Every NBA franchise has a draft pick they wish they could take back. That is what makes the draft such an interesting time, as nobody really knows how the young players being picked will turn out. Each pick in the draft is like rolling dice because you never can really know what type of player you are actually going to get in the years to follow. That is all part of the excitement.
David Stern, the NBA’s former commissioner, has greeted many awful draft busts on the draft stage, as he ran the NBA for over 30 years before retiring in 2014. There is extremely high pressure placed on these young draft picks, as they are immediately expected to impact their team in a positive way. There is no way to tell how the player will handle the pressure, as some of them rise to the occasion, while others just can’t seem to adjust to the NBA grind. Whatever the reason may be, each NBA franchise undoubtedly has a draft pick that they wish they could just forget.
In this article, we will be looking at every NBA franchise’s worst draft pick during the David Stern era. Coming into the league with the legendary draft class of 1984, David Stern’s time of service would be a great section of the league’s history to analyze. This list will definitely bring up some serious regrets for these teams, as these players never lived up to the expectations set for them. One consolation is that every team has been there at one time or another.
As always, feel free to leave any comments you have down below, as we would love to hear some more terrible draft picks that some NBA franchises have made.
Here is every NBA teams worst draft pick that shook David Stern’s hand on draft night.
Atlanta Hawks – Marvin Williams
Picked with the 2nd pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks went with the wing scorer from North Carolina in Marvin Williams. Expectations were high for Williams, but he never turned out to be the player the Hawks thought he would be. The Hawks are kicking themselves over this one, as they could have went with Chris Paul instead of Marvin. He has since found some new life for the Charlotte Hornets, but Williams definitely has never put up any numbers during his career that resembled the likes of a number two pick. Perhaps someone like Chris Paul could have transformed the Hawks of recent memory from pretenders to contenders.
Boston Celtics – Kedrick Brown
Drafted with the 11th pick in 2001, Kedrick Brown was extremely ineffective during his short time with the Celtics. Shooting a very low percentage, the Celtics moved Brown to the Cavaliers, who quickly traded him to the Sixers, where he would end his career in Philadelphia. While Brown wasn’t one of the worst busts we have ever seen, Brown didn’t contribute at all to any of the great Celtics teams of the new millennium.
Brown was out of the NBA by 2005. After a couple of years in the D-League, he made the journey overseas and played in the Turkish Basketball League until 2012.
Brooklyn (New Jersey) Nets – Dennis Hopson
Projected to be a dominant scorer inside, the Nets took Dennis Hopson with the 3rd pick in the 1987 NBA Draft. Unable to hang with the big boys down low, Hopson never was able to be productive for the Nets. He only spent three years with the Nets, as he was out of the league completely after five years due to his lack of productiveness on the court. This was definitely a disappointment for the Nets.
Hopson’s basketball career continued for a while following his NBA departure. He played all around the world, including the Philippines, France, Turkey, Spain and Israel.
Charlotte Hornets (Bobcats) – Adam Morrison
Even though Michael Jordan was one of the best players ever, his decision as the Bobcats’ owner to select Adam Morrison with the 3rd pick in the 2006 draft was a total miss. His college career at Gonzaga was impressive to say the least, but the talent displayed there never transitioned into the NBA. Playing only 161 games in his career, Adam Morrison didn’t pan out as expected.
Somehow Morrison hit the jackpot before his career ended as he was fortunate enough to land on the Lakers, who won back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. Needless to say, Morrison is one of the worst players ever to win an NBA title.
Chicago Bulls – Eddy Curry
The Bulls luckily haven’t been plagued with terrible draft picks, which makes Eddy Curry the franchise’s worst draft pick. Drafted 4th in 2001 to the Bulls, Eddy Curry just couldn’t make the impact the Bulls wanted him to make. With a last name like Curry, you would think he would be a dead-eye shooter! Right? Okay, maybe not. Sometimes even the best predictions fail to come true.
Curry lasted only four years with the Bulls before he wound up in New York, then had brief stints in Miami and Dallas before leaving the NBA. He last played with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls in China.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Anthony Bennett
This one is not only the worst in the history of the Cavaliers, but it is one of the worst of all-time. In 2013, the Cavaliers went with the power forward out of UNLV, Anthony Bennett. The Cavs picked Bennett with the no.1 overall pick, and he has yet to prove at all he deserved being picked 1st. Moving from team to team, Bennett is currently a free agent, as he waits for another team to take a chance on him, which he will most likely squander.
The Cavaliers were a miserable team during LeBron’s absence between 2010 and 2014 and picking Bennett sure didn’t help matters. It’s quite remarkable how quickly Bennett became universally known as a draft bust.
