The Most Disappointing NBA Draft Picks of the Last Decade
During the past 10 years, there has been an unnerving amount of regrettable NBA draft picks.
On countless occasions, scouts and executives have overestimated the potential of high-profile prospects and reached for them in the top 10. The end result is a huge disappointment and a wasted pick.
Some draft busts were doomed by an inability to find their niche in the league. For others, it was a lack of efficiency—a trait that's highly valued in the modern era. And finally, some fell short simply due to injuries.
We broke down the most disappointing draft picks since 2004 (so basically, the post-Darko draft era). The players included in our rankings entered the NBA with sky-high expectations, only to collapse and churn out feeble production.
Statistics gathered from Basketball-reference.com
Rankings focused on top-10 picks. Rankings don't include international prospects who never played in the NBA (ex: Fran Vasquez), or players who have earned All-Star honors (ex: Brandon Roy).
On Track to "Bust"
We didn't include players drafted in the past two drafts as part of our rankings, because their careers are just getting started.
However, several players picked in 2012 and 2013 are stumbling mightily so far.
Anthony Bennett, No. 1 in 2013 (Cleveland Cavaliers) 12.8 MPG, 4.2 PPG: The UNLV star was a physical specimen as a freshman, but now he's on pace to be one of the biggest draft busts of all time.
Austin Rivers, No. 10 in 2012 (New Orleans Hornets) 21.2 MPG, 7.0 PPG: The family name and Duke pedigree put a bunch of pressure on him, and he didn't live up to it as a rookie. Fortunately, his numbers slightly improved in 2013-14, and he still has time to build a respectable career.
Thomas Robinson, No. 5 in 2012 (Sacramento Kings) 13.8 MPG, 4.8 PPG: His monstrous junior year at Kansas turned into a rocky first two years in the NBA. The explosive forward has already played on three different teams.
Otto Porter, No. 3 in 2013 (Washington Wizards) 8.6 MPG, 2.1 PPG: Injuries delayed the start to his career, but his 37 games as a rookie weren't too promising. Keep in mind, however, that it's tough to crack the rotation of a playoff-caliber team midseason.
Alex Len, No. 5 in 2013 (Phoenix Suns) 8.6 MPG, 2.0 PPG: Much like Porter, Len didn't play a full season due to ankle and knee issues. When he did check in, he was underwhelming on both ends.
Wesley Johnson, No. 4 in 2010 (Minnesota Timberwolves) 24.7 MPG, 8.1 PPG: He's a decent rotational asset off the bench, but a massive draft disappointment as a fourth overall pick.
Tyrus Thomas, No. 4 in 2006 (Chicago Bulls) 19.8 MPG, 7.7 PPG: The hyper-athletic forward out of LSU couldn't develop enough skills to become a featured weapon for the Bulls or the Charlotte Bobcats.
Bismack Biyombo, No. 7 in 2011 (Charlotte Bobcats) 21.4 MPG, 4.3 PPG: He can block shots and play above the rim, but was he worth the No. 7 pick? Not even close.
Luke Jackson, No. 10 in 2004 (Cleveland Cavaliers) 9.9 MPG, 3.5 PPG: Jackson tried and failed to crack the rotation on the playoff-bound Cavs teams of the mid-2000s. His inability to consistently connect from downtown hurt him.
Shelden Williams, No. 5 in 2006 (Atlanta Hawks) 15.5 MPG, 4.5 PPG: Williams is proof that a robust college resume doesn't equal professional success. He played for seven teams in six seasons.
Shaun Livingston, No. 4 in 2004 (Los Angeles Clippers) 23.1 MPG, 7.0 PPG: If it weren't for his superb comeback year in Brooklyn, he would definitely be in our top 10. We're keeping him on the honorable mentions because it looks like he's revived his career.
Jimmer Fredette, No. 10 in 2011 (Sacramento Kings) 14.6 MPG, 6.9 PPG: See Shelden Williams.
10. Patrick O'Bryant, No. 9 in 2006 (Golden State Warriors)
Status: Out of the NBA (Playing in Puerto Rico)
Career Stats (4 seasons): 5.8 MPG, 2.1 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 49% FG, 11.0 PER, 0.5 Win Shares
Although he wasn't a household name from a major-conference school, Patrick O'Bryant's production alone is enough to land on this list of monumental draft disappointments.
Strong interior play at Bradley and a stellar NCAA tournament buoyed his draft stock in 2006, and he landed in the top 10.
