I am writing my way through my list of the top three busts each year of the NBA Draft since 2000. I will also list a few honorable mention candidates along the way. I will be making this a three-day, three-part series, so let's revisit some history, shall we...
This draft had to be the weakest by far as talent goes as many teams banked on potential rather than pure skill.
1. Stromile Swift
The send pick out of LSU was nothing more than a dunk machine coming into the draft with a high ceiling for untapped potential as a lost post scorer and rebounding threat after leading LSU to the Sweet 16 his sophomore year. He was taken by the Vancouver Grizzlies and played limited minutes in his rookie campaign (16 minutes) and showed raw post skills (scoring five points per game).
It wasn't until his second season in the NBA that he showed what he was capable of when he had career highs in points (12), rebounds (six), and blocks (1.7). It didn't last long, though, as his low basketball IQ and limited work ethic cost him a solid career in the league, as he was traded four times before falling out of the league for good in the '08-'09 season.
2. Jerome Moiso
The 11th-overall pick by the Celtics was touted as a defensive stopper coming out of UCLA, but the Celtics quickly realized that they had made a mistake as he had no offensive game to speak of, and they traded him after his first season in the league.
He played sparingly for Charlotte and Toronto before going overseas. He holds career averages of 2.7 points per game and 2.7 rebounds per game.
3. DerMarr Johnson
The sixth pick by Atlanta was supposed to be an energizer who could score in bunches, as he was an electric showman as a freshman at the University of Cincinnati. The Hawks quickly realized they had a role player rather than a sure starter, as he posted limited numbers his first two seasons there (averaged a career high 8.4 points in '01-'02).
Tragedy struck in his third season, as he was involved in a horrific car crash in which he broke his neck, causing him to miss all of the '02-'03 season. He made a miraculous comeback the following season but was not the same player, although he managed to play a limited role for the Denver Nuggets for three seasons and one unproductive one in '07-'08 for San Antonio before heading overseas into obscurity.
Picked 13th overall out of Fresno State University after leading the nation in scoring, he failed to live up to expectations and quickly found his way out of the league due to knee injuries.
Alexander never could stay healthy enough to become productive on a regular basis, and lasted only three seasons, but was able to show a glimpse of talented scoring during his time with the Washington Wizards (17 points per game) and ended his NBA stint averaging nine points per game.
Miles was left off, as he was fifth on my list of busts for this draft. As the third-overall pick, he managed a decent career, though he was constantly plagued by injury. He made a brief comeback with Memphis two seasons ago but again failed to shy away from injury.
The St. John's University product failed to meet his over-hyped expectations, as he was drafted late in the first round by the Portland Trail Blazers, and they quickly realized the potential didn't match the hype for the undersized and marginal skilled guard, thus giving up on him after only two seasons. He has since returned to Europe.
1. Kwame Brown
Kwame was a highly-touted player out of Glynn Academy High School and was the first overall selection and first draft pick selected by then-GM Michael Jordan. Brown was touted for his ability to score and rebound well, despite having small hands and a questionable work ethic coming in.
Brown showed limited flashes his first season on the court (averaging 4.5 points and three boards a game) and was quickly exposed as a weak defender with a low basketball IQ—one who possessed marginal post skills and who would rather shoot mid-range jumpers than bang inside.
Brown endured a lot of media criticism throughout his time in Washington but was able to put together a promising line in his third season (11 points and seven rebounds) but again faded into the darkness and soon was shipped off to the Lakers where he was marginal at best again. Still in the league, Brown is now on his fourth team (Detroit) and is a regular staple who is glued to the bench during games.
2. Rodney White
White was selected ninth overall by the Detroit Pistons, as he was touted as an athletic scorer who played only one season at UNC-Charlotte before declaring. However, he quickly was exposed for his bad defense, questionable attitude, and lackluster work ethic, soon falling out of favor with then-head coach Rick Carlisle.
He often sat on the bench (only scoring 3.5 points per game in 16 games) and did nothing to work himself in the rotation which then led to a trade to Denver in which he posted solid scoring numbers (nine points per game) but again displayed attitude problems and a lack of commitment on defense. He was subsequently traded after four seasons to Golden State, in which he failed to catch on again, leading to his release and a career overseas.
3. Omar Cook
The prime example of a player who listened to the hype and declared way too early. Coming out of St. John's University, Cook was hyped as a quick point guard who was the best passer in college basketball (led nation in assists and broke the St. John's record for assists in a game with 17) but one who needed to work on his inconsistent jumper.
Cook waited until the second round before hearing his name called. He was devastated as he was picked by the Orlando Magic, but quickly traded to the Denver Nuggets, in which he was quickly cut due to his inability to hit a jump shot and turnover ratio.
