Top 10 NBA Busts of the Past 25 Years

Taylor SmithAnalyst IAugust 31, 2009

CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 25:  Darko Milicic #31 of the Detroit Pistons shoots a free throw during the game against the Chicago Bulls on February 25, 2004 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Pistons won 107-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Would you rather have this guy (pictured) or Carmelo Anthony?

Thought so.

For this particular list of past busts in the NBA Draft, I've decided to restrict it to the past 25 years, just so you're not bored with names like Kent Benson, the player the Milwaukee Bucks apparently deemed worthy of being taken first overall in 1977.

Who is Kent Benson?

Nobody knows.

Anyway, here are my top 10 NBA Draft busts since 1984.

10. Shelden Williams—Duke (Taken No. 5 overall by the Atlanta Hawks in 2006).

Shelden Williams didn't have too much going for him when he left the Blue Devils in terms of favorable NBA player traits.

He's 6'9", traditionally too short for a center.

He came from Duke, a school with a history of producing NBA busts.

He didn't have much of an offensive repertoire.

His wife, Candace Parker, would beat him in one-on-one 100 times out of 100.

The Hawks still hadn't drafted a point guard in the lottery since 1866.

Lo and behold, Williams has yet to pan out as a stud NBA center, and likely never will.

"The Landlord" developed a reputation in college as a fantastic interior defender, earning consecutive ACC Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2005 and 2006.

As a pro, Williams has failed to assert himself on either end of the floor, with career averages of 4.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and just .4 blocks per game in four NBA seasons with Atlanta, Sacramento, and Minnesota.

Currently, Williams is a member of the Boston Celtics...somehow.


9. Nikoloz Tskitishvili—Georgia (Europe) (Taken No. 5 overall by the Denver Nuggets in 2002)

Before appearing in an NBA uniform, Nikoloz Tskitishvili was often heralded as the "next Dirk Nowitzki".

This seven-footer was said to be able to score from anywhere on the floor, including from three-point range, effectively.

Instead of being the second-coming of the greatest European NBA player ever, Tskitishvili was a bust of epic proportions.

Over the course of an extremely weak four-year career, Tskitishvili racked up career averages of three points and two rebounds per game while playing for Denver, Golden State, Phoenix, and Portland.

Tskitishvili may actually deserve to be higher on this list, considering how awful he was as an NBA player.

Currently, Tskitishvili plays for the premier basketball league in Spain.


8. Luke Jackson—Oregon (Taken No. 10 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2004).

Luke Jackson doesn't make this list because he was supposed to be a future NBA Hall-of-Famer.

Luke Jackson makes this list because of the sheer brainlessness of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Holding the 10th overall pick, just one year after drafting franchise-savior LeBron James (a small forward, mind you), Cleveland drafted Jackson, a small forward.

Now, don't get me wrong, Jackson was a bust.

As a rookie, Jackson appeared in just 10 games, averaging a whopping three points per game.

Why did he only play in 10 games?

Well, they had LeBron James playing the same position.

Why did they take Jackson?

I have no idea.

For his career, with Cleveland, the Clippers, Toronto, and Miami, Jackson has averaged 3.5 points and just over one rebound per game.

Luke Jackson was a bust of epic proportions, for many reasons.

7. Shawn Bradley—BYU (Taken No. 2 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1993).

Shawn Bradley likely owns the dubious honor of being the player that has appeared on the most posters advertising the skills of other players.

That's likely the only honor Bradley ever achieved over the course of his failed NBA career.

Philadelphia drafted the goofy, 7'6" Bradley with hopes that he would turn out to be a dominating NBA center on both ends of the floor.

Bradley is 11th on the NBA all-time list for blocks, but that can't save him here.

He was also a part of numerous on-court fights, once even being picked up and embarrassingly flipped over onto his back.

Also, for some reason, he appeared in Space Jam.

6. Stromile Swift—LSU (Taken No.2 overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies in 2000).

Stromile Swift is the only active NBA player to have played for the Grizzlies both in Vancouver and in Memphis.

Coming out of LSU, Swift was just another case of an NBA team falling in love with potential.

The 6'10" Swift is extremely athletic, and showed a great ability to block shots and rebound during his time as a Tiger.

However, as an NBA player, Swift has always looked completely lost while he's on the floor.

Somehow, after the 2005 season, Swift earned a $22 million contract from the Houston Rockets.

