The 30 most painful NBA Draft pass-ups since 2000

Greg Oden #20 of the Miami Heat on the bench during an NBA game (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Greg Oden #20 of the Miami Heat on the bench during an NBA game (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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NBA Draft Mistake #9: Brooklyn trading the pick that became Damian Lillard.

The Brooklyn Nets, who, back in 2012, were the New Jersey Nets, were desperate for star power and made one of the more foolish trades of the last 20 years. On March 15, 2012, they acquired all-star Gerald Wallace from the Portland Trail Blazers in a deal that included the Nets’ unprotected pick.

Trading an unprotected pick is always risky, especially considering that they were a lottery team at that point in the season. However, the 2012 NBA Draft wasn’t especially well-regarded at the time, outside of the top of the draft, which included Anthony Davis. The Nets ended up finishing with the sixth-worst record, even after trading for an all-star, and the pick that Portland received ended up being used to draft Damian Lillard sixth overall. Ouch.

As it turns out, the star that the Nets were so desperate to get ahead of their move to Brooklyn could have been had in the draft. Wallace certainly wasn’t that player with the Nets, averaging just 11.4 points in 85 games over two seasons with the team.

The Nets would compound their mistake by later trading for Joe Johnson’s awful contract and then an aging Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Brooklyn finally began to get their act together in the late 2010s, under the guidance of GM Sean Marks who helped them acquire Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden.

Of course, all three later asked to be traded, and the Nets are now rebuilding again. Perhaps those missteps could have been avoided by taking more of a long view and building through the draft, starting with drafting Lillard sixth overall.