In recognition of yesterday's NBA Draft, The Canon Review has taken a look back at the worst draft picks for each of the past three decades. You can check out the worst of the 1980s here and the worst picks of the 1990s here. I would have had this done before the NBA Draft took place, but because of technical difficulties, this post was delayed a couple of days. So, without further adieu, here are the worst draft picks for each year since 2000.
2000: Take Your Pick
Ok, so this may seem like a bit of a copout, but seriously take a look at the first round here. There's Stromile Swift, the second pick in the draft who started 97 games in his career and averaged 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in his career. There's Darius Miles, a high school product and a world class headcase who showed glimpses of quality play, but had his career ruined by injury and drug use. There's Marcus Fizer, who just couldn't play and was out of the league by 2007 with a career field goal percentage of .435, not too good for a power forward listed at 6'9". There's DerMarr Johnson, who came out too early and struggled in his first two years for the Hawks (less than 40 percent shooting, more turnovers than assists), then nearly had his career ended after a car wreck. He recovered, but was nothing more than a reserve. There's Chris Mihm, Courtney Alexander, the immortal Jerome Moiso, and even more. Suffice it to say, the 2000 Draft may have been the worst draft class in the past 30 years.
2001: Kwame Brown, Center, Washington Wizards, 1st Pick
A high school product out of Brunswick, GA, Brown was the a surprising first pick in the 2001 draft by then Wizards owner Michael Jordan. Yes, Brown had an NBA-ready body (6'11". 270 lbs) with great athleticism for a man his size, but to say he was raw would be an understatement. Brown wasn't ready for the NBA, and to make matters worse his owner/teammate Jordan would constantly berate Brown, causing the youngster to lose his confidence. Also, Brown developed a reputation for being lazy and not wanting to put in the proper work in order to be great. So, after four years in Washington where he averaged in double figures in points just once, they traded him to the Lakers for Caron Butler. Brown played for the Lakers for two and a half years, wowing the Lakers fans with incompetent free throw shooting (.492 FT percentage as a Laker) and his hands of stone. Somehow, the Lakers traded Brown, along with three others, for Pau Gasol. Brown lasted 15 games in Memphis, then signed with the Pistons in 2008. In two years in Detroit, Brown averaged 3.8 points and 4.3 rebounds. Apparently, that was enough to impress the owner of the Bobcats, one Michael Jordan, who signed Brown to a one year deal. Last season, Brown started 50 games for the Bobcats, although his averages of 7.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game begs the question as to why Brown played so much. Yes, Brown's only 29, but if he hasn't turned into a good player by now, there's no reason to expect he will anytime soon.
2002: Jay Williams, Guard, Chicago Bulls, 2nd Pick
The Bulls picked Williams, an All-American at Duke, with the second pick in the draft, and many experts felt that Williams should of been picked first instead of Yao Ming. In fact, Bill Simmons predicted that "Years from now, we will remember Yao Ming over Jay Williams the way we remember Bowie over Jordan". To be honest, I also thought Williams would be a great pro and turn the then moribund Bulls around. In his rookie year, Williams struggled mightily with his shot (.399 field goal percentage, .640 free throw percentage), but then again, Kobe Bryant didn't have a great rookie year, and he turned out fine. Unfortunately, we'll never know how the rest of Williams's career would have played out, as he wrecked his motorcycle in June 2003, suffering career-ending injuries. Despite many comeback attempts, Williams never made it back to the NBA, leaving everyone to wonder what could have been.
2003: Darko Milicic, Center, Detroit Pistons, 2nd Pick
Considering how Milicic's career has played out, and the players selected directly after Darko, this could turn out to be the worst pick in the history of the NBA Draft. The Pistons selected the Croatian Sensation with ahead of future All-Stars Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. The good news is that in Darko's first year, the Pistons won the NBA championship, although it's hard to argue that Milicic's 14 minutes in the 2004 postseason had any impact. Milicic spent the next two years buried on the Pistons bench, and started to publicly complain about his lack of playing time, arguing that he wasn't getting any better by sitting on the bench. Perhaps he had a point, but the Pistons didn't want to hear it, so they traded him to the Magic. In 2006-07, Darko finally got some significant playing time, and his 8.0 ppg and 5.5 rpg in 23.9 mpg must have impressed the Memphis Grizzlies, who signed him to a three year-21 million dollar contract. Darko started 64 games in 2007-08, but his play (7.2 ppg) was not exactly what the Grizzlies were hoping for, so he went back to the bench. In 2009, the Grizzlies traded Milicic to the Knicks, and in February of 2010, the Knicks sent him to the Timberwolves. After the 2010 season, Timberwolves GM David Kahn signed Milicic to a four year, 20 million dollar contract because, well, who the hell knows? Last season, Milicic did set a career high in points per game (8.8) and finished 10th in blocks per game (2.0), so there's still a slight bit of hope for the 25 year old. He has a long way to go before matching the exploits of Anthony, Wade, and Bosh, however.
2004: Shaun Livingston, Guard, Los Angeles Clippers, 4th Pick
I really don't want to include Livingston on this list, but since Jay Williams had a similar set of circumstances, I must also include Livingston, the 6'7" point guard who came straight from high school to the NBA. Since the Clippers had a point guard in Sam Cassell, Livingston spent the first two years primarily coming off the bench. He was given the starting point guard position in 2006-07, and while he wasn't great, he did show promise (9.3 ppg, 5.1 apg). However, he suffered a serious knee injury in February 2007 which nearly ended his career. Livingston came back, and bounced around the league for a while, playing with the Heat, Thunder, and Wizards before signing a two year contract with the Bobcats this past offseason. Livingston played a career high 73 games last season, although his numbers (6.6 ppg, 2.2 apg) weren't too impressive. A couple of days ago, Livingston was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks, where presumably he will serve as Brandon Jennings's backup.
