Draft picks are an interesting commodity in the NBA world. Throughout history, teams have had their fate determined by tremendous and/or terrible draft selections.Over the past sixteen years, we have seen the impact of great draft picks. Players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Steph Curry, and Anthony Davis have shown what a great pick can do for a franchise.
But of course, as they say, there are two sides to every coin. The thing about the draft is that more often than not, players fail to live up to expectations. Players like the aforementioned (James, Wade, Curry, and Davis) are the rarest of draft picks. Way more often, we see teams draft highly touted collegiate players only to have them flounder before ultimately disappearing into the abyss that is an NBA bench.
Every team has seen a highly valued draft pick get wasted on a player who fails to live up to the expectations. It happens every year. But not living up to expectations, and setting a franchise back are two entirely different things.
We will now reveal, in alphabeltical order, every team’s worst draft pick since 2000.
Atlanta Hawks – Marvin Williams
Marvin Williams has actually carved out a decent little career for himself, yet he is still the saddest selection that the Hawks have made recently. Marvin has been in the league for 10 seasons, playing the role of the elder statesman for the young Charlotte Hornets now.
When Williams left North Carolina after just one season, he had a very high ceiling and teams were intrigued by his potential. They were so attracted that he was selected second overall by the Hawks that year. In hindsight, it is clear that drafting him was a mistake by the Hawks, especially when you realize they could have had Danny Granger, David Lee, or Chris Paul. Williams spent his first seven seasons with the Hawks, never getting more than 14 points per game in a season. In 2012, the Hawks finally traded Williams to Utah for Devin Harris. Williams would leave Utah after two seasons.
Boston Celtics – Randy Foye
Randy Foye was the seventh overall selection in 2006. The Celtics drafted Foye, and immediately traded him to the Portland Trail Blazers, who shortly thereafter traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves. This pick became a wasted top 10 pick for the Celtics, as they ultimately landed one of the all-time busts Sebastian Telfair in the deal.
When the Celtics look back at the 2006 draft, they have to kick themselves. Instead of selecting Foye, trading him, and ending with Telfair, they could have had Rajon Rondo (rather than acquiring him via trade with Phoenix), Paul Millsap, or Kyle Lowry. Ultimately, Boston would get the last laugh though, as they would go on to win the NBA title two years after the Foye debacle. Of course, as they say, hindsight is 20/20. By the time it was clear they made a bad decision, it was too late.
Brooklyn (New Jersey) Nets – Eddie Griffin
Eddie Griffin was a standout collegiate player during his only season at Seton Hall. He averaged 17.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 4.4 blocks in his freshman season. Concerns about his attitude surfaced before the draft, causing him to slip to the Nets who had the seventh pick in the draft. The Nets didn’t necessarily need Griffin’s skill set, but his potential was too high for them to pass up on him. After selecting Griffin, the Nets sent him to the Houston Rockets for three picks in that 2001 draft including Jason Collins, and Richard Jefferson.
Griffin ended up spending two seasons with the Rockets before being released due to his inability to address his alcoholism problems. His career was ultimately derailed by his addictions and he was released for the final time in 2007 by the Timberwolves. Griffin suffered a tragic fate due to his alcoholism when he drove his car into a moving train while having three times the legal blood alcohol limit.
Charlotte Hornets – Adam Morrison
In 2006, the Hornets were still going as the Charlotte Bobcats, and Michael Jordan was in charge of the show. Jordan was sold on the guy he compared to Larry Bird, that guy being Adam Morrison of course.
Jordan invested the third overall pick in 2006 on Morrison, who was coming off a Co-Player of the Year season with the Gonzaga Bulldogs. In 2007, Morrison tore his ACL, which would end up costing him the entire following season. Prior to the injury, however, he was showing no signs of growth as an NBA player. In fact, prior to the ACL injury, Morrison had lost his spot in the starting rotation due to his erratic shooting, and lack of reliability on defense.
