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?)
10. 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
9. 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
8. 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
7. 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
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.
Player Knicks could have taken – David West
5. 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
4. 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
3. 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
2. 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
1. 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