Re-Drafting Every NBA Team’s Worst Draft Pick Since 2000

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 16, 2020

Re-Drafting Every NBA Team’s Worst Draft Pick Since 2000

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    The NBA draft is an educated-guessing game. At best.

    Even with the wealth of analytics and film available today, the annual talent grab still always provides its share of surprises and disappointments.

    We're focusing on the latter to fit with 2020's theme as the Year of the Pessimist.

    But while we're traveling down memory road to remember each team's most regrettable draft decision of the 2000s, we're also correcting those mistakes by re-drafting the right player using the benefit of hindsight.

Atlanta Hawks

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    The Pick: Shelden Williams (No. 5 in 2006)

    Williams was the worst kind of tweener. He didn't have the perimeter skills to step away from the basket or the size, strength and length to be a force close to it.

    The Hawks cut bait with Williams less than two seasons into his career in a four-players-and-a-pick-for-one trade for Mike Bibby. Williams played six seasons in the Association before walking away with career averages of only 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds.


    The Re-Draft: Brandon Roy (No. 6)

    While knee problems forced Roy off the floor after only 326 games, his rapid rise would have helped the Hawks take flight. He snagged Rookie of the Year honors and earned his first of three consecutive All-Star selections as a sophomore. Between 2008-09 and 2009-10, he was one of only six players to average at least 22 points, four assists and four rebounds.

    His knees forced him into early retirement shortly thereafter, but his brief run of stardom would've been worth the pick for Atlanta. Slot him alongside Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, and the Hawks could've given opponents fits with an uptempo, versatile attack.

Boston Celtics

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    The Pick: Joseph Forte (No. 21 in 2001)

    A scoring guard out of North Carolina, Forte never found his touch at the NBA level or did enough for his teams to give him time to get his rhythm. He played only 39 minutes across eight games as a rookie and finished the campaign with a single made field goal on 12 attempts.

    The Celtics sent him to the Seattle SuperSonics after that season, and his second go-round was just as rocky. He shot 28.6 percent from the field and nearly erased his 11 assists with 10 turnovers. He was waived the following October and never had an NBA gig after that.


    The Re-Draft: Tony Parker (No. 28)

    As hard as it is to imagine Parker playing out his career outside the Alamo City, he would've been perfect in Boston.

    The Celtics needed a lead guard to help Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker, and Parker was up to the task immediately. An All-Rookie first-teamer, he'd go on to make six All-Star trips, earn four All-NBA selections, win four championships and be named Finals MVP in 2007.

Brooklyn Nets

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    The Pick: Sean Williams (No. 17 in 2007)

    An interior enforcer, Williams struggled to develop the other elements of his game. He finished two of his four NBA seasons shooting below 43 percent from the field and never averaged more than the 5.6 points per game he provided as a rookie.

    He had his share of off-court missteps, too, including two arrests, and the Nets waived him in Jan. 2010. He had cups of coffee with the Dallas Mavericks (eight games) and Boston Celtics (three) in the 2011-12 season, but he's been out of the Association since.


    The Re-Draft: Marc Gasol (No. 48)

    The Nets needed more immediate help than Gasol could provide at the time, but the future Hall of Famer would have manned their middle for a decade.

    A two-way weapon who leans on his genius-level basketball IQ to help with his distributing and defense, he's a three-time All-Star, a two-time All-NBA honoree and was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2012-13.

Charlotte Hornets

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    The Pick: Adam Morrison (No. 3 in 2006)

    After setting the college hoops world ablaze with his scoring volume (28.1 points per game as a junior) and efficiency (49.6/42.8/77.2 shooting slash), Morrison seemed destined to become a focal point of Charlotte's offense. It didn't take long to realize that wouldn't happen. He took 71 shots in his first six NBA games, but he made only 23 (32.4 percent).

    An ACL tear erased his sophomore season, and the Hornets traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers in his third year. He picked up a pair of championship rings in L.A., but he was mostly a bystander in those playoff runs (two postseason appearances for a total of 13 minutes). His last outing came in April 2010.

    Among the 35 players drafted third overall in the lottery era, none has contributed fewer career win shares than Morrison's minus-1.4.


