New York Knicks: The 10 Worst Draft Picks of the Past Decade

Allen KimSenior Analyst ISeptember 24, 2010

New York Knicks: Top Ten Worst Draft Picks of the Past Decade

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 16:  Head coach Isiah Thomas of the New York Knicks directs play during the game against the New Jersey Nets on January 16, 2008 at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The Knicks won 111-105.  NOTE TO USER: User
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Scouting and correctly drafting the right talent is no easy task. However, there are always some prospects that make it to the league that really have no place in the NBA.

    The Knicks have found some diamonds in the rough over the past 10 years—Wilson Chandler and David Lee are two prime examples.

    However, the draft busts do not compare. The Knicks have selected a plethora of bad players over the years. Most of these picks have either gone on to leave the team or the league all together.

    The notion that Isiah Thomas is some sort of draft guru has circulated among those with enough gall to defend him. While he has made some great picks during his time in various NBA front offices, he has also made enough blunders to offset them.

Michael Wright (2001)

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    Michael Wright is largely unknown and for good reason. He never played a single minute in the NBA.

    His claim to fame? He could boast that he at one point played alongside future Hall-of-Famer, Kevin Garnett, in high school.

    After getting drafted by the Knicks, Wright never got a contract and eventually went overseas to play in Europe.

    The Knicks missed out on Mehmet Okur by a single pick and passed up on Earl Watson, who went a pick later.

    There were also several undrafted players that year that the Knicks could have selected. Among them were Carlos Arroyo, Andres Nocioni, Charlie Bell, and Jamario Moon.

Eric Chenowith (2001)

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    18 Mar 2001:  Eric Chenowith #44 of Kansas Jayhawks celebrates during the game against the Syracuse Orangemen at Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio. The Jayhawks defeated the Orangemen 87-58.Mandatory Credit: Tom Pigeon  /Allsport
    Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

    Eric went in the second round of the 2001 NBA Draft.

    Standing at 7'1", Eric was never really more than a big body. Good thing the Knicks at least eventually caught on and left him off their roster.

    Chenowith would go on to bounce around to over half a dozen teams. However, he never played in the NBA. He went from one NBA D-League team to another. Eventually, he went overseas and played on various international squads.

Milos Vujanic (2002)

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    ATHENS, GREECE - MAY 04:  Milos Vujanic of Panathinaikos in action during the EuroLeague Final Four Semi Final match between Panathinaikos and Tau Ceramica at the Oaka Arena on May 4, 2007 in Athens, Greece.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Selected in the 2002 NBA Draft, this player out of Yugoslavia was picked in the second round at No. 36.

    He would never get the opportunity to don the Knicks uniform. While he remained overseas, his draft rights would eventually be traded to the Phoenix Suns in 2004.

    The Knicks missed out on All-Star, Carlos Boozer, by one pick. However, of the remaining talent left in the pool, the big oversight was 2010 FIBA World Championship stud, Luis Scola.

    Even Matt Barnes would have sufficed. At least Barnes has turned in a rather successful career and has managed to stay in the league for this long.

    That's far more than Milos could ever say about a career in the NBA.

Mike Sweetney (2003)

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 14:  Mike Sweetney #50 of the New York Knicks posts up Brian Scalabrine #21 of the New Jersey Nets on December 14, 2004 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Knicks won 87-79. NOTE TO USER: User e
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The 2003 NBA Draft was top heavy with superstar talents such as Dwyane Wade and LeBron James going early. Selecting ninth overall, the Knicks missed out on Wade by a measly four picks.

    As the saying goes, luck of the draw.

    Instead, the Knicks ended up with Mike Sweetney—an obese forward that was actually not so different from Robert "Tractor" Traylor. If you're unfamiliar with Traylor, he is considered one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history.

    With David West, among others, still on the board, this will be one of the biggest regrets of the decade. There were about a dozen players taken behind Sweetney that have had far more success while in the league.

    Mike was quickly traded to the Chicago Bulls after two years in a deal for Eddy Curry. From the outset, it would seem like a good trade to get rid of Sweetney, but in hindsight the Knicks would have been better off not bringing in Eddy Curry in the first place.

    That's how bad the pick was. Even after being traded away, he would go on to make the Knicks regret it for the next six years.

    Sweetney hasn't played in the NBA in three years. His battle with weight issues have kept him from getting any calls.

    He must spend his free time with Eddy Curry.

Maciej Lampe (2003)

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    LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 28:  Maciej Lampe #30 of the Phoenix Suns looks to passes shoots dribbles against of the Los Angeles Clippers during a preseason game on October 28, 2004 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackn
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Maciej was selected 30th overall in the 2003 NBA Draft.

    Josh Howard was selected 29th that same year, just one pick away. Even with all his troubles, Howard would have been infinitely better if the Knicks managed to get him.

    Of the players they could have actually drafted, Mo Williams would have been a nice addition to the Knicks organization. Even Kyle Korver would have sufficed at No. 30.  

    Over a three year span, Maciej would be traded three times until he was eventually cut by his fourth team, the Houston Rockets.