After spending a full calendar year recovering from the ACL, Morrison was never able to establish himself as an NBA player again. Adam may have the last laugh though, as he was on the L.A. Laker roster for two of the NBA championship runs with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
Chicago Bulls – Jay Williams
Williams was a superstar during his time with the Duke Blue Devils. He had superstar written all over him, and the Chicago Bulls saw it too. The Bulls selected Williams with the second overall pick in the 2002 draft.
Williams had always been a bit of a superstar, and with that came the attitude and swagger of a superstar. Williams lived his life the way he played basketball — fearlessly. After an up-and-down rookie season, Williams crashed his motorcycle during the offseason. He was not licensed to be driving a motorcycle, nor was he wearing a helmet. Injuries sustained from the accident included a severed main nerve in his leg, fractured pelvis and three dislocated ligaments in his left knee including the ACL. He required physical therapy to regain the use of his leg.
Chicago ended up cutting Williams, and legally, they owed him nothing since it was in his contract that he was not permitted to operate a motorcycle, but out of the kindness of their heart, the Bulls gave Williams $3 million to help pay his hospital bills and rehabilitation costs. Williams vowed to make a comeback to the NBA, but all he was able to get was a non-guaranteed contract from the Nets, which ended weeks later, when he was released by the team.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Anthony Bennett
One of the easiest, and most obvious inclusions on this list is Anthony Bennett, who was only drafted three years ago, but is already regarded as one of the biggest busts in NBA history.
In 2013, the Cavs were still reeling from the loss of LeBron James. During the four years LeBron was in Miami, Cleveland had five picks in the top four spots. They made some nice selections in Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, and Andrew Wiggins, but they failed miserably with the Anthony Bennett pick. Bennett holds the distinction as the only first overall draft choice to be sent down to the D-League in his rookie season. Ultimately, Cleveland made the best of the failed pick when they packaged him with Wiggins along with other players to Minnesota in exchange for Kevin Love.
Dallas Mavericks – Kelly Olynyk
Kelly Olynyk himself is not a bad player. He is currently a solid rotation player for the up-and-coming Boston Celtics. The thing that makes this pick so bad for Dallas is what they received in return for Olynyd when they traded him to Boston on draft night in 2013.
Dallas spent the 13th overall pick in the draft on the ex-Gonzaga bigman only to immediately send him to Boston. In return, the Mavericks got Lucas Nogueira and two future second round picks. Nogueira is yet to see a single minute of NBA action, and the two second-round picks are no longer with the team. Basically Dallas gave Boston the 13th pick in 2013 for free. Dallas passed up on Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert in that draft, and I am sure they are well aware of that.
Denver Nuggets – Nikoloz Tskitishvili
In 2002, the Denver Nuggets made one of the more underrated mistakes in draft history. They selected the seven foot Georgian, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, with the fifth overall selection.
The Nuggets passed up on players like Tayshaun Prince, Caron Butler, and Amar’e Stoudamire in favor of the unknown big man. Tskitishvili drew much attention during his final season in the Italian Professional League. During the 2002 Italian season, he helped lead his team (coached by Mike D’Antoni) to the league championship. In his three seasons with the Nuggets, Nikoloz averaged 3.8 points and 1.9 rebounds per game, while shooting just over 30% from the field. After being released by the Nuggets in 2005, he bounced between a few other NBA teams before going back overseas and becoming a journeyman.
Detroit Pistons – Darko Milicic
Darko is definitely one of the worst draft picks since the turn of the century. There is a strong case to prove that he is in fact THE worst pick since 2000. In 2003, the Pistons were blessed with the second pick in the draft, even though they were a contender for the title that year. Rather than go with an all but sure thing in Carmelo Anthony, the Pistons decided to take a flyer on Darko. In the process, the Pistons also passed up on Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as well.
