You would have to think that one of the major fears for an NBA general manager is drafting a bust, especially with a very high pick. Drafting a bust can set a franchise back in many ways including stalling the rebuild process, making other players on the team question the direction of the franchise, and putting many jobs in jeopardy.
Considering all of the aforementioned potential consequences of drafting a bust, it would be safe to assume that drafting a bust is a rare occasion in the NBA, right? Wrong. Over the years, we have seen numerous players picked at spots in the draft that make you question what the GM was thinking. Now to be fair, some players just never reach their potential, or have the "it" factor, and it is hard to blame GMs on this. However, there are plenty of examples to go the other way as well, which make you shake your head.
With all of that being said, I decided to take a look back at the top two picks from the 2000-2010 NBA drafts. There are some very good players in this list, but overall, it was hard not to be genuinely shocked at how many players in this list had disappointing NBA careers, to say the least, especially considering their draft status. Adding further to the shock is when you see what players were taken later on in the draft. I guess it just goes to show the draft is never a sure thing.
Nonetheless, the goal of this article was to rank these top two picks from the 2000-2010 drafts (22 players in total). I was stunned about how hard it was to decide the worst players, as there are many to choose from and you just do not expect that from top two picks. I also put a list of some players taken after each player, for the reader's convenience.
22 Kwame Brown
Kwame Brown was taken 1st overall in the 2001 draft. He is considered one of the greatest busts of all time and is also one of the funnest players to make fun of. Just like the next guy, I love Michael Jordan, but to this day I am still curious as to what he saw in Brown that made him worthy of the 1st overall pick. Brown did not possess that much talent to begin with and his off-court actions only made him a bigger headache for teams. In total, Brown lasted parts of 12 seasons in the NBA averaging only 6.6 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game over the course of his career. He has recently attempted a comeback, but I doubt that will last.
21 Darko Milicic
This draft choice still makes me laugh, but at the same time feel sorry for the Pistons. Simply put, Darko Milicic is one of the worst draft choices of all time. Adding further injury to insult is that he was taken ahead of several franchise players when the Pistons selected him second overall in the 2003 NBA Draft. Milicic did have some promise coming into the draft, but he was never able to develop his game. As a result, he did not receive very much playing time during his parts of three seasons with Detroit and averaged less than two points per game.
Milicic was eventually traded to the Magic where he showed some improvement, but ultimately continued to disappoint all former number two overall picks. Milicic also had stops in New York and Minnesota. Well, unlike all of us, at least Milicic can brag he got a ring (during his roookie season with the Pistons).
20 Hasheem Thabeet
It was no secret heading into the draft that Hasheem Thabeet was viewed as a long-term project and a prospect that needed a lot of development before he could truly contribute at the NBA level. That is why it was so surprising to see the Grizzlies waste a second overall pick on a player like this. When you have such a high draft pick, why not take the sure thing? Developmental prospects are meant for later in the draft.
Nonetheless, Thabeet was never able to develop an offensive game and struggled on defense. The Grizzlies eventually gave up on Thabeet and he was traded to the Rockets. He continued to struggle with the Rockets and eventually went on to spend time in Portland, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, and Detroit Pistons. In total, Thabeet has only averaged two points and three rebounds per game.
19 Greg Oden
Quite frankly, it sucks to put Greg Oden so low on this list. If not for injuries, Greg Oden would have been a great NBA player after being selected number one overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2007 draft. Now, I still do not believe he deserved to be drafted over Kevin Durant, but that is a story for another day.
Oden had all the tools to be a dominant big man in the NBA. His offensive game was a work in progress, but he was a great rebounder, shot blocker, and could run the floor exceptionally well for someone his size. Oden only lasted parts of three NBA seasons, averaging 8 points per game and 6 rebounds per game.
18 Jay Williams
Jay Williams was another player that was difficult to put on this list. Before injuries took over, like Oden, Williams also showed promise of being a great NBA player. Williams was taken second overall by the Bulls in the 2002 NBA draft. Unfortunately, due to a silly decision to illegally drive a motorcycle, Williams had his NBA career cut short to just one season. Williams did attempt to make a comeback but was unsuccessful in attracting NBA interest, as he was unable to recover from a severed nerve in his leg, fractured pelvis, and dislocated ligaments in his knee. Overall, in his one season, Williams averaged around 10 points and five assists per game.
17 Stromile Swift
Stromile Swift did not have a terrible career and he would probably make the all-NBA name team, but he was never able to live up to the expectations of being a number two overall pick. Swift was drafted by the Vancouver Grizzlies in the 2000 draft. This was another terrible decision by Vancouver management during their brief stint as an NBA team and a classic example of a player not being able to put raw talent and athleticism together.
During his first five seasons, Swift was only able to average 9 points and 5 rebounds per game. He then went on to play for the Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, New Jersey Nets, and Phoenix Suns before taking his game overseas. In total, he only averaged 8.4 points per game in his NBA career.
