After the lottery went down earlier this week, the 2013 NBA Draft is set. While this draft doesn’t appear to be particularly strong, at least on the surface, there have been other draft classes surrounded by lofty expectations. Those picking in the lottery are looking for a savior.
As we prepare for what all lottery teams hope is not a draft full of underachievers, let’s take a look at the 20 biggest NBA Draft Lottery busts since 2000.
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20. JAY WILLIAMS – No. 2 Pick (2002), selected by the Chicago Bulls
Jay Williams put together a respectable rookie season with averages of 9.5 points and 4.7 assists per game. While his assist-to-turnover ratio exhibited his strong decision-making on the court, his career was abruptly ended after making a poor decision off the court. In the summer of 2003, Williams crashed his motorcycle into a street light on the north side of Chicago. Williams attempted a comeback after this horrific injury in 2006 and was given a chance by the New Jersey Nets, who then cut him less than a month later.
19. SHAUN LIVINGSTON – No. 4 Pick (2004), selected by the Los Angeles Clippers
Shaun Livingston was a player who had lofty expectations coming into the league due to his playmaking abilities as a 6-7 point guard. Unfortunately, his career was put on hold during his best statistical year (9.3 points/5.1 assists) after a gruesome knee injury that left many believing his career was over. Since then, Livingston has made an inspirational comeback, playing for six other NBA organizations since his injury in 2007. Livingston, once believed to be a franchise cornerstone, has turned his career into that of a journeyman after his unfortunate injury.
18. STROMILE SWIFT – No. 2 Pick (2000), selected by the Memphis Grizzlies
The hype around Swift’s game coming into the 2000 NBA Draft was that he was the second coming of Shawn Kemp. Unfortunately for Swift, the closest thing to Kemp is Blake Griffin, who was drafted after the LSU product had exited the NBA. Swift had a 10-year NBA career that include stops with the Grizzlies, Rockets, Nets and Suns. While Swift put up respectable numbers of over eight points and four and a half rebounds per game, he certainly underachieved for being the No. 2 pick in the draft.
17. SHELDEN WILLIAMS – No. 5 Pick (2005), selected by the Atlanta Hawks
Williams had a solid NBA career, but “solid” is not what most teams have in mind when selecting in the top five. The serviceable big man is no longer in service as he is currently playing in France after seven NBA teams in six years. Williams’ main value added to an NBA club were his six fouls. Williams averaged just over four points and four rebounds per game throughout his career. His most notable achievement in the basketball world was how he somehow managed to marry Candace Parker.
16. MARCUS FIZER – No. 4 Pick (2000), selected by the Chicago Bulls
Fizer had a storied collegiate career under Tim Floyd at Iowa State, leading them to the Elite Eight while being named both a consensus First Team All-American and Big 12 Player Of The Year. While Fizer didn’t disappoint in his first NBA season, being named All-Rookie Second Team, his career was short lived. He exited the NBA for good after his stint with the Milwaukee Bucks during the ’04-05 season. As an undersized power forward, Fizer probably posted the best averages of anyone on this list with 9.6 points and 4.6 rebounds for his career. But for whatever reason, teams continued to pass up on him.
15. DerMARR JOHNSON – No. 6 Pick (2000), selected by the Atlanta Hawks
In a draft that was full of busts, Johnson was selected sixth overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2000 NBA Draft. His NBA career was already diminishing after being arrested on separate occasions for drunken driving and resisting arrest. To make matters worse, Johnson broke his neck in a car accident during the fall of 2002 which, as a result, hindered the ability he once showed at Cincinnati. Overall, Johnson put up average career numbers with over six points and two rebounds per game. However, those numbers weren’t good enough to keep him in the NBA. Johnson currently plays in Venezuela.
14. JEROME MOISO – No. 11 Pick (2000), selected by the Boston Celtics
Before Kevin Garnett, there was another big man who wore No. 5 for the Green: Jerome Moiso. The 6-10 forward out of UCLA accomplished the incredibly tough task of playing for five different organizations in five consecutive seasons. In what was not a particularly deep draft, Moiso was selected ahead of Hedo Turkoglu, Quentin Richardson, DeShawn Stevenson and Michael Redd. Moiso put up under three points and three rebounds in five seasons and currently plays in Puerto Rico.
