When the NBA draft roll around, it gives hope to the lowly franchises of the league. Maybe they can get that one player who can transform the culture and turn them from a perpetual loser into a legitimate contender. Unfortunately, the draft doesn’t always have the answers. Sometimes, the talent just isn’t there. Or maybe it is, but you need the top pick to get it. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the five worst drafts of the lottery era.
There were three players in this draft who went on to have really good careers: Tim Duncan, Chauncey Billups and Tracy McGrady. After that, there’s a pretty significant drop-off. No other player was selected to an All-Star team and other than Stephen Jackson, you’d be hard-pressed to find any who long-term contributors. Adonal Foyle, Antonio Daniels and Tony Battie all hung around for awhile, but none of them ever became major contributors. This was the definition of a top-heavy draft, producing one superstar, two near-superstars and little else after that.
I’d consider ranking this draft higher, but it’s fairly recent and its quite possible that some players who currently look like busts will blossom into legitimate NBA starters. Still, from where we are now, this draft looks pretty underwhelming. Wesley Johnson, Ekpe Udoh, Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry were all selected in the lottery and none of them have even become rotation players yet. Evan Turner has shown flashes of brilliance from time to time, but he has yet to put it together and if he doesn’t soon, we may go back to viewing him as a best, as many did in his rookie year. There were some good picks later on, particularly Greivis Vasquez, but so far, the only star to emerge from this draft is Paul George (we need to see more from John Wall) and while Greg Monroe has been solid, he doesn’t quite seem like a franchise player and he has yet to really take charge in Detroit. Overall, this seems like a poor draft with George looking like the only truly transcendent player.
One of the best players in this draft was Len Bias, who died of a cocaine overdose the night after he was taken by the Boston Celtics at No. 3 overall. The situation beyond that is only slightly better. No. 1 overall pick Brad Daugherty proved to be an excellent center for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but injuries cut his career short and we’ll never know what he might have done had he stayed healthy. No. 3 pick Chris Washburn is one of the biggest busts in league history, while Kenny Walker and William Bedford only fared marginally better. Roy Tarpley could have been a great NBA player, but continued drug problems led to him being banned from the league. There was some talent in this draft, but a combinations of drugs and injuries robbed us from seeing what could have been many great NBA careers. Admittedly, there was some good talent later on in the draft, including Dennis Rodman and Jeff Hornacek, but this draft yielded just five All-Stars and a lot of disappointment.
For the second year in a row, an international player was selected No. 1 overall, as the Toronto Raptors selected Andrea Bargnani with the top pick (the year before, it was Australia’s Andrew Bogut). While Bargnani has showed some flashes, he struggled mightily this past season and looks more and more like a bust. Still, the Raptors could have done far worse. Adam Morrison, Tyrus Thomas, and Shelden Williams were all selected in the top five and none of them was worth it. The most talented player in this draft was arguably Portland’s Brandon Roy, who took Rookie Of The Year honors and looked to challenge Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant for the title of best shooting guard in the league. Unfortunately, knee problems cut him down in his prime and his attempt at a comeback this year was a grave disappointment. LaMarcus Aldridge and Rajon Rondo are the only other players in this draft to become legitimate stars. Other than that, this draft left a lot to be desired for all involved.
|Round 1||Totals||Shooting||Per Game||Advanced|
|2||CHI||LaMarcus Aldridge||University of Texas at Austin||508||17962||9298||3943||959||.493||.208||.783||35.4||18.3||7.8||1.9||53.3||.142|
|3||CHA||Adam Morrison||Gonzaga University||161||3278||1200||342||222||.373||.331||.710||20.4||7.5||2.1||1.4||-1.4||-0.021|
|4||POR||Tyrus Thomas||Louisiana State University||400||7925||3089||1938||346||.438||.235||.732||19.8||7.7||4.8||0.9||12.9||.078|
|5||ATL||Shelden Williams||Duke University||361||5586||1618||1562||163||.462||.222||.740||15.5||4.5||4.3||0.5||9.9||.085|
|6||MIN||Brandon Roy||University of Washington||326||11561||6136||1388||1517||.459||.348||.800||35.5||18.8||4.3||4.7||37.4||.155|
|7||BOS||Randy Foye||Villanova University||471||12781||5395||1058||1410||.409||.377||.856||27.1||11.5||2.2||3.0||17.3||.065|
|8||HOU||Rudy Gay||University of Connecticut||512||18484||9205||2970||1048||.450||.343||.777||36.1||18.0||5.8||2.0||30.8||.080|
|9||GSW||Patrick O’Bryant||Bradley University||90||524||186||127||25||.494||.000||.583||5.8||2.1||1.4||0.3||0.5||.046|
|11||ORL||J.J. Redick||Duke University||424||9474||4006||773||845||.429||.390||.881||22.3||9.4||1.8||2.0||25.2||.128|
|12||NOK||Hilton Armstrong||University of Connecticut||277||3281||855||719||97||.501||.286||.590||11.8||3.1||2.6||0.4||3.6||.052|
|14||UTA||Ronnie Brewer||University of Arkansas||478||11379||3933||1413||818||.492||.256||.676||23.8||8.2||3.0||1.7||30.4||.128|
This was the obvious choice from the beginning. A draft where there was no true superstars and only a handful of players who could even be ranked as above average. There were many busts in the lottery, including Stromile Swift, Darius Miles and Marcus Fizer, all of whom were taken in the top five. DerMarr Johnson, Jerome Moiso, Courtney Alexander and Michigan State legend Mateen Cleaves all landed with a thud as well. There were bright spots, like Jamal Crawford, Hedo Turkoglu and most notably, second-round selection Michael Redd, who ranks as one of the best value picks of all-time. But for the most part, this draft was a horrible disappointment, leaving any team looking for a franchise player sorely disappointed.