It's easy to live in a world of "coulda, woulda, shoulda" or "if only." There are countless stories of NBA Draft disappointments and busts. It's hard to say who is at fault for these players failing to reach expectations. Is it really fair to blame a kid for reaching out for a job that will pay them more money in one season than they may ever see in their lifetime?Heck no. The onus for these mistakes lies on the scouts and the management of the teams that select the individuals each summer.
Sometimes it's a case in which the talent seen overseas or in the NCAA does not equate to that of being ready for the NBA lifestyle. The constant travel and number of games along with the fact that they are playing against grown men is sometimes overwhelming for these young men, regardless of how talented they are or projected to be. It can also be a case in which for some players, they are drafted by the wrong team, one that is unstable or does not have the right mix of veterans to mentor the incoming rookie with sky high expectations put upon them. For every Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis or LeBron James, there is a Joe Alexander, Stromile Swift or Korleone Young who have been told that they will not only succeed, but star at the next level.
Unfortunately in the case of the following twenty individuals, when and where they were selected may not have been the best for both the player and the franchise.
20 Marvin Williams (2005 - 2nd Pick)
Should Have Been: 7th Pick
The former North Carolina Tar Heel freshman turned pro has managed to carve out a decent NBA career to date, but not one worthy of the 2nd overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. Considering at the time the Atlanta Hawks were in need of a point guard, many questioned as to why they selected the swing forward rather than grabbing either Deron Williams or Chris Paul, two players that could have changed the direction of the franchise.
19 Greg Oden (2007 - 1st Pick)
Should Have Been: 16th Pick
It's hard to evaluate where Oden should have been selected in the 2007 draft, as injuries plagued his once projected dominating career. Before and after the Portland Trail Blazers selected the former Buckeye and the Seattle SuperSonics grabbed Kevin Durant, talks around the water coolers and locker rooms were how these two freshmen were going to dominate the North West corner of the United States basketball scene. Instead, each moment that Oden sat on the sideline became "coulda, woulda, shoulda."
Let's consider for a moment that Oden entered the draft in perfect health, the Blazers could have had a game changing combo of Brandon Roy on the perimeter and Oden inside. Had the Blazers taken into consideration how hard it is for players, especially big men, to return to a successful career following microfracture surgery, they no doubt would have selected Durant, which would have meant Oden's draft stock falling to potentially a late first round pick.
18 Dajuan Wagner (2002 - 6th Pick)
Should Have Been: 14th Pick
Dropping 100 points in a game will get you noticed, no matter who or where you are. For the Camden, New Jersey born Dajuan Wagner, it meant a lot of hype and attention that would soon lead to being selected with the 6th pick in the 2002 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After one year with the Memphis Tigers, Wagner declared his intentions for the NBA and who is to blame him after averaging 21.2 points and nearly four assists during his one and done season with Coach Calipari. Wagner did not have a bad rookie season, as he finished sixth in scoring and third in point average for the struggling Cavs. However for a team that was having trouble getting out of the Eastern Conference basement, adding the teenager may not have been their best choice. For Wagner, going to a team with more committed veterans who he could of sat behind of may have been better for his career (though unfortunately due to health reasons it would be cut short).
17 Marcus Fizer (2000 - 4th Pick)
Should Have Been: 5th Pick
It's hard to look past a veteran college player who just captured his conference Player Of The Year Award (Big 12) and was also a First Team All-American, however with that being said, heads were scratched when the Chicago Bulls, who mind you just drafted a better version of Fizer in Elton Brand the year prior used the fourth pick on the Iowa State Cyclone.
16 Rafael Araujo (2004 - 8th Pick)
Should Have Been: Second Round Pick
When the Toronto Raptors traded Antonio Davis to the Chicago Bulls for Jalen Rose, it opened up a gap in their front court, hence the need for a big man to help Chris Bosh in the trenches. Unfortunately after Dwight Howard and Emeka Okafor, it was slim pickings for size in the 2004 draft. But adding Andre Iguodala or Kevin Martin would have just created a logjam in the backcourt.
15 Shawn Bradley (1993 - 2nd Pick)
Should Have Been: 8th Pick
Maybe the Sixers thought that adding 7'6", 230lbs Bradley, one of limited offensive talents to a roster that already had 7'7", 200lbs Manute Bol, one of even less offensive skills would help get them to the promise land.
In reality, all it did was present the team with one of the worst versions of a "twin towers" in NBA history. Sadly, they gave up on drafting players such as Anfernee Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn and even Vin Baker had they been determined for front court help. For arguments, lets slot Bradley with a team in need of a big man in the '93 draft. Swapping Bradly for Baker with the Milwaukee Bucks 8th pick would have left the Bucks offensively challenged up front, but would have been a more realistic draft slot for the BYU product.
14 Dennis Hopson (1987 - 3rd Pick)
Should Have Been: 19th Pick
13 Darius Miles (2000 - 3rd Pick)
Should Have Been: 12th Pick
Tabbed as the next Kevin Garnett, Miles was part of one of the most mediocre NBA Drafts in recent history. Seen as the next big thing thanks to his high school highlights and covers on Sports Illustrated and SLAM Magazine, Miles entered the league with unreachable expectations.
12 Jonathan Bender (1999 - 5th Pick)
Should Have Been: 12th Pick
Originally drafted by the Toronto Raptors and then traded to the Indiana Pacers as a replacement for the aging, but fan favorite workhorse Antonio Davis, Bender has been deemed a draft day bust.
11 Steve Francis (1999 - 2nd Pick)
Should Have Been: Anywhere Else
Talent wise, Steve Francis gave teams every reason to pick him with a high draft selection. Attitude wise, not so much and in the case of the Vancouver Grizzlies, this was a case in which "no means no!". When a player adamantly, flat out, straight to the point, completely blunt, looks you in the eye and says he doesn't want to play for your team, YOU DO NOT DRAFT HIM!
