Ranking the 5 Worst Draft Picks in Toronto Raptors History

Christopher Walder@@WalderSportsContributor IIJune 21, 2013

Ranking the 5 Worst Draft Picks in Toronto Raptors History

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    The Toronto Raptors organization is all too familiar with taking players in the NBA draft that never quite pan out for the team.

    In fact, some of the more scrutinized and misguided picks of the past 15 years have come from this franchise. 

    They have found ways in the past to hinder their chances of improving their roster by making boneheaded moves in the draft. It could be by reaching for talent, filling a position that doesn't need filling or simply selecting players who aren't ready for the bright lights of the NBA. 

    It's a shame, really. Bad draft picks are what hold struggling teams back from taking strides forward and winning games. 

    Some of the Raptors' picks range from befuddled and irresponsible to downright laughable. 

    It happens. You can't get it right all of the time. 

    Looking back on every draft pick ever made by this team, which rank as the worst of the very worst in franchise history? 

    Note: All statistics are provided by ESPN.com and Basketball-Reference.com

(Dis)Honorable Mentions

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    Joey Graham, SF, 2005 (16th overall): One of the most physically gifted players to ever suit up for the Toronto Raptors. His low basketball IQ and inability to defend the perimeter were huge red flags during his four seasons with the team.

    Andrea Bargnani, C, 2006 (first overall): As much as some Raptors' fans would love for "Il Mago" to be on this list, his scoring numbers simply don't allow for him to be a part of it. His offense has never been an issue. His lack of rebounding and poor defensive skills in the paint are what frustrates the fan base. 

    Raptors' second-round picks (Tyson Wheeler, DeeAndre Hulett, Remon van de Hare, Albert Miralles, Roko Ukic, Uros Slokar, P.J. Tucker, Edin Bavcic): Manu Ginobili, Gilbert Arenas and Carlos Boozer are just a few examples of NBA All-Stars who were selected in the second-round of the NBA draft. The Raptors have yet to strike gold with their late picks, as most of their selections fail to make an impact on the court or simply never play for the team. 

5) Charlie Villanueva, F, 2005

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    Draft pick: 7th overall

    Rookie stats: 81 games played, 29.1 minutes, 13.0 points, 46.3 percent from the field, 6.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.8 blocks, 1.2 turnovers, 16.4 PER

    Career stats (2005-present): 510 games played, 23.6 minutes, 11.8 points, 44.1 percent from the field, 5.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.6 blocks, 1.1 turnovers, 16.2 PER

    Selected over: Andrew Bynum (10th), Danny Granger (17th), David Lee (30th)

    Being a bad draft pick doesn't necessarily mean that you're a bad basketball player.

    Charlie Villanueva is the best player on this list, but his selection with the 7th overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft has to be one of the more confusing choices the Raptors have ever made. 

    ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith can attest to that. He was highly critical of the pick on draft night, as the Raptors already had Chris Bosh on their roster. 

    Why would Toronto pick a power forward for the third year in a row (Bosh in 2003, Rafael Araujo in 2004)?

    Villanueva had a fairly successful rookie season with the Raptors. He appeared in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and earned a place on the All-NBA Rookie First Team. 

    However, that doesn't excuse the fact that he was drafted way too early and filled no purpose or void on the roster. 

    After just one season with the team, Villanueva was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for point guard T.J. Ford and cash considerations. 

4) Jonathan Bender, F/C, 1999

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    Draft pick: 5th overall

    Rookie stats: 24 games played, 5.4 minutes, 2.7 points, 32.9 percent from the field, 0.9 rebounds, 0.1 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.2 blocks, 0.3 turnovers, 7.6 PER

    Career stats (1999-2006, 2009-10): 262 games played, 14.7 minutes, 5.5 points, 41.7 percent from the field, 2.2 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.6 blocks, 1.0 turnovers, 10.9 PER

    Selected over: Richard Hamilton (7th), Shawn Marion (9th), Jason Terry (10th)

    The only saving grace that came with selecting Jonathan Bender was that he never actually suited up for the team.

    Bender was traded on draft night to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for veteran power forward Antonio Davis. Davis is one of only three players in franchise history—along with Chris Bosh and Vince Carter—to ever be named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

    The Raptors dodged a huge a bullet when they decided to part ways with their 7'0" center out of Picayune Memorial High School. 

    His best season in the league came in 2001-02, when he averaged 7.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in 21.1 minutes of action for the Pacers. That was enough for the team to offer him an outrageous four-year, $28 million extension. 

    Chronic knee problems would later derail his career, keeping Bender on the sidelines for all but nine games from 2004 through 2006. A failed comeback in 2009-10 with the New York Knicks was the last fans ever saw of him. 