    The Re-Draft: Brandon Roy (No. 6)

    While knee problems cut Roy's NBA career far too short, his rapid rise to stardom would've had Buzz City...well, buzzing.

    He was 2006-07's Rookie of the Year, then an All-Star each of his next three seasons. His injury issues derailed his run after, but his peak was incredible. He was one of only seven players to average 21 points, five assists and four rebounds from 2007-08 to 2009-10.

Chicago Bulls

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    The Pick: Marcus Fizer (No. 4 in 2000)

    Eddy Curry and Tyrus Thomas have arguments for this dubious distinction, but they both made it through 400-plus NBA games. Fizer played fewer than 300, and he was also a distant third with only 35 career starts.

    Knee injuries played a part in Fizer's early exit, as did being buried in a crowded frontcourt in Chicago. But he also never found his NBA niche. For someone who was supposed to be at his best scoring around the basket, his career 43.5 field-goal percentage highlights the many struggles he encountered.


    The Re-Draft: Hedo Turkoglu (No. 16)

    While Turkoglu was never regarded as a star, he could give his defenders absolute fits. At 6'10", he was big enough to shoot over most small forwards, and his combination of handles and shot-making (career 38.4 percent from three) made power forwards of the era uncomfortable.

    The Bulls needed more shooting and table-setting around Elton Brand, and Turkoglu would've been a much more natural fit.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    The Pick: Anthony Bennett (No. 1 in 2013)

    Bennett is such a no-brainer choice for Cleveland, this almost could've been written without the benefit of hindsight.

    Hoop heads can still hear Bill Simmons' infamous "Whoa!" from ESPN's broadcast that night after late commissioner David Stern announced the selection. Bennett needed five games to make his first NBA field goal, and he didn't have a double-digit scoring output until that January. By then, it was already clear the league was witnessing a bust for the ages.

    "It's very early, but right now, he's looking like the worst [No. 1 pick] in the past 20 years," ESPN's Chad Ford said in Dec. 2013, per Jodie Valade of the Plain Dealer.

    It never got better for Bennett, who was out of Cleveland after one season and out of the NBA after four. Of the 60 players drafted first overall since 1960, Bennett ranks dead last with only 0.5 career win shares.


    The Re-Draft: Giannis Antetokounmpo (No. 15)

    At the time, drafting Antetokounmpo would've been an even bigger stunner than Bennett. However, the Greek Freak is head, shoulders and a torso above everyone else from this draft.

    The reigning MVP also would've made an interesting fit in Cleveland, as the Cavs seemingly had their backcourt set with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, plus they had Tristan Thompson up front. Letting those four run wild in an uptempo system would've been fantastic TV.

Dallas Mavericks

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    The Pick: Dennis Smith Jr. (No. 9 in 2017)

    Hopefully, Smith can prove us wrong, as there's still a chance we're being grossly premature here. But since the Mavericks spent much of the past 20 years drafting near the end of the opening round or trading away their picks, there aren't many misfires on the resume. Maurice Ager wasn't a great way to spend the 28th pick in 2006, but that selection spot doesn't exactly have a sky-high success rate.

    It's different with Smith, since the expectations are so much greater for a top-10 pick. He's clearly explosive, but does he have an NBA game to match? He owns an abysmal 40.0/31.4/64.7 career shooting slash and averages more than half as many turnovers (2.6) as assists (4.5).

    The Mavericks cut bait on Smith after less than two seasons (albeit in a trade for Kristaps Porzingis). The New York Knicks, who desperately need young talent and a point guard, have given only Smith three starts and limited him to 15.8 minutes in 34 games.


    The Re-Draft: Donovan Mitchell (No. 13)

    If the Mavs wanted to perk up their perimeter, Mitchell would've been the much better pick.

    He debuted as a 20.5-points-per-game scorer and has increased his output in the two seasons since. He made his All-Star debut in February and is one of 13 players averaging 24 points, four assists, four rebounds and two three-pointers.

Denver Nuggets

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    The Pick: Nikoloz Tskitishvili (No. 5 in 2002)

    The Nuggets thought they saw the next big thing from Europe in Tskitishvili. He was a 7-footer with handles, a jump shot and the ability to get up and down. At least, that was the scouting report then-Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe had to go on, since he hadn't seen Tskitishvili in action.

