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 #6: Cleveland drafting Anthony Bennett first overall.

The 2013 NBA draft ranks among the worst of the 21st century, with just three players making an All-Star team. Compare that to a better draft like 2011, where 12 players made at least one All-Star team, and it’s clear that there was far less talent to be had. Still, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ decision to select Anthony Bennett first overall remains one of the most shocking decisions in NBA draft history.

Prior to being taken first, there were rumors that Bennett was actually falling in the draft, possibly even as low as the teens, only to have his name called first. The decision to take him first was immediately panned, and it didn’t take long for Bennett to prove his critics right. Bennett played just 52 games his rookie season, even spending time in the NBA G League, a first for a number one pick, and averaged only 4.6 points.

That was actually the highlight of his career in Cleveland. He was traded the following year to the Minnesota Timberwolves as a part of the Kevin Love deal. However, instead of being the centerpiece of the deal, his big salary as the top pick in the draft was used as salary filler. Bennett would last just four years in the NBA, playing only 152 games for three teams.

Although Cleveland did trade him for Love, they essentially wasted the number one pick in the draft, and that came back to bite them during the second LeBron James era. The Cavs were the perennial favorites to come out of the East, but the Golden State Warriors added superstar Kevin Durant to their team in 2016.

This was after the Cavs beat them in the NBA Finals, and they simply didn’t have enough to compete after that. They lost consecutive NBA Finals to the Warriors, and James left for the Lakers as a result. Had Cleveland not whiffed on that pick, they could have at least gotten a starting-caliber player, but they messed up big time.