The San Antonio Spurs are known as the model franchise in the NBA that every team aspires to imitate, especially when it comes to selecting players in the draft. The Spurs have been fortunate enough to have some no-brainer picks with David Robinson and Tim Duncan, which any general manager with two cents would have done. However, the Spurs have also built the reputation of turning water into wine.
With their winning percentage in the top of the league each and every year, the Spurs have always had late draft picks, which usually means slim pickings for most teams. But rather than viewing these late picks as scraps, the Spurs have always viewed them as diamonds in the rough. For example, Tony Parker was selected with the 28th pick in the 2001 draft, which is nearly the last pick in the first round. Manu Ginobili was selected with the 57th pick in the 1999 draft, which is nearly at the bottom of the 2nd round. Yet, both of these players will eventually wind up in the Hall of Fame. And this year, they selected Kyle Anderson with the last pick in the first round, whom many experts believe will be a very solid NBA player, for no other reason than the fact that the San Antonio Spurs drafted him.
Meanwhile, some of the worst teams in the league, who get the highest draft picks each and every year, are somehow picking up coal in the heart of a gold mine. The point is, that sometimes you have a lot more to lose by picking early than by picking late, simply by the fact that the expectations are far, far greater. Players picked late in the first round aren’t supposed to be good. Players in the second round aren’t supposed to even make it to the NBA. However, players selected in the lottery are supposed to be franchise players and All-Stars.
Unfortunately, that has not always been the case throughout NBA history. In fact, sometimes the expectations crush some of these players to the point where their careers are very short lived and almost non-existent. The following is a list of the worst picks that every team in the NBA has ever regrettably drafted, and even the Spurs are no exception.
30 Sacramento Kings – Pervis Ellison (1989)
Never Nervous Pervis was selected with the number one pick in the 1989 draft. He played in only 34 games before being shipped out of Sacramento to Washington. Sadly for the Kings, Ellison actually enjoyed three good years for Washington, especially in 1991-92 where he averaged 20 points per game. He ended up playing 12 seasons in the NBA, but he only averaged 9.5 points per game.
29 Detroit Pistons – Darko Milicic (2003)
The former number two pick in 2003 was supposed to be the next big thing from Europe, but the Serbian simply ended up being the next big dud from Europe. The worst past of it? They skipped over drafting Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade, three star players in the league. In his ten-year NBA career, Darko only averaged 6.0 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game.
28 Dallas Mavericks – Roy Tarpley (1986)
The 7th pick in the 1986 draft was 6-11 and 230 pounds, but with all his size, he only averaged 12.6 points per game and 10 rebounds per game. Tarpley could have played nine seasons in the league, but he only ended up playing six seasons in because between 1991-1993, as Tarpley was suspended due to substance abuse. His best season came just before the suspension, when he averaged 20.4 points per game, along with 11 rebounds.
27 Chicago Bulls – Keith Lee (1985)
The 11th pick in the 1985 draft only played 3 seasons in the league. Lee missed his entire third season with an injury to his leg. However, you cannot even blame his leg injury for the reason why he never panned out. Lee only averaged 6.1 points per game and 4.7 rebounds in the three seasons he played. One of the best ever to don a Memphis State Jersey, Lee went back to school after his failed NBA career and got his degree in interdisciplinary studies.
26 Charlotte Bobcats – Adam Morrison (2006)
The Gonzaga small forward was selected with the 3rd pick in the 2006 draft, when he really had no business being drafted that high. Morrison had a lot of hype after his stellar college career, but he only played 3 seasons in the NBA. During his last season he averaged 2.4 points per game and 1.0 rebound per game. His career figures weren't much better, as he only averaged 7.5 points per game and 1.6 rebounds per game. Hardly, worth the 3rd overall selection.
25 Atlanta Hawks – Jon Koncak (1985)
Jon Koncak was selected with the 5th pick in the 1985 draft and did play 11 seasons in the NBA. However, the 7-0 center never dominated the middle like the Hawks had expected. Instead, Koncak only averaged 4.5 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game during his 11-year career. He finished his career in Orlando, with a paltry line of 3 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game.
24 Denver Nuggets – Mark Macon (1991)
Macon was selected with the eighth overall pick in the 1991 draft by the Denver Nuggers, when they still had their awesome colorful jerseys. Macon played all four years at Temple, but he still was not seasoned enough to transition to the NBA, despite being a senior that entered the draft. Macon averaged just 9.2 points per game and 2.5 rebounds per game during his three seasons with the Nuggets before he was shipped off to Detroit, where things didn't improve for him.