    "We had a lot of things going on at the time. ... I had not seen Skita play basketball in person," Vandeweghe said in August 2015, per Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post. "And so that's not something that I probably would repeat ever, drafting somebody I hadn't seen."

    Teaching Vandeweghe that lesson was by far Tskitishvili's biggest NBA contribution. He lasted less than three seasons in Denver and only four in the Association. It's no minor miracle that he stuck around even that long with career averages of 2.9 points, 1.8 rebounds and a 30.4/23.5/73.0 slash line.


    The Re-Draft: Amar'e Stoudemire (No. 9)

    A preps-to-pros leaper, Stoudemire hit the ground sprinting at Olympic speeds. He zipped his way to Rookie of the Year honors with 13.5 points and 8.8 rebounds and then upped his output to 20.6 points in his second season. He made his first All-Star appearance in his third season, and after having his fourth effectively erased by knee surgery, he returned to make five consecutive trips to the event.

Detroit Pistons

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    The Pick: Darko Milicic (No. 2 in 2003)

    The benefit of hindsight paints Milicic as an all-time draft bust. But at the time, people were enthralled with the Serbian 7-footer and let their hyperbole run wild.

    "Darko reminds me of a young Wilt Chamberlain," late Pistons scout Will Robinson told ESPN the Magazine in 2003 (via "Wilt used to do a little of everything, and I haven't seen a big man with so much skill since Wilt."

    Milicic, a teenager who couldn't crack a loaded Pistons rotation, shot an anemic 29.8 percent over his first two seasons. While his percentages sort of stabilized once he got out of Detroit, it was clear the hoops world had been duped. His final career averages came in at 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds, and despite being billed as a shooter, he never made a three (0-of-6 for his career) and shot just 57.4 percent at the line.


    The Re-Draft: Carmelo Anthony (No. 3)

    As enormous as the praise for Milicic was, it was still surprising to see the Pistons pass on Anthony after watching him carry Syracuse to a national title. An effortless, three-level scorer, he certainly would've added a different dimension to a team built around an egalitarian offense.

    How successful Anthony could've been with the Pistons is one of the more fascinating what-if NBA debates, but he's convinced he would have won multiple rings had he landed in the Motor City.

Golden State Warriors

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    The Pick: Patrick O'Bryant (No. 9 in 2006)

    The Warriors drafted O'Bryant in June 2006 and hired Don Nelson as head coach two months later. They went together like forks and power outlets. O'Bryant was big, raw and incapable of playing away from the basket—Nelson's system had no use for that skill set.

    It's possible O'Bryant simply lacked NBA skills (his career player efficiency rating was an anemic 11.0), but walking into a disastrous fit from the start didn't help. The Warriors only played him 40 games across two seasons and declined to pick up his third-year player option.


    The Re-Draft: JJ Redick (No. 11)

    While Redick never quite reached stardom, his potent perimeter shot would've fit perfectly with Nellie Ball. Redick didn't attempt four threes per game until his sixth NBA season; the Warriors had four players launch at least four a night in 2006-07, and none was in Redick's zip code as a sniper.

Houston Rockets

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    The Pick: Royce White (No. 16 in 2012)

    The Rockets had basketball reasons to take an interest in White, who oozed versatility out of his 6'8", 270-pound frame. During his lone season of college hoops, he paced Iowa State in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.

    But he battled anxiety disorder, which included a fear of flying. He and the Rockets couldn't find common ground on a mental health protocol, and he wouldn't play without one in place.

    He never suited up for the Rockets and was traded after his rookie season to the Philadelphia 76ers for a heavily protected second-round pick that never conveyed. He was waived before the campaign started. He later inked a pair of 10-day contracts with the Sacramento Kings, logged nine minutes for them across three games and hasn't had an NBA roster spot since.


    The Re-Draft: Draymond Green (No. 35)

    If the Rockets coveted versatility, Green could've scratched that itch with ease. The three-time All-Star, three-time champion and former Defensive Player of the Year doubles as a premier paint protector and a lead distributor. He's the only player in the league history with career averages of six rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block.

Indiana Pacers

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    The Pick: T.J. Leaf (No. 18 in 2017)

    The Pacers have done a mostly solid job in the draft as of late, which is good news for them and not-so-great news for Leaf.