2005: Marvin Williams, Forward, Atlanta Hawks, 2nd Pick
All right, I'll admit I'm a little biased in making this pick. After all, it's not as if Williams has been terrible as an Atlanta Hawk. He's averaged double figures in scoring each of the past five seasons, and has improved in quite a few areas, including three-point shooting. However, his defense is questionable at best, his rebounding is poor for a man of his height (5.3 rpg), and during the Hawks latest playoff run, Williams was usually on the bench late in the game. Williams has seemed to fall out of favor with Hawks coach Larry Drew, which isn't good considering Williams has three years left on a five-year, 40 million dollar contract. What makes this pick even worse is, back in 2005, the Hawks already had forwards Josh Childress and Josh Smith, and needed a point guard to replace Tyronn Lue. Luckily for the Hawks, both Chris Paul and Deron Williams were there for the taking. Instead, the Hawks took Williams, yet another small forward, in a move that made little sense at the time and still doesn't, to be honest. Ever since then, the Hawks have tried a variety of solutions, including drafting Acie Law and trading for Mike Bibby and Kirk Hinrich. Perhaps young Jeff Teague will be the answer for the Hawks' point guard problems, but if the Hawks drafted Paul or Deron Williams, they could have become a power in the East right up there with Boston and Orlando. Then again, the Hawks have historically been run by fools, so I guess I should just be happy that at least they drafted a player capable of starting in the NBA instead of the next Doug Edwards or Sheldon Williams.
2006: Adam Morrison, Forward, Charlotte Bobacts, 3rd Pick
Morrison was the National Player of the Year at Gonzaga University and was frequently compared to Larry Bird, so when the Bobcats made him the third choice in the draft, many people, including me thought it was a good pick and that Morrison would be the man to turn the Bobcats' fortunes around. Well, we were wrong. Morrison's shot suddenly disappeared upon entering the NBA, and in his rookie year, he shot under 40 percent from the field (.376) and would eventually lose his starting spot due to poor defense. The next year, Morrison hurt his knee and missed the entire 2007-08 season. By the time he came back, Morrison was out of the Bobcats' plans, so he was traded to the L.A. Lakers. Morrison collected two championship rings as the Lakers' 12th man, so that's nice. Last year, Morrison was cut in training camp by the Washington Wizards, and it looks as if the 26 year old's NBA career is over, a fate that no one expected just five years ago.
2007: Greg Oden, Center, Portland Trailblazers, 1st Pick
Like Jordan and Bowie in 1984, the Trailblazers picked a big man in Greg Oden over the scoring sensation Kevin Durant. Yes, the pick was questioned at the time, but unlike Bowie, Oden didn't seem to have a history of leg injuries. But Oden quickly made up for lost time and underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee just before the start of his rookie season. In 2008-09, Oden suffered a lot of minor injuries, but he did play 61 games, although his 8.9 ppg and 7.0 rpg weren't exactly inspiring visions of Moses Malone. The next year, Oden got off to a decent start (11.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.3 bpg), but he fractured his patella and missed the rest of the season after playing 21 games. Last year, Oden missed the enitre season due to microfracture surgery on his left knee. So far, Oden's played 82 games in his career, while Durant's won two scoring titles and led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the conference finals this past year. I'm thinking that Trailblazers fans would like a do over.
2008: Joe Alexander, Forward, Milwaukee Bucks, 8th Pick
Nicknamed 'Vanilla Sky' for his leaping ability (and because he's white), Alexander was picked in the expectation that he would give the Bucks some much needed scoring punch in the frontcourt. In his rookie season, Alexander struggled on both ends of the court and was relegated to a bench role, averaging 4.7 points in 59 games. The Bucks became so disenchanted with Alexander that they traded him to the Bulls during his second season. Alexander would play a grand total of eight games in Chicago, and was cut by the New Orleans Hornets in November of 2010. Undaunted, Alexander spent the rest of the season in the NBA D-League, averaging 20.2 points a game for the Texas Legends and earning a spot on the All D-League first team. So maybe there's hope for Vanilla Sky after all.
2009: Hasheem Thabeet, Center, Memphis Grizzlies, 2nd Pick
Thabeet is a 7'3" center who was thought to be a bit of a project when the Grizzlies selected him second overall in the 2009 draft. As it turned out, Thabeet was so unprepared to play in the NBA that the Grizzlies sent him down to the D-League during his rookie season. Last year, Thabeet played 45 games with the Grizzlies, scoring a grand total of 47 points. Since the Grizzlies had Marc Gasol as their center of the future, they traded Thabeet to the Rockets in a deal for Shane Battier. So far, Thabeet's been a major disappointment, but the Rockets are hoping that Thabeet will fill the hole at the center position left by Yao Ming's injury problems.
2010: Cole Aldrich, Center, New Orleans Hornets, 11th Pick
Okay, it's a little early to call anybody from the 2010 draft a bust, but I'm sure that the Oklahoma City Thunder, who traded for Aldrich on draft day, were hoping for a little more from the big man from Kansas. Aldrich ended up bouncing around between the Thunder and their D-League affiliate in Tulsa. In 18 games last year, Aldrich put up a total of 18 points and 35 rebounds. It's not as if the Thunder needed Aldrich to come through last year, but they will need him to step up for the Thunder to realize their championship dreams. Whether he can remains to be seen.
Well, that's it for The Canon Review's worst NBA draft picks of the past 11 years. Thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about this or other posts, or ideas for future posts, then send them to me either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at email@example.com.