16 Michael Beasley
A player that has all the talent in the world, but just cannot put it together on and off the court. Michael Beasley was taken second overall in the 2008 draft by the Miami Heat. Just how disappointing has Beasley been? Well, first of all, if you are not able to succeed under Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra, especially with all of the talent you have, something is wrong. Secondly, if you are a second overall pick and playing in China at the age of 25 you know you did something wrong. On the bright side, he was able to win MVP while in China.
Currently, Beasley is back in the NBA and trying to prove he belongs in the league. For his career, Beasley has put up a decent 13 points per game, but not enough for a number two pick.
15 Andrea Bargniani
You know it is bad if you are a number one overall pick and the thing you are most known for is your annoying Primo Pasta commercials. Andrea Bargniani was taken first overall by the Raptors in the 2006 draft and was one of the most disappointing prospects of all time. He has all of the skill you need, but is just missing that "it" factor. To be fair, Bargniani did have a few of solid seasons, including averaging 21 points per game in 2010-11, but overall he has been a major disappointment. He was never able to take his game to that next level you expect from a number one overall pick and has always been a terrible rebounder for his size. It is a shame that he was ever compared to the great Dirk.
Overall, his numbers have tailed off significantly, including a very poor average of 6.6 points per game this past season. In total, Bargniani has averaged 14.3 points per game in his career.
14 Emeka Okafor
Emeka Okafor is another player that showed promising signs at the beginning of his career, but ultimately was not able to live up to his number two overall pick status after being drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats. Some of this can be blamed on the Bobcats, as it was their job to help develop Okafor to the next stage, but this obviously did not happen. This can be reflected in the fact that Okafor was never able to top his average of 15 points per game from his rookie season. Not all is negative with Okafor, as he was a good rim protector and rebounder during his career, however, this is not good enough to back up his number two status. In total, Okafor played nine NBA seasons, averaging 12.3 points per game, 9.9 rebounds per game, and 1.7 blocks per game.
13 Evan Turner
Evan Turner was the second overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2010 NBA draft, and has not been able to live up to those lofty expectations. To be fair, he has found a role for himself in the NBA as a solid bench player that can run an offense, as seen in his time in Boston. I also expect him to put up decent numbers in Portland this season, but this does not dismiss the fact that he has not lived up to expectations of being a number two overall pick. Turner has averaged just over 15 points per game in a season one time, and was never able to be the focal point of a team like many expected him to be.
Still, good for Turner for landing a massive contract and we will see how he deals with this new pressure. In total, Turner is averaging around 11 points per game in his career.
12 Kenyon Martin
Kenyon Martin was taken first overall by the New Jersey Nets in the 2000 NBA draft. It is hard to criticize the career of Martin as he played 15 seasons in the NBA and provided a solid presence for many different teams. He was good at rebounding and defending the rim. He also provided solid veteran leadership in the latter part of his career. However, we cannot dismiss the fact that he was a number one overall pick and he should have been much more than a role player based on this status. In total, Martin averaged around 12 points per game in his career, about seven rebounds, and one block per game. Certainly not number one overall pick numbers, but solid nonetheless.
11 Marvin Williams
Marvin Williams was selected by the Atlanta Hawks second overall in the 2005 NBA draft. For the most part, Marvin Williams has not been able to live up to the expectations of being a number two overall pick, especially in comparison to some of the guys drafted after him, but that does not mean he has not had a good NBA career. He has always been good at defense, is a great team player, and can play the "stretch" four position. Williams was able to help his cause in this list by having a very good season last year, while shooting a solid 40 percent from behind the three point line.
Overall, it appears he is on the upwards trend in his career, which helps lessen the blow of him not being able to carry a team like many expected when he was drafted.
10 Andrew Bogut
Contrary to popular belief, Andrew Bogut was a pretty good draft choice by the Bucks at the time. He had shown a ton of promise and there were rumblings that he could have been one of the best big men in the NBA for years to come. For a while, he was rewarding the Bucks with their selection. Bogut was showing promise at the beginning of his career and starting to live up to being a number one overall pick, but a gruesome elbow injury set him back. Remember, before this injury he was averaging around 15 points per game and 10 rebounds per game, while also being a great rim protector. My point is that Bogut could have been a lot higher on this list if not for injury.
Luckily for Bogut, he was able to reinvent himself and become a solid role player. He was a big factor in Golden State winning a title and look for him to have a solid season in Dallas this year.
9 Tyson Chandler
Tyson Chandler was taken second overall in the 2001 draft by the L.A. Clippers. Although Chandler never became the offensive force many expected, he has carved himself a great NBA career. Now he is no Hall of Famer by any means, but has always been a solid player. He plays great defense and has been one of the best rim protectors for a long period of time. Additionally, it is very likely that the Mavericks would not have won a championship without him and his solid defensive play/team first attitude.
So far in his career, Chandler has already played 968 games, averaging 8.7 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game, and 1.3 blocks per game. Yes, you probably want higher stats from a number two overall pick, but in the end, Chandler has perfected his role and he was a major contributor to a championship team.
8 Yao Ming
Yao Ming was taken first overall in the 2002 draft by the Houston Rockets. Like Bogut, if not for injuries, Yao would probably be a lot higher on this list. Unfortunately, foot and ankle injuries forced Yao to retire at an early age. When healthy, Yao dominated and helped increase the popularity of basketball internationally to a great extent. Yes, he never did win a championship, but that is hard to solely pin this on him, as his playoff numbers were solid (averaged 25 points per game one year in the postseason).