    This should seem early to abandon hope on his career, and maybe he'll prove that it is. But there isn't much evidence that a turnaround is possible, let alone likely. Getting stuck in a crowded frontcourt hasn't helped, but it's hard to present a convincing argument for playing time while holding career averages of 3.3 points and 2.0 rebounds in 8.6 minutes.


    The Re-Draft: John Collins (No. 19)

    Adding Collins wouldn't have cleared up the frontcourt congestion, but if the Pacers were worried about that, they wouldn't have taken Leaf in the first place.

    Plug Collins alongside Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis, and Indiana could've had a three-headed monster at the 4 and 5 spots. Collins has bounce, expanding shooting range and improving rim protection, which could've helped him fit with either Turner or Sabonis.  

Los Angeles Clippers

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    The Pick: Yaroslav Korolev (No. 12 in 2005)

    The best-case version of Korolev sounded incredible. He was a 6'9" point forward with great vision, a quick first step and enough lateral quickness to hold his own defensively.

    But the odds of him realizing that potential weren't great, and the Clippers overdrafted him by making him a lottery pick. They then doubled down on that mistake by both failing to develop him (127 total minutes his rookie season) and running out of patience with what they should've known was a long-term project (waiving him after his sophomore year).

    Saying that, L.A.'s handling of him may have had less to do with his demise than an overall lack of NBA-caliber talent. He scored 39 points in 34 career games while shooting only 28.3 percent from the field.


    The Re-Draft: Danny Granger (No. 17)

    The Clippers could've had their difference-making small forward had they grabbed Granger instead.

    The 6'9" scoring swingman was a double-digit scorer by his second season and averaged 25.8 points per game in his fourth. Knee injuries shortened his peak, but he was a nightmare matchup in his prime. He was the only player to average 23 points, five rebounds and two triples between 2008-09 and 2010-11.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    The Pick: Javaris Crittenton (No. 19 in 2007)

    The Lakers have rarely drafted early enough to make any glaring mistakes, and their connection rate is impressive across the board. But Crittenton is one pick they'd like to have back.

    The 6'5" combo guard played 22 forgettable games for the Purple and Gold before they included him in the Feb. 2008 trade for Pau Gasol. His career averages include 5.3 points, 1.8 assists and a 23.1 three-point percentage.


    The Re-Draft: Jared Dudley (No. 22)

    Dudley wasn't the best player left on the board, but he had the experience and game to find a niche on what would become a 57-win Lakers team that advanced to the NBA Finals (and won championships each of the next two seasons).

    Dudley combines defensive versatility with a 39.4 percent three-point shot, and while he's limited as a shot-creator, he did average double-digit points in three different seasons.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    The Pick: Hasheem Thabeet (No. 2 in 2009)

    Thabeet was overloaded with size and length. Unfortunately, that was all he brought inside the lines.

    He could be a defensive deterrent at the basket, but he wasn't much of a rebounder and could be moved off the block by stronger players. Offensively, he was entirely dependent on being set up by others, and even then, he wasn't guaranteed to finish (42.5 percent shooting in his second NBA season).

    Making matters worse, Memphis didn't need him. Marc Gasol had already signaled his ascension with an All-Rookie second-team honor the prior season, and Thabeet had no chance of leapfrogging him. So, Thabeet played 113 uninspiring games before the Grizzlies traded him to the Houston Rockets (with a first-round pick attached) midway through his second season. He's the only No. 2 pick in the lottery era to average fewer than three points and three rebounds.


    The Re-Draft: James Harden (No. 3)

    The Grizzlies have their pick of future MVPs here with Harden and Stephen Curry (No. 7) still on the board. But with Mike Conley on the roster, Harden would've been the easier fit. (Whether this is a consolation or simply adds insult to injury, most around the team think Tyreke Evans would've been the pick if Memphis passed on Thabeet, Chris Herrington and Ronald Tillery reported for the Commercial Appeal.)

    Harden is currently bingeing on buckets at rates unseen since Michael Jordan breezed through the Windy City. Already an eight-time All-Star, the Beard will soon collect his third consecutive scoring title.