O'Bryant couldn't combat the speed and skill of NBA frontcourt foes, and therefore he never saw double-digit minutes in any season. He failed to crack the rotation in Golden State, Boston and Toronto.
In fact, to say he had a four-year career in the NBA is misleading, because he spent much of his time down in the D-League. He played a total of 90 games in the "big leagues" from 2006 to 2010.
Since then, he's played everywhere from China, to Greece, to Lithuania and Puerto Rico.
9. Jan Vesely, No. 6 in 2011 (Washington Wizards)
Career Stats (3 seasons): 15.2 MPG, 3.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 52% FG, 10.9 PER, 4.0 Win Shares
The 2011 draft included several ill-advised lottery selections, and Czech Republic product Jan Vesely is right up there with the worst of them.
His size and athleticism fooled the Washington Wizards into taking him sixth overall, as the Serbian league standout seemed to possess loads of potential.
While Vesely is effective enough on the boards, his scoring instincts and scoring ability have been almost nonexistent. Almost all of his buckets need to be gift-wrapped for him, as he can only score on point-blank putbacks or transition dunks.
On defense, he's an absolute nightmare. Vesely averages a whopping 5.6 fouls per 36 minutes for his career. Again, that's his average foul rate.
Unsurprisingly, he didn't stick in Washington for three full seasons, as he was dealt to the Denver Nuggets in February.
8. Derrick Williams, No. 2 in 2011 (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Career Stats (3 seasons): 23.2 MPG, 9.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 42% FG, 30% 3FG 13.0 PER, 7.4 Win Shares
Arizona star Derrick Williams joined the NBA with high expectations in 2011, as he wowed scouts and executives with his strength, explosiveness and agility.
He overwhelmed opponents in college, but he's had trouble establishing his identity as a pro. Williams isn't tall enough (6'8.75" with shoes on) to exclusively operate on the low block, and he's nowhere near skilled enough as a handler or shooter to thrive on the wing.
Consequently, he does most of his damage in transition or on broken plays. This lack of versatility was extremely disappointing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who used their No. 2 pick on him.
The Sacramento Kings took a chance on him by trading for him in November of 2013, but he hasn't made much of a dent since arriving in Sac-town.
7. Yi Jianlian, No. 6 in 2007 (Milwaukee Bucks)
Status: Out of the NBA (Playing in China)
Career Stats (5 seasons): 22.2 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 40% FG, 33% 3FG, 11.2 PER, 3.1 Win Shares
Leading up to the 2007 NBA draft, Chinese prospect Yi Jianlian looked like a potential All-Star.
He stood 7'0" with a 7'3.5" wingspan, was extremely mobile and showed a soft shooting touch from the perimeter. To top it off, he bounced for a 38" vertical leap. In other words, he was thought to be the next great Chinese NBAer, perhaps a stretch-4 version of Yao Ming.
Fast forward seven years, and he's already been out of the league for two seasons. Jianlian was an underwhelming, unassertive offensive threat, shuffling to four different NBA clubs before heading back to China for good.
If he was a bit more accurate from long range and a little more effective in the post, he might have been able to enjoy a sustained career in America. But he was never able to truly strike fear in opponents.
6. Jonny Flynn, No. 6 in 2009 (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Status: Out of the NBA (Last played in China)
Career Stats (3 seasons): 22.9 MPG, 9.2 PPG, 3.9 APG, 40% FG, 34% 3FG, 11.3 PER, -1.1 Win Shares
Jonny Flynn's NBA career was uniquely disappointing, considering that he earned All-Rookie second team honors in 2009-10.
His explosiveness and creativity at Syracuse earned him a high draft spot, and for a year, he proved worthy of the hype. But in the 2010 offseason, he had hip surgery, and that was the beginning of the end for him.
"Flynn became a victim of an unlikely injury and then a casualty of unfortunate circumstance," wrote Jonathan Abrams of Grantland.com. "It would be nearly impossible to replicate the scenario that derailed his career."
He wasn't in a great situation in Minnesota to say the least, but his injuries didn't help.
Flynn soon ricocheted to Houston, Portland and Detroit, as he was unable to latch on as a legitimate scoring threat. He ended up playing in Australia and then China merely four years after being drafted ahead of Stephen Curry.