Cook found spot time with the Portland Trail Blazers (appearing in 17 games) and Toronto Raptors (five games) before again falling out of the league, in which he paved his way to a successful career over in Europe where he is one of the premier guards in the Spanish ACB League.
Brown was a JUCO player who displayed a keen ability to score well and displayed freakish athleticism which garnered the attention of the Boston Celtics who selected him 11th overall.
Brown showed little in his time with the Celtics, as he was prone to defensive mistakes and showed little work ethic. He soon took his game to the NBDL where he enjoyed success, but more recently returned to Turkey to complete his quest to one day return to the league.
Eddie displayed much promise coming out of Seton Hall University as he was drafted seventh overall by the Nets and quickly traded to the Rockets.
Eddie put up good numbers in his first two seasons (nine points per games, six rebounds per game, and over a block per game) but could not limit his drinking problem. This continued to cause trouble for his career and eventually took his life in August 2007, as he drove in to a moving train, thus ending his much-hyped and heralded career, leaving the question: If not for his addiction, where would his potential have taken him?
"The Machine" out of Indiana University was drafted 16th overall by the Hornets, in which he was touted as a quality scorer due to his patent "sky hook" and solid mid-range game.
Haston quickly realized the speed of the game was far too fast, and he was no longer an effective shooter (28 percent field goal percentage) and quickly found his career over due to knee injuries. He has since retired after only three NBA seasons.
1. Nikoloz Tskitishvili
The European sharpshooter drafted fifth overall by the Denver Nuggets was nowhere near the player they thought they were drafting. Nikoloz was quickly punished for his lack of defense and average jump shot (30 percent from the field and 23 percent from three-point-territory for his career).
Nikoloz was able to latch on with former Euro coach Mike D'Antoni in Phoenix for his final stop in the NBA, but did nothing to prove his Bust Label, and has since returned to Europe, where he again is outmatched overall.
2. Dajuan Wagner
The highly touted phenom out of the University of Memphis was drafted sixth overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers to score buckets at a quick rate. He excelled despite his low shooting percentages (he averaged 13 points on 37 percent shooting during his rookie year).
Wagner showed flashes of untapped potential and was envisioned to make quite the backcourt tandem with LeBron James during his second season, but those plans quickly faded as he was hampered by injury and health issues, which caused him to miss many games.
The following season, he was hospitalized with ulcerative colitis and found out eventually that he would need his colon completely removed in order to remain problem free. Wagner took on an extensive rehab program, which in turn led him to a heroic comeback during the '06-'07 season, in which he played for the Golden State Warriors.
Wagner's NBA comeback was short lived, as two months into his new contract with the Warriors, they decided to buy him out. He took his game overseas, and will look to one day return to the NBA as a prominent and gifted scorer.
3. Marcus Haislip
The 6'10" forward was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks out of the University of Tennessee with the 13th and final lottery pick. Haislip was looked at as a change of pace forward who could slide inside for buckets as well as shoot it from mid-range. However, he did neither of those in his two marginal seasons with Milwaukee, as he failed to gain a rotation spot, which led to limited minutes (11 per game) and production (four points per game) and led to him being traded to Indiana for a season before heading overseas to work on his game.
In 2009, he resurrected his NBA career and signed with San Antonio but quickly fell victim to the same inconsistency as during his rookie campaign. He ultimately decided to buy out his contract and return to Europe, thus ending his ride to NBA stardom.
The Duke guard came in with high expectations and delivered solid results in his rookie after being chosen second overall by the Chicago Bulls, as he averaged 9.5 points per game along with 4.7 assists and was on his way to becoming a focal point of the franchise for years to come.
On June 19, 2003 he severely injured himself in a motorcycle accident in which he tore his ACL along with two other ligaments in his leg, coupled with severing a main vain in his leg and fracturing his pelvis.
Williams went through extensive therapy, in which he briefly tried a comeback with the New Jersey Nets in 2006, but was unable to fully return to form, thus ending his promising career. This led to Williams entering the broadcasting world for college basketball.
The JUCO sensation, who often was compared to Tracy McGrady coming in to the league, was selected 21st overall by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Woods never lived up to comparison (career average of six points per game) and only lasted two seasons in Portland, where he was known more for his ability to stay in trouble than on court performances (dogfighting and drug charges). He was then traded to Miami but didn't play much, leading to a final stint in New York, where he played better, but again allowed off court trouble to derail his career.
Woods has since returned to Europe, and he is playing in Poland.
Drafted 19th overall out of University of Notre Dame, Humphry was quickly traded by the Utah Jazz on draft night to the Orlando Magic. Orlando, in turn, gave up on him halfway through his rookie season, and was then shipped to the Memphis Grizzlies where he played for the next two seasons before departing for a career in Europe.
Look for Part Two tomorrow afternoon as I continue the journey through the biggest busts of each NBA Draft this decade. Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions, as they are always welcome.