23 Houston Rockets – Royce White (2012)
The 16th pick in the 2012 draft was a stud at Iowa State University. However, due to his fear of flying, he could not handle the professional life of a NBA player. He never ended up playing a regular season game with the Rockets, but has since dealt with his fear while with the Sacramento Kings. Though, he has only played three NBA games for the Sacramento Kings and even was on the Sixers roster at one point.
22 Golden State Warriors – Chris Washburn (1986)
The number 3 pick in the 1986 draft out of North Carolina State only played in 72 games during his four-year career. He was caught red handed stealing a stereo at NC State, so he suffered some character issues and immaturity problems which he brought with him to the NBA. The Warriors regrettably took him anyway, but enough time has passed, so they aren’t kicking themselves anymore, just punching themselves.
21 Indiana Pacers – Scott Haskin (1993)
The 6-11 forward was selected with the 14th overall pick in the 1993 draft. However, Haskin only played in 27 games for the Pacers and averaged 2.0 points per game and 2.0 rebounds per game. But the saddest number of all is the number one, because he played in only one season in the NBA.
20 Los Angeles Lakers – Earl Jones (1984)
No, this isn't the cool James Earl Jones who was Darth Vader in the original Star Wars flicks. This is the guy who was the 23rd pick in the 1984 draft, was 7-0 tall, and averaged less than 1.0 rebounds per game. To make this stats even sadder, he only averaged 0.9 points per game. This may explain why he only played two seasons in the NBA for two different teams. Yes, size is important in the NBA, but so are skills.
19 Los Angeles Clippers – Michael Olowokandi (1998)
The number one overall pick in the 1998 draft played nine seasons in the NBA. The Candy-Man was always viewed as a project, but he never really got out of the project phase. Candy averaged 8.3 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game during his career. Instead of wasting a pick om Olowakandi, the Clippers could've picked from three future Hall of Famers in Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, and Paul Pierce. It's a tough pill to swallow...
18 Milwaukee Bucks – Kent Benson (1977)
Just two minutes into Benson’s NBA Career, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar broke Benson’s jaw with a punch that crippled him physically and emotionally for the rest of his career. So, maybe we shouldn't blame him for all his issues. Sadly, the former number one pick spent just two seasons with Milwaukee before bouncing around to a few different teams in the NBA. He finished his unspectacular career with career averages of 9.1 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game.
17 Miami Heat – Michael Beasley (2008)
The 6-9 forward was selected with the number two pick in the 2008 draft. If he had met his potential, he would've been a valuable part of the Miami Heat teams that won two NBA championships. The left-handed Beasley still has incredible potential, but he is now out of the NBA. His character issues and off the court problems were no longer worth taking the risk, no matter how great his potential is.
16 New Orleans Hornets – Kirk Haston (2001)
The number 16 pick in the 2001 draft was supposed to be the sharp shooter that the Hornets needed to help spread the floor. Instead, he ended up in the D-League after averaging only 1.2 points per game in just 27 games. The worst part for the Hornets was that they could've picked some players who turned out to be useful NBA players instead, as Zach Randolph and Gerald Wallace both went after him. Oh, and only 12 picks later a French point guard was picked by the Spurs. I wonder which pick turned out better...
15 Minnesota Timberwolves – Jonny Flynn (2009)
The feisty point guard out of Syracuse was supposed to be the floor general for the young Timberwolves, instead the number 6 pick in the 2009 draft was traded to Toronto after a couple of lack luster years, which led to him being traded to Houston, and then to Portland, and then out of the NBA. When it was all said and done, he averaged 9.2 points per game and 3.9 assists per game, which isn't nearly enough for the 6th overall pick.
14 Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder – Rich King (1991)
The 7-2 center had tons of size, which is a theme on this list, so the Sonics did not hesitate to take the big man with the 14th pick in the 1991 draft. However, the big man only ended up playing in 72 games over the span of 4 years before he was out of the NBA. With his size, averaging only one rebound per game is simply unacceptable. Throw in an average of 1.9 points per game and you have a recipe for not getting another contract.
13 New York Knicks – Frederic Weis (1999)
The big man from France was selected with the 15th pick in the 1999 draft. Sadly, the only thing Weis is now remembered for is being dunked “over” by Vince Carter in the 2000 Olympics. From that point on, Weis never recovered, but was solely the subject of humiliation and the brunt of many jokes. He never made it across the Atlantic out of fear that Air Canada might be waiting for him.
