With the 2018 NBA Draft recently being conducted in New York City, we thought it would be a good idea to look at how easy it is for NBA franchises to make a mistake with a top pick. Drafting college or overseas player into the league is not a easy thing at all, as we have seen top prospects who have been scouted for years end up being a dud in the league, while an unknown prospect drafted in the second round can end up being one of the best players in the league. While some NBA teams have had more luck than others when it comes to drafting, every franchise has a few picks that they wish they could have back. In the last 5 years, we have seen plenty of draft mistakes that are still hurting NBA franchises to this day, as making right on high draft selections is incredibly important to most teams who can't just sign big name free agents in the offseason due to being a great destination to play in such as New York, Los Angeles, and Miami.
In this article, we will be looking at every NBA franchises' worst draft selection in the last 5 years. If any of these picks went different, the whole landscape of the league could have been affected. As always, feel free to leave any comments you have on this article in the comment section, as we would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Here is every NBA franchise's biggest draft mistake within the last 5 seasons.
30 Atlanta Hawks: Adreian Payne
Drafted: 15th overall (2014)
The Hawks missed completely when they selected Adreian Payne with the 15th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. The Hawks organization were looking to draft a big man, but Payne was the wrong selection as he hasn't found a footing in the league at all to this point. Future all-star centers drafted behind him such as Nikola Jokic and Clint Capela would have offered much more to the Hawks than Adreian Payne did during his time in Atlanta.
29 Boston Celtics: James Young
Drafted: 17th overall (2014)
The Celtics have made good on most of their draft selections throughout the past as they are now in a great position for the future. However, James Young will not be apart of the team's success, despite being taken by the team 17th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Young was supposed to be a talented scorer out of Kentucky, and that never turned out that way.
He struggled to score with the Celtics before being dropped from the team. He is now on the 76ers, looking to make a name for himself in the league.
28 Brooklyn Nets: Mason Plumlee
Drafted: 22nd overall (2013)
The Nets made a terrible decision when they acquired both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Celtics by trading the team multiple unprotected first round draft picks. Despite this, the Nets have made good on the few picks they have actually had throughout these past few season. So we went ahead and put Mason Plumlee on this list from Duke, considering he hasn't made an impact really in the league and especially not for the Nets. Drafted 22nd overall, the Nets could have gotten a better player than Plumlee.
27 Charlotte Hornets: Cody Zeller
Drafted: 4th overall (2013)
The Hornets, then known as the Bobcats at the time this pick was made, completely missed as they selected Cody Zeller with the 4th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft in hopes of him being the future of the team.
This never panned out, as Zeller has been a bust in the NBA as he never lived up to being a top 5 selection at all.
The Hornets could have drafted either Giannis Antetekounmpo or Rudy Gobert instead, which would have proven to be a much better selection for the franchise.
26 Chicago Bulls: Doug McDermott
Drafted: 11th overall (2014)
The Bulls believed that Doug McDermott from Creighton was going to be a great scorer in the league, which is why they pulled the trigger and traded for him on draft night with the 11th overall pick. McDermott just couldn't score the ball efficiently enough or defend well enough to really make a name for himself in the league, and that is why he never panned out with the team. He's been on four different teams since his days in Chicago.
25 Cleveland Cavaliers: Anthony Bennett
Drafted: 1st overall (2013)
Anthony Bennett is one of the biggest NBA busts of all-time.
It was a surprise to many when the Cavaliers selected the forward out of UNLV with the 1st pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
It turned out to be the wrong move indeed for Cleveland, as Anthony Bennett never turned into a player that could be productive in the NBA, let alone stay afloat. He has bounced around a few teams in the league, and time will only tell on if he can find a home in the league that he was supposed to dominate in.
24 Dallas Mavericks: Justin Anderson
Drafted: 21st overall (2015)
The Mavericks have had very few draft selections over the past couple of years, and Justin Anderson turns out to be the worst pick they have made. Anderson was selected 21st overall back in 2015 by the Mavericks, but never seemed to make an impact the way the franchise expected him to. He was traded to Philadelphia where he fell out of the rotation, but still played some minutes here and there. He is still young, but his time with Dallas was all for naught.
23 Denver Nuggets: Emmanuel Mudiay
Drafted: 7th overall (2015)
Emmanuel Mudiay was very young when the Nuggets drafted him out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the year 2015, and he showed promise throughout him time on Denver. However, Mudiay was never able to score efficiently and turned over the ball at a rate the Nuggets were not happy with. He was traded to the Knicks this season, and his numbers didn't really change in his playing time in New York. He still has room for his game to grow, but he will have to polish up certain parts of his game to be able to be a go to guy in this league.
22 Detroit Pistons: Stanley Johnson
Drafted: 8th overall (2015)
The Pistons haven't missed big on any major draft selections in the past few seasons, but Stanley Johnson has yet to show that he was worth being selected with the 8th overall pick in 2015.
Stanley Johnson had a great college career at Arizona as a freshman, and it was said he had all-star caliber talent.
He has yet to show promise of being a all-star at all in the NBA as of yet, and guy drafted behind him such as Devin Booker, Myles Turner, Bobby Portis, and a few others would have been more helpful to the Pistons franchise.
