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.