The 10 Worst Draft Picks of the last 10 Years


One week until the draft.

Time for a disaster refresher on the guys that didn’t quite pan out.

From a talent evaluating perspective, there are so many players who can fit in and perform at a high level if put in the right situations.

That is the real key when trying to add personnel, and it’s a challenge that every coach and executive faces come draft time.

I’m one of those people who try to see the good in a player and am certainly not going to be quick to call someone a “bust.”

When thinking of the worst selections over the past decade, there are some easy ones and some tougher ones, but in the end, a player’s performance defines this list.

I think we all understand that the draft process is an absolute crapshoot to some degree, but there are some decisions that cannot be excused.

Another caveat worth mentioning is that I don’t think players from the last two drafts should be included as the jury is still out on most. That’s why first-round picks are essentially guaranteed time to develop.

I did a lot of thinking about this and had fun with it, so here we go (Letterman drumroll). And don’t expect to see Kwame Brown. That was 11 years ago. (Feelin’ old after reading that?)

raptors small logo10. Charlie Villanueva, #7 pick, Toronto Raptors,2005– It was evident early that Charlie V. wasn’t a fit in Toronto, so much so that they traded him for T.J. Ford a year later. Smart move by the Raptors as his game is as maddening as any player in recent memory. He has all the tools and all the ability, except for that pesky desire thing – something a scout should have seen from him in college.

Player the Raptors could have taken – Andrew Bynum

bucks small logo9. Yi Jianlian, #6 pick, Milwaukee Bucks, 2007 – Yi made it pretty clear through his agent that he wanted to play in a big city, yet that didn’t stop Bucks GM Larry Harris from trying to create Yi-sanity in Wisconsin of all places. Yi frowned upon hearing his name called. “We look forward to a successful relationship for many years to come,” owner Herb Kohl said. That relationship lasted an entire year, then the Bucks shipped Yi to the swamp for Richard Jefferson.

Player the Bucks could have taken – Joakim Noah 

cavs small logo8. DaJuan Wagner, #6 pick, Cleveland Cavs, 2002– If the Cavs picked Amar’e Stoudemire here instead of Wagner, maybe they don’t get the #1 pick the next year and select LeBron James. Maybe. What if they did select Amar’e and he didn’t play much, then he gets paired with James in 2003? James has his second star and is probably still in Cleveland. A stretch? Fair. But Wagner was still a rotten selection starting just 28 games into his brief 4-year NBA career.

Player the Cavs could have taken- Amar’e Stoudemire

magic small logo7. Fran Vazquez #11 pick, Orlando Magic, 2005 – Just 4 slots after Charlie V., the Magic decided to draft the relative unknown Spanish big man. Truth be told the 2005 draft was pretty sparse of talent, but you’d think that a player taken #11 would eventually play for your franchise, if not somewhere in the NBA. I mean, they can’t even trade the guy. Who knows Magic fans, maybe this will be your year.

Player Magic could have taken – Danny Granger 

knicks small logo6. Mike Sweetney, #9 pick, New York Knicks, 2003– Still reeling from the post-Ewing era, the Knicks need a post presence and thought Sweetney was a poor man’s Elton Brand, with a feathery touch and strong body on the block. They got sucked into the mystique of great Georgetown big men. Instead of becoming a poor man’s Brand, Sweetney pounded heavily on sweets and literally ate himself out of the league.

Player Knicks could have taken – David West 

bobcats small logo5. Adam Morrison, #3 pick, Charlotte Bobcats, 2006– People may think that Morrison should go higher on this list, but I’ll defend the selection by saying it was hard to pass on co-National College Player of the Year. That said, the results speak for themselves. One of Michael Jordan’s biggest fiascos, though some claim Bernie Bickerstaff made the choice.
Players the Bobcats could have taken – Brandon Roy, Tyrus Thomas, Rudy Gay 

bucks small logo4. Joe Alexander, #8 pick, Milwaukee Bucks, 2008 – Here are the Bucks again taking another forward who didn’t pan out. This one was baffling to me as I heard the Knicks absolutely raved about his workout. A freak athlete with size and a nice shooting touch, Alexander immediately fell out of favor with Scott Skiles and eventually dropped out of the league faster than you can say “cheesehead.”
Players the Bucks could have taken – Brook Lopez, Jason Thompson 

blazers small logo3. Greg Oden, #1 pick, Portland Trail Blazers, 2007 – I was at the draft lottery and Oden, after one year at Ohio State, was being called the next franchise big man. Portland just couldn’t pass on him, Kevin Durant or no Durant. No one in the room would have passed on Oden with a gun to their head. It’s a bad pick because Oden has had a myriad of injuries and Durant is Durant, but it isn’t the worst either.
Player the Blazers could have taken – Kevin Durant

