Since the turn of the century, the NBA draft has skyrocketed to new levels. National TV audiences watch as teams diagnose everything about each player, especially in the lottery.
The lottery is where teams try to find franchise changing players. Guys like Dwayne Wade, Kevin Durant and LeBron. These franchise changers play in all star games, win scoring titles and MVPs.
But there are other franchise changers in the draft. Guys like Marcus Fizer, DaJaun Wagner and Mike Sweetney. Unlike the first type of franchise changers, these guys cripple a franchise for years. They are all top 10 picks, expected to lead the team for years to come, who instead spend most of their time on the bench, in the training room, or playing in Europe.
The best part is Fizer, Wagner and Sweetney didn’t even make the cut for the top 10. Here is the list of biggest 10 busts from the 2000s.
10. Shaun Livingston: 6’7 Point Guard. Peoria Central High School.
L.A. Clippers, 4th pick, 2004.
Key Stats: 6 Points Per Game, 3 Assists Per Game. 334 Game played (106 starts) in 7 seasons. 200+ missed games. 2 destroyed knees.
Shaun Livingston came into the 2004 NBA draft as the most hyped guard in the class, and decided to skip college along with Dwight Howard. With his big 6’7 frame and playmaking ability, people compared him to Magic Johnson. Livingston’s career has been anything but magical. The Illinois native has spent more time in the training room than on the court, suffering two horrific knee injuries. Even when healthy, Livingston has been nothing more than a backup point guard option. The Clippers could have gone with Andre Igoudala or Loul Deng.
9. Shelden Williams: 6’9, 250(ish) Power Forward. Duke.
Atlanta Hawks, 5th Pick, 2006 Draft.
Key Stats: 4 Points, 4 Rebounds per game. 361 games played (104 started) in 6 seasons. 1000+ high fives from end of bench.
Shelden Williams came out of Duke with limited potential. People though he probably wasn’t going to win a scoring title, but he would be a solid big man who would rebound and defend for years, and still chip in 12-14 points a night. At the least, the Hawks surely expected that Williams would be the best player in his own family. As it turned out, the Hawks would be wrong on all accounts. Williams was out of Atlanta after two seasons, and also managed to marry Candace Parker, who I have no doubt owns Williams in 1 on 1 family games. Williams has bounced around the league since leaving Atlanta and has never played significant minutes. The Hawks could have selected Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay, Rajon Rondo, or Kyle Lowry.
8. Nikoloz Tskitishvili (henceforth: Nik): 7’0, 225 (soaking wet), Small/Power Forward. Georgia (Country).
Denver Nuggets, 5th pick, 2002 draft.
The Denver Nuggets had never seen him play before drafting him. Maybe not such a good idea. He was a big, skilled (allegedly), European who could shoot (allegedly). All sounds great, but it never came to fruition in the NBA. Denver was probably looking for another Dirk here, but what they got was a precursor to Darko.
7. Hasheem Thabeet: 7’3, Center. UConn.
Memphis Grizzlies, 2nd pick, 2009 draft.
Key Stats: 2 points, 2 rebounds, 0.9 blocks per game. 135 games played (16 starts) in 4 seasons. 2 seasons sent to the D-League.
Thabeet left UConn after his Junior season, in which he won Big East Co-Player of the year and Defensive Player of the year. Thabeet was supposed to come to the NBA and be a force for Memphis defensively. He was a force defensively, however it was for the Dakota Wizards of the D-League. Thabeet never earned playing time in Memphis and was subsequently sent to Houston, where he once again served a stint in the D-League. Memphis could have drafted James Harden, Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, or Ty Lawson.
6. Entire 2000 NBA Draft Class. Assorted Heights, Weights, Positions, and Colleges.
All Teams, All Picks.
Key Stats: 3 NBA All Stars (Jamaal Magloire made an all star team?), 3 NBA Awards (2 sixth man and a most improved), 6 first round picks currently in the NBA.
When Michael Redd is probably the best player in a draft something is very wrong. Teams would have been better off boycotting the draft and saving salary/travel money. Players such as Kenyon Martin (1st), Darius Miles (3rd) and Marcus Fizer (4th) all had big potential, but never panned out. Other gems in this class include Chris Mihm, Speedy Claxton, and Mark “Mad Dog” Madson. This class has pretty much been unanimously selected as the worst class in NBA history. Instead of these players teams could have: Traded picks for future years.