21 Golden State Warriors: Damian Jones
Drafted: 30th overall (2016)
Damian Jones was a junior in college at Vanderbilt when he decided to declare for the draft, and he ended up going to the powerhouse team of Golden State being the last pick of the 1st round in 2016. The Warriors have made a few picks since 2013, and Jones had the least successful rookie campaign with the team.
In his defense, he was playing on a stacked team as a rookie, but he did play 8 minutes a game and only managed to score just over 1 point per game which the Warriors would want him to bump up in the future.
20 Houston Rockets: Sam Dekker
Drafted: 18th overall (2015)
Sam Dekker was a great scorer during his time at Wisconsin, but the fact he was drafted with the 18th overall pick goes to show that college stats don't always translate into NBA success. Dekker was never able to be a real scoring option for the Rockets upon being drafted, and he is now playing for the Los Angeles Clippers where he will look to find minutes as the team tries to find an identity in the Western Conference.
19 Indiana Pacers: Solomon Hill
Drafted: 23rd overall (2013)
Solomon Hill is just sadly not cut out to put up productive numbers in the NBA, despite given a multitude of minutes throughout his career. The Pacers selected him after his four year college career at Arizona.
He spent three seasons in Indiana before playing two seasons with his current team, the New Orleans Pelicans.
He tore his hamstring this past season, but was able to make a return in the playoffs as the Pelicans were out bested by the Warriors in the 2nd round of the Western Conference playoffs.
18 Los Angeles Clippers: C.J. Wilcox
Drafted: 28th overall (2014)
The Clippers were one of the top teams in the league throughout the regular season over the past most of these past 5 seasons, so they haven't had any real high draft picks. They have pretty much missed on all of their late first round picks however since 2013, but C.J. Wilcox takes the cake for being the worst pick. He only lasted a few years in the league before he was on the outside looking in. Also he had more notable players drafted after him than the other missed Clippers' selections.
17 Los Angeles Lakers: Prematurely Trading D'Angelo Russell
Drafted: 2nd overall (2015)
D'Angelo Russell is one of the top young players in the NBA today, but his time with the Lakers was not right for either party. He was selected 2nd overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, and showed talent in his two seasons with the Lakers. He was involved in a trade with the Nets where he was basically shipped to the East Coast for nothing in order to make room for Lonzo Ball.
Russell's first season with the Nets was promising to say the least, as he put up serious numbers for them while manning the point position. This was a great pick for the Lakers but the mistake came with trading him before he developed.
16 Memphis Grizzlies: Jordan Adams
Drafted: 22nd overall (2014)
The Grizzlies selected Jordan Adams after his four year college career at UCLA with the 22nd pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
While he may have had the talent to play in this league, he was waived by the team that drafted him after just two years of playing.
Unfortunately, knee injuries kept him off the court at a alarming rate during the beginning of his career. Adams tried to make a comeback with the Trail Blazers, but was didn't make the team after being on the Summer League team.
15 Miami Heat: Justise Winslow
Drafted: 10th overall (2015)
Since the 2013 NBA draft, the Miami Heat have only selected two players from the first round, which is why Justise Winslow makes this list as the team's worst draft mistake from the past 5 years. Winslow has been solid on the defensive end for the Heat, but the team would like to see him take a step forward as they try to compete in the East, and it must not feel very good knowing players such as Devin Booker and Myles Turner went right behind him.
14 Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker
Drafted: 4th overall (2014)
The Milwaukee Bucks had a big opportunity to draft a star player with their second overall draft selection in 2014. Jabari Parker was an excellent player at Duke University, and he was the forward the Bucks selected with the 2nd pick. His first season was cut short by a knee injury, but he was able to get his scoring to 20 points per game in his 3rd season. His scoring took a hit this past season down to 12, as injuries seem to have slowed what could have been a dominant scorer.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves: Kris Dunn
Drafted: 5th overall (2016)
Kris Dunn was expected to come into the NBA with a bang after his three year college career at Providence, and the Wolves seem to be the right team to play with as they were looking for a guard to take Ricky Rubio's starting spot.
Dunn did not hit the ground running however, and he couldn't make it into the rotation with the young team due to his shaky play.
He was then used for the Jimmy Butler trade, and his stats have improved with Chicago. The 2016 draft was not very long ago and Dunn is still young, but his time in Minnesota was more of an experiment than a positive development process.
12 New Orleans Pelicans: Buddy Hield
Drafted: 6th overall (2016)
Moving on, we have Buddy Hield, who was selected just one pick after the entry above in Kris Dunn, showing the lack of talent available in the 2016 draft. The Pelicans thought they were getting one of the most NBA ready scorers to pair up with Anthony Davis when they drafted Hield with the 6th pick. He struggled to score with the Pelicans greatly his first season, and is now trying to find his stride with the Sacramento King after being traded there two seasons ago.
11 New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina
Drafted: 8th overall (2017)
Frank Ntilikina was booed as he waked across the stage on draft night while being selected for the Knicks. New York fans did the same thing to Kristaps Porzingis just a few seasons ago, so I thought the Knicks found themselves a gem.
