The NBA draft is an exciting time of year. Teams looking to improve on what they have, to create for the future.
The decisions made on the draft day will always be speculated on, some as genius moves, others as bone-headed ones. Some of these players are the biggest draft day busts in the history of the draft. Others changed the course of that franchise’s history. From the number one draft pick to the ones who never got drafted, there are steals everywhere. If this list shows anything, it shows that getting the number one draft pick doesn’t always mean success, you have to really analyze the players you are bringing in and hopefully, your team has made the right decisions. All of the steals came out of the top-10 and the busts were all in the top-3.
Let’s see what organizations have made the best and worst decisions.
15. Late: Draymond Green (Drafted 35th overall in 2012)
Draymond Green in currently the anchor of the Golden State Warriors. Sure, Steph Curry is the two-time MVP and Kevin Durant is an MVP as well but without Draymond Green, they have a much tougher time winning these games. He is a Swiss army knife. He passes, he shoots, he plays defense and hustles. He is the first player in NBA history to get a triple-double without points with 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and 10 steals. If he was able to get six more points he could have walked away with a quadruple double and joined very rare company. He is the first player in NBA history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists, 100 steals, and 100 blocks. There are only three other All-Stars selected in this draft, he is the only one who was taken out of the top-10.
14. Early: Greg Oden (Drafted 1st overall in 2007)
Greg Oden was very highly touted out of the Ohio State University. In college he had averages of 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks. It was apparent to anyone that he had potential to be one of the best players. He was drafted to the Portland Trail Blazers. Before he could play a single game he needed knee surgery. This would be the story for the rest of his career. He only played in the league for three years. The injuries were just too much. In the first season, he played in 61 games. In the next season he played in 21 games. Then from 2010-13 he didn’t play at all. In 2013 he signed with the Miami Heat. He played in 23 games for them. Injuries just conquer him. People taken after him include Kevin Durant, Al Horford, and Mike Conley.
13. Late: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Drafted 15th overall in 2013)
Let me start by saying the 2013 draft has been one of the worst draft classes ever. Giannis is the lone All-Star and All-NBA player. He is incredibly durable. In the last 3 season he has missed a total of five games. This season he was able to average totals of 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.9 rebounds. He is the first player in NBA history to finish in the top-20 league leaders in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Some say that Giannis is a jump shot away from being one of the best players in the league. Players taken before him you can’t even match up to him include; Anthony Bennett, Cody Zeller, Ben McLemore, Trey Burke, and Shabazz Muhammad.
12. Early: Adam Morrison (Drafted 3rd overall in 2006)
This was one of Michael Jordan’s hopefuls. Another player who was very good in college and it never translated to the NBA. He averaged 19.7 points, 2.0 assists, and 5.1 rebounds. Those are very good college numbers. In his second season he tore his ACL. He missed the entire season. Then traded to the Lakers. For the Lakers, in 2 seasons he played 37 games. They did win two championships but we will but those more on Kobe’s shoulders than on Morrison’s. In the NBA he averaged 7.5 points, and 2.1 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. Not great numbers at all. Players who were taken after him include; Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay, J.J. Redick, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, and Paul Millsap.
11. Late: Tony Parker (Drafted 28th overall in 2001
Tony Parker will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He is a 4-time NBA champion, a Finals MVP, a six-time All-Star, and a four-time All-NBA selection. These are things you expect to read from the resume of a top-10 pick in the draft. In 16 season he has averaged 16.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 5.8 assists. He has never missed the playoffs. He actually worked out two-times for the San Antonio Spurs before they were convinced to pick him 9and look how this all worked out for the Spurs in the long run). The players taken before him include; Kwame Brown, Eddie Griffin, Michael Bradley, Brandon Armstrong, and Jamaal Tinsley.
10. Early: Darko Milicic (Drafted 2nd overall in 2003)
Darko Milicic is in a loaded draft class. He was not someone who contributed to this claim to fame. He did complain that they just didn’t give him enough play time. In 10 seasons of play he only played in 70 games two times. He recorded averages of 6.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks. In the top 5 of the draft class were; LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh. So he was the only player in the top five to not be a franchise changer for his team. He was just really bad. So bad, that he is considered by the basketball community as one of the absolute worst paicks in the history of the NBA Draft.
9. Late: Manu Ginobili (Drafted 57th overall in 1999)
This is one of the greatest draft steals of all time. four-time Champion, two-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA selection, and a Sixth Man of the Year Award. He has played on the Spurs his entire career and has not once missed the playoffs. Although he was drafted in 1999, he did not join the team until 2002, but he quickly became a key part of the team. He has averages of 13.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. Ginobili even showed up even more in the playoffs. He always has a little extra spirit in him during that. He really was a great steal and even though he is approaching the end of his career, still should be considered a dangerous player coming off the bench.
8. Early: Sam Bowie (Drafted 2nd overall in 1984)
Sam Bowie is another injury prone player to make this list. He played 3 seasons for the University of Kentucky. In college, he had averages of 13.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks. But the injuries were just too much to keep up with in the NBA. In his last 4 season with the Blazers, he only played in 63 out of a possible 328 games. This continued through the remainder of his career. It is really unfortunate because he was drafted in what is considered the greatest draft class of all time. This draft included players such as; Akeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Otis Thorpe, and John Stockton.