3) Michael Bradley, PF, 2001

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    Draft pick: 17th overall

    Rookie stats: 26 games played, 4.5 minutes, 1.2 points, 52.0 percent from the field, 0.9 rebounds, 0.1 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.2 blocks, 0.2 turnovers, 9.9 PER

    Career stats (2001-06): 173 games played, 11.7 minutes, 2.8 points, 47.7 percent from the field, 3.4 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.1 steals, 0.3 blocks, 0.7 turnovers, 11.3 PER

    Selected over: Zach Randolph (19th), Gerald Wallace (25th), Tony Parker (28th)

    Taking a look at some of the names the Raptors passed on to take Michael Bradley is depressing enough. Glancing over his feeble numbers during his time in Toronto would just add salt to the wound.

    Sure, perhaps being picked 17th overall doesn't warrant such harsh scrutiny. He wasn't a lottery pick. The expectations weren't high to begin with.

    Regardless of his positioning, the Raptors were expecting a bit more bang for their buck when taking a guy who averaged a near double-double (20.8 points and 9.8 rebounds) at Villanova. 

    In 2002-03, Bradley averaged nearly 20 minutes of playing time per game, scoring 5.0 points and grabbing 6.1 rebounds. That was essentially the highest point of his career. 

    He would play for five different teams (Raptors, Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers) during his five-year NBA career. He struggled to keep a job because, frankly, he had little to offer anyone. 

    Bradley couldn't shoot the basketball and had no sense for how to defend properly in the paint. He brought next to nothing as a member of the Raptors or any other team he ever played for after them.  

2) Aleksandar Radojević, C, 1999

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    Draft pick: 12th overall

    Rookie stats: 3 games played, 8.0 minutes, 2.3 points, 28.6 percent from the field, 2.7 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks, 1.7 turnovers, 2.4 PER

    Career stats (1999-2000, 2004-05): 15 games played, 10.1 minutes, 1.7 points, 30.8 percent from the field, 2.4 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.1 steals, 0.2 blocks, 1.3 turnovers, - 0.9 PER

    Selected over: Corey Maggette (13th), Ron Artest (16th), Andrei Kirilenko (24th)

    The 1999 NBA draft is considered by many to be one of the weakest in league history. The selection of Alexsandar Radojevic with the 12th overall pick by Toronto goes to show just how awful it really was. 

    As a 7'3" center who averaged over four blocks per game in college, Radojevic was touted early on as being a future defensive cornerstone of the franchise. 

    Well, that never happened.

    After playing in just three games for the team his rookie year, Radojevic would suffer a season-ending injury. 

    He was later traded to the Denver Nuggets in a deal that brought Tracy Murray and Keon Clark to the Raptors. 

    Even in his little time on the court, Radojevic proved that he was nowhere near ready to be competing at the pro level. His early exit from the league (just 15 games played, brief stints in Europe) was proof of that. 

1) Rafael Araújo, C, 2004

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    Draft pick: 8th overall

    Rookie stats: 59 games played, 12.5 minutes, 3.3 points, 43.4 percent from the field, 3.1 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.1 blocks, 0.9 turnovers, 7.1 PER

    Career stats (2004-07): 139 games played, 11.4 minutes, 2.8 points, 40.5 percent from the field, 2.8 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.1 blocks, 0.8 turnovers, 6.3 PER

    Selected over: Andre Iguodala (9th), Al Jefferson (15th), Josh Smith (17th)

    The cartoon shark tattoo on his left arm was the most memorable part of Rafael Araujo's tenure with the Toronto Raptors from 2004 to 2006.

    Araujo averaged 18.4 points and 10.1 rebounds during his sophomore year at Brigham Young University. Those numbers, as well as his 6'11", 290-pound frame, were enticing enough for former Raptors GM Rob Babcock to take a chance and draft the Brazilian as high as he did. 

    Very few mock drafts had Araujo going as high as the midway point of the first round, so seeing him end up with Toronto at pick No. 8 came as a huge surprise to many. 

    What hurts even more is that Andre Iguodala, who was selected immediately after Araujo at pick No. 9 by Philadelphia, went on to become an NBA All-Star (2012) and one of the most feared perimeter defenders in the entire league. Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Kevin Martin, Jameer Nelson, Tony Allen and Anderson Varejao (all of whom were picked later in the draft) are having successful NBA careers, as well. 

    Former head coach Sam Mitchell rarely played Araujo, as he was a huge liability on both offense and defense. 

    There's a reason why he lasted just three seasons in the NBA. There wasn't one redeeming aspect of his game. 

    Size can only take you so far.