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Worst 10 NBA Draft Picks of the Decade

Thu, 12/31/2009 - 11:39am
As much as a great draft pick can buoy a franchise, a bad selection will sink it. The 2000s have been a decade starring haves and have nots of the front office world. We've seen Chris Wallace do a terrible job for two teams and Mike Dunleavy be allowed to continue screwing up one single team for several years. Isiah Thomas has come and gone, then come, then gone again.

So yes, we're here to tell you who was best at screwing it all up. We want to rank those who really went above and beyond the standard Raef LaFrentz third overall (in 1998) type screw up.

Here, we present a list of the worst draft picks of the decade. We tell you who made the pick and who they could have chosen. Keep in mind, it's not fair to go too hard on players whose careers were severely affected by injury, such as Shaun Livingston or Jay Williams. We've also consciously decided not to include players (Fran Vasquez and Ricky Rubio) who chose not to come to America or players who were drafted in 2007, 2008 or 2009, as those players may all redeem themselves.

Welcome to the bottom of the barrel.

Darko MilicicDarko Milicic1. Darko Milicic - Second pick in 2003 draft by Detroit
The Man Responsible: Joe Dumars
Career stats: 345 games played, 5.4 ppg, 4 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 12.6 PER
Best Players Available: Carmelo Anthony (No. 3), Chris Bosh (No. 4), Dwyane Wade (No. 5)

Earlier this month, closure finally came. Milicic, the most maligned bust in NBA Draft history, announced his plans to pursue a career in European basketball on Dec. 17, 2009, effectively ending a career defined by mediocrity in the face of harsh comparisons. Milicic is not the worst player on this list - not by a long shot. But considering he was drafted directly after one of the NBA's greatest talents and before 2 future hall of fame candidates and one perennial all star, there is little argument that Detroit did not make a huge mistake with the pick. The irony, of course, comes inthat the Pistons won the NBA Championship in Milicic's rookie year. These days, though, the 7-foot Serbian center who was hailed as the next Dirk Nowitzki has become synonymous with the flaw in risky draft picks. Anthony was a clear-cut budding star, Milicic the high-potential unknown from Eastern Europe. We'll never forget Darko Milicic, whether reading FreeDarko.com, a popular NBA blog, or hearing other players referenced as a "Human Victory Cigar," Milicic's ignominious nickname and a reference to Pistons' coach Larry Brown only using him at the end of big wins. Let's not forget, there were days when Milicic appeared to be a legitimate starting center. His shot blocking abilities and occasional mid-range jump shot made him an acceptable rotation player. But he never overcame the tremendous shadow cast upon him by LeBron James, Anthony, Bosh and Wade. And that shadow will define his legacy.

2. Nikolos Tskitishvili - Fifth pick in 2002 draft by Denver
The Man Responsible: Kiki Vandeweghe
Career stats: 172 games played, 2.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 5.2 PER
Best Players Available: Amare Stoudemire (No. 9), Caron Butler (No. 10), Carlos Boozer (No. 34)

A "workout wonder", Tskitishvili was drafted by a general manager (Kiki Vandeweghe) who hadn't seen him play. Frankly, that's the only explanation for this pick. Tskitishvili qualifies as perhaps the single least-talented player ever to be drafted in the top-5 of an NBA draft, certainly in the lottery era. His lone redeeming quality as a basketball player was his height. Claims have it that he wowed several teams in work outs, but there were still many shocked by how high he was taken, even in 2002. The Georgian 7-footer, along with Milicic, set back the market for oversized Eastern Europeans, that's how bad he was. Even as he moved past the NBA after a four-year career in which he shot 30.4percent from the field, Tskitishvili struggled in European leagues. According to Basketpedya.com, Tskitishvili has averaged more than 10 points per game just once in his international career, in the Italian League in 2008. There's a temptation to call a long, tall, athletic player "raw." Tskitishvili's example proves sometimes the properadjective is simply "bad."