10 Jonny Flynn (2009 - 6th Pick)
Should Have Been: 2010 NBA Draft Pick
The 2009 NBA Draft was filled with a number of players who have made solid contributions to their team over the years. It has also produced at least one Hall Of Fame player (Steph Curry, who by the way was drafted 7th), All-Stars (Blake Griffin, James Harden, Demar DeRozan) and a couple of second round surprises (Patrick Beverley, Danny Green and Patty Mills).
9 Adam Morrison (2006 - 3rd Pick)
Should Have Been: 10th Pick
The 2006 draft was one that did not have a definitive Superstar, but it did produce franchise components such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Roy. With the Raptors taking a flyer on Andrea Bargnani and Aldridge going to Portland, the remainder of the first round was wide open.
It's been said that Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player ever, but in the same breath he has also been tabbed as one of the worst GMs, especially when it comes to drafting. Apparently Jordan, like some others, figured that Morrison, being the NCAA Player Of The Year would translate into a solid professional career, selecting the Gonzaga forward over players such as Roy, Rudy Gay, Rondo and second round surprise Paul Millsap.
8 Michael Olowokandi (1998 - 1st Pick)
Should Have Been: Undrafted
Before "Lob City" there was the LA Clippers, a failure of a sports organization if there ever was one. Previous to the current roster, which for the most part has been together for a playoff run that has lasted the last five seasons, the Clippers managed to make the post season only four times in the 27 years that they had been in Los Angeles.
7 Sam Bowie (1984 - 2nd Pick)
Should Have Been: 6th Pick
He who was drafted before Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton, all franchise changing Hall of Famers. Let's face it, at the time, the Portland Trail Blazers already had Clyde Drexler on their roster, so where would they fit a player like MJ? (The answer is, anywhere!). With a back court already set and a depleted front line, the addition of Bowie made some sense, except for the dreaded "big man leg injury" red flag. Although he was able to suit up for 76 games and average ten points and eight rebounds, Bowie's injuries would soon get the best of him to the point in which he would only play 63 games over the next three seasons for the Blazers.
6 Nikoloz Tskitishvili (2002 - 5th Pick)
Should Have Been: Undrafted
Let's quickly look at who came after "Skita" in the 2002 NBA Draft. Nene, a solid sixteen years and counting. Amar'e Stoudemire, Rookie Of The Year and dominant beast of a player for his first eight seasons. Caron Butler, he of a fourteen year career,14 PPG and 5 RPG averages. Tayshaun Prince, NBA Champion and fourteen year NBA resume. Heck even Matt Barnes and Luis Scola, two late second round picks are still ticking.
5 Chris Washburn (1986 - 3rd Pick)
Should Have Been: Third Round Pick
Sadly, Washburn's drug habits and horrid career weren't the worst thing to come from the 1986 NBA Draft. With the death of Len Bias hovering over the league before he even stepped on the court for the Boston Celtics, failures like Washburn and Roy Tarpley were second thoughts.
4 Kwame Brown (2001 - 1st Pick)
Should Have Been: 2003 Draft Pick
Chances are if both Brown and the Washington Wizards could redo the 2001 draft, neither would have ended up with each other. In the prime of the prep-to-pro era, Brown was expected to be a Kevin Garnett clone with a handle. We all know how that ended up.
3 Darko Milicic (2003 - 2nd Pick)
Should Have Been: Second Round Pick
What Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons saw in Milicic that they didn't see in players such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade still baffles fans to this day. Sure with Melo and Wade they already had established player with Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton, but adding those prized rookies off the bench would have served for depth and future.
2 Hasheem Thabeet (2009 - 2nd Pick)
Should Have Been: 36th Pick
Fourteen years earlier, the Vancouver Grizzlies hitched their wagon to a big man from Gans Oklahoma by the name of Bryant "Big Country" Reeves. In 2009, the team figured they may have found their big man of the future, a defensive minded selection to help protect the Memphis end of the court.
Sadly, Thabeet offered little in terms of basket protection as he struggled to get on the court averaging about ten minutes of action per game in the two years that he was with the Grizzlies. Since that time, the former University of Connecticut Husky has bounced around the NBA and the NBDL, at the time holding the distinction of being the highest drafted player ever to be sent to the Development League.
1 Anthony Bennett (2013 - 1st Pick)
Should Have Been: 25th Pick
It's a distinction that no professional athlete wants to be labelled as, "the worst draft pick ever". Sadly, Anthony Bennett is in a battle for top spot. After phenom Andrew Wiggins was selected with the first overall pick in the 2012 draft, Canadians were giddy hearing Bennett's name as the first selection in the 2013 draft. At the same time, many were left shaking their heads wondering why the UNLV freshman was called across the stage first.
In a draft filled with component pieces rather than franchise players, the Cleveland Cavaliers must have selected Bennett based purely on the potential of becoming a modern day version of former Runnin' Rebel, Larry Johnson. If Bennett was selected later in the first round in a spot with less expectations, rather than the Cavs hitching their wagon to Bennett, he may have had a more successful career.
Currently on his fourth NBA team, Bennett has struggled to not only maintain a level of health, but more importantly a level of understanding and competitiveness at the pro level. As of now, the "Greek Freak" Giannis Antetokounmpo would easily supplant Bennett as the number one pick, while the Canadian would have been better off either waiting until the 2014 draft or at the very least going to a team like the LA Clippers (25th) or the San Antonio Spurs (28th), two teams that could have taken their time developing the combo forward.
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