Dallas Mavericks – Douglas Smith
The Mavericks went with the big man from Missouri in Douglas Smith with the 6th pick in the 1991 draft. Only playing five seasons in the NBA, Smith never turned out to be productive scoring wise for the Mavericks, as he shot a low percentage and was bodied by other big men in the league. The mishap of picking Smith so early in 1991 makes Doug Smith the worst pick in Mavericks history.
Smith played in various leagues following his departure from the NBA. His last shot in the NBA was when the Toronto Raptors selected him in the 1995 expansion draft but he was cut before even playing a game for them.
Denver Nuggets – Nikoloz Tskitishvili
I don’t want to keep having to write this guy’s name, so I’m going to keep this short. Drafted by the Nuggets in 2002 with the 5th pick, Nikoloz Tskitishvili turned out to be one of the worst foreign draft picks ever. At 7’0″, Nikoloz couldn’t block anybody or score efficiently, as he was out of the league in four years. I guess the Nuggets felt he had a Dirk Nowitzki-type skill set, which turned out to be utterly untrue.
The 2002 draft was pretty short on talent, but some great picks that were available were Amar’e Stoudemire, Caron Butler and Carlos Boozer. The Nuggets weren’t the only team that struck out in this draft year.
Detroit Pistons – Darko Milicic
Unlike the previous year, the Pistons pretty much could have picked a name out of a hat and they would have gotten someone better than who they did.
Darko Milicic was a part of one of the best draft classes in NBA history. Milicic was drafted in front of NBA superstars Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Unfortunately, the Pistons totally missed on some great talent when they took Milicic with the 2nd pick in the 2003 NBA draft. With so much talent in the front of the draft, it’s a shame the Pistons got stuck with Milicic, who never turned out to be successful like a lot of his fellow draft-class members.
The Pistons managed to win a title in 2004, but their mistake of drafting Milicic would bite them in the following years.
Golden State Warriors – Chris Washburn
The Warriors had no shortage of draft mistakes in the David Stern era, so picking one to stand out above (or below) the rest was pretty tough. Needless to say, they weren’t your modern day Warriors. In 1986, the Golden State Warriors went with the center out of NC State named Chris Washburn with the 3rd overall pick. Washburn was not as polished as the Warriors thought he would be, and he was terribly ineffective in the NBA due to his lack of skill. He only managed to play 72 games in the NBA, making him a likely candidate for a player the Warriors would like to forget.
Houston Rockets – Eddie Griffin
Eddie Griffin may have had the skills to compete in the NBA, but his off-court habits took away any of his chances of being a real star in the league. Drafted by the Rockets in 2001 with the 7th pick, the Rockets thought they were getting a solid forward in Griffin. Eddie sadly had to miss the entire 2003-04 season due to substance abuse, which was a real warning sign for years to come. The Timberwolves signed Griffin, thinking they could turn his career around, but unfortunately they got essentially the same Griffin that the Rockets did.
Griffin was tragically killed in a drunk driving accident in 2007, which is a shame because he really could have been a great player if he just could have stayed clean.
Indiana Pacers – Scott Haskin
Scott Haskin was picked with the Pacers 14th overall selection in 1993. He only managed to play 27 games in the NBA, as the injuries being suffered by Scott Haskin were just too much to handle. Averaging about 2 points a game during his short Pacers career, the Indiana Pacers would definitely like to have this one back. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20-20.
It’s just about the worst case scenario when a first round pick of yours only manages to play one season. Maybe if Haskin had stayed healthy, he would have turned his career around, but the Pacers never got to see it play out that way.
Los Angeles Clippers – Michael Olowokandi
The Clippers sure did miss out on this one, as they wasted their 1st overall draft pick on Michael Olowokandi in 1998, which was a pretty stacked draft class. He never turned out to be the star the Clippers envisioned him to be, which totally stalled the Clippers thoughts of getting out of the rebuilding phase. Great players such as Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, and Vince Carter were picked behind him, and any of these players would have helped the Clippers become a more relevant team if drafted.
The Clippers were the joke of Los Angeles for so long, struggling to even make the playoffs, while the Lakers of the late 90s were just starting to build a dynasty. That team could have been the Clippers if they had been better on draft day.
Los Angeles Lakers – Javaris Crittenton
It’s a good thing the Lakers were a great team in 2007 because they went with Javaris Crittenton with the 19th pick, which ultimately turned out to be the wrong choice. Javaris Crittenton only spent two years in the league, and is now serving 23 years of prison time after accepting a plea deal in a murder case. Not exactly the kind of guy a team wants representing them.
This pick isn’t on the list from a basketball standpoint. It’s that someone of Crittenton’s nature actually represented perhaps the most iconic franchise in basketball. The only positive out of selecting him was that the Lakers eventually packaged him in a deal for Pau Gasol.