3. Kwame Brown - First pick in 2001 draft by Washington
The Man Responsible: Michael Jordan
Career stats: 487 games played, 6.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 12.8 PER
Best Players Available: Pau Gasol (No. 3), Tony Parker (No. 28), Gilbert Arenas (No. 30)

I rooted for Brown. I really did. I wanted to see the 6-foot-11 power forward use some of the occasionally evident natural gifts and make something of himself. Through the years, he's flashed his potential. He's an athlete. He's strong. And sometimes, it almost looks like he hustles. There are some who say Michael Jordan, the same man who chose Brown as the first ever prep-to-pro top pick, broke Brown's confidence with incendiary remarks while the two played together in Jordan's comeback with the Wizards. Others claim Brown was always lazy and rough. There are moments even now, as he plays for the Detroit Pistons, where Brown's abilities are evident. But you can't score in the post if you can't catch the entry pass. That's the story of Brown's career - he simply had too many holes in his game to develop into a respectable player. As a result, he goes down as one of the all-time worst top picks ever.

4. Rafael Araujo - Eighth pick in 2004 draft by Toronto
The Man Responsible: Rob Babcock
Career stats: 139 games played, 2.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 6.3 PER
Best Players Available: Andre Iguodala (No. 9), Al Jefferson (No. 15), Josh Smith (No. 17)

College seniors are supposed to be the safest picks in the draft.They're supposed to be Shane Battier or Morris Peterson or Jason Thompson. When you take one of these guys in the top 10, as is seldom done, you expect at least stable results. That's what makes Araujo, the 6-foot-11 center from BYU, so confounding. The Raptors ignored all public logic and took a player whose upside seemed to be that of a borderline starter with the eighth pick of the draft. Araujo then rewarded them with less than three seasons in the league and now serves as a solid player in Brazil's top league. Has there ever been a bigger head-scratcher in NBA Draft history? Maybe the next player on this list qualifies. 

5. Yaroslav Korolev - 12th pick in 2005 draft by Los Angeles Clippers
The Man Responsible: Mike Dunleavy
Career stats: 34 games played, 1.1 ppg, 5.6 PER
Best Players Available: Danny Granger (No. 17), David Lee (No. 30), Monta Ellis (No. 40)

I was laughing. You were probably laughing. Well, unless you're a Clippers fan. Dunleavy found this European kid who he saw knock down a few shots and look kind of smooth with the ball in hand in some European juniors tournament, so he decided to use a lottery pick to test him out. This pick is confounding. It's inexplicable. It defies reality. Korolev is the worst player on this list, hands down. That Granger, a projected top-10 pick, was still on the board only makes the decision more ridiculous. In the most recent season I could find any information on, Korolev was playing in the Russian Superleague -- and averaging a whopping 1.2 points per game for Dynamo Moscow.

6. Adam Morrison - Third pick in 2006 draft by Charlotte
The Man Responsible: Michael Jordan
Career stats: 147 games played, 7.9 ppg, 7.3 PER
Best Players Available: Brandon Roy (No. 6), Rudy Gay (No. 8), Rajon Rondo (No. 21)

This is why you don't take draft advice from college basketball analysts. Morrison tore up the NCAA his junior year, and everyone was just positive he could do the same thing in the NBA. He was like Larry Bird. He was the new "Great White Hope." It's difficult for me to allege Morrison's high drafting was not, in part, racially biased. Since being in the NBA, though, he's been routinely out-rebounded and out-defended and out-hustled. He's been one of the worst players in the league. That Michael Jordan, who also drafted Brown, picked Morrison has led to a lot of criticism. The truth is, though, that nearly everyone was convinced he was a top-10 talent. How wrong we were.

7. Luke Jackson - 10th pick in 2004 draft by Cleveland
The Man Responsible: Jim Paxson
Career stats: 73 games played, 3.5 ppg, 9.3 PER
Best Players Available: Al Jefferson (No. 15), Josh Smith (No. 17), Kevin Martin (No. 26)

Luke Jackson had one discernible basketball skill, his 3-point shooting. And he wasn't good enough at that to make it. The year after drafting LeBron James, the Cavaliers decided to use a top-10 pick on another small forward. And they used it on the anti-James, a four-year college star who lacked size, athleticism and upside, gambling that Jackson could settle out on the wing and knock down 3-pointers much in the way Delonte West does these days. But West is an outstanding defender and solid ball-handler. Jackson is out of the league and country, playing in Italy. Oh, and by the way, West was available at the time of the pick, as were a bundle of other solid players in a deep 2004 draft.