knicks small logo2. Darko Milicic, #2 pick, Detroit Pistons, 2003– The top of the 2003 draft was amazing in terms of talent — with this exception. I spoke to Darko in Knicks’ training camp a few years ago and even he was surprised that he went that high. He knew he needed time to develop, but he never did on Detroit’s bench. During his time with the Knicks, he would eat cheeseburgers during Mike D’Antoni’s pre-game talks.
Players the Pistons could have taken – Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade

grizzlies small logo1. Hasheem Thabeet, #2 pick, Memphis Grizzlies, 2009- You could make a case that based on who Detroit passed on, Darko should be number one, but I’m going Thabeet. I never thought this guy was an NBA player. He’s “played” on 3 teams in 3 years and has shown nothing. It will be interesting to see if Thabeet will ever develop into a starting NBA center and remove himself from these type of lists. So far, it doesn’t look that way.
Players the Grizzlies could have taken – Ricky Rubio, James Harden, Tyreke Evans 

Tommy Dee is the founder of TheKnicksBlog, editor of CHARGED Magazine and is a regional scout for Marty Blake and Associates. Follow him on Twitter.


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  39. john steppling says

    tiny follow up. I wanted to add, some coaches just dont like guys. And some coaches make bad mistakes. Simply dont know what they have. Just because a guy doesnt stick with a team or get minutes, doesnt mean he was a bad pick , just a pick by the wrong team. Aundray Blatche….was in a terrible situation with mcGhee in washington. Both have reclaimed their careers. Both are playing great, frankly. They were stuck in climate of losing. These are young men…..some barely out of their teens….some still TEENAGERS…..Moe Harkless this year is probably in a good place for him. Less pressure. He is very young, and insanely talented. Miles Plumlee is buried at Indiana and now in D League. If you saw him in summer league, he could play big minutes if he was in orlando.

    • Obert says

      What people forget,

      Is how much McGee and Blatche fought to create that culture here.

      After Arenas’ issues, they were steadfast in not taking anything seriously.

  40. john steppling says

    Jimmer, for the record, hasnt had any chance. The Kings are a graveyard. I mean this year Nicholson gets to play in orlando. If he had been picked by McHale he would NEVER see a minute. Guys who go to washington and sacramento and other terrible organizations, or ones with bad coaches, often are given little space to improve. JImmer is not said to be a terminal defender. In fact he’s not. He was last year to start, for certain. By end of the year he was much improved. He may always be a less than great pick but not a bust. Austin rivers will go down a terrible pick this year. Bank on it. I think gordan Hayward for example is stuck in a bad situation for his game. My point is that often guys are badly developed. Bynum may not end up such a great pick. And who could call that. Big men are notoriously hard to clock. Andre Drummond gets props right now. I dont see it. He may end up another big clunker who massive potential who never develops it. People passed on Faried……….why? He was unconventional. But some picked before him are not even close. But if Faried had gone to the wizards. How would that look? Rondo was passed on. Ginobelli. SO……Im defending jimmer for a while longer. We dont know yet.

    • says

      This is a great call! Araujo was selected ahead of, among others, Iguodala (!!!!), Biedrins, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, JR Smith, Dorell Wright, Jameer Nelson, Tony Allen, Kevin Martin, Beno Udrih, Varejão… by the way, this (Araujo x Varejão) certainly helped people drop the notion that anyone having played college ball in the US is better prepared for the NBA than someone coming from Europe.

  41. vitaly potapenko says

    remember when kobe, peja, steve nash, and jermaine oneal were selected immedaitely after me in 96?

  42. MoMiddley says

    To further dump on Minny (And explain why cagey KG the cager never got far with the Wolves, in 2005 (after 4 withdrawn 1st rounder and Ebi), Minny selected Rashad McCants #14 over Danny Granger.
    And the next year they selected Brandon Roy and immediately downgraded him for Randy Foye …

    The Knicks fiasco with Balkman #20 pick (aside that nobody else thought he was a 1st rounder and Knicks had a later pick anyway), was that the Knicks desperately needed a PG and had a choice of Rondo, Lowry, Marcus Williams, Jordan Farmar, Sergio. Instead they oddly punted, took Balkman, let the other teams draft the G and then swooped in and took the leftovers, Mardy Collins at #29. They could have had their pick of those PG’s at 20, and still tabbed Balk at #29.