Miami Heat

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    The Pick: Michael Beasley (No. 2 in 2008)

    Most draft busts don't have as productive of a career as Beasley's. For all of his flaws, he still has a 12.4 career scoring average across 11 NBA seasons.

    But as a second overall pick, he was supposed to be a transformational talent for the Heat. Instead, he lasted only two seasons in South Beach before Miami moved him to generate flexibility for 2010 free agency.

    Beasley is a skilled scorer, but he doesn't move the needle in any other area. Box plus/minus regards him as an on-court negative in 10 of his seasons, and his .054 win shares per 48 minutes are the fifth-fewest of all No. 2 picks in the lottery era (not counting Len Bias, who tragically passed away before his career began).


    The Re-Draft: Russell Westbrook (No. 4)

    If the Heat could've stomached a shooting shortage in the backcourt, they would've turbocharged their backcourt athleticism with a Westbrook-Dwyane Wade pairing. And if Westbrook bought into Miami's program—the sides shared mutual interest this past summer—perhaps the 2016-17 MVP would've increased his impact as a more engaged defender.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    The Pick: Joe Alexander (No. 8 in 2008)

    Although the Bucks drafted the future of basketball with a non-lottery pick—hi, Giannis Antetokounmpo—they've also buried themselves under a mountain of draft misfires since 2000. The potential candidates considered here included Jabari Parker (No. 2 pick in 2014), Rashad Vaughn (No. 17 in 2015), Yi Jianlian (No. 6 in 2007) and Marcus Haislip (No. 13 in 2002).

    But the speed of Alexander's transition from building block to bust was unlike the rest. One year, he's a top-10 pick and a possible cornerstone for the future. The next, he was buried on the bench, dispatched to the G League and traded away. He wouldn't get a third season, leaving his total NBA contributions at only 282 points and 120 rebounds in 67 career contests.


    The Re-Draft: Serge Ibaka (No. 24)

    With Andrew Bogut manning the middle, the Bucks pass on Brook Lopez to snag Ibaka, whose defense and athleticism would've moved him in front of Charlie Villanueva.

    Ibaka has never made an All-Star team, but he has been one of the league's most feared defenders, twice led the league in blocks and has averaged at least 12 points in eight of his 11 seasons.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    The Pick: Jonny Flynn (No. 6 in 2009)


    Who else other than then-Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn thought this was a good idea? He doubled up at point guard with the fifth (Ricky Rubio) and sixth picks and spent neither one on Stephen Curry.

    "I've been at this a long, long time," an Eastern Conference executive told Jonathan Abrams for a 2013 article on Grantland. "That was one of the oddest selections I've ever seen. It was like he was trying to outthink everyone else and he ended up outthinking himself."

    Flynn didn't fit the system or the roster. That he still managed to average 13.5 points and 4.4 assists as a rookie was impressive, even if he wasn't the most efficient player. But the success would be short-lived, and so would his career. A hip injury sapped his athleticism and eventually his effectiveness. He played only one more season in Minnesota (shooting 36.5 percent across 53 games), then just one more in the NBA.


    The Re-Draft: Stephen Curry (No. 7)

    Curry revolutionized basketball, and he could've engineered the revolution inside the Gopher State while working magic in all variations of pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops with Kevin Love.

    Once Curry got control of a nagging ankle injury, he launched himself into all-time greatness. The six-time All-Star owns a scoring title, two MVPs (including the only unanimous honor in MVP history) and the most prolific three-point stroke the sport has ever seen.

New Orleans Pelicans

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    The Pick: Julian Wright (No. 13 in 2007)

    Wright arrived with NBA-level physical tools, but his skills lagged well behind and never really closed the gap.

    He offered theoretical upside, but since he couldn't shoot (16-of-61 from three, 58.4 percent at the line) or create (182 assists in 231 games), he was tough to deploy on the perimeter. New Orleans tried for three seasons before cutting bait in a 2010 trade with the Toronto Raptors. Wright played 52 games for the Raptors in 2010-11 and hasn't been on an NBA roster since.


    The Re-Draft: Wilson Chandler (No. 23)

    While never a star, Chandler had many of the same natural gifts as Wright, only with actual NBA skills to boot.