8. Kedrick Brown - 11th pick in 2001 draft by Boston
The Man Responsible: Chris Wallace
Career stats: 143 games played, 3.6 ppg, 11 PER
Best Players Available: Richard Jefferson (No. 13), Tony Parker (No. 28), Gilbert Arenas (No. 30)

I'm not sure any player has ever benefited more from the internet era than Kedrick Brown. At the time, NBA Draft analysis was just starting around the web at sites such as this one. Brown became a hot name for his ridiculous athleticism shown in JuCo games. "Upside" took over for logic, and the Celtics took the kid with the huge athleticism over a significantly more sensible pick at the same position, Arizona's Richard Jefferson. Jefferson, of course, has developed into a very solid starter for the New Jersey Nets and now San Antonio Spurs. Brown had some success in the NBDL recently, but I couldn't find records of him playing anywhere this season.

9. Marcus Fizer - Fourth pick in 2000 draft by Chicago
The Man Responsible: Jerry Krause
Career stats: 289 games played, 9.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 13.4 PER
Best Players Available: Jamal Crawford (No. 8), Hedo Turkoglu (No. 16), Michael Redd (No. 43)

For a chunk of his junior year, (after Kenyon Martin got injured) Fizer was the best player in all of college basketball. The 6-foot-6 power forward with the light skin, bald head and thick waist drew inevitable comparisons to Charles Barkley. But where Barkley was the "Round Mound of Rebound", Fizer was more just a round mound. He lacked the athleticism and length to hang at the NBA level, particularly in an era where the tall power forward was en vogue. Since falling out of the NBA, Fizer has proven that he was never actually all that bad at basketball. He's dominated in Puerto Rico and played well in Israel and Spain. But he was never able to compete with NBA-caliber athletes.

10. Stromile Swift - Second pick in 2000 draft by Vancouver
The Man Responsible: Billy Knight
Career stats: 547 games played, 8.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 16.1 PER
Best Players Available: Jamal Crawford (No. 8), Hedo Turkoglu (No. 16), Michael Redd (No. 43)

Similar to Brown, Swift always had the look of the next dominant NBA power forward. He had the build and the athleticism. But he never had a feel for the game. There were times when the 6-foot-10, 230-pound Swift looked like a carbon copy of a young Shawn Kemp. Then he would do something other than dunk, and reality set in. Despite his impressive physical tools, Swift is out of the league, playing this season in the Chinese Basketball Association. Nine years of endlessly tantalizing scouts and fans are over.

Honorable Mention:

Darius Miles (No. 3 in 2000)
DerMarr Johnson (No. 6 in 2000)
Jerome Moiso (No. 11 in 2000)
Eddie Griffin (No. 7 in 2001)
DeSagana Diop (No. 8 in 2001)
Rodney White (No. 9 in 2001)
Kirk Haston (No. 16 in 2001)
Michael Bradley (No. 17 in 2001)
Dajuan Wagner (No. 6 in 2002)
Marcus Haislip (No. 13 in 2002)
Reece Gaines (No. 15 in 2003)
Troy Bell (No. 16 in 2003)
Robert Swift (No. 12 in 2004)
Kirk Snyder (No. 16 in 2004)
Martell Webster (No. 6 in 2005)
Ike Diogu (No. 9 in 2005)
Patrick O'Bryant (No. 9 in 2006)
Saer Sene (No. 10 in 2006)
Grandmama
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Got it right

Got it right, Darko clearly the worst pick and could be 2nd worst in NBA history only behind the Sam Bowie pick.

tuck243
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A

A

STEVEDOT2
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eddie griffen died.... a

eddie griffen died....

a couple years after being drafted so how does he make the list?

miles was injury plauged

drose1
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Another Honorable Mention

I think Marvin Williams (2nd pick 2005) could be added. The following players were still available; Deron Williams 3rd Pick. Chris Paul 4th Pick, and Danny Granger 17th Pick. Atlanta was in need of point guard and they passed on three (including Raymond Felton, 5th Pick) point guards who who would have worked. Not that Williams ended being bad, just bad compared to people on the board.

GoodbyeChandler
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another thing

mj made the list twice with kwame and morrison. both drafts werent the strongest ever, but had future allstar players availible in b roy and gasol. considering the two picks were insisted by him and both could have dramatically changed the direction of the respected franchises, is mj among the worst front office men in the nba?

