NBA Drafts That Didn’t Go According To Plan

Published on January 12, 2018
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Major League sports capture the attention of fans for months out of the year at a time. Fans love to tune in to watch the game, root for their favorite players, and track their favorite team as they grow into a champion. One of the most important components of a successful franchise in the NBA is the draft. Getting your picks right in the NBA draft is imperative. Today we are going to take a look at 20 NBA draft picks that were so bad they ruined their team as a result!

Sam Bowie – Portland Trail Blazers

When Bowie walked across the stage in 1984 he was carrying with him the potential to get the Blazers back on the map. Bowie would be drafted second overall and he would go on to have a decent career. Certainly Bowie could afford any dental implants if he wanted. Guess who was selected 3rd? Michael Jordan. Ouch. Blazer fans will never forgive themselves.

Sam Bowie

Sam Bowie

Kwame Brown – Washington Wizards

Kwame was drafted straight out of high school by none other than Michael Jordan. Kwame Brown was supposed to help revive the Washington Wizards but he would never realize his potential. Kwame was reportedly broken by Jordan’s intense scrutiny and as a result he was traded just a few years later. You won’t need any fancy cosmetic dentistry to see Kwame’s bright smile as he still racked up $58 million in salary through his career. Yeah, can we do our next teeth bleaching appointment with dollar bills?

Kwame Brown Washington Wizards

Kwame Brown Washington Wizards

Greg Oden – Portland Trail Blazers

We swear we aren’t picking on Portland but you could hire filmmakers from the best film production company just to cover their draft woes. Greg Oden was selected #1 overall in 2007. Oden came into the NBA with Shaq-like potential but degenerative knees would sideline him. This was a franchise killer, setting the Blazers back a couple of years.

Greg Oden Portland Trail Blazers

Greg Oden Portland Trail Blazers

Joe Smith – Golden State Warriors

Smith was selected #1 overall way back in 1995 by the Golden State Warriors. Smith came into the league and managed to stick around for a while – averaging 10 PPG through 16 seasons. Still, Smith was selected ahead of Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett.

Joe Smith – Golden State Warriors

Joe Smith – Golden State Warriors

Michael Olowokandi – Los Angeles Clippers

Taken #1 overall by the Clippers, Michael Olowokandi probably perfectly encapsulates the Clipper’s struggles of the 90s and ‘00s. Olowokandi was only with the Clippers for five years before bouncing around the league. Certainly not what you want out of your #1 pick.

Michael Olowokandi – Los Angeles Clippers

Michael Olowokandi – Los Angeles Clippers

Chris Washburn – Golden State Warriors

Chris Washburn is the classic example of a star athlete who couldn’t quite do anything right. Washburn was taken #1 overall but he flamed out of the NBA, lasting just 3 seasons while averaging 3 points and 2 rebounds. Washburn failed multiple drug tests, became an addict, and even experienced homelessness.

Chris Washburn – Golden State Warriors

Chris Washburn – Golden State Warriors

Jonathan Bender – Indiana Pacers

Ever since Reggie Miller retired the Pacers haven’t been much to talk about. In 1999 Indiana thought that they got their star by drafting Jonathan Bender at #5 overall. Bender would play 78 games in his rookie season before quickly flaming out of the league. All-Stars Wally Szczerbiak and Richard Hamilton were selected at #6 and #7. Whoops.

Jonathan Bender – Indiana Pacers

Jonathan Bender – Indiana Pacers

Jonny Flynn – Minnesota Timberwolves

You’ve probably heard of Steph Curry by now, right? Well, Jonny Flynn was the guy that Minnesota drafted in front of him. Flynn played well in his rookie year, averaging 13 PPG, but he would revert to an end of the bench player.

Jonny Flynn – Minnesota Timberwolves

Jonny Flynn – Minnesota Timberwolves

Adam Morrison – Charlotte Hornets

He was a shooting force at Gonzaga and basketball filmmakers everywhere thought he might translate straight to the NBA as an elite off-the-bench scorer. That didn’t happen. Morrison was taken #3 overall and his career would peter out after just three seasons.

Adam Morrison – Charlotte Hornets

Adam Morrison – Charlotte Hornets

Glenn Robinson – Milwaukee Bucks

While making this list we looked for players that seriously derailed the franchise that drafted them. Glenn Robinson was a great player at times in the NBA and you can definitely make the case that he wasn’t a terrible #1 overall pick. Still, when the next guys selected are Glenn Hill and Jason Kidd, well, that’s just too bad.