The Pistons regret their decision to draft Milicic to this day. Darko has been out of the NBA for four years now, while Bosh, Wade, and Melo are still huge pieces to their franchises. If Detroit would have been smart enough to draft Melo, or Wade, could you imagine how different the Pistons’ future could have been?
Golden State Warriors – Ekpe Udoh
The Warriors are clearly not worried about their draft picks as much as other teams — that is what back-to-back Finals appearances can do for ya. But it wasn’t long ago that the Warriors were looking to the draft to help save their franchise.
The Warriors have shown an innate ability to find gems in the draft –Draymond Green, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes… the list goes on and on. However, in 2010, the Warriors made a major mistake. Golden State held the sixth overall selection in a very solid draft. The Warriors selected Udoh out of Baylor. His time with the Warriors was brief, less than three seasons. It didn’t take long before the Warriors realized he was not going to pan out, so they shipped him in the deal that landed Andrew Bogut. Ekpe is currently playing professionally in the Turkish Professional League.
Houston Rockets – Marcus Morris
In 2011, the Kansas Jayhawks had two of the best players in the country in Marcus and Markieef Morris. The Morris twins were both projected to be lottery picks and they both were. The two brothers were actually the first brothers to be drafted out of the same lottery, as they were drafted back-to-back with Marcus being the second brother drafted.
Marcus was sent to the D-League to start his rookie year. After only two seasons with Houston, Marcus was traded to Phoenix, where it was believed re-joining his brother could help spark both of their sputtering careers. Marcus was able to get his career to the point where he actually had trade value again, and once that happened, he was sent packing yet again, this time to the Detroit Pistons. He is still with the Pistons, and having a respectable season thus far.
Indiana Pacers – Tyler Hansbrough
Hansbrough was a throwback type of player coming out of North Carolina in 2009. His physical play combined with his emotional leadership made his a lottery pick when the Pacers selected him with the 13th pick that year.
Once he reached the NBA, it became apparent that his lack of natural talent was too big of an obstacle for him to overcome. He was given four years to prove his worth with the Pacers, but after the final season of his rookie deal, the Pacers opted against offering him a new deal. After a couple of sub-par years in Toronto, Hansbrough signed a one-year deal with the Hornets last season. He ended the season on the injured list, and was subsequently not extended by the team. Tyler is currently an unrestricted free agent.
Los Angeles Clippers – Darius Miles
The Clippers had been the laughing stock of the NBA for decades. Long before Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and Blake Griffin turned the Clippers into Lob City, they were a perennial lottery team.
In 2000, the Clippers were owned by the despicable Donald Sterling, the man who many people regard as the worst owner in NBA history. Sterling had no desire to put a winning product on the court, and it showed in his draft picks. With the third overall pick in 2000, the Clippers selected Darius Miles, the skinny, immature, unpolished kid out of high school. After only two seasons with the Clippers, Miles was traded to the Cavaliers. Miles would be traded two more times after Cleveland. One of the most telling things about Miles’ career is that he never stayed with a team for longer than two seasons. Wonder why?
Los Angeles Lakers – Javaris Crittenton
The Lakers have had their share of success over the last 16 years, so their draft picks have generally been pretty low in the draft. In the past couple of years, they have had some high draft picks, but those picks are seeming to be panning out for the Lakers.
Their big draft mistake came back in 2007, when they had the 19th overall selection. The Lakers selected the ever troubled Javaris Crittenton that year. During his rookie season, Crittenton was packaged in a deal that sent Pau Gasol to L.A. Crittenton was obviously just a throw-in piece of the trade. The main chip that left Los Angeles was Pau’s brother, Marc Gasol, but Crittenton was nonetheless discarded after only 22 games with the Lakers. Javaris would make headlines when he got into an altercation with then-teammate Gilbert Arenas in the Washington Wizards locker room. Crittenton pulled a gun on Arenas and was released from the team. He is currently serving 23 years in prison for a 2015 manslaughter case.
