Bustin’ Loose: NBA Draft Busts of the Last 20 Years

Bustin’ Loose: NBA Draft Busts of the Last 20 Years

It’s Draft Day! It’s a day that represents so much hope (and stress…pass the Pepto) for the front office staff’s of our favorite NBA teams. The choices they make tonight will either solidify their legacies and lead to success for the teams they guide OR lead to disaster and get them fired (normally with a HUGE buyout…shout out guaranteed contracts). Scottie and I decided to take a look at some major busts of the last 20 years. Here goes…


Darko Milicic – 2nd overall in 2003 by Detroit


Diego: I hate…let me emphasize this…I HATE when GM’s overthink shit. The famed 2003 NBA Draft had 2 surefire superstars in LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony andtwo dudes who most sane minds thought that would be damn good players in their own right in Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. For SOME strange reason, Detroit GM Joe Dumars tried to swing for the fences and failed spectacularly. Such a shame especially because that Detroit team was so good already.  Imagine Melo running alongside that Detroit team. As a basketball fan, I’m still pissed at this.


Scottie: He blew away scouts and execs with a huge skillset and great workouts, but he never seemed to figure out how to play NBA basketball. The fact that the Pistons passed on Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade for him makes Darko an even easier target.



Anthony Bennett – 1st overall in 2013 by Cleveland


Diego: Boy was I wrong about this selection.  I thought this kid, who was originally pegged for a top 5ish selection before draft day, would be a great fit in today’s NBA. Laziness is a muthafucka’ ain’t it?


Scottie: Diego and I both jumped out the window about this one…I LOVED what I saw at UNLV, he’s undersized, but so was Larry Johnson. I was hoping he would get in NBA shape and be a poor man’s Glenn Robinson as a stretch 4 who could also put it on the deck and find a bucket. He’s still crazy young and since everything Toronto seems to be winning these days, maybe he finds his way back to the League.



Michael Olowokandi – 1st overall in 1998 by Los Angeles Clippers


Diego: Best known for getting dunked on by then-rookie Amare Stoudamire.  Was a weird selection at the time but to be fair, not many point guards were drafted #1 overall at that time unless they were unworldly talents (Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Allen Iverson) and Mike Bibby, while awesome in his own right, wasn’t unworldly.


Scottie: Sorry, I called this one. He played at PACIFIC, he’s from London and his nickname was “The KANDI Man”. Three strikes and such.



Greg Oden – 1st overall in 2007 by Portland


Diego: Bill Simmons mentioned one thing during the 2007 college season that really struck a chord with me. He stated that when he watched Oden run, he didn’t run very smoothly.  It was very labored unlike Kevin Durant, his man-crush at the time. Come to find out, Oden’s two legs were two different lengths. His right leg was slightly shorter than his left.  I don’t know if this was a precursor to his injury plagued career, but it warrants mentioning.


Scottie: GM’s seemed to follow the “go big” mantra in drafting Oden over Kevin Durant…that’s right, they drafted him over KD. To be fair, if Oden could have found a way to stay healthy, his small sample size indicates he would have been a better-than-average starting center in the NBA…but he didn’t so yeah.



Johnny Flynn – 6th overall in 2009 by Minnesota


Diego: Anytime you..

  1. Went to Syracuse (lol)
  2. Draft THREE point guards in the same draft
  3. Trade the wrong one
  4. End up in the D-League by your second season

..unfortunately, you will end up as an all time bust by my book!


Scottie: The homie George Barnette would say since he was a ‘Cuse guy, we should’ve known. Either way, he was a compact, guard with decent athleticism but not a long wingspan or NBA-level floor game. Also, he was drafted by the Timberwolves and got lost in them trying to decide which of THREE point guards to roll with…add untimely injuries and you end up on these lists.



Hasheem Thabeet – 2nd overall in 2009 by Memphis


Diego: Classic case of “Big Guy Who Can’t Do Anything But Dunk and Block Shots” in college getting the severe overhype which was his selection.  I called this one so I’m very happy to have been 100% correct on this one. Shoutout to my man Larry Pratt. #ToldYa


Scottie: Again, another one I figured wouldn’t work. Now…if he was drafted 20-25 spots lower, he would’ve gotten more of a chance to figure things out. Not crazy athletic and didn’t really do anything besides take up space.



