Drafting Disaster: The Four Worst Drafting NBA Franchises of the 2000s
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With the 2011 NBA draft on the horizon, it is always interesting to reflect on how these events play out. Prospects like Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard and LeBron James, the true franchise, always capture the imagination around this time
But the reality of the draft is that most players are not superstar potential. The draft is the foundation of every franchise and a bad move can have dire consequences for years.
When reflecting on the past decade one thing, becomes crystal clear; some teams truly take advantage of the draft and some teams clearly don’t. Here are four teams that did not:
The Atlanta Hawks
Imagine what the Hawks would have been have they picked Deron Williams over Marvin Williams.
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Jeff Teague, Acie Law, Al Horford, Shelden Williams, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Josh Childress, Pau Gasol, Demarr Johnshon.
In fairness, Atlanta has had some success. Al Horford, the third pick in 2007, has become a two time all-star and a cornerstone of the franchise. They were able to snag versatile forward Josh Smith with the 17th pick in 2004.
Even the trade sending eventual Rookie of the Year Pau Gasol can be excused, as they got back a proven scorer in Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Looking deeper, however, you’ll see why Atlanta has earned the top spot as the leagues’ worst drafting team this past decade.
In 2005, while in desperate need of a point guard, the Hawks chose potential over need and took North Carolina product, Marvin Williams.
Although the 6’9” freshman forward was highly touted, he did not fit the obvious need at the lead guard position and did not have a defined position in the NBA. Taking Williams, Atlanta passed on Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Raymond Felton.
Making matters worse, the hole at the point carried over to the next year. With the same dilemma, the Hawks went with another 6’9” forward, Shelden Williams, at No. 5.
With Brandon Roy and Rajon Rondo still available, this pick makes little sense even without the benefit of hindsight.
The following year, perhaps feeling the pressure to finally draft a long term solution, they selected Acie Law, who has floundered in the league thus far.
Let’s hope the promise that Jeff Teague flashed this past playoff series translates into long-term success in Atlanta.
The Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota would love for Joakim Noah to be wearing a Wolves jersey.
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Ndudi Ebi, Rashard McCants, Randy Foye, Kevin Love, Jonny Flynn, Corey Brewer
The only reason Minnesota does not take the top spot here is because the haven not had as many opportunities to blow it due to league punishment for an under-the-table agreement with Joe Smith which cost them four first round picks in the early 2000’s.
Also, to their credit, they did get it right on draft day in 2009, trading O.J. Mayo for rebounding machine Kevin Love. That’s about all they have gotten right, however.
In 2003, the T-Wolves took a high-school senior by the name of Ndudi Edi with the 26th pick. There is not crime whiffing on a late first-rounder, but consider the three players taken after: Kendrick Perkins, Leandro Barbosa and ACC player of the year, Josh Howard.
They selected Rashard McCants in ’05, passing on Danny Granger and David Lee. In ’06, they seemed to get it right, taking Brandon Roy at No. 6, but quickly traded him to Portland for Randy Foye.
More futility followed in 2007 where they chose Corey Brewer over Joakim Noah. Noah was being considered as a possible top pick candidate one year prior but slipped when he decided to return to school.
The 2009 draft was a complete disaster. With a remarkable four first round picks, Minnesota brass select Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn with picks five and six. Both point guards, all assumed one would be traded, with Rubio saying that he would rather stay in Europe than play for Minny.
A trade never materialized. Rubio is still in Spain and Flynn has not been the answer.
Curiously enough, the Timberwolves selected another point at No. 18. Ty Lawson, to this point seems to be the best of the bunch. Unfortunately, they shipped him to Denver, where he quickly became their starting lead guard in waiting.
The jury is still out on 2010 selection, Wes Johnson, but he struggled mightily attempting to play off guard this year and it appears Minnesota may draft over him this year by taking Arizona forward Derrick Williams.
The New Jersey Nets
The Nets picked Antoine Wright two spots ahead of Danny Granger in 2005.
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Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson, Nenad Kristic, Marcus Williams, Antione Wright, Brook Lopez, Derrick Favors.
The Nets, like many other teams, have had some success. Frankly, you have to get lucky sometimes. Kenyon Martin was the best of a bad situation, being selected with the first overall pick in what was one of the worst drafts in recent memory.
A draft day trade of ultra-talented but troubled forward Eddie Griffin for Richard Jefferson proved to be a prudent move.
The 2008 draft proved to be a great one for New Jersey, with the Nets selecting Brook Lopez and Ryan Anderson in the first round, then selecting sleeper Chris Douglas-Roberts in the second.
Frankly, that’s as good as it gets in NJ. The Nets selected Zoran Planinic in 2003 over Josh Howard, who slipped all the way to the final pick in the first round.
In 2005, they choose Antoine Wright over Danny Granger, Fransisco Garcia and David Lee, not to mention a host of second-rounders (Monta Ellis, Lou Williams, and Marcin Gortat to name a few). Again, it has been a mixed bag in New Jersey.
The Charlotte Bobcats
The selection of Adam Morrison in 2006 derailed the Bobcats solid draft record.
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Emeka Okafor, Raymond Felton, Adam Morrison, Brandon Wright, Jared Dudley, D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson.
The Bobcats got off to a great start in their inaugural draft, taking future Rookie of the year Emeka Okafor with the No. 2 pick and following that up the next year taking point guard Raymond Felton at No. 5.
Then is all came crashing down. Adam Morrison was supposed to give them that scoring punch they desperately needed, so they took him at No. 3 over the likes of Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay.
Granted, it was a weak draft, but Morrison was a questionable pick leading up to the draft. The holes in Morrison's game, most notably his poor ball-handling skills and terrible defense, quickly proved his downfall.
In 2007, they decided on Brandon Wright over the more accomplished Joakim Noah as well as Thaddeus Young, Rodney Stuckey and Nick Young.
Guessing they were not in love with Felton, although he was solid in his service in Charlotte, they take D.J. Augustin over Brook Lopez.
While D.J. has proven to be a quality player, the prospect of having Lopez in the frontcourt completely changes the outlook of the club.
Gerald Henderson, taken at No. 12 in 2009, looks to be no more than a rotation player at best although in Charlotte’s defense, there were not many other options. The Bobcats had no first-round picks in 2010.