Memphis Grizzlies – Hasheem Thabeet
Thabeet was a monster during his three years at Connecticut, and when he decided to leave school a year early, the NBA scouts were salivating. He was an athletic 7’3″ center who many people compared to Hall of Famer Yao Ming.
In 2009, the major draft debate was Blake Griffin or Hasheem Thabeet. The Clippers made it easy for Memphis by taking Blake first overall. When Memphis selected the 7 foot Tanzanian, they had no idea that they would be passing up on some of the greatest talents the NBA has seen. Not only did the Grizzlies get stuck with the major bust Thabeet, they also missed out on James Harden, Steph Curry and DeMar DeRozan. Hasheem’s NBA career lasted 224 games, in which he averaged just over two points per game, and just shy of three rebounds per game.
Miami Heat – Michael Beasley
Michael Beasley has had one of the most up and down basketball careers in recent memory. Beasley was an incredible collegiate player with Kansas State, which ultimately led to him being drafted second overall by the Heat in 2008. Unfortunately, Beasley was unable to mature to the level needed to be a dependable NBA player, never living up to many of the critics’ expectations,.
Ultimately, Michael was forced to play professionally overseas after playing with four teams in six years. In 2016, he was named the Chinese Basketball League MVP and earned himself another chance in the NBA. He has since become a decent role player, currently running with the Milwaukee Bucks. Still, the Heat would love to trade that pick for Russell Westbrook or DeAndre Jordan, both players drafted after Beasley in 2008.
Milwaukee Bucks – Jimmer Fredette
Fredette was all the rage in college basketball during his final season at BYU. He drew attention for his unique ability to create and hit difficult long range baskets. When the Bucks selected him with the 10th pick in the 2011 draft, they didn’t take long before packaging him up in a trade, which would land Jimmer in Sacramento.
The Kings and their fans were ecstatic when Jimmer got to town. He was able to rejuvenate the fan base, even selling out his jersey in many local shops. The Jimmer craze didn’t take long to wear off, however. After only two and a half seasons, the Kings bought out Fredette’s contract and cut him loose. He floundered around with the Bulls and the Pelicans before being given one final shot at an NBA roster with the Knicks. He failed to make the cut in New York, and since 2016, he has been playing for the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Professional League.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Jonny Flynn
In one of the more perplexing draft picks ever, the Timberwolves chose Jonny Flynn with the sixth overall pick in 2009. The pick of Flynn itself is not the oddity. In 2009, the Wolves had the fifth and the sixth picks in the draft. They were a team in need of help at pretty much every position. So what was so odd about the Flynn pick is that with the fifth pick, the Wolves selected Ricky Rubio. Both players were slender, somewhat undersized point guards — it made no sense.
Flynn was given first crack at the point guard spot in Minnesota, as Rubio stayed in Spain for two years before joining the T-Wolves. In his rookie season, Flynn showed promise, averaging over 13 points per game. However, in his second season he suffered a hip injury requiring surgery. When he returned he was not the same player, and he was shipped out of town after only two seasons with the team.
New Orleans Pelicans – Nerlens Noel
Noel is another one of the Kentucky Wildcats who was drafted incredibly high, but still has yet to pan out. In 2013, the Pelicans owned the sixth overall selection. They decided to draft Nerlens, even though he was coming off a major injury and was expected to miss his entire rookie season. The Pelicans decided to ship Noel off to Philadelphia on the night of the draft, ultimately salvaging something out of the fragile lottery pick.
The Sixers have been saddled with Noel since 2013. Early on, a Noel sighting on the court had been about as rare as catching a glimpse of Sasquatch. It wasn’t until his third year in the league before he was able to actually participate in an NBA game. In his first four seasons, Noel played in just over 100 games. An NBA season is 82 games long — you do the math.
