A month before the 2010 NBA draft, we start our two part project, reviewing the last 20 years and drafts, pointing out the worst pick in each draft. We begin with the long lost 90’s, shuffling through 1990-1999.
1990 – Bo Kimble, Clippers, No. 8 Pick
Kimble averaged over 35 points per game for Loyola Maramount University, taking the school to the regional finals in the NCAA tournament. A 6’4 combo guard, part of one of the highest scoring team in college basketball history (together with the late Hank Gathers), Kimble was picked 8th in the draft. The Clippers didn’t miss out on any hall of famers, but Kimble’s NBA career lasted only three seasons, averaging 12.7 minutes and 5.5 points per game. Gary Payton (number two pick) was the only real super star out of this draft, but the second round did showcase Toni Kukoc (arriving at the league only three years later), Antonio Davis and Cedric Ceballos.
1991 – Doug Smith, Mavs, No. 6 Pick
Doug Smith was a huge star for Mizzou in college, averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds his senior year, and his #34 jersey retired. He is also one of those to achieve the mark of college excellence – 2000 career points and 1000 career rebounds in the NCAA. NBA? He was picked 6th in the draft by the Mavs, who didn’t miss out on real superstars, but could of gotten more than Smith. He played four seasons with the Mavs and one with Boston. He did post some good per-minute numbers, but his shooting percentage (42.5%) and bad defense never really helped him out.
1992 – Adam Keefe, Hawks, No. 10 Pick
Another power forward who had a stellar college career (2000-1000 mark) with Stanford, but didn’t leave his mark on the pro game. Keefe did last nine years in the NBA, but except for one season in Utah (1997-1998, played 25 minutes a night) was never more than a bench player. He finished his career averaging 5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game after playing for Atlanta, Utah and Golden State. Robert Horry, Latrell Sprewell and Doug Christie were picked lower than Keefe.
1993 – Shawn Bradley, 76ers, No. 2 Pick
It’s not that Bradley’s NBA career was that bad. He played for 12 seasons, averaging 8.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. The fact that he was the second pick in that draft, with Penny Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn going just after him and guys like Sam Cassell, Nick Van Exel and even Bruce Bowen (went undrafted) came out of this one, You see how big the Sixers’ miss was.
1994 – Donyell Marshall, Timberwolves, No. 4 Pick
On the one hand, Marshall did have a long NBA career, retiring after the 2008-2009 season with 15 seasons and nearly 1000 NBA games behind him. On the other, Juwan Howard, Eddie Jones and Jalen Rose were still up. It’s not that they’re going into the hall of fame, but they’ve had (or still have) a better career than Marshall, who came out of college after a brilliant senior season with UCONN, winning the Big East player of the year award.
1995 – Joe Smith, Warriros, No. 1 Pick
Maybe he came into the league too early, but still, this was the NCAA player of the year in 1995, finishing his short (2 years) college career averaging 20.2 points and 10.7 rebounds for Maryland. Smith has been a decent player throughout his 15 year career, spent with 10 different teams (Atlanta his current stop), nothing more. You expect much more from a no.1 pick, and with players like McDyess, Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett still on the board, Smith was a huge disappointment despite his solid NBA career. The biggest bust of this draft was undoubtedly Ed O’Bannon, picked 9th by the Nets, lasting only two seasons in the league.
1996 – Lorenzen Wright, Clippers, No. 7 Pick
A 14 year career in the NBA (although he’s not officially retired, Wright hasn’t played in 2009-2010) with 7.9 poinst and 6.3 as his career averages. But going with Wright in one of the best drafts in history? Big mistake. Wright was a mediocre semi-starting center at best, and with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Peja Stojakovic, Jermaine O’Neal and Ilgauskas getting picked later than Wright, the Clippers, as usual, made the wrong choice.
1997 – Antonio Daniels, Grizzlies, No. 4 Pick
Despite McGrady, Billups and Tim Duncan coming in this draft, it isn’t considered as one of the stronger draft classes due to the lack of depth. Antonio Daniels, a big star for Bowling Green in college, got picked fourth. Like Wright, Daniels hasn’t retired but didn’t find a suitable home in the 2009-2010 season. After 12 NBA seasons with averaged of 7.6 points and 3.4 assists, Daniels is no doubt a disappointment at such a high pick, especially with McGrady, Tim Thomas and Stephen Jackson being more suitable picks.
1998 – Michael Olowokandi, Clippers, No. 1 Pick
Maybe the worst no. 1 pick in recent memory if not all time. Olowokandi played for the small University of the Pacific, having a monster Junior season there (22.2 points, 11.2 rebounds). Due to the 1999 shortened season, Olowokandi began the year playing in Italy for Kinder. He came back that season to play for the Clippers, but like most Clipper draft picks, didn’t make an impact. He seemed to improve in his last season in LA, scoring 12 points and grabbing 9 boards per game, but after his move to Minnesota injuries began plaguing his career and he retired after the 2006-2007 season after a 8.3-6.8 career. Who was a better pick?
Mike Bibby, Jamison, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Rashard Lewis, Brad Miller. No need to go on any further. Huge bust.
1999 – Jonathan Bender, Raptors, No. 5 Pick
Tons of athleticism, not too much basketball. Bender returned to the NBA this season after being out of the league for three years, playing unimpressive 25 games for the Knicks. His first game as a pro, Bender became the first player to be drafted out of high school and score in double figures. That and a a-la Dr J dunk in the All-Star weekend are probably the only memories Bender will leave in Basketball fans minds. Richard Hamilton, Andre Miller, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Ron Artest, Andrei Kirilenko and Manu Ginobili would have probably been better picks.