The NBA draft is a night full of excitement and hope. Each NBA team is looking to add the league's next superstar to their roster. A lot of times teams end up being disappointed with their selection, but that's just the nature of the draft. A few NBA teams have made a bad habit of drafting underperforming NBA players. Drafting usually dictates a team's success in the coming years, so the teams that don't draft well are usually the teams that don't win many games.
Some teams do get fortunate, though. Free agency can be a savior for teams that are poor at drafting. Great teams can be built through free agency just as they can be built through the draft. There are many examples of this such as the Heat in 2010, or the Celtics in 2007. Even though these teams were built primarily through free agency, there a couple of core players to lure talent throughout the league.
The draft is by far the most important event the NBA holds barring actual games. The best teams are built through the draft and no matter what type of superteams are built, nothing will beat the team that has grown together and developed a chemistry throughout the years.
15 New York Knicks
The Knicks are not a team that you would typically think of when thinking about teams that make bad draft picks. They never have been a great drafting team however. Just because the Knicks have a big market and they have a great history, it doesn't mean they haven't made many blunders. Just like any other team, the Knicks sometimes have problems with the draft as well. One of the most glaring mistakes by the Knicks, was selecting Jordan Hill over DeMar DeRozan and there are countless others.
The Knicks also drafted Renaldo Balkman with the 21st pick in the draft one pick just before Rajon Rondo got drafted. Many people forget how good Rondo was when he was on the Celtics because he has been a cancer in the locker room and an average player on the court the past couple years. When Rondo has good veteran leadership in the locker room, he is nothing but positive for the team he is on.
In any event, the Knicks have missed on many picks in recent history.
14 Cleveland Cavaliers
Yes, I know what you may be thinking... The Cavs have drafted, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, and Andrew Wiggins. While that is completely true, and they have turned out to be great players, they were the consensus pick. There was no way they could draft anyone else with the first pick, so it was obvious. Also, when the #1 overall pick wasn't such an easy choice, they have made awful decisions. Anthony Bennett may go down as the biggest bust in NBA history, and that falls on the Cavaliers' shoulders. The Cavs have also made terrible picks like selecting DeSagana Diop with the 8th overall pick in the 2001 draft over the likes of Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph, and Tony Parker.
There are too many mistakes to count by the Cavs and that's why they land on this list. They could have drafted Kobe Bryant, of course many other teams could have had him as well.
When a whole article can be dedicated to the draft mistakes of one franchise, you know they stink at the draft table.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves
Until just recently, the T-Wolves had a reputation for making stupid draft day decisions. Even though their recent drafts have been hits with Karl-Anthony Towns, and Kris Dunn (who is looking like he will be a great player and great value for where they selected him), there are still too many mistakes to count. The Timberwolves didn't actually draft Andrew Wiggins he was traded from the Cavs.
Before this new era for the Timberwolves however, was a dreadful time of bad picks. Some of these bad picks include but are not limited to, Donyell Marshall who was selected 4th overall in 1994 over Grant Hill and Jason Kidd, Wesley Johnson, who was drafted 2nd overall in 2010, but worst of all was Johnny Flynn. The Wolves also drafted Ray Allen once upon a time but traded him away to the Bucks for Stephon Marbury and a future first-rounder.
Other good picks have been sprinkled into their draft history. Kevin Garnett was a very good selection for the Wolves, although he never won any championships for them. There is a reason that they haven't made the playoffs since 2004, which is the longest of any NBA team.
12 Denver Nuggets
Nikoloz Tskitishvili (good luck with pronouncing that one) is known as the biggest draft bust in Nuggets history. He was drafted 5th overall in 2002, and he only averaged 2.9 points per game in his short NBA career. Raef Lafrentz is another bad pick by the Nuggets. While he wasn't a bust, they selected him over Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki which can make any decent player a bad pick just like that.
Lafrentz was the third overall pick in 1998, so he had very high expectations. Unfortunately he didn't live up to them and the players drafted after him, exceeded theirs. The Nuggets did draft Carmelo Anthony with the 3rd overall pick, which was a great pick and they drafted Jalen Rose, but that doesn't keep them from being on this list of worst drafting teams.
Their lack of success as a franchise in recent memory stems from their draft day failures.