  43. MoMiddley says

    Some drafts are just weak on NBA players. Sure Yi went too high. I saw him play plenty in China and thought the 12-16 range was about right for him. But only one (Noah) of the next 5 picks were any good (with Hawes maybe coming on). After the 5th pick (Yi was taken 6th), really only Noah, Thad Young and Wil Chandler are the onyl impact players.

    Others drafts just have a massive talent drop off. Knicks picked Sweetney 9th in an 8 man draft. It’s telling that you had to go 9 picks further down to find a player the Kicks coulda/shoulda picked. And there were question marks abotu david West. I recall draftologists trying to differentiate him from Brian Cook and Mario West, two other PF’s in that draft.

    You want a fiasco from the 2003 Draft?
    Minny had 5 1st round draft picks taken away from them due to their illegal deal with Joe Smith. So they’d just missed three straight 1st rounds, when the NBA took pity on them and reinstated their 2003 1st round pick (they were still going to miss out on a 2004 pick to finish their penalty).
    And with the #26 pick — remember Minny’s only 1st rounder in 5 years — Minnsota selects …. Ndubi Ebi. Huh? A beanpole high school kid who played in 19 NBA games more than Tommy Dee.

    In case you are tempted to excuse such a late round pick, the final three post Ndubi picks of the 2003 draft were: Kendrick Perkins, Leandro Barbosa, Josh Howard.
    It was even a pretty good 2nd round with Korver, Mo WIlliams, ZaZa, and a total of 10 second rounders playing 500 or more NBA games.

  44. Ed says

    I wish this list was the worst of the last 11 years … just so Kwame Brown could be on it. Drafted by MJ at #1, he was probably the worst draft pick of all time. Here is a list of players that could have been drafted: Tyson Chandler (#2), Pau Gasol (#3), Joe Johnson (#10), Zach Randolph (#19), Gerald Wallace (#25), Tony Parker (#28), Gilbert Arenas (#30), Mehmet Okur (#37).

  45. says

    After Thabeet you said should have picked… Ricky Rubio, James Harden and Tyreke Evans… You forget Steph Curry, Ty Lawson, Demar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, Tj Gibson….. ANYBODY OTHER THAN THABEET!

  46. Haris says

    somebody please tell me how Rafael Araujo didn’t make the top 3 list? LOL
    Tommy Dee definitely forgot about the Brazillian Blurr.

  47. says

    Oden and Wagner being on this list (along with the other noted errors) are a joke. They were clearly impact players before injuries.

  48. says

    2011: It’s still early but I’d say Jimmer Fredette (10th) over Klay Thompson (11th), Kawhi Leonard (15th), Iman Shumpert (17th)
    2010: Wesley Johnson (4th) over Greg Monroe (7th)
    2009: Hasheem Thabeet (2nd) over James Harden (3rd); Jonny Flynn (6th) over Stephen Curry (7th) and Brandon Jennings (10th)
    2008: Joe Alexander (8th) over Brook Lopez (10th) and Roy Hibbert (17th)
    2007: Yi Jianlian (6th) over Joakim Noah (9th). Oden really does not count because he’s at least played well when healthy, FAR better than a guy like Morrison.
    2006: Adam Morrison (3rd) over Brandon Roy (6th) and Rudy Gay (8th); Renaldo Balkman (20th) over Rajon Rondo (21st)
    2005: Marvin Williams (2nd) over Deron Williams (3rd) and Chris Paul (4th) – (How did you pass this one up for Villanueva?); Martell Webster (6th) and Ike Diogu (9th) over Andrew Bynum (10th); Fran Vasquez (11th) and Yaroslav Korolev (12th) over Danny Granger (17th) (Blazers destroyed mock drafts that night by inexplicably taking Webster instead of Granger, leading to his fall as nobody outside top 10 had bothered to scout him)
    2004: Rafael Araujo (8th) over Andre Iguodala (9th) – This one is HUGE and completely missing. You went with the totally wrong Raptors pick w/ Villanueva who is at least an NBA player.
    2003: Darko Milicic (2nd) over Carmelo Anthony (3rd), Chris Bosh (4th), Dwyane Wade (5th). On a side note Mike Sweetney doesn’t even come close to being as bad as the Araujo pick because the guys taken after him were all just as bad – Jarvis Hayes (10th), Marcus Banks (13th), Reece Gaines (15th), Troy Bell (16th), Zarko Cabarkapa (17th) among the highlights. Lots of teams passed on David West.
    2002: Jay Williams (2nd), Nikoloz Tskitishvili (5th), DaJuan Wagner (6th) ahead of Amare Stoudemire (9th) and Caron Butler (10th). If you are going to put Oden on this list I see no reason why Jay Williams shouldn’t be on it. Also, Skita was even worse than Wagner, drafted a pick ahead, yet didn’t crack your list.