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Thank you

Thank you for including me in that list... It's an honor to be one of the worst...LOL

Imaking6004
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MJ

I dont know how you can be the best player ever to play the game but is so bad at evaluating talent. I honestly believe IM better at evaluating talent.

the barron
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saer sene

Coming into the draft some of these guys were good in college like Morrison and Araujo so they kinda justified their selection. But someone like Saer Sene picked by the sonics, was averaging like 2.7 points or something like that in the Belgium league and they still took him with the 10th pick. I guess thats why they are in Oklahoma City now.

arc1212
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marvin williams

was the worst pick in the history of any team in the southeast divison
by far!

scoutguru
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Seattle Supersonics, now the

Seattle Supersonics, now the Oklahoma City Thunder have made horrible picks with their big men this past decade. I think you should just put OKC as one of the names up there. With this little skinny kid coming out of high school in Robert Swift. Then the next year you follow up Johan Petro (who I can't really call a bust, when he was taken late in the 1st round). Then comes in the savior of the franchise, in Saer Sene...lmao. That pick was a joke, this guy did nothing in Europe before he was picked like the barron mentioned earlier, and he certainly did nothing in his short nba tenure. Now will it change with their 2009 pick, taking the 6th man of the yr in the Big Ten in BJ (Byron) Mullens. I certainly don't think son. This guy hasn't logged one nba minute thus far, being banished to the d-league. Safe to say this franchise isn't good at drafting big men....

Ralwarez
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Michael Olowokandi

Are you kidding me? How could you forget a kandi-man? He´s probably worst no 1. pick ever, competing hard with Kwame Brown at this category. Only Kwame is still on a NBA roster, but where is kandi-man?

Jared Jammer
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Olowokandi was drafted in

Olowokandi was drafted in '98.

For the record, Luke Jackson was a very good, borderline great athlete.

bigmilstead
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Greg Oden anyone

Greg Oden anyone

percy23
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Jordan Hill

Give it time, and I think this guy makes the list. I wanted th Knicks to take a shot on Brandon Jennings so badly with their pick (#9?) We needed a PG in the worst way, and he was #1 HS player in America before being first to go from HS to pros in Europe. Now, instead of a PG who went for 55/5/5 in one of his first NBA games, we have a stiff in Jordan Hill!

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Worst Picks

Major gripe- You say that players with career altering injuries won't be judged harshly... right after you ripped LaFrentz. Lafrentz= GREAT athlete with skills who blew his knee out before he even played 10 NBA games. Also, you are apparently the only one who thought Luke Jackson was a poor athlete. He was a go-get-it caliber wing player whose NBA career was marred by severe back problems and surgeries. Bob Swift and Kwame Brown def the worst of the worst.

JRSlim
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Re: Jordan Hill

Jennings was one of the best PGs in the US coming out of HS, but so was Telfair. Me personally, I wanted Lawson or Maynor to be the draft pick once Curry left.
I forgot where I read it, but when the Knicks passed on Jennings on draft day, no one said anything about it until that mega performance he put on, so I dismiss all that talk.

Darko I rank as #3 among lottery busts. Can't forget about Yinka Dare RIP

Dhamp2
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This is one heck of a list.

This is one heck of a list. You was spot on Adi..... except for Fizer. He could really play. He and Jerome Moisio were good players. Fizer had some decent numbers and Moisio never had a chance. The Hornets played him one time-----in the playoffs and Bill Walton kept screaming, "Where's he been. Where's he been?"

He's been on the bench! They should've gave him more mins.

The irony of the NBA is timing and what team the player was drafted to. If you don't play right off, people immediately discredit your skills and or forget about you. It isn't fair. Kris Humpries is a prime example. He left Minnesota after lighting the Big 10 on fire. He hasn't played much since. For the Sonics to take Saen Sene with the 10 pick was one of the worst ever. What were they thinking???

Dhamp2.....

Sorry.Winning.
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fizer

Fizer wasn't that bad, he made the 2nd nba all rookie team. Plus he was kinda just lost in translation because the bulls drafted the terrible two the year after and wanted to play the kids instead of him

bigboom1
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Qytinel Woods.

