The first decade of the new millennium was an interesting one for NBA draft classes. In that decade, we saw a couple of the greatest draft classes in NBA history, in 2003 and 2009 particularly. We also saw a couple of the worst drafts in NBA history. The reason for the decline in great incoming players has been the subject of controversy around the league for years now. Many people blame the “one and done” rule, others blame the AAU basketball circuit, but either way, there has been no shortage of draft busts since the beginning of the century.
We know players like LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant were all drafted during the 2000s, but do you remember players like Hasheem Thabeet or Darko Milicic? They ring a bell, don’t they? Well be prepared to take a little trip down memory lane to the days when people actually thought Greg Oden would be a great NBA player.
As we reveal the 15 worst draft picks of the 2000s, we will also give you a little insight into what each player has become and what their life looks like now that the dream of being an NBA superstar has ended.
15. Darius Miles
Miles was drafted with the third overall pick in the 2000 draft class, a class that has gone down as one of the worst in league history. When Miles came into the league with the Clippers, fans thought they had found a key piece to add to their young core of promising talent. However, Miles’ lack of maturity and dedication caused him to have a lackluster nine-year career, never lasting more than three seasons with any franchise. When he was cut for the last time in 2009 Miles was forced to call it a career, finishing with a career scoring average of just over 10 points per game.
After he retired, Miles tried his hand at acting. He played a high school basketball player in the movie The Perfect Score. He also appeared in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder. Sadly for Darius, his immaturity once again reared its ugly head. In 2011, Miles was arrested in Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for carrying a loaded gun. Despite making nearly $62 million in his NBA career, Miles filed for bankruptcy on September 18, 2016.
14. Ekpe Udoh
In 2006, the Golden State Warriors held the number six selection in the senior heavy draft. They decided to pass on Greg Monroe, Gordon Hayward, and Paul George, going with Ekpe Udoh instead. The Warriors, I am sure, regretted that decision shortly after they made it. Udoh lasted only two seasons with Golden State, and five years in the NBA. He was never able to get his game polished to the high standards of NBA basketball.
After his failed attempts at the NBA, Udoh took his talents overseas and became a quality international player. In 2016, Ekpe helped lead his team to the Turkish League championship, as well as the Turkish Cup championship. During his great run in 2016, Udoh was also named to the All-Euroleague Second Team.
13. Joe Alexander
Coming out of West Virginia, Joe Alexander went a little under the radar during his junior season. However, he did do enough to earn himself First-Team All-Big East, as well as Honorable Mention AP All-American. When the draft combine came around, that is when Alexander caught the eye of many general managers around the league. Joe was regarded as the best athlete, on paper, in that year’s draft, and with that he was selected eight overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. His athleticism was never able to transfer to the NBA, and he lasted only two seasons in the league before being resigned to NBA D-League and professional basketball overseas.
Since being relegated to D-League and international competition, Alexander has had some success. He currently plays with the well known Maccabi Tel Aviv team, a team that has a long, rich history of success in international games. Alexander was a member of the team when David Blatt was still the coach, before he went to Cleveland to coach the Cavs.
12. Tyrus Thomas
Thomas was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers with the fourth overall pick in 2006. He was then immediately traded to the Chicago Bulls for LaMarcus Aldridge. Thomas’ rookie season in Chicago was promising; he even made the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. After three seasons, his career seemed to be coming along and he was projected to be a quality role player for a contending team. However, in 2009, he fractured his forearm, forcing him to miss six weeks of action. During those six weeks, rookie Taj Gibson had earned the spot vacated by Thomas. The Bulls traded the injured Thomas to the Bobcats, and his career seemed to fizzle out from there.
Thomas played parts of four seasons in Charlotte before being cut by the team in 2013. He spent a little time playing professionally overseas, but while traveling, he seemed to find his true calling. Tyrus now travels the world taking photos, calling himself an amateur professional photographer. He also helps to mentor children and help keep them on the right track. He says he does not want see someone with as much talent as he had waste it like he did.
11. Robert Swift
Robert Swift is one of the saddest cases in NBA history. Swift was a star high school player who grew up in a stressful environment. His father was unable to work due a major car accident and his mother battled cancer during his childhood. His parents had a hard time keeping food on the table for Robert, and the family filed for bankruptcy on two separate occasions. Swift needed to help his family financially, so he decided to skip college and declare for the NBA out of high school. This was back in 2004 before the NBA implemented its rule regarding high school player eligibility. Swift was likely aware that his skills were not NBA ready, but his family needed him to provide. Swift was overwhelmed at the NBA level and was never able to assimilate to the new world in which he found himself.
His NBA career lasted five years and by the end he was in bad shape. Swift got heavily involved in drugs, guns and other illegal activity. Ultimately Swift ended up in jail following an attempted armed home invasion, in which Swift claimed he was high on drugs during the time of the incident.