New York Knicks – Danilo Gallinari
Gallinari was projected to be the next Dirk Nowitzki when he entered the draft back in 2008. Knicks fans were not as excited about the pick as the organization had hoped they would be. Gallinari was part of the Mike D’Antoni Knicks, one of he worst stretches in Knicks history. His style of play fit perfectly into D’Antoni’s system — basically run and gun on offense and play little to no defense. It was a recipe for disaster for the Knicks.
In 2011, Danilo was part of the package that New York sent to Denver in exchange for Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony. I guess this was the best thing Gallinari ever did for the Knicks; he helped them land Carmelo. At this point, it is clear what kind of a player Gallinari is. He is good enough to stay in the league, but he will never be a real part of a title contender.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Robert Swift
The Oklahoma City Thunder/Seattle SuperSonic franchise has made some of the best draft picks over the past 15 years. They have been able to see the potential in players like Serge Ibaki, James Harden and Russell Westbrook while many other franchises failed to see it.
With that said, the Thunder/Sonics are not immune to a draft bust. In 2004, the then-Sonics drafted Robert Swift out of high school. The Sonics were able to look past the red flags thrown up by Swift. Perhaps they were blinded by his 7’1″ frame, or maybe it was the bright orange hair? I don’t know, either way they made a huge mistake. Swift ended up playing in 71 games over three years in Seattle, averaging just under five points per game.
Orlando Magic – Victor Oladipo
The Magic were kind of doomed from the get-go in 2013. It was widely known that the class of ’13 was not very strong, and Orlando attempted to deal the second overall pick during the days leading up to the draft. They were unable, however, to find an offer of fair value and they were forced to draft a player for themselves.
The Magic decided on the undersized point guard out of Indiana, Oladipo. As we said, the draft was regarded as weak, and the Magic drafted who they believed was the best player for what they needed in their organization. Ultimately, Victor never lived up to the expectations of a second overall draft pick, and after three seasons the Magic traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a deal that brought back Serge Ibaka. Oladipo is now the running mate to Russell Westbrook. However, it often times appears that he is just getting in Russ’ way.
Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner
The 76ers have had plenty of opportunities to succeed and have failed in the draft over the past two decades. They have been a perennial lottery team since Allen Iverson left town. The Sixers have had a top three pick in each of the last three drafts, and sadly, they have nothing really to show for it. Somehow, none of those three top picks are the Sixers’ entry on this list.
The Sixers drafted Evan Turner with the second overall pick back in 2010. He was a solid young player for them with potential all-star qualities. The Sixers, however, in true Sixer fashion, traded Turner in 2014 for the expiring contract of Danny Granger. The second pick is an extremely valuable asset, and when you connect on a solid player with that pick, you should not throw it away. Yet that is exactly what Philly did. A complete waste of the second overall pick.
Phoenix Suns – Earl Clark
The Suns have been an incredibly up-and-down franchise since 2000. They have had some of the most exciting teams in NBA history, and they have posted some pretty ugly records in the same time period.
During the heights of the Steve Nash days, Phoenix was a legitimate title contender. They had all the pieces needed to win it all. The one thing that may have been missing was that young spark plug that comes off the bench and carries the team for small stretches while the starters rest. In 2010, they were looking for just that when they selected Earl Clark.
The Suns gave Clarke every opportunity to prove he could be what they needed. He played in 51 games his rookie season. After two seasons, the Suns decided Clark was not the piece they needed, and they shipped him to Orlando. After two seasons with the Magic, Earl has played on 10 different teams including time with Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York and several professional teams overseas.
Portland Trail Blazers – Greg Oden
Perhaps the most obvious inclusion in this list is Greg Oden. Not only was he a complete bust, but he was also drafted ahead of Kevin Durant.
Oden has self-proclaimed to be the biggest draft bust in NBA history, so it’s hard to argue. Greg’s career was soiled by injury. During his six NBA seasons, Oden only played in 105 games. The Blazers have been a blackhole for talented young players to go and ruin their career. Brandon Roy, who was supposed to be part of the one-two punch in Portland with Oden, also suffered unfortunate injuries that derailed his promising career. The Blazers were able to bounce back when they picked up LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, but the Greg Oden saga really set them back.