    He started 16 games as a rookie, then 70 as a sophomore. He's now up to 483 career starts across 12 seasons and holds career averages of 12.5 points and 5.3 rebounds.

New York Knicks

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    The Pick: Mike Sweetney (No. 9 in 2003)

    While Kevin Knox merited serious consideration here, the 20-year-old has yet to entirely extinguish hope. Sweetney effectively evaporated all of his optimism over three shaky seasons, only the first two of which he spent in New York.

    Listed at 275 pounds, Sweetney was either an interior power forward or a 48.5 percent shooting center who didn't protect the basket. Neither skill set carried much appeal, and he was out of the league after four seasons with career marks of 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds.


    The Re-Draft: David West (No. 18)

    Staying at the power forward spot, the Knicks would've gotten a lot more mileage out of this pick had they spent it on West.

    Following two unassuming seasons to start his career, he rocketed to relevance with per-game averages of 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in his third year and maintained that production for a decade. Always a strong locker room presence, the two-time All-Star also packed a powerful punch inside the lines.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    The Pick: Mouhamed Sene (No. 10 in 2006)

    Robert Swift (No. 12 pick in 2004) and Mitch McGary (No. 21 in 2014) made us think, but Sene's blink-and-you-missed-it NBA career was a different kind of disaster.

    He had NBA size, but not an NBA game. While he managed to be on an NBA payroll for three seasons, he played only 47 games and scored a whopping 103 points. He exited with a 42.7 career field-goal percentage, unforgivably low for a 6'11" center who predominantly played around the basket.


    The Re-Draft: Kyle Lowry (No. 24)

    The Sonics spun their tires in the 2006-07 season and did some serious house-cleaning the following summer by trading away both Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.

    While Lowry probably wouldn't have helped them avoid that dismantling—he lost all but 10 games of his rookie season to a broken wrist—he could've served as a foundational piece for their rebuild. A fiery two-way leader, he has blossomed into a six-time All-Star and co-starred in the Toronto Raptors' run to the 2019 title.

Orlando Magic

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    PHELAN M. EBENHACK/Associated Press

    The Pick: Fran Vazquez (No. 11 in 2005)

    One of two lottery picks to never play in the NBA—Bias was the other—Vazquez opted to play out his career overseas (mostly in Spain) and just retired in May. The Magic had envisioned him fitting a twin-towers model alongside Dwight Howard, but something kept Vazquez from ever crossing the Atlantic.

    "The best way I can explain it is that Fran Vazquez was a European country bumpkin who was intimidated by America," former Orlando Sentinel writer George Diaz told the paper's Mike Bianchi.

    It's possible Vazquez just wasn't good enough to make the transition, as he averaged only 6.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks overseas. But Orlando had high enough hopes to spend a prime asset on him and had to watch him become a trivia answer.


    The Re-Draft: Danny Granger (No. 17)

    If the Magic had a crystal ball during the 2005 draft, they could've seen Granger emerging as a potent perimeter shot-creator who helped complete their roster.

    Despite easing into action as a rookie and having his final three seasons greatly impacted by injuries, he still exited with career averages of 16.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 three-pointers.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    The Pick: Markelle Fultz (No. 1 in 2017)

    Fultz's career revival has been one of this season's best stories, but it does nothing for the Sixers. They cut bait on him at the 2019 trade deadline, getting back only Jonathon Simmons, a 2019 second-round pick and a top-20 protected 2020 first-round pick.

    But after nearly two full seasons of frustration, limited production, a slew of absences, a mysterious shoulder injury and a jump shot gone awry, the Sixers had exhausted their patience. They leaned fully into win-now mode with trades for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris and decided Fultz didn't fit that plan.

    Fultz played only 33 games for Philadelphia, averaging 7.7 points and 3.4 assists with a 41.4/26.7/53.4 shooting slash. For the top pick in what's shaping up to be a loaded draft class, the lack of impact is the ultimate gut punch.


    The Re-Draft: Jayson Tatum (No. 3)

    Philly traded up from No. 3 to No. 1, which freed the Celtics to snag Tatum in the Sixers' former draft slot. They wouldn't make the same mistake with hindsight.

    The scoring swingman debuted as an All-Star this season and was surging toward superstardom before the season was suspended in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. His final 14 contests before the shutdown featured nightly contributions of 29.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.1 triples, 3.2 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks.