13. PATRICK O’BRYANT – No. 9 Pick (2006), selected by the Golden State Warriors
Immediately upon his arrival to the Bay Area, O’Bryant was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right foot, which hobbled him for his entire rookie year. O’Bryant received the unfortunate honor of becoming the first NBA Lottery pick to get sent down to the D-League after Don Nelson was more infuriated than unimpressed with his progress. O’Bryant lasted five years in the NBA, playing a total of 90 games with averages of just over two points and one rebound per game. Unfortunately for O’Bryant, his 7-6 wingspan wasn’t enough to keep him in the NBA longterm.
12. KEDRICK BROWN – No. 11 Pick (2001), selected by the Boston Celtics
Brown was selected by the Boston Celtics after becoming a First Team Junior College All-American as a sophomore. Viewed as a sick athlete coming into the NBA, the JUCO product lasted four seasons between Boston, Cleveland and Philadelphia. The 6-7 small forward averaged just 3.6 points per game. He now plays for Antalya BSB in the Turkish Basketball League. This pick left Celtic fans disgusted as Tony Parker, Gerald Wallace, Zach Randolph, Richard Jefferson and Gilbert Arenas we’re all still available on the board. While they also selected Joe Johnson in the pick prior, the Cs once again wasted another first-round pick at No. 21 on draft bust Joseph Forte.
11. ROBERT SWIFT – No. 12 Pick (2004), selected by the Seattle Sonics
Not only was Robert Swift’s NBA career a bust, but consequently, his life has also been a bust as of late. Swift recently made the news for something that wasn’t basketball related. After his a foreclosed home had been bought by a new owner, Swift refused to vacate the premises. Eventually, the former lottery pick left, leaving behind a house full of beer bottles, guns, bullets, garbage and animal feces. Swift averaged 4.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game throughout his four-year, injury-derailed career.
10. MICHAEL SWEETNEY – No. 9 Pick (2003), selected by the New York Knicks
This was just one of the many picks that Knicks fans dreaded over the past 10 years. In their defense, after LeBron, Wade, ‘Melo and Bosh, this wasn’t a particularly deep draft. Sweetney ended up eating his way out of the league. Notable players selected after the husky big fella were David West, Boris Diaw, Carlos Delfino, Kendrick Perkins, Leandro Barbosa, Josh Howard and Mo Williams. The big fella was spotted as recently as 2011 when he was invited to the Boston Celtics training camp. Sweetney currently plays ball in Puerto Rico, where he probably weighs more than the 295 pounds that is listed on the roster.
9. RAFAEL ARAUJO – No. 8 Pick (2004), selected by the Toronto Raptors
The Brazilian big man from BYU was selected eighth over Al Jefferson, Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Jameer Nelson, Tony Allen, Kevin Martin and Anderson Varejao. Toronto, which has a history of taking international players, had big expectations for their new 6-11 center as he averaged over 18 points and 10 rebounds per game during his senior year at BYU. However, his three-year NBA career (that included an additional stop to Utah) was a disappointing one as he averaged under three points and three rebounds.
8. JOE ALEXANDER – No. 8 Pick (2008), selected by the Milwaukee Bucks
The 2008 NBA Draft featured future NBA studs such as Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Danilo Gallinari and Eric Gordon. Unfortunately for the Milwaukee Bucks, all of these players were selected before their pick. The Bucks decided to settle with West Virginia forward Joe Alexander. Joe lasted just 67 games in the NBA, averaging 11 minutes per contest. In his second and final season, Alexander lasted just eight games with the Chicago Bulls, averaging not even one point per game. After Alexander was selected, there was still a plethora of talented post players available, like Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, JaVale McGee, Kosta Koufos, Serge Ibaka, J.J. Hickson, DeAndre Jordan, Omer Asik and Nikola Pekovic. The Bucks have to be kicking themselves on that one.
7. FRAN VASQUEZ – No. 11 Pick (2005), selected by the Orlando Magic
If you look up Vasquez’s NBA stats, good luck. You won’t find them. Unlike other lottery busts, he didn’t have a NBA career filled with injuries or disappointing numbers. As a matter of fact, he didn’t have a NBA career at all. At age 30, we are still waiting for him to come takeover a spot once manned by Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard in Orlando. Vasquez was notably selected before Danny Granger, David Lee, Nate Robinson, Jarrett Jack and Monta Ellis.