After just one season as a Rocket, he was traded back to the Grizzlies on draft night along with the eighth overall pick, Rudy Gay, in exchange for Shane Battier.

Swift finished last season with Phoenix, and is currently a free agent.

His career averages in the NBA are 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

5. Robert Traylor—Michigan (Taken No. 6 overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 1998-traded to the Milwaukee Bucks)

The Mavericks aren't to blame here.

They ended up trading the rights to "Tractor" Traylor to Milwaukee in exchange for Pat Garrity and the rights to German rookie Dirk Nowitzki.

This trade turned out great for Dallas.

This trade turned out horribly for Milwaukee.

Traylor, a 6'8" forward that weighed over 300 pounds, was an underwhelming pro, averaging just under five points and four rebounds per game in seven NBA seasons, playing for Milwaukee, Charlotte, New Orleans, and Cleveland.

Traylor has been involved in problems with the law and problems with his health.

Needless to say, the "Tractor" never got rolling in the NBA.

Dirk did, though.

4. Michael Olowokandi—Pacific (Taken No. 1 overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in 1998).

Why would the Clippers take a little-known center out of the University of the Pacific with the No.1 pick in a draft that included such stars as Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Mike Bibby, Rashard Lewis, Paul Pierce, and Dirk Nowitzki?

All together now: Because they're the Clippers!

The Kandi Man was never an effective NBA player in nine NBA seasons.

He averaged 9.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game.

In fact, Olowokandi started playing basketball when he was 17.

No wonder he wasn't very good at it.

This is likely the biggest gaffe in the history of a team noteworthy for screwing things up.

3. Kwame Brown—Glynn Academy (HS) (Taken No. 1 overall by the Washington Wizards in 2001).

We all know the story of Kwame Brown.

Brown was the first-ever high school player to be taken with the first overall pick, having been taken by Michael Jordan and his Washington Wizards in 2001.

Brown was labeled a bust after just one season, even though his numbers eventually improved in the next couple of seasons.

Brown was often criticized for his lack of effort and maturity, often from Jordan himself.

Having the greatest basketball player of all-time tell you that you are not very good can't be a great confidence builder.

He made the biggest error of his career when he turned down a five-year, $30 million offer from the Wizards after his third NBA season, instead deciding to become a free agent after his fourth season.

His fourth season was marred by injury, as well as run-ins with several teammates, including Gilbert Arenas.

He was traded to the Lakers in exchange for Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins, and was also involved in one of the most lopsided trades ever, when he was traded with a bunch of spare parts to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Pau Gasol.

Brown has been a marginal player throughout his career, having gone for just seven points and five rebounds per game in eight seasons for Washington, the Lakers, Memphis, and now, Detroit.

2. Darko Milicic—Serbia (Taken No. 2 overall by the Detroit Pistons in 2003).

Darko wasn't the No. 1 pick in the draft, but that doesn't save him from being the second biggest bust of all-time.

Darko was infamously selected second overall in 2003 by the Detroit Pistons, in between LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

Milicic is a seven-footer that was one of many heralded as the "next Dirk Nowitzki", as he allegedly possessed the unique ability to shoot it from the outside.

Over the course of his career, Darko has never shown that ability.

He also hasn't shown the ability to play basketball.

That is a problem.

Darko currently plays for the Knicks, which could provide for some nice comedy, where he will surely become a sarcastic fan favorite.

On the bright side, Darko has one thing that neither LeBron nor Carmelo has: a championship ring.

Despite blowing their great draft opportunity, the Pistons went on to upset the Lakers in just five games in the 2004 Finals, with Darko watching from the pine.

To be honest, that terrible bleached haircut is probably what did poor Darko in.

1. Sam Bowie—Kentucky (Taken No. 2 overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1984).

What's an NBA draft bust list without Sam Bowie?

In all fairness, Bowie may actually be the best NBA player amongst all of these fellows listed below him here.

However, like Darko, Bowie was selected between two NBA greats in Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan, of course.

The 7'1" center from Kentucky averaged 10.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and about two blocks over the course of a nice ten-year career.

Unfortunately, he will never be able to shake the distinction of being the guy that Portland went with over Jordan.

I'm fairly certain that Bowie would still own this label even if he somehow became the first person to run a mile in one minute or discover a cure for cancer.

Poor Sam.

Note: It took a lot not to include Adam Morrison on this list.

If I did it over, I may be inclined to sub him in for Jackson.

However, Cleveland doesn't deserve to get off scot-free for this move, therefore, he stays.


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