Phoenix Suns

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    The Pick: Josh Jackson (No. 4 in 2017)

    Phoenix owns a war chest of botched draft picks, so singling out one isn't easy. In the past 11 years, the Suns have fumbled lottery picks on Earl Clark (No. 14 in 2009), Kendall Marshall (No. 13 in 2012), Dragan Bender (No. 4 in 2016) and Marquese Chriss (No. 8 in 2016, traded to Phoenix on draft night).

    But the opportunity cost was never greater than when the Suns selected Jackson. He played 156 games over his first two seasons, but he couldn't consistently hold a starting spot for squads that posted sub-.300 winning percentages. He shot 41.5 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from three while averaging more turnovers (2.0) than assists (1.9).

    The Suns traded him last July and parted with multiple assets (including advanced analytics darling De'Anthony Melton and a 2020 second-round pick) to get Jackson's contract off the books.


    The Re-Draft: De'Aaron Fox (No. 5)

    Before bringing in Ricky Rubio last summer, Phoenix's point guard crop was arguably the weakest position group seen this side of The Process. It didn't have to be that way.

    The pick right after Jackson delivered Fox, a rising star at point guard and a fellow Kentucky alum like Devin Booker. Put those two in the same backcourt, and the Suns might have already snapped their playoff drought.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    The Pick: Greg Oden (No. 1 in 2007)

    We can debate whether Oden should qualify as a poor draft decision, since most experts considered him the top prospect in his class. The NBA hadn't fully emphasized perimeter play yet, so it wasn't outlandish to think a defensive anchor could be more valuable than a scoring wing.

    But injuries prevented Oden from even having a chance to justify this draft spot. He missed his entire rookie year after undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee and had multiple knee surgeries later in his career. He was on an NBA payroll for six seasons (five in Portland, the last in Miami), but he played only 2,028 minutes across 105 games.

    "I'll be remembered as the biggest bust in NBA history," Oden told ESPN's Outside the Lines in 2016.


    The Re-Draft: Kevin Durant (No. 2)

    What made the Oden selection look even worse in hindsight was the incredible height Durant reached. He averaged 20.3 points per game as a rookie, which was the first of many indications we were witnessing an all-time great.

    Now 13 seasons into his career, he's a 10-time All-Star, a four-time scoring champion, a two-time NBA champion, a two-time Finals MVP and a regular-season MVP. His career scoring average of 27.02 points ranks sixth in NBA history, and he also holds top-10 all-time spots in career player efficiency rating (25.20, eighth) and box plus/minus (6.74, 10th).

Sacramento Kings

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    The Pick: Thomas Robinson (No. 5 in 2012)

    The Kings can present a pu pu platter of draft blunders, from the draft-night trades for Jimmer Fredette (10th pick in 2011) and Georgios Papagiannis (13th in 2016) and whatever went into the Nik Stauskas selection (eighth in 2014).

    But Robinson's free-fall was a different kind of nightmare. He was only Sacramento's third top-five pick of the 2000s, and the previous ones had delivered Tyreke Evans (who engineered a historic rookie season) and DeMarcus Cousins (a four-time All-Star). Robinson wasn't even with the Kings for a full season and was out of the NBA after five.

    Lacking any standout skills, Robinson played 51 games (starting none) for the Kings, before they shipped him to the Rockets at the 2013 trade deadline. He'd eventually suit up for six different teams, only playing more than a full season for one of them (Portland).


    The Re-Draft: Damian Lillard (No. 6)

    Lillard shared a draft class with Anthony Davis and Bradley Beal and was still the sole collector of first-place votes in the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year voting. Lillard averaged 19.0 points per game that season, and he's been upping that average ever since.

    The five-time All-Star is currently engineering his best campaign to date with per-game outputs of 28.9 points, 7.8 assists and 3.9 triples. His 26.2 PER ranks seventh leaguewide.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Cui Xinyu/Getty Images

    The Pick: Nikola Milutinov (No. 26 in 2015)

    Milutinov did nothing to earn this distinction. More accurately, he did nothing for the Spurs, as he's never come stateside since this selection.