In total, Yao played 476 games in the NBA, averaging 19 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game. It is going to be a long time before we ever see a 7'6 center with such a soft touch in the NBA again.
7 Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard was taken first overall in the 2004 draft by the Orlando Magic. Even though I feel Howard is the most overrated player in the NBA, one still cannot deny he has done well for himself in the NBA. He has taken a team to the Finals, made the All-Star game on several different occasions, has won the defensive player of the year, and has been in the running for regular season MVP.
However, if Howard did not have such a bad attitude and learned his craft in the post, he would be much higher on this list. He is one of those players that you expect to take his game to the next level, but never does. He relied solely on his athleticism in his prime, and now that he is a bit older, we can see that he is not that skilled. Hence, his numbers being down significantly. Ultimately, he should never have left Orlando because Stan Van Gundy had the perfect system for him (but that is a story for another day).
6 John Wall
Drafted first overall by the Wizards in 2010, John Wall is another player that I consider a tad overrated. However, similar to Howard, you cannot argue that Wall has had a successful career. Wall is a three time all star, it also seems like he slightly improves his statistics almost every year, and he is great at getting his teammates involved. He is also one of the fastest players in the league and can energize his teammates with his fast-break play.
However, despite all of these positive things Wall has going for him, it can be argued that is career has been a bit of a disappointment thus far. Yes, his stats have improved, but he has not taken that next step to superstar land. He has all the tools, but has not been able to consistently play like a superstar. An all-star, yes, but not a superstar. For Wall to get higher on this list, he needs to stay healthy and lead his team deep into the playoffs.
5 Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose was taken first overall in the 2008 draft by the Chicago Bulls. Like several players mentioned before him, Derrick Rose would be higher on this list if injuries did not hinder his career significantly. Rose probably was on track to be ranked number two on this list, but basketball Gods had a different path for him. Nonetheless, Rose has still had a very good career including a regular season MVP trophy, multiple All-Star appearances, conference finals appearance, and a huge endorsement deal with Adidas.
Be aware, this may be the year Rose establishes himself as a top point guard once again. Apparently, and this is a big apparently, Rose is finally healthy and if the hype is real we should expect him to have a huge bounce back season this year in New York. If he can sustain his health and the level of play he showed towards the end of the season, the Knicks are looking like a good team.
4 Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin was taken first overall by the L.A. Clippers in the 2009 draft. When he was selected, I was not so sure about him as an NBA player because he looked like a player that solely relied on his athleticism. It is fair to say that he has proven me wrong, as he has improved in many areas such as shooting and ball handling. Thus far in his career, Griffin is averaging around 22 points per game and 10 rebounds per game. Solid numbers yes, but now the next step for Griffin is to stay healthy and help take his team to at least the conference finals. Until he does that, he is going to be known as a good player that could not carry his team when it mattered most. Overall, when he is not too busy punching people in his own organization, he is a pretty good player.
3 LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge was drafted second overall (after Andrea Bargnani!!) in the 2006 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls, although he was soon traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. I wonder how much the Bulls and Raptors are regretting those moves. Aldridge has had an amazing NBA career thus far, consistently producing the big 20 and 10 (2o points per game and 10 rebounds per game). Yes, his numbers were down a tad in San Antonio last year, but that can mostly be attributed to a new system and the fact that he sacrificed a large part of his individual game for team success. I would expect his numbers to increase back to the 20 and 10 range next year now that he is the main big man on the team (if you been hiding under a rock, Tim Duncan retired).
The final step for Aldridge to truly establish himself as one of the greats is to advance to the NBA Finals, at least.
2 Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant was the second overall pick in 2007 by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant is a great player, but I must admit it was hard to put him so high on the list after his free agency choice. Where is the competitiveness to want to beat your rivals? Nonetheless, Durant is a top three player in the world and also a former league MVP. He has made the All-Star team on several different occasions, is consistently on the All-NBA team, and has led his team to the NBA Finals along with many additional deep playoff runs. He is also a scoring machine and has lately developed his games in terms of defense, play-making, and rebounding.
Durant is now 28, and in his prime, so if he wants to win multiple rings he needs to get on that soon. I personally cannot wait to watch him and Westbrook play each other this season.
1 LeBron James
Nothing to argue here. LeBron James declared for the draft right after high school and the rest is history. Currently, LeBron is the best player on the planet (sorry Stephen Curry fans). In addition to the present, LeBron has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players to ever play in the NBA. The only criticism people had left of LeBron was that he could not win without the big three in Miami, or a great executive like Pat Riley.
Well, after his latest championship, haters have nothing left to say and LeBron could go the rest of his career without winning a title and still be a top 10 player of all time (although something tells me he is not quite done yet). For his career, LeBron has averaged 27 points per game, 7 rebounds per game, 7 assists per game, and a field goal percentage of 50 percent. Not a bad day's work.
Notable players taken after James: Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh.
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