Once again we are on the eve of the NBA draft, better known as the last meaningful sporting event (boxing excluded) until college, and hopefully, NFL football starts. So before we get into what player goes to what team, and what team did or did not fill their needs I wanted to take a look back. As in over the last 30 years or so at the 11 single worst lottery picks in NBA history.
Like with all of my lists I have to set the criteria. This isn’t just about who is the single worst player drafted. Obviously a players putrid career plays a factor in them being on this dubious list. But it is just as much about who said player was drafted INSTEAD of. So even though a player may have a had a solid career, if they were taken ahead of a future Hall of Famer, that too plays a role in making this list just as do expectations associated with being drafted so high.
To the list:
1 DARKO MILICIC: (2004 2nd overall, Pistons)
Drafted over Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, and Chris Kaman.
If you know me, or this site at all, then you know I am a lifelong Detroit Pistons fan. And there is no more single atrocity in the history of atrocities than the drafting of Darko Steal-a-check. This guy is 7’1 268 pounds waste of oxygen. He couldn’t get more pathetic if smacked a homeless women with Antonio Margarito’s loaded gloves.
Joe Dumars is a Hall of Fame basketball player, a NBA finals MVP, and one half of the greatest backcourt in NBA history. He even won a championship as general manager of the Pistons. But he will never live down his drafting of Darko OVER Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, or even Chris Bosh.
Pistons fans waited years for this draft pick to come to fruition. We traded away Otis Thorpe a few years’ prior and we kept hearing and hearing about how one day it would pay dividends. It reached such a feverous level of expectations that even though in 2003 the New Jersey Nets in the Eastern Conference finals swept the Pistons, none of us Pistons fans cared. We were loaded and about to draft our first franchise player since Isiah Thomas.
The Pistons were a young team and obviously amongst the elite in the eastern conference. Acquiring Rasheed Wallace mid season eventually made them the NBA champions in 2004. But imagine what could have been if they had a Melo or a Wade to build around. As the star players of 2004 got older they could take a back seat to a legitimate franchise player. I am not going to lie, I had no idea Wade was going to evolve into the superstar he is today, but I knew Melo was going to be a beast after watching him carry Syracuse to a national title. You would have been talking about a potential dynasty versus a “nice” 5-year run.
The drafting of Darko still stings my soul. Pistons fans have pondered how this gaffe occurred for years. Was it a race issue? If so draft home state center Chris Kaman. Was it a size thing, where the Pistons felt secure with their wings players Hamilton and Prince? Fine draft Bosh. Not to mention Melo is a far superior to Prince anyway. There is no answer that makes sense. None at all. It was like every Piston fan knows what its like to be in a Jackass movie or go 12 rounds with Andrew Golota. And this is not revisionist history either. I despise this draft pick with every fiber of my being the moment it happened.
2. MICHAEL OLOWOKANDI (1998 1st overall, Clippers)
Drafted over Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, and Vince Carter.
NBA general managers always crack me up. They will draft any tall guy who can breath out of both his mouth and nose. You look at the history of the draft and it is littered with sorry big guys who made millions of dollars JUST because the old adage: “You can’t teach height.” Yeah well you can’t teach coordination either my friends. When you are 7 foot something and play at a college like Pacific and everyone on the west coast has never heard of you, you probably shouldn’t be the number one overall pick.
My theory on big men is very simple. If they were 5-6 inches shorter would they still be in the NBA? If Shaq were 5 inches shorter he would have been Barkley. His strength and quickness would have still been his greatest assets. If Olajuwon were a few inches shorter he would have been Adrian Dantley. Regardless of his height Olajuwon could have posted up any player his size with his unparallel footwork. They had other obvious physical attributes that are transferable to success at other aspects of the game. Olowo-garbage had none of those. He was never dominant. He was never the big fish in a small pond like he should have been. He was just a tall black dude in a shallow draft and will now go down in infamy as Shaq’s dunk dummy.
3. GREG ODEN (2008, 1st overall, Blazers)
Drafted over Kevin Durant.
When you have the number 1 pick you don’t want to make a guess. You want to be absolutely positive. And in his one year at Texas I, along with most other people, pretty sure that Kevin Durant would one day lead the NBA in scoring. At just 22 years of age he has already done it twice.
But Portland, guessed on that the dominant big man, or so we are told comes along once every 10 years, and drafted old man Greg Oden. His injury history has been much documented and truth be told I feel bad for him on some level. But if I were a Trailblazer fan I would always be wondering what if? What if our stadium wasn’t built on a Native American burial ground and all our players didn’t get hurt? And what if we had Kevin Durant playing along side Brandon Roy and Lamarcus Aldridge? That would be a big 3 that could rival the best teams in the league for a decade to come.
I am not sure even if totally healthy that Oden would have been 1/3 the player Durant is. He has had some bad luck true, but in doing their due diligence leading up to the draft Portland had to evaluate Oden, a guy who at 16 years old was already shaving the skin underneath his eyes might have some long term wear and tear no? This guy aged in dog years. I mean Morgan Freeman refers to him as old fella. This guy Greg Oden dressed up as Bill Russell for Halloween his senior year of High school without any make up. These are things Portland had to take into consideration when making that first overall selection if you ask me.
5. TRAJAN LANGDON (1999, 11th pick Cavaliers)
Drafted over Ron Artest, James Posey, and Andrei Kirilenko.
Another in a long line of mediocre Duke players who was drafted WAY to high. For starters he was at Duke for at least 17 seasons. I think he was Coach K’s first ever recruit at the University, and he ended up leaving there the same time Elton Brand did.