11 Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have been improving their drafts recently by selecting Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jabari Parker. But before that, they drafted poorly which put their team into position to have many top-5 picks. Even with those high picks, they still had trouble finding their franchise savior. The Bucks once upon a time drafted Andrew Bogut with the first pick in the draft, which they now realize was insane. They also drafted Yi Jianlian with the 6th pick over Joakim Noah.
Ironically though, the Bucks' biggest mistake stems from a player they did draft, but they let him get away. The Bucks drafted Dirk Nowitzki in 1998 but later traded him to the Mavericks where he has spent his entire career and become one of the greatest power forwards of all time. Smooth move Bucks. You had a legend in your hands and decided to give him away before he even got a chance to prove himself. Even though people will say that the Bucks never actually had him, I say they could have but they chose a to trade him instead.
10 Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers have made many draft mistakes. In one of my other articles, I listed the Sixers' 15 worst draft mistakes. To top off the list, stood Shawn Bradley. Bradley was taken 2nd overall and boy that proved to be a mistake even bigger than Shawn Bradley himself. Other terrible picks by the 76ers include Sharone Wright at #6, Evan Turner at#2, and the oh so regrettable #8 Larry Hughes pick.
If the Sixers had drafted Paul Pierce or Dirk Nowitzki instead of Hughes, they could have won at least one championship if not more than that. The Sixers did hit on one of their most important draft picks, in Allen Iverson. Drafted #1 overall, they absolutely got the right guy, and they also had the #1 pick in this year's draft and selected Ben Simmons who looks to turn around the franchise.
The Sixers have had several high picks in recent years as they've remained in the NBA's cellar, so let's hope they find themselves off this list in a few years.
9 Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks have made more than their fair share of mistakes throughout their history. Among them, drafting Jon Koncak, was by far the worst and the most scrutinized. Koncak was selected 5th overall before Karl Malone, Joe Dumars, Chris Mullin, Terry Porter and more. In the 1985 draft which was one of the greatest of all time, the Hawks failed to join in on the fun. Another huge mistake the Hawks made was drafting Adam Keefe 10th overall. Keefe only ended up playing two seasons with the Hawks which made them wish they had drafted Latrell Sprewell or Robert Horry.
To make things worse, in 1982, they could have drafted "Sleepy" Floyd or Fat Lever with the 10th pick, but instead, the decided to go with Keith Edmonson. This draft wasn't considered a failure however because they ended up walking away with Dominique Wilkins after a trade. They didn't technically draft him though so I can't count that move as a quality draft pick.
8 Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies aren't great at drafting, but when they do draft a good player, they seem to trade him away before he even gets to make a contribution. Some of their blunders include, drafting Kevin Love and Steve Francis and then trading them, drafting Hasheem Thabeet 2nd overall, Antonio Daniels 4th, Mike Bibby 2nd, Stromile Swift 2nd, and Drew Gooden 4th. The Grizzlies' draft history is littered with failures. The Grizzlies just can't seem to do the draft right. Even when they win, they lose. They keep the players with little talent and trade the ones with the talent.
They have had some success however. Shane Battier and Mike Conley were both good picks who have kept the franchise afloat. Still, the franchise has been mired in mediocrity throughout their existence, dating back to Vancouver. The answer as to why is revealed every year on draft day.
7 Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are a good team now, so you might be surprised to see them on this list, but once upon a time, they didn't have such a good team. To start the list of bad draft picks, I have Charlie Villanueva, who was drafted 7th overall in 2005. Not only did Villanueva only only play one season with the Raptors, but he didn't have a great career with any other team either.
Another bad pick by the Raptors was Andrea Bargnani, which is probably their most regrettable because he was the first overall pick in 2006. The very next pick, was LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge has gone on to have a great NBA career and is still playing at an elite level today while Bargnani is barely a factor in the league.
The Raptors have only recently begun to turn their franchise around, but the team held themselves back through their first 15 years with some poor draft decisions.
6 Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets
The current Charlotte franchise are no longer called the Bobcats, but for the short time that they were, they were known for losing. The Bobcats set the record for least amount of wins in an NBA season, albeit a shortened one, and also top the list for a season's lowest winning percentage in 2011-12. The Bobcats really were a black hole of an NBA franchise. Some of their worst picks include Brandon Wright, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and D.J. Augustin, selected 8th, 2nd and 9th respectively. The Bobcats missed on all three.