His rookie season was nothing special and he left a lot to be desired from Knicks fans.
Some really good players such as Dennis Smith Jr., Donovan Mitchell, and Kyle Kuzma would have fit the Knicks system more than Frank will for his career there.
10 Oklahoma City Thunder: Mitch McGary
Drafted: 21st overall (2014)
Mitch McGary was a four year player at Michigan who showed talent in the NCAA. No scouts really believed he had a higher ceiling than his college game, but the Thunder decided to risk it and select him with the 21st overall pick in 2014. McGary just didn't have the skills to play against real NBA talent each and every night, and fell out of the Thunder rotation and then ultimately being waived by the team.
9 Orlando Magic: Mario Hezonja
Drafted: 5th overall (2015)
Mario Hezonja was one of the most talented players from Europe coming over the the draft in 2015, and a lot of NBA teams liked what they saw in the player from Spain. Mario has been a disappointment at this point for sure, as he hasn't made the most of the time he has played in Orlando for the past three seasons. There has been no improvement in his statistics over his time in the league, and he recently signed with the New York Knicks where he could end up flourishing.
8 Philadelphia 76ers: Jahilil Okafor
Drafted: 3rd overall (2015)
It was not a surprise when the 76ers went for the best player available at number 3 in the 2015 NBA Draft by taking Jahlil Okafor from Duke. He was a great player in college and it looked like his game was going to be very useful for Philadelphia.
After a great rookie season on a terrible 76ers team, Okafor simply fell off the team's depth chart due to his inability to defend at the rim.
Okafor was then traded to the Nets, where he was also unable to crack the rotation there.
7 Phoenix Suns: Dragan Bender
Drafted: 4th overall (2016)
Dragan Bender was an interesting prospect out of Isreal, and his play overseas at a young age is why he was drafted with the 4th overall pick in 2016. Despite his shooting talent, ability to pass the ball with his court vision, and height on the court, Bender has done nothing but struggle since coming to the NBA. He is still only just 20 years of age, but he has looked anything but a star so far for this young Suns organization.
6 Portland Trail Blazers: Zach Collins
Drafted: 10th overall (2017)
Zach Collins never started a game in his college as he was playing behind a 5 year senior at Gonzaga, however he showed promise throughout his lone season there which is why NBA scouts had his name high on the board. The Blazers wanted to add a scoring big man with their 10th overall pick in 2017, but Collins' first season was a bust, as he was unable to score the ball efficiently, rebound at a high rate, or defend NBA talent.
5 Sacramento Kings: Nik Stauskas
Drafted: 8th overall (2014)
Nik Stauskas was a great scorer throughout his college career at Michigan, as his stroke coming into the league was arguably better than anybody's. He was selected by the Kings with the 8th overall selection, as they were looking to add a high volume scorer to their struggling team at the time.
Stauskas played just one season with the Kings before he was traded to Philadelphia.
Despite hitting a three-pointer here or there, Stauskas is not cut out for the league, and is now fighting for minutes with the Brooklyn Nets.
4 San Antonio Spurs: Livio Jean-Charles
Drafted: 28th overal (2013)
The Spurs have been one of the top teams in the NBA for over 20 years now, and the reason that is true is because they have been able to hit on their draft selections and have a good track record with drafting overseas players. This was pretty much their only miss in the last 5 seasons, as Livio Jean-Charles has done nothing to help the team that has drafted him to this point. Still yet to play an NBA game, we most likely won't get to see him play in the league as it looks as though his plans are to stay in France.
3 Toronto Raptors: Bruno Caboclo
Drafted: 20th overall (2014)
Bruno Caboclo was taken by the Raptors 20th overall back in 2014 from Brazil. Since being drafted, Bruno has not found his footing in the league at all, as he has only appeared in 25 games throughout his 5 year NBA career. His first four seasons with the Raptors was a process of playing in the development league, and his last season with the Kings may have been the nail in the coffin for Caboclo, as his time in the league may have come to an end after his sub par season in Sacramento.
2 Utah Jazz: Dante Exum
Drafted: 5th overall (2014)
Dante Exum was a big name coming into the league before the 2014 NBA season, as he was a prospect many scouts had their eye on from Australia. The Jazz wanted him to be their next franchise player, and they drafted him with the 5th pick.
Exum was very young when he was selected by the Jazz, and the team gave him a few years to try to develop his game.
At this point, it's becoming clear Exum doesn't have the ceiling that people thought he did, and he is still trying to improve his game to the point where he can play some big minutes in this league.
1 Washington Wizards: Troy Brown Jr.
Drafted: 15th overall (2018)
This is the only player we are including from the 2018 NBA Draft Class, because the Wizards have only selected and kept two players before Brown over the past 5 seasons; Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr.. Troy Brown was a solid player at Oregon who proved he could do it all on the court. The only problem is, none of his game really shined in college, and he most likely won't be an all-star caliber player. The Wizards also needed a big, and Brown Jr. is a forward on a team filled with them already. It was an odd selection by Washington, and this pick could prove to be one of the worst in recent history.
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