Secondly he was slow as hell, and could barely smack the backboard with two hands. And that was before blowing out his ACL. He didn’t last much longer in Cleveland than fresh clean air did, and was soon out of town on his way to play overseas for the next 3 decades. He won the most likely to be the next Oscar Schmidt award 2 years running. (All you young people who don’t know who Oscar Schmidt is click here.)
6. TRACTOR TRAYLOR (1998 6th overall by Dallas, then traded for Dirk to the Bucks)
Drafted over Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, and Bonzi Wells.
You never want to speak ill of the dead, let alone a Michigan ball player from the D, but it is what it is. The fact that Milwaukee traded away a future Hall of Famer for a role player, looking back on it now is astounding. Can you imagine Dirk and Ray Allen on the same team? 2 of the 5 greatest shooters I have ever seen play on one squad?
Traylor never got serious about his conditioning or his defense and was basically a bit player for a couple different NBA franchises. He even had a short stint in Jail for well you know some “Detroit” stuff, and sadly this year passed away from heart complications in Puerto Rico where he was playing professionally.
As for Dirk well he turned out to be all right:
7. DAJUAN WAGNER: (2002, 6th overall, Cavaliers)
Drafted over Amare Stoudemire, Nene, and Caron Butler.
He was supposed to be the guy that saved Cleveland long before Lebron did. Obviously he did not. Only God can save Cleveland, but Dajuan wasn’t even around long enough to take the team picture.
After serving one year in the John Calipari “student” athlete program at Memphis University, Dajuan went pro and did absolutely nothing but spend his signing bonus on tattoos and XXXL white t-shirts. I cannot recall one single highlight from his NBA career. When I typed in his name on YouTube it simply replied: “Try google.” The fact Brian Cardinal is still in the league and he isn’t speaks volumes.
8. ADAM MORRISON (2006 3rd overall, Bobcats)
Drafted over Brandon Roy and any other breathing mammal.
Long before he became a west Texas cult leader Adam, “Pray with me brother” Morrison was the NCAA national player of the year. And leading into the draft there were many questions about his ability to create enough space to get his jump shot off in the NBA. So leave it to the guy who could always get his shot off, Michael Jordan, seeing no such issues and drafted him 3rd overall. Overlooking the fact that he NEVER contributed to the Bobcats, and 5 short seasons later he is out of the NBA all together. He was drafted ahead of Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay, and all-star point guard Rajon Rondo.
I knew Morrison was destined for mediocrity when I met him in Vegas at NBA all-star weekend. I not only was amazed at his inability to socially interact with groupies hanging out at the Palms Resort and Casino, but myself, and Kobe’s female body guard (at the time) had to teach him how to play craps. Now ask yourself this people: What self respecting bonafide NBA star doesn’t know how to gamble away his small fortune and close the deal on a fake breasted girl (working her way through college) in Vegas no less? I rest my case.
9. Nikoloz Tskitishvili (2002, 5th overall, Nuggets).
Drafted ahead of Amare Stoudemire, Caron Butler and Tayshaun Prince.
Who? Exactly. This clown was drafted at a time when every GM in the NBA was infatuated with anything European. Kind of like Madonna but worse. So on draft night the Nuggets thought they drafted the “next” great forward from Europe who’s shooting ability and skill would revolutionize the way the game was played in the states. Instead they got a frail, soft kid who never adjusted to the athleticism of American basketball and was soon on a milk cartoon, and the hardest question on final Jeopardy.
10. RODNEY WHITE (2001 9th overall, Pistons)
Drafted over Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph, and Tony Parker.
Is Joe Dumars horrible at drafting NBA players or what? This guy Rodney White had all the pre hype draft buzz you could ever think off. Some people were saying he was the most talented player in the entire draft. And that he was the prototypical small forward every NBA GM was salivating for.
Well none of that turned out to be true. This draft pick coupled with the Mateen Cleaves pick a couple years prior led to the Pistons being completely devoid of talent. Ironically enough Dumars trades made up for Dumars drafting and he eventually built a championship team around castoffs Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, and Rip Hamilton. But don’t let that fool you. On draft night in 2001 the Pistons front office threw a party in celebration in thinking they had just landed the franchises next marquee player. All they landed was a guy who had a weed problem and habit of showing up late to practice. Those same qualities soon found him out of the league after bouncing around on a couple different teams. He was last seen at a local park with a beer gut cherry picking on offense, never quite crossing half court, dunking on little kids.
11. MARVIN WILLIAMS (2005, 2nd overall Hawks)
Drafted over Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Danny Granger.
While he still has time to evolve at least into a solid NBA starter, the fact that the Hawks drafted the 6th man off of UNC over Chris Paul and Deron Williams set their franchise back for a decade. Yes they have made the playoffs back to back seasons and even got their usually dormant fans to even show up and cheer in unison, but they have had a crater size whole at the point guard position since Mookie Blaylock retired in 1896.
I am not sure what Williams’s long-term position in the league. He reminds me of a really poor mans Shareef Abdur Raheem. But lucky for him he plays for a franchise that has a strong history of overpaying to keep their own players, so I am sure he and his grand children will be finally set for the rest of their lives.
Jared Jefferies and his crooked puzzle piece lip was the 11th over selection of the 2002 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards. The fact there are starving kids in this country and this guy gets paid in American currency to play basketball irks me to no end.
For the record I didn’t include Sam Bowie. Not only was a he a college All American, but Portland already had Clyde Drexler, and NOBODY, knew MJ was going to become MJ. If they tell you otherwise they are lying.
Who did I miss?
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