NBA Draft: 5 Biggest Draft Busts in the Last 20 Years

Shay GravesContributor IIIJune 23, 2011

NBA Draft: 5 Biggest Draft Busts in the Last 20 Years

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    Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Dwight Howard, Jason Kidd, LeBron James and Kevin Durant all have one thing in common.

    Each player was selected first or second overall in their respective drafts while being franchise players during their careers.

    When an organization invests a high pick to go along with a high-dollar amount into a player, they should pay dividends for years to come.

    This is not always the case, so here is a list of the top five draft busts in the last 20 years.

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5. Power Forward Joe Smith Selected No. 1 Overall in 1995

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    Joe Smith was taken by the Golden State Warriors out of the University of Maryland, ahead of guys like Jerry Stackhouse (3rd), Rasheed Wallace (4th), and Kevin Garnett (5th).

    He never made an All-Star team and played for 12 different teams in 16 seasons.

    His best seasons came with the Golden State Warriors, where he averaged 16.2 points per game in his first three seasons. After that, he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers where his production began to decline thereafter.

    Smith has managed to be an asset to many teams he has played for, serving as a role player.

    He failed to develop into the franchise player you expect when you draft someone No. 1 overall.

    He has scored 11,208 points, grabbed 6,575 rebounds and blocked 868 shots in 1,030 career games.

4. Center Greg Oden Selected No. 1 Overall in 2007

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    The 2006 Naismith Player of the Year was the consensus top pick in the 2007 draft and the Portland Trail Blazers took him with no hesitation.

    He was touted as the next, great big man since his days at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. But injuries have derailed his career thus far.

    He missed his entire rookie season when he had micro-fracture surgery in September of the 2007 season.

    In his first career game, he sustained a foot injury and missed two more weeks. He has had a multitude of leg injuries since then and has only saw action during two seasons and 82 games for an average of 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds.

    He has missed 246 out of a possible 328 games.

    The jury is still out on Oden. He may be able to get healthy, turn his career around and live up to the billing of a No.1 selection.

3. Center Kwame Brown Selected No. 1 Overall in 2001

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    Brown was selected by the Washington Wizards out of Brunswick High School in Georgia in front of the likes of Tyson Chandler (second), Pau Gasol (third), Jason Richardson (fifth) and Joe Johnson (10th).

    He has played for five teams in a 10 seasons and never became the force in the post that many thought he would become.

    He has averaged 6.8 points in 576 career games.

    His best season came in 2003-2004 when he averaged 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds. He has scored a total of 3,937 points in his career and never made an All-Star team.

    Brown has been a mediocre center at best.

2. Center Shawn Bradley Selected No. 2 Overall in 1993

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    Towering above the competition, many, including the Philadelphia 76ers, believed Bradley would surely have an impact when he came to the City of Brotherly Love in 1993. His name was called before Anfernee Hardaway (third), Jamal Mashburn (fourth), and Sam Cassell (24th).

    He never manifested into a good player and Bradley was an average center for his three teams. His best season was the 1996-1997 campaign when he averaged 13.2 points per game and 8.4 rebounds.

    He never made an All-Star game or achieved any accolades.

    He became known more for comic relief than his play on the court. He has almost as many career rebounds, with 5,268, as points, with 6,752.

    He retired as a Dallas Maverick in 2005. Bradley's career makes him worthy of the second slot as the second-biggest draft bust in the last 20 years.

1. Michael Olowokandi Selected No. 1 Overall in 1998

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    The native of Lagos, Nigeria, nicknamed the "Kandi Man," never came close to his averages of 22 points and 11 rebounds that he amassed at the University of the Pacific. Los Angeles thought he could put up similar numbers and took him first in 1998.

    His NBA career turned in averages of 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds, not the statistics of first overall draft selection. He was taken before Vince Carter (fifth), Dirk Nowitzki (ninth), Paul Pierce (10th).

    His best season came in 2002-2003 when he averaged 12.3 points and 9.1 rebounds, but only played 36 games before he was injured and missed the rest of the season.

    When guys like Shaq and Tim Duncan put up similar seasons, we say they are done and need to hang it up, but for the Kandi Man, that was the best he could do.

    After the 2002-2003 season, Olowokandi averaged just 5.1 points per game. He was diminished due to inconsistent play as a result of injury. He finished his career with 4,135 points in 11 seasons.

    To put that in perspective, the 2004 No. 1 overall pick, Dwight Howard, accumulated the same amount of points in less than four seasons.

    The Kandi Man tops the list as the biggest bust in the last 20 seasons.