Channing Frye (2004)

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    DENVER - NOVEMBER 8:  Channing Frye #7 of the New York Knicks passes the ball against the Denver Nuggets during the game on November 8, 2006 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. The Knicks won 109-107. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agr
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Selected eighth overall in the 2005 NBA Draft, Channing Frye was welcomed to New York with a raucous crowd booing him.

    Like the 2003 NBA Draft, the Knicks missed out on another superstar talent in Chris Paul by four picks.

    While Frye is far from being a bust, he never made an impact during his tenure with the Knicks. What gets him on this list is all the players that the Knicks missed out on.

    While the 2005 NBA Draft was still considered a success for the Knicks—David Lee and Nate Robinson were selected later in the first round—it could have been much better. Their lottery pick could have been used on Danny Granger, Andrew Bynum, Monta Ellis, or Andray Blatche.

Renaldo Balkman (2006)

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    NEW YORK - DECEMBER 06:  Renaldo Balkman #32 of the New York Knicks reacts after a foul call that favored the Washington Wizards on December 06, 2006 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Renaldo Balkman will go down as one of the worst picks for the Knicks in the past 10 years. When he was first selected, fans had a delayed response.

    The reason? No one knew who he was.

    After the shock quickly set in, fans were swift to respond with a smattering of boos. Critics would joke that Isiah may have meant to call Rolando Blackman—a former player and All-Star.

    If only that were true.

    Of course, there was the controversy surrounding Isiah Thomas's statements—I know, shocking, right?—that the Suns were prepared to draft him. The Suns front office would respond with a resounding no, claiming he wasn't even on their radar.

    They weren't the only ones.

    The NBA's official draft guide didn't even have him listed in the top 300 prospects—only 60 picks exist in the draft, so do the math.

    Aside from being a terrible player, the Knicks—or Isiah Thomas in particular—decided to pass up on Rajon Rondo who went one pick behind Balkman. Rondo has since blossomed into one of the best point guards in the league. While Rajon was the most egregious overlook, there were several other far more talented players passed up on in order to reach for someone that would have likely gone undrafted.

    "Taz" would go on to average 4.2 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game in his two seasons with the Knicks before being traded to the Denver Nuggets.

    Renaldo was asked at one point if he believed the Knicks regretted trading him. He would respond by saying, "They already do."

    Bold words for a bench warmer.

    Renaldo's position has devolved from "energy guy" off the bench to sideline cheerleader on the Denver Nuggets.

Mardy Collins (2006)

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    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 08:  Mardy Collins #25 of the New York Knicks goes up against Damon Stoudamire #3 of the San Antonio Spurs on February 8, 2008 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by dow
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Mardy Collins was drafted nine picks after the Balkman gaffe. Like his fellow draft classmate, Mardy has done nothing since being drafted.

    What hurts the most is that Paul Milsap was passed up on in favor of Collins. While the Knicks weren't the only team to pass on Paul, it stings to see Milsap develop into one of the better power forwards in the league.

    The most memorable highlight of Mardy's career wasn't technically even basketball related. Collins instigated the infamous Garden brawl against the Denver Nuggets after he committed a hard foul on J.R. Smith. He would be suspended for six games for his role in the altercation.

    After two poor seasons with the Knicks, Mardy was eventually traded to the L.A. Clippers partially through his third year.

    Continuing his poor play, Mardy never made an impact on the Clippers. He averaged four points per game on 40 percent shooting with 1.7 assists per game.

    Now, he remains in free agent limbo. He may have already played his final game in the NBA.

Jordan Hill (2009)

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    CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 16: John Salmons #15 of the Chicago Bulls gets his hand in the face of Jordan Hill #43 of the New York Knicks as hill tries to shoot at the United Center on February 16, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledg
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Knicks drafted Jordan Hill out of Arizona last year.

    With a need for some size up front, it seemed like the logical choice. The kind people at Radio City Music Hall that night seemed to disagree as the venue rapidly echoed with boos upon hearing the selection.

    While Hill never had much of an opportunity to prove himself in New York, his trade paved the way for some much needed cap relief. He could potentially still live up to his high draft pick but hasn't shown much in his first year in the league.

    However, what gets him on this list are the many other picks that followed him. Brandon Jennings and Darren Collison are the most notable ones, but the list doesn't stop there. There are nearly half a dozen other players who have proven their worth as valuable assets with plenty of potential.

    Something that Hill would currently have trouble laying claim to.

Andy Rautins (2010)

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    SALT LAKE CITY - MARCH 25:  Andy Rautins #1 of the Syracuse Orange yells against the Butler Bulldogs during the west regional semifinal of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Energy Solutions Arena on March 25, 2010 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    What was Donnie Walsh thinking?

    Walsh's reputation will continue to be respected and held in the upmost light with what he has done thus far, but this is one of those picks that leaves Knicks fans scratching their heads.

    Of course, you can argue that he hasn't played a minute in the NBA, but Rautins had shown little in his college career to warrant being drafted.

    There's nothing that stands out when it comes to Andy. Physically, he's below what would be considered NBA standards. He can't go toe-to-toe with most shooting guards in the league, and he's a pure specialist—he shoots threes and that's pretty much it. While that sounds like a good fit for D'Antoni, he can only make a difference if he manages to get any playing time—which doesn't look likely.

    Rautins has career bench warmer written all over him. That's only if he somehow manages to make it past his rookie year.

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