    IMO the worst 10
    10. Renaldo Balkman – Isiah could have grabbed him at 29th if he really wanted him that bad. The absolute worst mid-round selection of the decade. Was projected in the 40s or undrafted in most mock drafts. Knicks need a PG to backup Marbury, pass on Rondo and Kyle Lowry, leading to the Chris Duhon era the following year.
    9. Marvin Williams – The Hawks needed a PG! Ended up signing injury-prone Speedy Claxton. They had just drafted josh Childress and Josh Smith the year before!
    8. Yi Jianlian
    7. DaJuan Wagner
    6. Joe Alexander
    5. Adam Morrison
    4. Nikoloz Tskitishvili
    3. Fran Vasquez
    2. Rafael Araujo
    1. Darko Milicic – He is the 2nd best player on this list. He was still drafted directly in front of 3 hall of famers, and then BENCHED for the duration of his time with the team.

    • Geoff says

      i don’t even know how Andrea Bargnani didn’t make this list. The raptors blew they’re only #1 overall pick, when they could have drafted Aldridge, Roy, Rondo, Gay, and Millsap

    • Geoff says

      i don’t even know how Andrea Bargnani didn’t make this list. The raptors blew they’re only #1 overall pick, when they could have drafted Aldridge, Roy, Rondo, Gay, and Millsap. Wish they didn’t draft Bargnani as he’s been holding the team back

    • Edgar says

      Exactly. And Josh Childress was a pretty terrible pick, too. Especially when you consider that two of the next three players taken in the 2004 top 10 were Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala. Hawks get either one of those and there is no way they draft and keep Marvin Williams a year later (instead of Chris Paul or Deron Williams)

  49. Ugh says

    I’m aware this is not quite in the same league as the above, but choosing Renaldo Balkman right before Rajon Rondo was one of the most boggling decisions Zeke made in Knicks head office.

    The Knicks needed a PG and could have taken Rondo, Blake or Lowry at the 20th pick. Any of those guys are, at worst, career backup PGs. Balkman is a career defensive role player lucky to have 12 starts in 7 seasons. He wasn’t even expected to be drafted by a lot of predictions. If Zeke was that high on him he could have taken him with the Knicks other pick – number 29 – and still snagged one of those three backups, or All NBA Rondo.

    Absolutely mind-blowing choice and, I think, worth an honourable mention.

  50. Gary Mugford says

    Slip Korolev into Oden’s slot (injuries that aren’t self-inflicted shouldn’t count) and give Vasquez a TBD at #7 since the book hasn’t closed on his (possible) NBA career. The new occupant at #7, is Rafael Araujo, the guy Toronto Raptor GM Mike Babcock passed up Iguadola to draft. True, Toronto needed a true centre. No, Araujo was NOT that guy, having a jump measured in millimetres and absolutely no second effort offensively or defensively. Hoffa was a good guy. Horrible, horrible, horrible NBA player.

  51. clipmatic says

    Yaroslav Korolev has to be there! 12th pick overall in the 2005 draft. Clips should’ve picked Danny Granger instead.

    • Greg says

      Absolutely. He’s a much worse pick than Morrisson. At least Morrison played and could score! Korolev was one of the worst of all time.


  1. […] You guessed it… 6. Mike Sweetney, #9 pick, New York Knicks, 2003- Still reeling from the post-Ewing era, the Knicks need a post presence and thought Sweetney was a poor man’s Elton Brand, with a feathery touch and strong body on the block. They got sucked into the mystique of great Georgetown big men. Instead of becoming a poor man’s Brand, Sweetney pounded heavily on sweets and literally ate himself out of the league. […]

  2. […] You guessed it… 6. Mike Sweetney, #9 pick, New York Knicks, 2003- Still reeling from the post-Ewing era, the Knicks need a post presence and thought Sweetney was a poor man’s Elton Brand, with a feathery touch and strong body on the block. They got sucked into the mystique of great Georgetown big men. Instead of becoming a poor man’s Brand, Sweetney pounded heavily on sweets and literally ate himself out of the league. Read the rest of the top 10 here. Share this:FacebookEmailPrint Posted in Knicks Tags: Basketball, Knicks « Fan question: What’s next for the Knicks? TKBtv: Just How Far Away Are the Knicks? » You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. […]

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