Although the Bobcats didn't inherit much talent as an expansion franchise, they didn't help themselves through the draft either. It's is no wonder they were one of the worst teams in the league. The Bobcats legacy, or lack thereof, will live on forever. The franchise changed their name to the Hornets once New Orleans changed their name and hopefully it also has changed their draft fortunes.
5 Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers, throughout history, have been one of the least successful franchises of all time. They have made too many draft mistakes that have been extremely hard to overcome. Young NBA fans may not realize just how bad the Clippers once were. The current Clippers are a revelation and may not last too much longer. Almost everyone knows about Michael Olowokandi and how much of a bust he was, but many people forget about Benoit Benjamin and Shaun Livingston. Benjamin, just like Jon Koncak, was drafted before legends like Karl Malone and Joe Dumars.
The Clippers were just keeping up their reputation of being a laughingstock. Recently, the Clippers have made one of their best selections of all time, Blake Griffin. Blake got off to a rough start getting injured early in his rookie season and not coming back until the next one, but he went on to win rookie of the year the next season, and the rest is history.
4 Sacramento Kings
The Kings are becoming more and more dysfunctional franchise by the day. The trades and draft picks they have made over the past decade have set the franchise back years. Thomas Robinson was an unfortunate 5th overall pick in 2012, he never lived up to his expectations. The Kings thought they had drafted a high motor player who would be a beast on the boards, but they were sadly mistaken. You can't blame the Kings for this pick because Robinson was projected to go higher and the Kings were surprised to see him sitting there at 5, but if they had just selected Damian Lillard who was drafted one pick later at #6, then the Kings would be in a completely different state. Also Pervis Ellison in 1989 was a bad pick. With the #1 overall selection the Kings could have had Glen Rice or Sean Elliott.
3 Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers have made just a few too many draft mistakes. Two of them glare over the rest however. Trail Blazers fans might have seen too much to forgive them for these two huge mistakes. The Blazers drafted Greg Oden over Kevin Durant which is bad on its own but to pass on the GOAT, Michael Jordan, is a nightmare. Not only did they pass on Jordan, but they passed on Jordan for Sam Bowie.
This is considered to be the worst draft pick in NBA history and rightfully so. This draft was littered with great players. It's not all bad when it comes the Blazers draft picks though. Damian Lillard is near the top of this list because they drafted their Lillard who is now their franchise player with the 6th pick in 2012. The Blazers must still be kicking themselves for not picking Jordan though. That alone will forever haunt them.
2 Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets seem to be a team run by 5-year-olds. A few years ago, they traded away three first round picks and a few players for an aging Kevin Garnett and an aging Paul Pierce. Although that doesn't have anything to do with poor drafting, it is hard to make good picks, when you don't have a first-rounder. Especially when you are as bad as the Nets are. Even when the Nets do get their own draft picks they still don't make wise decisions. Dennis Hopson tops the list when it comes to draft mistakes by the Nets. He was selected with the 3rd overall pick and was drafted over Scottie Pippen. The Nets still haven't recovered and still are feeling the effects of the awful Garnett/Pierce trade. The Nets also drafted Mike O'Koren with the sixth overall pick over players like Andrew Toney and Kiki Vandeweghe.
1 Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons' biggest draft day woe has to be selecting Darko Milicic with the 2nd overall pick in 2003. Joe Dumars called the selection his biggest regret while in the front office for the Pistons. Pistons fans better scroll past this: Detroit passed on Carmelo, Wade, and Bosh. Any of those players would have been way better than Milicic and wouldn't have been such a detriment to the organization.
The Pistons' 1967 draft was awful. Yes, I am going back extremely far, but they had two picks in the top 4 and failed to draft a star with either. With the #1 overall pick, they drafted Jimmy Walker instead of Earl Monroe, who was drafted 2nd, and drafted Sonny Dove 4th instead of Walt Frazier who was drafted 5th. The Pistons could have had a dynasty had they just decided to draft Frazier and Monroe. Unfortunately they didn't and that's why they land on this list.
They also have an entire article dedicated to their draft woes.