmelo Anthony, a 6'8'' freshman built like an NBA mismatch, had just run the national table with the Syracuse Orangeman. Dwyane Wade had also just taken Marquette to the Final Four, flashing all sorts of star power throughout the tournament. 

    But the Pistons went with Darko Milicic at No. 2, a 7-footer from Serbia Montenegro, who would eventually average 4.7 minutes as a rookie, 6.9 minutes as a sophomore and 5.6 as a third-year player before they shipped him off to Orlando. 

    From here, Milicic bounced around the league without really ever making his mark anywhere. 

    Between the talent left on the board and Milicic's laughable career, he's the biggest NBA bust in the last 20 years.