12 Philadelphia Sixers – Marvin Barnes (1974)
The second overall pick in the 1974 draft never even played one minute for the Sixers because he headed over to the ABA. He did average 16.0 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game, but none of it was with the poor Sixers. He ended up making his NBA debut with the Detroit Pistons and played on four different teams in the NBA.
11 Orlando Magic – David Vaughn (1995)
The 25th pick in the 1995 draft was a nomad throughout his NBA career. He played for four different teams in his five seasons in the NBA. Vaughn only averaged 2.9 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game during his career. All in all, this isn’t what you would expect out of a first rounder, but it’s not that surprising considering he was the 25th pick.
10 San Antonio Spurs – Alfredrick Hughes (1985)
The 14th pick in the 1985 draft only played in 68 games before he was out of the league. Hughes averaged a paltry 5.2 points per game and 1.7 rebounds as a shooting guard. What is even more tragic is that he only spent one season in the NBA as a pro. Hey, you can't win 'em all San Antonio.
9 Washington Wizards – Kwame Brown (2001)
The first high school player ever to be selected as the number one pick in the draft had a lot of hype and expectation placed upon him after Michael Jordan nabbed him to become the face of the Wizards franchise. Brown did have a lengthy career, but he never became the type of player that was worthy to be selected with the number one pick in the draft. At least he got to play with Kobe Bryant at one point...and get yelled at.
8 Toronto Raptors – Andrea Bargnani (2006)
The number 1 pick in the 2006 draft was supposed to be the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki. He had the size and the stroke of a mediocre Dirk, but he never quite became even that. Make no mistake Bargnani is a serviceable role player, but he was supposed to be a superstar. During his lackluster time with the Raps, he averaged 15.0 points per game and 4.9 rebounds. Hardly deserving of the first overall pick.
7 Utah Jazz – Jose Ortiz (1987)
The 15th overall pick out of Oregon Stat played only two seasons with the Utah Jazz, before he was out of the NBA. Ortiz averaged 2.9 points per game and 1.2 rebounds per game during his two-year career. Not exactly what you would expect with the 15th pick. There was still some good player left in the draft too, as the Jazz could've taken Mark Jackson or Ken Norman.
6 Phoenix Suns – William Bedford (1986)
The sixth pick in the 1986 draft had his career ruined by perennial substance abuse, which eventually led to him doing some time in prison. The 7-0 center could never play a full season because of everything that he was going through off the court. Had he been more of a pro, Bedford could have had a better career in the NBA. In the end, in only 6 seasons, Beford averaged 4.1 points per game, along with 2.4 rebounds per game.
5 Portland Trail Blazers – Greg Oden (2007)
The number one pick in the 2007 draft was the unanimous pick that every general manager in the league would have taken, but it just so happens that the Portland Trail Blazers had the pick. Prior to Oden, Sam Bowie was always known as the biggest bust that the Trail Blazers had ever picked, but with the Oden selection, Bowie is now set free. Luckily for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Oden was taken by the Blazers and they got to select Kevin Durant, who's arguably the best player in the NBA right now.
4 New Jersey Nets – Ed O’Bannon (1995)
The left handed shooting guard was the 9th pick in the 1995 draft, however, his pro-career, did not reflect his college career at all. O’Bannon only played 1.5 seasons in the NBA with the New Jersey Nets, before being shipped to the Dallas Mavericks and then winding up in Europe. He averaged a depressing 5.0 points per game and 0.8 assists per game in his professional career.
3 Memphis Grizzlies – Hasheem Thabeet (2009)
The giant from UCONN was selected with the 2nd pick in the 2009 draft, but he never reached the potential that many thought he would reach. At 7-2, Thabeet is one of the biggest players in the league, but he still has not figured out how to use his size and it is already his fifth season in the NBA. With his incredible size, a career average of 2.7 rebounds per game is nowhere near good enough.
2 Boston Celtics – Eric Montross (1994)
The 9th pick in the 1994 draft had a stellar college career, but his script was flipped once he got to the NBA. The big man from UNC only averaged 4.5 points per game and 4.6 rebounds per game throughout his NBA career. Meanwhile, the Celtics could have grabbed Eddie Jones, Jalen Rose, and Aaron McKie, who were all selected after him.
1 Cleveland Cavaliers – Chuckie Williams (1976)
The 15th pick in the 1976 draft played only 22 games in the NBA before his pro-career was over. He tallied a total of 37 points, which came out to about 1.7 points per game. Very rarely does a player picked this high, last so little in the NBA. Instead of wasting a pick on Chuckie, the Cavs could've had Alex English or Johnny Davis. Hell, they could've taken any other player in the first two rounds of the draft and got more mileage out of them.