It’s hard to define what is a draft bust exactly, but guys like Hasheem Thabeet and Ekpe Udoh are easy to identify. It doesn’t help when just after these disastrous picks come in guys who end up being All-Stars or even more. For the worst hit and misses general managers have made in the NBA draft over the last few years, keep reading.
2013 – We’re giving Anthony Bennett one more season to turn it around
2012 – Kendall Marshall, Maurice Harkless
I’m one of those who believe that if Marshall wouldn’t have injured his hand in the NCAA Tournament, North Carolina would have been crowned as the champions that season, although Kentucky were close to unstoppable. It doesn’t matter. The point guard left to the NBA and except for some nice numbers in the inflating D’Antoni system, has struggled to leave his mark. He tore his ACL midway through last season. He got traded by the Bucks to the Suns and then they waived him. Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t play in the league again.
As for Harkless, his career trajectory isn’t very different. The 15th overall pick played just 45 games last season, starting in four of them, his minutes dropping to just 15 a night. He’s not making any progress and although he has one more year on his contract, things aren’t looking up for the 22-year old.
Who would have been better? Terrence Jones at 18th, Jared Sullinger at 21st, Tony Wroten at 25th, Jae Crowder at 34th, Draymond Green at 35th, Khris Middleton at 39th. No All-Stars, but Green has emerged as one of the best young forwards in the league, and the others have a very bright future ahead of them.
2011- Derrick Williams, Jan Vesely, Jimmer Fredette
Williams is one of those guys you keep thinking is going to break out in the next game, the next season. But truth is the Arizona star is struggling in the NBA like many tweeners. He can put up points, but his defense is awful and his shooting is inconsistent at best. He’ll stay around in the league a little bit longer, but for a 2nd overall pick, things should have been better.
Jan Vesely, the 6th overall pick, isn’t in the NBA anymore. After averaging 3.6 points in 15.2 minutes per game for three seasons, he went back to Europe where he’s doing a much better job playing in Turkey for Fenerbahce. He’s only 25, so don’t be surprised if he gives the NBA another go.
Fredette, the 10th overall pick, was a mega star at BYU. In the NBA? He has played for the Kings, Bulls and Pelicans. He’ll have a very difficult time finding a team in free agency after showing he doesn’t seem to fit in either guard position and his shooting, which completely fell apart this season, doesn’t make up for a long list of weaknesses he has.
Better picks? Tristan Thompson was 4th (lower than Williams), Brandon Knight was 8th and Kemba Walker came in 9th. Klay Thompson was 11th, Kawhi Leonard 15, the Morris Twins at 13 and 14, Nikola Vucevic at 16, Tobias Harris at 19, Donatas Motiejunas at 20, Kenneth Faried at 22, Nikola Mirotic at 23, Reggie Jackson at 24, Jimmy Butler at 30 and Isaiah Thomas at 60. All-Stars, NBA Finals MVPs, All-NBA selections. A lot of talent missed out on.
2010 – Ekpe Udoh, Cole Aldrich, Larry Sanders
Overall a pretty bad draft. We’ll actually start with Sanders, the 15th overall pick. For a short while it looked like he was going to be the next Ben Wallace, but as he said himself: what’s important, and where I would want to devote my time and energy” and that ultimately he realized that “for [basketball] to be consuming so much of my life and time right now … it’s not there for me. It’s not that worth it. He played just 50 games over the last two seasons. He might not play again.
Ekpe Udoh was the sixth overall pick. He had an impressive 2009-2010 with Baylor, but never really adapted well to the NBA. He did play 33 times for the Clippers last season, but his numbers through his career (4 points, 3.2 rebounds) suggest that at best he’s an edge-of-the-bench type of player.
And Aldrich? Luckily for him, borderline 7-footers (he’s 6’11) are always in demand. He averaged a career high 5.5 points per game last season for the Knicks. That’s probably the best he’s ever going to get.
And below these guys? Eric Bledsoe at 18th is a future All-Star, and at 19th comes Avery Bradley. Greivis Vasquez taken 28th is a good backup point guard and an exciting player to watch. Hassan Whiteside at 33rd is turning out to be a steal, Lance Stephenson at 40th was a steal until last season. Jeremy Lin went undrafted in 2010.
2009 – Hasheem Thabeet, Jonny Flynn, Terrence Williams, Earl Clark, Austin Daye
A draft with plenty of good players but also some awful picks. Hasheem Thabeet at number two isn’t just a bad one, he’s one of the worst picks of all-time. James Harden was taken one pick after him, and there were Tyreke Evans and Ricky Rubio separating him and Jonny Flynn. The sixth overall pick was the second point guard in a row the Timberwolves took that night. He hasn’t played since the 2011-2012 season.
Then comes Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan and Brandon Jennings. At 11th? Williams, who at the moment is playing basketball in Venezuela. A fantastic player for Louisville, he played a total of 153 NBA games before washing out. Earl Clark (14th overall) actually found his way back into the league after getting “thrown out” and he even has a deal for next season with the Nets. However, he averaged just 2.7 points per game in his short 2015 stint.
Austin Daye? Another small forward, another player who has been moved around quite a lot. He played a little bit for the Hawks and got himself a deal for next season, but his 5.2 points per game career average and the fact that he can’t find a home anywhere says a lot about the kind of player he is.
Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague and Ty Lawson came in at 17-18-19. Darren Collison and Omri Casspi are useful rotation players at 21 and 23. Taj Gibson was 26th. Jodie Meeks came 41st, and Patrick Beverley 42nd. Marcus Thornton was 43rd and he averaged over 21 points per game at one point. Danny Green was the 46th overall pick and Patty Mills came in at 55th.