    For most franchises, he'd be forever forgotten. But San Antonio's track record on draft night is so pristine that failing to convince a draft-and-stash pick in the late 20s to cross the Atlantic stands out as the biggest mistake. While this also applies to Livio Jean-Charles (No. 28 in 2013), Milutinov was a higher pick in a better draft, so he gets the nod.


    The Re-Draft: Montrezl Harrell (No. 32)

    As an undervalued player who emerged from the second round, Harrell's NBA story seems like it was meant to be staged in the Alamo City.

    He worked his way to relevance, first earning scraps of playing time with all-out hustle and then increasing his role with clear, significant skill improvements. This season, his per-36-minutes averages have climbed to a career-high 24.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.

Toronto Raptors

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    Ron Turenne/Getty Images

    The Pick: Rafael Araujo (No. 8 in 2004)

    Some might've expected to see Andrea Bargnani here, since his career fell well short of normal expectations for a No. 1 pick. But he at least averaged 15.2 points across seven seasons for Toronto, and he was part of a top five that also included Adam Morrison, Tyrus Thomas and Shelden Williams.

    There is no such saving grace for Araujo. The Raptors needed a wing to complement Vince Carter, but they instead clogged the middle with the 6'11", 280-pound Araujo (and, perhaps not coincidentally, wound up trading Carter 20 games into Araujo's rookie season).

    The Brazilian big man somehow started 75 games across two seasons in Toronto, but he averaged only 2.9 points and 3.0 rebounds in 12.0 minutes per game over that stretch. The Raptors traded him to the Utah Jazz after that, and he spent one year in Salt Lake City before exiting the NBA for good.


    The Re-Draft: Andre Iguodala (No. 9)

    The only player from the 2004 draft class with more career win shares than Iguodala is Dwight Howard, who went first overall.

    A dominant defender and do-it-all offensive glue guy, Iguodala is a three-time champion, a two-time All-Defensive honoree and a Finals MVP.

Utah Jazz

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    The Pick: Dante Exum (No. 5 in 2014)

    The predraft buzz around Exum reached a hyperbolic pitch. likened him to Penny Hardaway as a floor general with size, athleticism, handles and vision.

    Exum never even sniffed that kind of success. He averaged only 4.8 points on 34.9 percent shooting as a rookie, which was his lone injury-free season in Salt Lake City. A torn ACL erased his 2015-16 campaign, and he later underwent shoulder surgery and tore the patellar tendon in his right knee.

    Despite spending five-plus seasons with the Jazz, he played only 215 games for them, never averaging more than 8.1 points or 3.1 assists. Utah packaged him with two future second-round picks in its December trade with the Cavaliers for Jordan Clarkson.


    The Re-Draft: Nikola Jokic (No. 41)

    Jokic has climbed from the 41st pick of the 2014 draft to pace the class in career win shares with ease (48.0, next-closest is Clint Capela's 36.4).

    The slick-passing 7-footer has anchored Denver's rise as a Western Conference contender by leaving major imprints on the points, rebounds and assists categories. The 25-year-old is already one of six players ever to average 20 points, 10 boards and six dimes, and he's on pace to clear those marks for a second straight season.

Washington Wizards

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    Stephen J. Boitano/Associated Press

    The Pick: Kwame Brown (No. 1 in 2001)

    Brown didn't have the disastrous career that his "all-time bust" label suggests, as he spent 12 seasons in the Association. But he was a draft-night disaster as far as the Wizards are concerned.

    He was selected atop a draft that would eventually send eight different players to the All-Star Game. Brown never even spent time in the vicinity of stardom. A raw preps-to-pros leaper, he started only 94 of the 253 games he played for the Wizards, averaging 7.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 22.7 minutes.

    The Wizards drafted worse players with early picks in this stretch⁠—looking at you, Jan Vesely⁠—but none fell shorter of expectations than Brown.


    The Re-Draft: Pau Gasol (No. 3)

    Gasol was the best player on playoff participants and the co-star on champions. He was a six-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA selection. He's only the fourth player in NBA history to tally 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 3,500 assists and 1,500 blocks.

    If the Wizards had Gasol as a cornerstone instead of Brown, their journey through the 2000s would've looked dramatically different.


    All stats courtesy of and Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.

    Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.