Every year in the NBA draft there are franchise-altering players that are selected. Some of the players alter the franchise for the good and others come back to haunt GM’s years later. Over the past year there have been a number of “woulda, coulda, shoulda” prospects that teams pass on for whatever misguided reason. Here are the top ten draft busts in the 2000’s decade, and the player that should have been taken faster than Liam Neeson’s daughter in the film “Taken”. However, to qualify for the list, the team must have passed on an impact player to go along with the busted pick. Players whose careers ended early due to injury (Jason Williams, Shaun Livingston, etc.) will not be considered busts. The top ten busts of the past decade are:
10. Washington Wizards select: Kwame Brown; Do-over pick: Pau Gasol
- Brown was selected first overall in the 2001 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards. At the time Kwame Brown was widely considered the top prospect, along with fellow high school seniors Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry. All but Curry were selected ahead of Gasol who proved to be the best big-man out of that group. Brown was by far the least productive out of this group of players. If Michael Jordan could do-over this pick, Pau Gasol would have been the right post-player to build the Wizards around.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers select: Sagana Diop; Do-over pick: Joe Johnson
- Diop is still employed in the NBA believe it or not. He has floated around quite a bit since being drafted by the Cavs, but certainly never lived up to his “potential” in Cleveland. The Cavs missed out on an elite wing player in Joe Johnson (whom the Celtics traded away in his rookie season) and wound up with another busted center.
8. Memphis Grizzlies select: Hasheem Thabeet, Do-over pick: Tyreke Evans
- The Grizz really dropped the ball on this one. So far this season Tyreke Evans has the look of a top 20 player in the making, while Thabeet looks more like one of the walking trees from Lord of the Rings. Even though the Grizzlies are already loaded at the wing positions, Evans would almost automatically be the best player on that team – unless Rudy Gay had something to say about it. They could then make the necessary trades to build around Evans and take it from there. I should mention, while I am writing this the Memphis Grizzlies are in 8th place in the Western Conference playoff seeding.
7. Atlanta Hawks select: Sheldon Williams; Do-over pick: Brandon Roy
- If you can recall, the Hawks have had a tendency to draft shooting guards and small forwards at an alarming rate over the past decade. But the one time they decide to go big and grab a rugged center to do the dirty work, they miss out on a top-10 player in Brandon Roy. The Hawks backcourt would have been unguardable with Brandon Roy and Joe Johnson playing together. Sheldon Williams is still in the league, never seeing much playing time for the Boston Celtics. He is also dangerously close to turning into Omar Epps from the film “Love & Basketball” where his career is finished and all he has left is watching his wife (Candace Parker) be a star in the WNBA, while he never fully lived up to his high draft pick.
6. Denver Nuggets select: Nikoloz Tskitishvili; Do-over pick: Amare’ Stoudemire
- Denver GM: This Tskitishvili kid can really shoot in workouts.
Nuggets Fan: Yes but that’s not in a game at game speed.
Denver GM: Yea but he can really dribble and he is a big guy too.
Nuggets Fan: How about the high school kid Stoudemire. He is a big guy, and scouts are saying he is the next Ben Wallace – except he can score 30 points a game too.
Denver GM: Trust me on this kid. Stoudemire is the Next Tractor Traylor, and we are getting the next Dirk Nowitzki.
Nuggets Fan: Then would that make Caron Butler the next Paul Pierce?
I don’t know why the Gm was talking to a casual fan, but sometimes it does seem like the fans know a little more than the GM of their team; Hello David Khan of Minnesota!
5. Seattle Supersonics select: Robert Swift; Do-over pick: Al Jefferson
- Most of you may not even remember Robert Swift. He was a lanky 7-foot ginger kid entering the draft straight from high school. The Sonics opted for this guy over Al Jefferson, who was a 6-10 260 pound mammoth when he was in high school who bulled his way through competition while averaging 42.6 points, 18 rebounds, and 7 blocks per game during his senior season. This was a no-brainer for the Sonics who essentially took Shaggy from Scooby Doo over Shaquille O’Neal’s character in “Blue Chips”.
4. Toronto Raptors select: Rafael Araujo, Do-over pick: Andre Iguodala
- The Raptors had Vince Carter Part 2 with Andre Iguodala if they had chosen him. Instead they chose the center from BYU (really?) who no one had heard of. Iguodala was clearly more talented than Araujo, and would have been the second coming of Vince Carter in Toronto. By that I mean, over hyped player who can dunk at will, but instead chooses to shoot fade-away jumpers – diminishing their career potential in doing so.
3. Charlotte Bobcats select: Adam Morrison; Do-over pick: Brandon Roy
- Same Draft as Sheldon Williams and you start asking yourself – how could so many teams pass on Roy? The Bulls took Tyrus Thomas, Adam Morrison was chosen over Roy, even Randy Foye was traded for Brandon Roy on draft night! Morrison has just been awful since entering the NBA. He was supposed to be “The Next Larry Bird”, you know that American bred white guy that wins championships. Instead he has turned into Jack Haley from the Chicago Bulls in the 90’s, you know the American bred white guy that rides the coat-tails of great players to championships.
2. Portland Trail Blazers select: Greg Oden, Do-over pick: Kevin Durant
- Greg Oden has been exposed early on in his career. He has been exposed as an injury-prone player, who is limited offensively. Oh and he has also exposed himself to the world, in what would appear to be the first full frontal nudity picture taken of a professional athlete… With a camera phone – standing in front of a mirror by themselves. You got to wonder whose phone calls Greg is avoiding more, his Mother’s or his agent’s?
- Detroit Pistons Select: Darko Milicic, Do-over pick: Carmelo Anthony
- Easily the biggest draft bust of the past decade. Not only was Darko a terrible player and still is, but Joe Dumars passed on a number of great players. If he wanted a big man he could have drafted Chris Bosh or Chris Kaman even, not the untested 18 year old European player. Dwyane Wade could have been a great addition to the team as well; could you imagine that championship Pistons team with Dwayne Wade in place of Rip Hamilton? That would have been a dominant team for many years, even more so than the Pistons were. Ultimately, the no-brainer selection here was Carmelo Anthony. The Syracuse Orangemen freshman phenom took his team on his back and carried them all the way to a national championship; they beat a more experienced Kansas team who had seniors and future NBA players as well Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison. Anthony was a flat-out beast in college and the consensus was that he was a “can’t miss” prospect. With all that in mind, Joe Dumars took Darko. It was like throughout his whole career as a GM he was Robert DeNiro’s character from Deer Hunter, cool and collected, and made mostly the right decisions. Whereas his counterpart Isiah Thomas was Christopher Walken’s character from Deer Hunter, distant, malcontent, making terrible decisions; but on this one draft night they reversed roles and Joe Dumars was the one willingly playing Russian roulette and Zeke joining in telling him he doesn’t have to draft him.
Notice that almost all of the top 10 draft busts are forwards or centers. Through time NBA teams would always rather miss on a big guy in the draft than miss on a guard. Therefore there are an alarming number of post players who turn out to be busts in the NBA. Recently teams have been more inclined to choose the “best player available”. For instance, the Bulls drafted a point guard in Derrick Rose over a small forward/power forward in Michael Beasley in the 2008 draft. Had it been 10 years ago the tables may have been turned. Such as, when the Milwaukee Bucks drafted the best big guy in the nation in Glenn Robinson and passed on the best point guard in the nation in Jason Kidd. Kidd was without a doubt the better selection there, but only now are teams really learning to take the best player available – regardless of the position they play.