Sacramento Kings – Thomas Robinson
In retrospect, the 2012 draft was a quality draft with at least a dozen players who are currently starters on their respective teams. Unfortunately for the Kings, who had the fifth overall pick in 2012, they don’t have one of those players currently starting for them.
The Kings decided to draft Kansas star Thomas Robinson with their coveted fifth pick. Robinson appeared to be a solid choice, despite maturity issues. Robinson was a freakish athlete with potential oozing out of him. Once Thomas arrived in Sac, his red flags became full blown issues. He repeatedly got into altercations on and off the court, including a suspension for elbowing Jonas Jerebko in the throat. Robinson’s problems became too much for the Kings, and ultimately they sent him on his way after only 51 games into his rookie campaign. Just to put into perspective the bust of this draft pick, lets’ do a quick run-through of players drafted after Robinson in 2012: Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Jae Crowder, and Draymond Green, just to name a few.
San Antonio Spurs – James Anderson
The Spurs are the model of consistency in the NBA, and with their incredibly high level of success, they rarely have high draft picks. Without question, they have been the most consistently successful franchise since 2000, and with guys like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Gregg Popovich around, their players rarely flop.
In 2010, the Spurs selected James Anderson out of Oklahoma State with the 20th pick. Anderson quickly saw playing time during his rookie season, and it appeared he had potential to become a rotational player. However, injuries struck, and Anderson was forced to spend some time in the D-League. He was never ultimately able to get his career back on track, spending multiple stints in the D-League, and also playing professionally overseas. Anderson is currently playing professionally in the Turkish League.
Toronto Raptors – Andrea Bargnani
As a prospect, Andrea was often compared to Dirk Nowitzki. It seems anyone born in Europe who can shoot is immediately the next Dirk. Bargnani did have some other similarities to Nowitzki — his dribbling skills and his size also — but there is only one Dirk.
Once Bargnani arrived in Toronto, he was given chance after chance to prove himself. He lasted seven seasons in Canada, but his potential was never materialized. The problem the Raptors found themselves in Bargnani was that he was just good enough to get them close to the playoffs, but not nearly good enough to get them to the promise land. He kept the team stuck in mediocrity. Once Chris Bosh left town to join LeBron and Wade in Miami, the Raptors decided it was time to start over. Bargnani was shipped to the New York Knicks where he spent two seasons. He is currently playing in one of the top professional leagues in Spain.
Utah Jazz – Dante Exum
The Aussie, Exum, was expected to come in and light the league on fire. His rookie season was quite lackluster for a fifth overall selection, given the amount of minutes he was offered.
After an underwhelming rookie season, Exum spent the summer playing with the Australian National Team. During that time, he suffered a major ACL injury. The injury was revealed to be a tear of his left ACL, rendering him unable to play the entire 2015 season. So, now we are getting into his third season and Exum is fighting for minutes as he is currently the back-up point guard this season, averaging just 1.5 assists per game. Rumors have been swirling that the Jazz are even floating Exum’s name out on the trading block.
Washington Wizards – Kwame Brown
Probably the easiest selection on this entire list, the Kwame Brown experiment in Washington failed before it even began. Michael Jordan makes another appearance on this list for his misguided draft choices.
MJ had his first chance to make a real splash as a GM in 2001, when he was gifted the first overall pick in the draft. In his rookie season, Brown averaged less than five points and less than four rebounds per game. Brown never amounted to more than a warm body in Washington, but he was somehow able to last thirteen seasons in the NBA, never being used as more than a role player. In those 13 years, Brown averaged over 10 points per game only once. The Wizards were set back by the selection of Brown for several years afterward, and Jordan was relieved of his GM duties during that time.