Adam Morrison – 3rd overall in 2006 by Charlotte


Diego: Very perplexing because I thought he could actually be a serviceable player.  He was an obvious reach at 3 but no one expected him to completely fall off the map and do it so soon.


Scottie: I’ll try to resist the urge to bring race into this, but AM seemed to benefit from some kind of reverse affirmative action…because if his name was Donte and he was from Capitol Heights, he’d be averaging 40 in the Goodman League in between stints for some small club team in Israel. PURE bucket-getter in college, but wasn’t a shooter…so when he got to the pro’s, there just didn’t seem to be anything he could contribute on the court…other than a cool ‘stache.


Nikoloz Tskitishvili – 5th overall in 2002 by Denver

Diego: A pick so erroneous that YouTube doesn’t even have footage of him prior to the draft…this clip is fitting for his career.


Scottie: “Tsk, Tsk, Tsk…” “Skita” was a product of the NBA’s copycat nature. “Dirk worked out so let’s find another 7-foot guy from Europe!” And THIS after nobody having any reliable footage of him playing any discernible level of competition prior to the draft process.



Kwame Brown – 1st overall in 2001 by Washington

Diego: Ugh!

Scottie: As a lifelong Bullets/Wizards fan, I’m declining to comment about this both out of my love for Michael Jordan and my interest in preserving my sanity.



Dajuan Wagner – 6th overall in 2002 by Cleveland


Diego: The quintessential player for that era.  A supreme gun box who could do nothing else if he wasn’t being a highly inefficient scorer.  I was also correct on this assessment as well #golfclap


Scottie: “Allen Iverson was successful as a barely 6 foot volume scorer so Juanny HAS to be good, right?” Don’t get me wrong, he was FUN to watch in college and basically unstoppable, but health issues and the transition to the league deprived us of seeing who he could really be. Dope to hear he’s doing well in life after hoops though.



Jonathan Bender – 5th overall in 1999 by Toronto (traded to Indiana for Antonio Davis)


Diego: A great McDonald’s High School All-American Game does not a great career make.  


Scottie: This one hurts my heart…Bender had Kevin Garnett, Jr. Jr. written ALL over him (minus the excessive cursing), but again, injuries cut him off before he really got rolling. His body eventually forced early retirement but he’s another dude in the “doing REALLY well at life” club, so shout out to him.



Fran Vasquez – 11th overall in 2005 by Orlando


Diego: Was a supposed “steal” by Orlando but he never came to the States.  It’s the highest draft pick to never suit up in a NBA uniform.


Scottie: When you don’t show up for an exam after you overslept after a night of partying even though you would’ve gotten an “A” because you had been studying all week, you get a “Zero”.



Darius Miles – 3rd overall in 2000 by Los Angeles Clippers


Diego: Rinse and repeat re: Jonathan bender.


Scottie: This one hurts because I LOVED watching those Clippers teams with Darius, Lamar Odom, Quentin Richardson and Keyon Dooling…but something just never quite clicked with his game. He was raw coming in as a HS guy, but besides blocking shots and super-athletic plays in transition, he couldn’t find a niche…and again, injuries kept him from being around long enough to figure it out.



Tyrus Thomas 4th overall in 2006 by Portland (traded to Chicago for LaMarcus Aldridge)


Diego: If you watch a full college basketball season and wonder “Why does ____ not give 100% effort?” or “Why isnt ____ as good as he could be?” then you watch that same kid show OUT in the NCAA tournament showing all of the athleticism and defensive prowess we all thought we would see all season, usually that kid will end up as a bust.


Scottie: Effort is a skill. It took me years of watching hoops for that to click for me, but for a guy with every physical tool to become a 15 year pro, even a perceived lack of effort can be a killer. I love the laid-back guys, but when a guy looks like he needs motivation while making millions…yikes. Even with that, TT had some good years and showed flashes of being yet ANOTHER “KG-type” but it just never happened.



Jan Vesely – 6th overall in 2011 by Washington




Scottie: The Wizards’ loss is Fenerbahçe’s (Turkish League) gain. I’m not sure if his wash-out speaks more to his lack of a defined NBA skill or the Wizards’ lack of player development…but either way, it’s a waste. However, he’s only five years removed, so a return to the league is possible this offseason, #StayTuned.



Any Wizards selection not in the top 3


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