5. Jay Williams: 6’2 Point Guard. Duke.
Chicago Bulls, 2nd pick, 2002 draft.
Williams could easily be exchanged with the 2000 draft or others, because his major downfall was not entirely skill based. Even though Williams rookie and only NBA season was not up to expectation, it was not terrible. Williams’ NBA career busted when a motorcycle he was driving did the same, ending his career. The Bulls could have selected Amar’e Stoudamire or Caron Butler.
4. Adam Morrison: 6’8 Small Forward, Gonzaga.
Charlotte Bobcats, 3rd pick, 2006 draft.
Key Stats: 7.5 points per game, 161 games played (28 starts), 4 NBA seasons. 1 mustache. 2 NBA championships.
Morrison was drafted by MJ to kick start Charlotte’s new Bobcats after a stellar career at Gonzaga. Morrison battled Duke’s J.J. Redick for the scoring title in his final season. However Morrison couldn’t find his scoring touch once in the NBA. He had trouble creating his own shot and struggled defending NBA level athletes. Morrison was shipped to the Lakers after 1 and a half years in Charlotte. In L.A., Morrison saw limited (read: none) playing time, but has 2 rings thanks to Kobe. The Bobcats could have picked Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay, or Rajon Rondo.
3. Kwame Brown: 6’11, 270 Center. Glynn Academy high school.
Washington Wizards, 1st pick, 2001 draft.
Key Stats: 6 points, 5 rebounds per game. 585 games played (270 starts) in 11 NBA seasons.
Kwame at number 3 makes it back to back Michael Jordan picks. Morrison had hype, but when MJ picked Kwame out of high school with the first overall pick, MJ was shooting for the stars. Kwame was supposed to be MJ’s golden child in Washington, but instead was the start to Jordan’s struggles in the front office. Kwame does have a few saving graces that have kept him out of contention for the number 1 bust: He is very big, and he is hard to injure, therefore still plays in games. Instead of Kwame, the Wizards could have taken Pau Gasol, Jason Richardson, Joe Johnson, or Zach Randolph.
2. Darko Milicic: 7’0, 250 Power Forward/Center. Serbia.
Detroit Pistons, 2nd pick, 2003 draft.
Key Stats: 6 points, 4 rebounds per game. 467 games played (208 starts), in 9 NBA seasons. 5 All-Stars selected around him.
Darko nails about every category of “bust.” He had the hype, the potential, the high pick, and most importantly the competition. The 2003 draft had 5 all stars in the first 6 picks, only Darko has failed to produce. When he was drafted, Darko was supposed to be right up there with Carmelo, in fact almost every analyst considered him a better pick. However Darko quickly and painfully failed in Detroit, never seemed comfortable, and was traded from the Motor City after 2 and a half seasons. Darko has managed to stay in the league, but has, and will never live up to his draft day hype. Darko will always be the bad middle of the Lebron-Darko-Carmelo sandwich. Instead of Darko, Detroit could have had Carmelo, Chris Bosh, or Dwayne Wade. Wow.
1. Greg Oden: 7’0, 285 Center. Ohio State.
Portland Trail Blazers, 1st pick, 2007 draft.
Key Stats: 9 points, 7 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game. 82 games played (60 starts) in 5 seasons. 2 bad knees.
It is almost sad to see Oden up here because of bad knees, but ultimately that is what it comes down to. Portland, who has been historically plagued by injuries, picked Oden (before Kevin Durant) after a solid freshman season at Ohio State. Oden was expected to a defensive wall and a rebounding force, controlling the paint for years. However Oden had to sit out time and time again while Durant led the league in scoring. Oden’s contract in Portland expired without a deal being reached. He is currently a free agent. Instead of Oden, Portland could have had Durant or Al Horford.
Could anyone from the 2012 class end up on this exclusive list? Probably so. Almost every draft has at least 1 player in the lottery bust. Early favorites from 2012 include several unproven players such as Detroit’s Andre Drummon (9th), Toronto’s Terrance Ross (8th), and another Trail Blazer, Damian Lillard (6th). Only time will tell if one of these draftees makes it on to the next bust list.