Memphis Grizzlies – Hasheem Thabeet
The 2009 NBA Draft is quickly becoming one of the best in NBA history. Stars picked behind Thabeet, such as Stephen Curry, James Harden, and DeMar DeRozan, continue to make names for themselves in the league. Hasheem Thabeet, on the other hand, only managed to play 224 games in his five-year NBA career, as he was out of the league by 2014. The Grizzlies really missed out on some great players in this draft, as they wasted their number 2 pick on the 7’3″ center from UConn.
By 2011 the Grizzlies had realized their mistake and traded him to Houston in a deal that got them Shane Battier and Ish Smith. He would also have stints in Portland and OKC. He was signed briefly by the 76ers and Pistons in 2014, but both teams cut him before he played a game with them.
Miami Heat – Michael Beasley
It looked as though Michael Beasley was the correct selection by the Heat with the 2nd pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, but now, the Heat definitely would have gone with someone else if they knew what type of career Beasley would have. Problems off of the court hurt Beasley during his career, which really didn’t allow him to blossom into a star. Moving from team to team, Beasley is now with the Houston Rockets, as he tries to salvage what’s left of his NBA career there.
The Heat could have had Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Roy Hibbert or DeAndre Jordan. Can you imagine if Westbrook was in Miami at the time of LeBron’s arrival? The Heat really would have followed through on their promise of not one, not two, not three…
Milwaukee Bucks – Yi Jianlian
Yi Jianlian was not the product the Bucks thought they would be getting with their 6th pick in the 2007 draft. Moved from the Bucks after only one year, Yi played for four teams during his five-year career, as he couldn’t adjust to the NBA. Yi has since found some very impressive success in the CBA, as he averaged 27.7 ppg last year on the Guangdong Southern Tigers.
Luckily for Jianlian, he’s found tremendous success in China, as he is a four-time champion, two-time Finals MVP, and eight time All-Star. Even though his NBA career didn’t pan out, being a superstar in your home country is never a bad trade off.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Jonny Flynn
Boy, this must sting for the Timberwolves. The Wolves had not one, but two top-10 picks in the 2009 NBA Draft, which they used on two point guards in Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn with the 5th and 6th picks. While both players haven’t had close to the success as the 7th pick in the draft has had in Stephen Curry, Jonny Flynn was definitely the worst pick in Wolves history. After only three NBA seasons, Jonny Flynn ended his career when he proved he obviously couldn’t be productive in the league.
Since leaving the NBA, Flynn has played with the Melbourne Tigers in Australia and the Orlandina Basket in Italy. His tenure in Italy lasted only two games, as he was injured and left the Serie A.
New Orleans Pelicans – Austin Rivers
An amazing high school player, the struggles Rivers had in college should have been a warning sign for the Pelicans, who drafted Austin with the 10th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He is an average back-up point guard at best, who did have some solid games, not for the Pelicans of course, but for the Clippers, with his father Doc Rivers as the head coach.
Rivers wouldn’t have been a bad second round pick, but the fact that he was drafted so high is what lands him on the list. The 2012 NBA Draft isn’t looking like a star studded class, but Draymond Green was available at the time of the Pelicans’ selection.
New York Knicks – Renaldo Balkman
Drafted with the 20th pick in 2006, Renaldo Balkman’s NBA career did not go as expected. Renaldo only played two seasons for New York, as he averaged about 4 points a game with them. Bouncing around from team to team, Balkman ended his career back in New York, but with no resurgence of production the second time around sadly. A major disappointment for New York.
Some names that were available for New York at the time were Kyle Lowry and Paul Millsap. Heck, even Rajon Rondo, despite his bad reputation around the league would have been a better pick.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Cole Aldrich
It’s a shame the Thunder got the underachieving Aldrich with the 11th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, as anybody else would have probably been a better asset to the rising superstar in Kevin Durant. What’s even worse about this pick is Cole has since found a home with the Clippers, where he is a very solid backup to DeAndre Jordan. Whatever it was about OKC, Aldrich couldn’t be very productive there, making him the worst pick in the Thunder’s short history.
The Thunder’s window of opportunity may have now closed on their championship hopes with the expected departure of Kevin Durant. A better pick in 2010 may have been what would have put them over the top.
Orlando Magic – Fran Vazquez
It doesn’t get much worse for the Magic than this one, as they took Fran Vazquez with the 11th pick in the 2005 draft. After being drafted to the Magic, Fran decided to continue his basketball career in Spain, which meant he never played a single minute for the team that drafted him. How is that even possible that a team can waste a pick on a player that just suddenly decides not to enter the league?
Perhaps the Magic should have done a little more research on the young man and what his intentions were. How committed was he? Was his desire really there to move overseas?
Philadelphia 76ers – Shawn Bradley
Shawn Bradley was a 7’6″ center from BYU, who was supposed to be one of the most dominant centers in the NBA. Drafted 2nd by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1993 NBA Draft, Bradley never turned out to be the star the Sixers wanted him to be. He averaged 8.1 points per game, and 6.3 rebounds in the 14 seasons of his disappointing NBA career. Despite his massive stature, he did not have the impact that was expected.