Qytinel Woods.

walkoff2
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Robert Swift

Robert Swift to me is more than an honorable mention. Keeping with the Thunder/ Sonics, Luke Ridnour would be another one to consider as I believe he was a lottery pick. He's still in the league, but was overhyped in college like Luke Jackson and Adam Morrison. Greg Oden will probably be on this list in a few years, especially if Durant goes on to win an MVP.

neillious
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Ndudi Ebi

Being a wolves fan it killed me to see them draft Ndudi "doodie" Ebi in 2003 (26th pick). Although he was a late first round pick i think it is the situation that the pick came in that was worse. After 3 years of forfeited first round draft picks, thanks glen taylor, and a lack of depth around Da Kid (Garnett) they waste the pick on ebi (barbosa, josh howard, and mo williams among some decent others) still on the board that would have made an impact on a team very close. then to make it better ebi gets cut by the wolves for Ronald Dupree, AN UNDRAFTED PLAYER FROM THE SAME DRAFT! Ouch! And now i get to deal with Ricky Rubio, or maybe i wont after all???

PLEASE HELP!

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Martell???

I don't understand why Martell Webster is in this group - he's a key contributer for the Blazers - would I rather have Deron Williams??? Well, yes, I would, but Martell is still a contributing player in the NBA.

Dajuan Wagner....I understand why he's on the list, but come on - the guy came down with an illness / disease that he almost died from!!! Saw him play in a preseason game (he was with the Warriors a couple years ago in preseason) in Spokane, Washington - was really hoping that he'd be able to make a comeback.

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Good Catch

bigboom1 - good catch, I'd almost forgotten about Qyntel - what a serious waste of talent!!!

scottyc34
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Hawks/Kings

Even though he is a good player, I also think Marvin Williams should be in the top ten. He was a tweener who didn't even start in college, the Hawks needed a PG and the two best PG's in the league right now were still on the board: Paul and Deron Williams.

However, I think SHELDEN Williams should be even higher on the list. The Hawks still needed help in the backcourt and both Roy and Foye were still on the board. The 2006 draft seems like a pretty week one so far - but NO ONE thought Shelden Williams was going to be good. It was the ultimate "need" pick. They wanted toughness and strength inside so they picked a big guy who no one thought was going to be good over two guys who were considered to be the best players in the draft. Very similar to the Araujo pick, except he was the 5th pick!

As a Kings fan I would also like to nominate Quincy Douby - the one black mark on Petrie's drafting record - for at least honorable mention. The Kings needed a point guard to backup/replace Bibby. RONDO, Marcus Williams, Kyle Lowry, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar and Sergio Rodriguez were all available and taken within the next 10 picks. Instead the Kings went with Douby a 6'1", un-athletic shooting guard who was apparently the greatest work-out shooter Petrie had ever seen. Unfortunately he shoots about 30% from the field when someone is guarding him.

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Darko

The Pistons won a title with Darko on their team - would that have happened with Melo or Wade or Bosh on the team? They would have been a more talented team, but would they have won more? They probably wouldn't have traded for Sheed also if they had drafted one of those guys. Something to think about.

Jeff Fox
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manny33919
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The Worst hasn't Been Mentioned!

Easily the worst was Loyola-Chicago's LaRue Martin going back a while. It was widely believed that he was drafted solely because of a pretty good game he had against Bill Walton and the fact that he was tall and fast...... basketball skill never much entered into the equation for LaRue, unfortunately, and to make it worse, he was drafted ahead of Bob McAdoo and Julius Erving.

He had a four year career, going roughly five rebounds and points per game before drifting off into obscurity as a UPS employee.

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Dunleavy = complete Failure

How is it that Dunleavy can skip around the league ruining franchises for the past two decades??? Look at some of the picks he made in Milwaukee they are on par with the Karolev pick. Yet he still retains employment.

flyguy4ever2uw
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One more guy??

As a bucks fan I will always count Robert the Tractor ass Traylor as a top flop, especially involving the trade of Novitski and Garrity to acquire him! You can't get much worse than that!

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Top undrafted players

How bout list of top undrafted players with bigest impact over last decade. Bruce Bowen, Ben Wallace, Brad Miller, Udonis Haslem. That would be nice list to make all GMs and so called experts look bad :))

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Demarr

Don't even put Demarr Johnson on the list, I saw a lot of potential and good things out of him until he got into that horrific accident.

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