Top 10 Biggest NBA Draft Busts of the Last 10 Years
Well, folks, it is the day we have all been waiting for (especially if "we" are the fans of the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat). The NBA Draft. The make or break moment for franchises.
While many teams have been able to re-establish themselves, or even become Champions (Spurs) as a result of the draft, many teams will also doom themselves to years of mediocrity and regret.
Before I can really begin this article, I must define my view of a "draft bust." For me, the primary factors are:
•Overall contribution to original team
•Overall career productivity (or productivity up to this point)
•Strength of the draft class (Who could a team have had instead, in particular at a certain position?)
•Long-term impact on the team (Is the franchise still reeling from this?)
With this, I bring you the top 10 biggest draft busts of the last 10 draft years (1998-2007).
10) Marcus Fizer—Fourth Pick, 2000 (Bulls)
While the whole draft class of 2000 was horrible, the fact that the Bulls made this pick and moved Elton Brand as a result of it was the perfect summary of Chicago's futility after Michael Jordan.
Had one decent season in 2001-02, but overall never came close to becoming the player he looked like he could become in college.
9) Jonathan Bender—Fifth Pick, 1999 (Raptors, Traded to Pacers)
Indiana thought it was a brilliant idea to trade away role player Antonio Davis to snag Bender. While Bender struggled through seven seasons in Indiana (only playing in 237 games and starting in 27), Davis became an instant contributor to the Raptors, and remained one for a good four seasons.
Bender retired in 2006 due to chronic knee pain, averaging only five PPG for his career. Wally Szczerbiak, Shawn Marion, and Ron Artest are some of the forwards passed up for Bender.
8) Rafael Araujo—Eighth Pick, 2004 (Raptors)
You know it's bad when I go to nba.com to check his "career" stats and it says "We apologize for the inconvenience, but the page you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable."
Araujo is the biggest reason why Rob Babcock is currently the Assistant GM of the Timberwolves (who obviously aren't the sharpest pencils in the box, either). He played two disappointing years in Toronto, and then another disappointing year in Utah, ane packed up and signed a contract to play in Russia.
Would be higher, but it wasn't like any world beaters were drafted behind him. Toronto could've had the very serviceable Al Jefferson, though.
7) Robert "Tractor" Traylor—Sixth Pick, 1998 (Mavericks, Traded to Bucks)
Traylor was an overweight, shorter than desired PF/C who really could do nothing but rebound. This pick would've been bad enough, but the Mavericks were able to convert this to little known (at the time) Dirk Nowitzki, leaving the dishonor on the Bucks.
After two seasons in Milwaukee of under 4.5 PPG basketball, he was bounced around from team to team before washing up with the Santurce Crabbers of the Puerto Rican league.
Also, they could've had Paul Pierce instead.
6) Darco Milicic—Second Pick, 2003 (Pistons)
It's one of few major errors the Pistons have made in recent memory, but it was a big one. The Pistons were off a 50-32 season and had the opportunity to add a huge name with the second pick of the 2003 draft.
Instead of adding Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Chris Kaman, or Kirk Hinrich, the Pistons went with heralded but relatively unknown Milicic. He was a bust right as the season started, and only averaged 5.8 MPG and 1.6 PPG in his first two-and-a-half seasons in Detroit—before being unheraldedly dumped to the Magic.
Going through the laundry list of quality play from the five men that went after him would take all day. The Pistons won an NBA title the season after this pick anyway, but one could only imagine what may have been with a player like Chris Bosh on their roster.
5) Steve Francis—Second Pick, 1999 (Grizzlies, Traded to Rockets)
If there is any point in time at which one can really identify why the Grizzlies failed in Vancouver, it would be the drafting of Steve Francis. Francis went on to play well in his career, winning co-rookie of the year and making three All-Star rosters. Unfortunately, none of this was for Vancouver.
Francis made it known that he did not want to play in Vancouver, but the Grizzlies picked him anyway. Francis went on to cry his way into a trade, where he became a valuable member of the Rockets. The Grizzlies never recovered from this misstep, and eventually had to pack up and move to Memphis.
To think all this drama could have been avoided if they had just picked Baron Davis or Richard Hamilton.
4) Fran Vasquez—11th pick, 2005 (Magic)
While this could change as he might eventually leave Europe to play in the NBA, for now one can only call a pick that has not even been on the roster for three years a bust.
Vasquez was expected to sign with the Magic to make a formidable frontcourt duo of himself and Dwight Howard. Only problem was, Vasquez decided to stay in Spain for at least another season. Three years later, he is still over in Europe, and it could be a fourth if FC Barcelona does not let him out of his contract.
A residual effect of this was the huge contract they ended up paying Rashard Lewis, a move that could hamper the Magic's ability to sign free agents for years.
3) Nikoloz Tskitishvili—Fifth Pick, 2002 (Nuggets)
I did not even remember this guy until I started researching to write this article, but the only thing he can be credited for is setting back European big men about 30 years.
He played at a mediocre level for 81 games and 16 starts in 2002-03, and proceeded only to decline from there. Tskitishvili finished his career with 172 games, 11.3 MPG, and 2.9 PPG.
Ironically, he washed up for a while on the Suns, the team of Amare Stoudemire—the man who went four picks after Tskitishvili in the 2002 draft.
2) Michael Olowokandi—First Pick, 1998 (Clippers)
The prime cut sirloin steak of busts and second guessed picks in the 1998 draft. He was taken ahead of Mike Bibby, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Dirk Nowitzki, and Paul Pierce.
In his time in Los Angeles, Olowokandi never shot for a good field goal percentage, was a bottom tier free throw shooter, a horrible passer who only averaged .7 APG in his career, and nowhere near the rebounder you would expect a seven-footer to be.
The Clippers have only made the playoff once since this terrible pick.
1) Kwame Brown—First Pick, 2001 (Wizards)
Sadly, the defining moment of Michael Jordan's GM'ing career.
Passing up on Tyson Chandler and Pau Gasol, the Wizards elected to select this high school star with the first pick. It was the first time a high schooler had ever been selected first in the NBA Draft.
His career in Washington was plagued by immaturity and inability to handle the pressure from the media, and especially MJ.
Brown went on to have all of one decent season in Washington, and the only real value he ever served the Wizards was attracting a trade from Los Angeles that sent Caron Butler to Washington. In turn, the only real value he ever served Los Angeles was as an expiring contract to trade for the previously mentioned Pau Gasol.
He will probably sign a one-year, relatively small money contract this offseason.
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