7. Late: John Stockton (Drafted 16th overall in 1984)
John Stockton is one of the greatest players to ever play and never win a championship. His list of accomplishments is about a mile long. He is a 10-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA team selection, a five-time All-Defensive selection, 9-time assist leader, and a two-time steals leader. The Utah Jazz and his college, Gonzaga, have retired his number. He is the all-time assist leader with 15,806. That is 3,715 more than the next closest person. He is also in the top 50 for points and the top five for steals, games played, and turnovers. All and all he is one of the greatest point guards to ever do it. Some players taken before him include; Sam Bowie, Sam Perkins, Melvin Turpin, Lancaster Gordon, and Michael Cage.
6. Early: Hasheem Thabeet (Drafted 2nd overall in 2009)
Hasheem Thabeet is one of the greatest busts in the history of the NBA. In 2010 he was the tallest and then-highest drafted player to be sent to the D-league. The number two drafted player, sent to the D-League. That is insane. During the time he played he was able to average they eye-shattering; 2.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks. He played for seven season. He was never really able to develop into the player that his draft stock had him at (he was touted as one of the league’s next big superstars). In the 2009, draft the players taken after him include; James Harden, Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, and Jeff Teague.
5. Late: Steve Nash (Drafted 15th overall in 1996)
Steve Nash is one of the basketball greats. This was another loaded draft class but he was still take too late. He is another player with a 10-mile long achievement list. All of his accomplishments include; two-time MVP, eight-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA Team Selection, five-time assist leader, and a 4-time member of the 50-40-90 club. Very rare company. In his career he averaged 14.3 points and 8.5 assists. In his 18 season he got a double double with assists in seven of those seasons. He also has the NBA record for the best free throw percentage in NBA history. He came very close in two different seasons to winning an NBA championship. But that is one thing that will never be on his resume. Some of the players who are worse that were taken before him include; Marcus Camby, Lorenzen Wright, Kerry kittles, Todd Fuller, and Vitaly Potapenko.
4. Early: Kwame Brown (Drafted 1st overall in 2001)
Kwame is the definition of being drafted to early. Both in the draft and in his life. He was drafted right out of high school. He was the first player drafted straight out of high school with the 1st overall pick. Brown even told the Wizard’s coach, “If you draft me, you’ll never regret it.” That was a mistake. He did play for a surprising 12 years for seven different teams. They all regretted it. On his career he averaged 6.6 points, 0.9 assists, and 5.5 rebounds. He did not fare well against real competition. Players he was taken over in that draft include; Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Tony Parker, and Gilbert Arenas.
3. Late: Ben Wallace (Undrafted free agent in 1996)
He went undrafted. One of the best defensive big men of all time. His achievements include; NBA champion, four-time All-Star, four-time Defensive player of the year, six-time All-Defensive team, and a five-time All-NBA selection. He is one of the only player in NBA history to; record 1,000 rebounds, 100 blocks, and 100 steals in four consecutive seasons and he is the only undrafted player to be a starter for the All-Star game. He is one of three players too; to record 150 blocks and 100 steals in seven consecutive season and to average 15 rebounds and three blocks per game. He is one of five players to lead the NBA in rebounding and blocking averages in the same season. The players literally taken instead of him include; Marcus Camby, Lorenzen Wright, Erick Dampier, Todd Fuller, Vitaly potapenko, and Joseph Blair (who never player in the NBA).
2. Early: Anthony Bennett (Drafted 1st overall in 2013)
Drafted 1st overall, out of the league four years later. That is crazy. He is the highest drafted player to be sent to the D-League. His game just never translated to the NBA. On his career he averaged 4.4 points, 0.5 assists, and 3.1 rebounds. Oh and did I mention how he was only in the NBA for four seasons? People way better that were drafted after him, well anybody would have been a better selection, but to give you some specifics; Victor Oladipo, Nerlens Noel, C.J. McCollum, Giannis Anteokoumnpo, Dennis Schroder, Mason Plumlee, Time Hardaway Jr., Rudy Gobert, Allen Crabbe, and a bunch of foreign players who never played a minute of NBA basketball.
1. Late: Isaiah Thomas (Drafted 60th overall in 2011)
Isaiah Thomas is the draft steal in a long time. He was taken last overall, Mr. Irrelevant. He has been selected to two All-Star teams, and one All-NBA team. He is the current leader of Boston Celtics. He played three season for the Washington Huskies where he averaged 16.4 points and 4.0 assists. Even with those great numbers, he was still taken last. Since his rookie season he has greatly improved. On his career he has averages of 19.1 points and 5.2 assists, as a very small man. It was in the 2017 season that he became Mr. Fourth Quarter. He just turns it on and becomes a new person playing in that quarter. In his playoff career he averages 21.5 points and 5.8 assists. Players taken before Mr. Fourth Quarter include; Derrick Williams, Jan Vesely, Bismack Biyombo, Chris singleton, and Jon Leuer. There were six players drafted before him who have never played in the NBA.
Isaiah Thomas actually got his name because his father lost a bet, that’s just a fun fact for you.
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