The 1993 draft class was pretty stacked and the Sixers could have set themselves up for a bright future. Some players they could have had instead include Penny Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, Vin Baker and Sam Cassell.
Phoenix Suns – William Bedford
William Bedford may have had the height to compete in the NBA, but his problems off the court were just too much to handle, as he never had a successful NBA career. His problems with substance abuse made him miss the entire 1988-89 season, which pretty much summed up his career in the league. One word could describe Bedford’s career… unproductive.
Sadly, Beford’s struggles continued following his NBA career. He has had drug problems, having been arrested for drug possession twice in 1996 and 1997. In 2001, he was arrested for transporting drugs. In 2003 he was given a 10-year prison sentence. He was released in 2011 and has managed to stay out of trouble since.
Portland Trail Blazers – Sam Bowie
The Portland Trailblazers have had some of the worst luck in the league when it comes to the drafting department. Even with all of their disappointing draft history, the Blazers worst selection has got to be with Sam Bowie. Probably the most infamous draft pick ever, the Blazers passed up on the G.O.A.T. in Michael Jordan, as they selected Sam Bowie with the 2nd pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. The Trail Blazers could have been one of the best dynasties in NBA history, if they only would have gone with Jordan instead of Bowie.
Blazer fans everywhere have definitely fantasized about having MJ on their team, as the championships that could have been won in Portland generates a serious “what if?”
The Blazers felt the direct effects of this in 1992 when Jordan’s Bulls knocked off the Blazers in the NBA Finals.
Sacramento Kings – Pervis Ellison
This pick just shows the luck the Kings had in the late 80s and early 90s, as they chose Pervis Ellison with the 1st pick in the 1989 NBA Draft. Ellison couldn’t stay healthy, as injuries hindered his playing time so much in his rookie campaign he was traded from the Kings after just one season. Unfortunately, he was just one of many unlucky picks for the Sacramento Kings.
The 1989 NBA Draft was a deep one and the Kings could have used it to turn their franchise around. Among the names available for them were Shawn Kemp, Glen Rice and Tim Hardaway. Any of those guys would have instantly upgraded the Kings’ roster and they could have been a respectable team in the early 90s.
San Antonio Spurs – Alfredrick Hughes
The Spurs have usually been great with draft picks, as they know how to get value out of the late picks in the draft since they never have high picks due to their success. Selected with the 14th pick in the 1985 NBA Draft, Hughes is an exception. He only played one season with the Spurs until he was waived due to his lack of talent. The Spurs probably don’t mind the pick that much, considering they have had some serious success even with making this mistake.
Still, knowing Hall of Famer Joe Dumars was taken just a few picks later has got to sting for Spurs fans. Perhaps they could have started their winning way a lot sooner.
Toronto Raptors – Rafael Araujo
We sure have seen this a lot–a team believes they are getting a talented big man who actually turns out to be a total bust. Rafael Araujo fits this perfectly, as the 6’11” big man from Brazil never turned out to be even an average player in the league. His three years in the NBA were bad to say the least. Picked with the 8th pick in 2004, Araujo’s stats look nothing like what a top ten pick’s stats should look like.
Andre Iguodala went with the very next pick to the 76ers and has become a force for the Warriors, and even won the Finals MVP last year. As the Raptors sit at home, they could only wonder, what if?
Utah Jazz – Enes Kanter
Enes Kanter is a pretty solid player for the Thunder right now, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be the Jazz’s worst draft pick. Playing for the Jazz for four years until he was moved to the Thunder, Kanter never really found his footing until he played for OKC. Considering he is no longer helping the Jazz in the slightest, the 3rd pick in the 2011 NBA Draft was a big mistake for the Jazz.
To make matters worse, players such as Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, and Isaiah Thomas were picked behind him, and all of these players would have propelled the Jazz to much more wins than Kanter was able to accomplish.
The Jazz have struggled to even make the playoffs in recent years and a lot of that is due to missing out on top prospects in the draft.
Washington Wizards – Kwame Brown
Kwame Brown is considered to be one of the worst busts in NBA history. Coming out of high school, Kwame was supposed to be a dominant big man in the league. Sadly, the Wizards went with Kwame for their number one pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. Bad move. Kwame only played four seasons for the Wizards, and he moved from team to team until his career ended in 2013. Even though there have been some great NBA players who came straight from high school, Kwame Brown was definitely not one of those players, something the Wizards had to learn the hard way.
Many people point to this as one of Michael Jordan’s worst moment, as MJ was a part-owner of the Wizards at the time and had a part in the Wiazards taking Brown. MJ even came out of retirement to play with him, but needless to say, didn’t enjoy his time playing with one of the NBA’s biggest busts.
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