Glenn Robinson – Milwaukee Bucks

Glenn Robinson – Milwaukee Bucks

Jay Williams – Chicago Bulls

Jay Williams came out of college as an elite guard with potential to become a franchise player, and that got Chicago to grab him at #2 in 2002. Williams would end up in a motorcycle accident that forced him to retire from the NBA. Williams wasn’t even allowed to ride motorcycles, either, according to his contract.

Jay Williams – Chicago Bulls

Jay Williams – Chicago Bulls

Olden Polynice – Seattle Supersonics

That’s a name you won’t forget! Polynice was grabbed at #8 overall, right ahead of Scottie Pippen. Polynice played in the NBA for 15 years, averaging just 8 points and 7 boards per game. It’s hard to be judged by the people around you, but Polynice will never escape being the guy that took Pippen away from Seattle.

Olden Polynice – Seattle Supersonics

Olden Polynice – Seattle Supersonics

Jon Koncak – Atlanta Hawks

With career averages of 5 points, 5 boards, and a block you would think that Koncak was nothing more than a bench player. You’d be right, of course, but he was drafted at #5 overall – ahead of Karl Malone and Joe Dumars. Koncak was a great defender and he lasted 11 years in the league, but that wasn’t enough for Atlanta’s draft price.

Jon Koncak – Atlanta Hawks

Jon Koncak – Atlanta Hawks

Pervis Ellison – Sacramento Kings

The fact that you don’t know who he is will speak wonders to his bust status. Ellison was taken at #1 overall back in 1989 – ahead of Tim Hardaway and Glen Rice. Ellison still lasted 11 seasons in the NBA, averaging 10 points and 7 boards.

Pervis Ellison – Sacramento Kings

Pervis Ellison – Sacramento Kings

Robert Swift – Seattle Supersonics

Swift was grabbed at #12 overall back in the 2004 NBA draft and it was immediately clear that he wasn’t going to be a long-term player in the NBA. Swift had chronic knee issues and he barely was able to take the court. Worst of all, Swift rose to infamy when his home was foreclosed on. Swift completely trashed the place before allowing the new owner to enter the home. Gross.

Robert Swift – Seattle Supersonics

Robert Swift – Seattle Supersonics

Shawn Bradley – Philadelphia 76ers

Bradley was elite in college and he even got some run with Team U.S.A. Still, that wouldn’t help Bradley in the NBA. The 7’6 center would become more famous for his work on the movie Space Jam than any actual on court displays. Bradley blocked 274 shots in his sophomore season but foul trouble and turnovers pestered him his entire career. Bradley was drafted in between Chris Webber and Penny Hardaway. Ouch.

Shawn Bradley – Philadelphia 76ers

Shawn Bradley – Philadelphia 76ers

Nikoloz Tskitishvili – Denver Nuggets

Tskitishvili probably has the coolest name in basketball but that won’t assuage Denver Nugget fans. Tsikitishvili averaged just 3 PPG during his six seasons in the NBA. He now plays in the Iranian Basketball Super League.

Nikoloz Tskitishvili Post Up

Nikoloz Tskitishvili Post Up

Luke Jackson – Cleveland Cavaliers

Jackson joined LeBron James in Cleveland back in 2004 after being selected at #10 overall. Jackson was derailed by injuries and quickly pushed out of the league. He only played 36 games through two seasons with Cleveland. Think LeBron coulda used the help back then?

Luke Jackson – Cleveland Cavaliers

Luke Jackson – Cleveland Cavaliers

Marvin Williams – Atlanta Hawks

Don’t get us wrong, Marvin Williams is a nice little NBA player. Williams was selected at #2 overall in the 2005 draft and he’s still going today – 12 years later. Still, Williams is a career role-player who was selected ahead of Chris Paul and Deron Williams. These are the kind of draft misses that end up killing a franchise. Can you imagine the ’05 Hawks with a guy like CP3 running the point? That would totally change the fate of the Hawks up until now.

Marvin Williams – Atlanta Hawks

Marvin Williams – Atlanta Hawks

Darko Milicic – Detroit Pistons

The 2003 NBA draft is widely considered one of the best in the history of the sport. At the top of the draft we saw guys like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh get drafted. With the #2 pick you couldn’t go wrong, right? Well, sort of. Detroit got suckered into drafting the potential of Euro-big man, Darko Milicic. Detroit won the championship in Darko’s rookie year, but that’s all he’d ever do with the team. Darko would get passed around the league for 9 years before scrubbing out. Through his career Darko would average just 6 points and 4 rebounds. The other guys we listed earlier? Yeah, they are all Hall of Fame talents. Poor Darko.

Darko-Milicic

Darko-Milicic