Today is draft day, the most nerve-wracking and exciting day on the NBA offseason calendar. Each team and all of their fans look forward to the promise of a budding superstar. This year’s draft is especially unpredictable, largely because a lot of players are evenly rated after Blake Griffin at No. 1. The economic climate also means that there should be a good deal of trade activity. One thing though, is for certain. At least one team is going home with an absolute lemon. Whoever it is has lots of company. Here is my list of the top ten busts in NBA draft history.
No. 10: Rafael Araujo, 8th pick, NBA betting observers, Araujo was no diamond in the rough. More like a clump of dirt in the rough. He’s doing quite well with Flamengo of the Novo Basquete Brasil league now though. He averaged 2.8ppg and 2.8rpg in the NBA. Making this draft bust pill even harder to swallow for the Raptors is that Andre Iguodala was taken with the very next pick.
No. 9: Shawn Bradley, 2nd pick, Philadelphia 76ers, 1993. How can a 7’6” guy who can shoot the ball suck? Ask Bradley and the Sixers. 8ppg with 6prg and 2.5bpg isn’t that bad, unless you’re the second pick of the draft! On the other hand, the innumerable posters Bradley appears victimized on has added a lot to the NBA. Taken immediately after Bradley: Penny Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn, multiple time All-Stars.
No. 8: Robert Traylor, 6th pick, Dallas Mavericks, 1998. Ah yes, Tractor Traylor. Never has a professional athlete been so out shape (save bowling, darts and baseball). Don’t be too quick to get on the Mavs for the horrible selection though, within hours they had traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks for the rights to future league-MVP Dirk Nowitzki, in what was quite possibly the worst trade in the history of the NBA. Traylor played six seasons, averaging 4.8 points and 6.3 cheeseburgers per game.
No. 7: Nikoloz Tskitishvili, 5th pick, Denver Nuggets, 2002. Luckily for NBA announcers who had to pronounce his name, Tskitishvili was quickly out of the NBA. He also ensured that NBA teams would take much longer looks at European prospects before taking them with a top lottery pick. Tskitishvili had amazing workouts, showing skill and athleticism, it’s really too bad that he couldn’t play actual basketball. He averaged 3 points and 2 boards in four years in the league. Taken after him were Amar’e Stoudemire and Caron Butler.
No. 6: Danny Ferry, 2nd pick, Cleveland Cavaliers, 1989. Ferry did manage to stay in the Association for 13 seasons, but was never more than a role player. Hardly worth a second overall pick. On the other hand, he’s had some success as a general manager as of the Cavs, so the pick was worth it? Ferry averaged 7 points and just under 3 rebounds. He was inexplicably taken before Sean Elliot, Glen Rice, Tim Hardaway and Shawn Kemp.
No. 5: Chris Washburn, 3rd pick, GS Warriors, 1986. This big man from NC State came into the league with great expectations. He left having played only 72 games. He averaged 3 points and 2 rebounds. Oh yeah, and he was banned for life from the NBA in 1989 for failing three drug tests. That being said, there wasn’t much to be had behind him, as No. 1 pick Brad Daugherty was the only first rounder to make an all-star team. Strangely, the second round featured four future All-Stars.
No. 4: Sam Bowie, 2nd pick, Portland Trailblazers, 1984. It’s sort of unfair to call Sam Bowie a bust, and yet he’s one of the most famous in draft history. 1984 was a banner year, and the consensus number one was Hakeem Olajuwon. Most basketball people had Michael Jordan as the clear No. 2, but Portland already had a superstar scorer in Clyde Drexler. The Blazers went for need over talent, and took Bowie. Bowie struggled with injuries early in his career, but still managed to average 10.9 point and 7.5 rebounds per game in a ten season career. However, if you get picked before Jordan, you’re going to be called a bust.
No. 3: Kwame Brown, 1st pick, Washington Wizards, 2001. You’d think a guy as talented as Michael Jordan would know talent when he saw it. Not the case. Kwame Brown has the perfect NBA body (aside from small hands), but little skill or desire. Brown has managed only 7.0ppg and 5.6rpg in his NBA career. He was taken before Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, Richard Jefferson and many other legitimate NBA talents.
No. 2: Darko Milicic, 2nd pick, Detroit Pistons, 2003. Here’s the deal. You’ve got the number two pick in the best draft class in NBA history. You’re already a legit playoff contender, one more piece should put you in dynasty territory. LeBron James is gone at No. 1, so who do you pick? Melo? Bosh? Wade? Of course not, you take Darko Milicic and play him 5 minutes a game to make sure that he never develops. Well, it all went according to plan for the Pistons, who whiffed on an amazing opportunity. Milicic is still trying to make a name for himself in the league, now with Memphis (all though a trade rumor for Quentin Richardson has legs). He’s averaged 5.5ppg and 2.8rpg in his career, just atrocious.
No. 1: Michael Olowokandi, 1st pick, Los Angeles Clippers, 1998. Of course it’s the Clippers who made the worst selection in NBA history, who else could it be? Olowokandi was another big with good size and lots of “potential.” Olowokandi had little skill and zero interest in acquiring it. He stayed in the Association until 06-07 and averaged 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds a game, which would be OK if he wasn’t selected first overall in an incredible draft. Who did the Clips pass up to land the Kandi-man? Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, and Antwan Jamison. Ouch.