6. HASHEEM THABEET – No. 2 Pick (2009), selected by the Memphis Grizzlies
While the potential of a 7-2 physical specimen is hard to ignore, you have to think that Memphis is surely regretting this one as they could have instead selected one of the following: James Harden, Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday or Ty Lawson. Especially after trading away bonafide scorer Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies scoring absence on the perimeter is a weakness being exploited by the San Antonio Spurs. Thabeet has put up career averages of 2.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per contest as he has sported a new jersey in each of his underachieving four seasons.
5. NIKOLOZ TSKITISHVILI – No. 5 Pick (2002), selected by the Denver Nuggets
WHO? The seven-footer from the Republic of Georgia entered the NBA immediately after being selected fifth by the Denver Nuggets in 2002 but you probably don’t remember because he exited almost as quickly. Tskitishvili bounced around on four NBA teams in three years, posting career averages of 2.9 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. Luckily for GM Kiki Vandeweghe, the Nuggets redeemed themselves by trading for Brazilian center Nene (No. 7 pick), but still passed on All-Stars Amar’e Stoudemire and Caron Butler in the process.
4. ADAM MORRISON – No. 3 Pick (2006), selected by the Charlotte Bobcats
Fortunately for Morrison, he had a good rookie season, averaging almost 12 points per game. Also fortunately for Morrison, the Bobcats weren’t the only team to pass up on guys like Rajon Rondo and Paul Millsap outside the first 20 picks in the 2006 NBA Draft. However, other than joining the elite group of bench warmers that helped their team win a ring with their outstanding support on the sidelines, Morrison achieved almost nothing during his short NBA tenure. Certainly another pick that Michael Jordan wishes he could get back.
3. KWAME BROWN – No. 1 Pick (2001), selected by the Washington Wizards
Kwame Brown has been somewhat of a serviceable backup center throughout his 12-year NBA career, however, you don’t waste a No. 1 pick on a backup center when future All-Star bigs Tyson Chandler and Pau Gasol are available. Unfortunately for Michael Jordan, Brown would go down as being remembered as MJ’s first ever draft choice and his reputation as a GM wouldn’t get much better after selecting fellow draft bust Adam Morrison. Kwame underperformed much like the rest of the lottery draft busts on this list… except that when you are drafted with the top pick, the expectations are much larger. Brown would average a measly 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds over the course of his rookie season before eventually getting shipped to the Lakers in 2005. And later, as if Jordan didn’t have enough of his former selection’s failures, the Bobcats GM reunited with his underachieving center on a league minimum deal. At least Michael Jordan got his value correct the second time around.
2. GREG ODEN – No. 1 Pick (2007), selected by the Portland Trail Blazers
Poor Greg Oden. Oden has played a full 82 games, except its been over the course of five seasons instead of one. While most lottery busts never pan out because of their inferior talent, lack of drive and/or skill-set, Oden has dealt with chronic knee injuries. What makes his potential comeback possible is the fact that during his two seasons with the Trail Blazers, he put up just under 10 points and seven rebounds per game, showing flashes of brilliance. Unfortunately for Greg, he was selected over Thunder superstar Kevin Durant, which has magnified his failed health to an even larger extent. At one point, Oden had fans envisioning him as a young Bill Russell. But unless he has a miraculous comeback (which he is planning), then Oden will instead be forever linked with Sam Bowie.
1. DARKO MILICIC – No. 2 Pick (2003), selected by the Detroit Pistons
Detroit was already on the verge of winning a championship when they selected the second pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. Most figured it would be enough to put them over the top. However, LeBron James was selected first by the Cleveland Cavaliers as expected and the Detroit Pistons opted to choose Darko Milicic over future perennial All-Stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. While Detroit would win the 2004 NBA Finals, it wouldn’t be because of Darko’s stellar rookie season. Milicic only logged minutes in 34 of Detroit’s 82 contests, posting underwhelming averages of 1.4 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. By age 20, he and his blond highlights was shipped to Orlando, where he received more of an opportunity to shine and put up eight points and 5.5 rebounds in what would unfortunately be one of his best years. Still, Darko somehow managed to steal almost $50 million from six NBA teams over his disappointing 10-year career. At age 27, it seems we have seen the last of this lottery bust in the NBA.
Who are the worst draft picks of this century?
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