Top 10 NBA Draft Busts

Darko Milicic after being drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 2003.

Darko Milicic after being drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 2003.

Conor Coleman, Sports Section Editor

With the NBA Conference Finals just beginning, many NBA fans are already looking forward to the NBA Draft on June 22nd. Fans across the world are curious to see who the new face of their franchise will be; however, many of them are hoping that their team will not draft a player who will end up on the “Biggest NBA Draft Busts of All Time” list 15 years down the road. Listed below are my 10 biggest NBA Draft busts up to this day.

10. Sam Bowie – Bowie didn’t have a laughable career in the NBA, averaging over 10 points and 7 rebounds per game. A series of tough injuries kept him from reaching his full potential. Bowie makes this list, however, because he was taken No. 2 overall in the 1984 draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, and Michael Jordan went to the Chicago Bulls at No. 3.

9. Nikoloz Tskitishvili – Luckily for NBA announcers everywhere, Tskitishvili didn’t live up to the hype he generated when the Denver Nuggets selected him No. 5 overall in the 2002 NBA draft. Tskitishvili played for four different teams in a three-year span, and Nuggets fans can lament the fact that their team missed out on the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire and Caron Butler in the same draft class.

8. Shawn Bradley – Bradley was picked No. 2 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1993 NBA draft, but his height (7-foot-6) didn’t translate to success in the pros. Bradley’s clumsiness and lanky frame did little to help him, and his height made him a target for a couple of posterizing dunks, especially a memorable Tracy McGrady poster.

7. Adam Morrison – Morrison had an impressive college career at Gonzaga, but his performance in the NBA never warranted his selection as the third overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft. The Charlotte Bobcats missed out on the likes of Paul Millsap and Rajon Rondo.

6. Pervis Ellison – The Sacramento Kings selected “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison with the No. 1 pick in the 1989 NBA draft, but he never lived up to the expectations he built for himself after an outstanding college career at Louisville. Seemingly always plagued by injuries, Ellison, who later played for the Boston Celtics, earned the more appropriate nickname “Out-Of-Service Pervis” from Kings teammate, Danny Ainge.

5. Greg Oden – The largest debate before the 2007 draft was who would be picked first: Oden or Kevin Durant. The Portland Trail Blazers went with Oden, adding to their unfortunate draft pick history. Knee problems turned what promised to be a promising career into one of the most unfortunate busts in NBA draft history. The pick wasn’t made any better by the instant success of Kevin Durant, who has become one of the best players in the NBA.

4. Michael Olowokandi – The Los Angeles Clippers opted to take Olowokandi with the No. 1 pick in the 1998 draft, but the center failed to make his mark, averaging less than 10 points per game in his career. The Clippers’ pick was made even worse by the fact they could have picked Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki or Paul Pierce instead.

3. Hasheem Thabeet – The 7-foot-2 Thabeet is another example of a poor draft choice based on a player’s size, not his ability. He has played for four different NBA teams in four years and averaged less than three points and three rebounds per game in his career. The Memphis Grizzlies took him second in the 2009 NBA draft, missing out on the likes of James Harden and Ricky Rubio in the process.

2. Kwame Brown -A No. 1 draft pick-turned-NBA journeyman, Brown’s selection by the Washington Wizards in the 2001 draft turned out to be a huge mistake. The Wizards also missed out on two centers who emerged as NBA standouts — Pau Gasol and Tyson Chandler.

1. Darko Milicic – After selecting Milicic with the No. 2 draft pick in 2003, the Detroit Pistons went on to win the NBA Finals in 2004. Unfortunately for Milicic, the team’s Finals victory was in no thanks to his play. The Pistons could have been one of the top teams in the NBA for a long time had they selected someone else from the same draft class. Sure, LeBron James went first overall, but the Pistons could have gone with Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh instead of the beleaguered Milicic.