5. Rafael Araujo, No. 8 in 2004 (Toronto Raptors)
Status: Out of the NBA (Playing in Brazil)
Career Stats (3 seasons): 11.4 MPG, 2.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 41% FG, 6.3 PER, -0.4 Win Shares
Brazilian native Rafael Araujo enjoyed a solid collegiate career at Arizona Western and BYU, and he entered the NBA with high hopes of being a productive interior anchor.
He didn't pan out at all, as he struggled to put the ball in the hoop on a regular basis. When you can't accomplish that, it's tough to survive in the Association.
The big man never shot better than 43 percent in his three seasons, and his sophomore campaign was particularly inefficient (37 percent). When you can't eclipse 40 percent when shooting almost exclusively near the basket, you probably don't deserve playing time.
Araujo has been out of the NBA for seven years, but he's still playing professionally in Brazil.
4. Hasheem Thabeet, No. 2 in 2009 (Memphis Grizzlies)
Career Stats (5 Seasons): 10.5 MPG, 2.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 57% FG, 10.3 PER, 4.8 Win Shares
We knew Hasheem Thabeet would be somewhat of a project, but we also thought he would eventually be a dominant low-post presence.
An imposing shot-blocker and double-double center at UConn, Thabeet stumbled upon arrival for the Memphis Grizzlies. Shortly after the All-Star break in his rookie year, he was sent to the D-League, making him the highest-drafted player ever to receive such a demotion.
Even four years later, he hasn't developed into much of a threat on the Oklahoma City Thunder. His offensive game is still quite raw and limited, and he's just not fluid enough in all areas to merit a major spot in the rotation.
The Grizzlies are probably still kicking themselves, considering they could have drafted guys named James Harden or Stephen Curry (among others) instead.
3. Joe Alexander, No. 8 in 2008 (Milwaukee Bucks)
Status: Out of the NBA (Played D-League in 2013-14)
Career Stats (2 Seasons): 11.1 MPG, 4.2 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 41% FG, 34% 3FG, 9.9 PER, 0.5 Win Shares
After rocking rims and terrorizing Big East opponents for three years, West Virginia star Joe Alexander entered the NBA with high stock.
Within two years, he was out of the league.
Sporting a 6'8" frame and a 38.5" max vertical, he certainly possessed the physical gifts necessary to make explosive plays around the rim. However, he wasn't really polished enough yet to excel on the NBA level, and he couldn't carve out a decent role on Scott Skiles' Milwaukee Bucks.
Consequently, he quickly found himself bouncing around the D-League and Russia. Alexander's ultra-brief stint in the Association makes him one of the biggest busts of any top 10 pick in NBA history.
2. Greg Oden, No. 1 in 2007 (Portland Trail Blazers)
Career Stats (3 seasons): 19.3 MPG, 8.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 57% FG, 18.7 PER, 7.3 Win Shares
Greg Oden's label as the ultimate "bust" of his generation has been well-documented.
Sure, the Portland Trail Blazers could have picked Kevin Durant. But they didn't know Oden would have a slew of knee complications and spend most of his career rehabbing.
After coming back from microfracture surgery and playing decently in 2008-09, the seven-foot prodigy started the 2009-10 season strong with 11.1 points and 8.5 boards per contest. But early in the season, he suffered a fractured patella, and in the ensuing years he underwent several additional procedures.
He was a talented shot-blocker and resourceful rebounder and scorer in college, but we'll never know what his NBA heyday would have looked like.
Fortunately, he's been able to make somewhat of a comeback and be a part of the Miami Heat's quest for a three-peat.
1. Adam Morrison, No. 3 in 2006 (Charlotte Bobcats)
Status: Out of the NBA (Assistant Coach at Gonzaga)
Career Stats (3 Seasons): 20.4 MPG, 7.5 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 37% FG, 33% 3FG, 7.4 PER, -1.4 Win Shares
Adam Morrison is a classic example of a collegiate superstar who became an NBA benchwarmer.
Entering their third year of existence in 2006-07, the Charlotte Bobcats had high hopes for the Gonzaga gunner, who scored 28-plus per game as a junior.
He turned out to be an underwhelming offense threat, unable to consistently create his own shot or efficiently connect from beyond the NBA arc. As for defense, well, he floundered.
An ACL tear during the 2007 preseason derailed any potential progress entering his sophomore season. When he landed in Los Angeles in 2009, he was never a substantial part of the Lakers' rotation as they won back-to-back titles.
Morrison isn't quite 30 years old yet, but it looks like his playing career, in any capacity, is over. He was a student assistant on Gonzaga's coaching staff in 2013-14.
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