Boston Celtics: Draymond Green, 2012 NBA Draft
General Manager Danny Ainge has done an incredible job of stocking the roster of the Boston Celtics with a ridiculous amount of talent, but even the most ardent Boston fans will tell you he’s had some serious misses in past NBA Drafts. Case in point?
Using first round picks on guys like Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo in the 2012 NBA Draft, and passing on taking big man Draymond Green. In fairness to Ainge, the rest of the NBA overlooked Green as well, as he fell to the 35th overall pick.
If you think passing up on Draymond was bad… wait until you see what Charlotte did in the 1996 Draft!
Charlotte Hornets: Kobe Bryant, 1996 NBA Draft
Credit to the Charlotte Hornets for at least taking the high school phenom who will go down as one of the 10 greatest players in NBA Draft. The only problem was that they didn’t actually keep Kobe Bryant after drafting him.
It wasn’t really Charlotte’s fault, as Bryant’s agent (Arn Tellem) effectively said that Bryant would never play for Charlotte, and the wheels were already in motion to bring Bryant to Los Angeles.
Atlanta Hawks: Chris Paul, 2005 NBA Draft
One of the most inexplicable draft gaffes in recent memory, which only looks even worse the more you look back at it. In 2005, the Atlanta Hawks had a major need at point guard, and instead of taking a point guard who not only went to school only 340 miles away, but was also a Consensus first-team All-American (2005), the Hawks decided it’d be a good idea to take Marvin Williams, a guy who didn’t even start for his University of North Carolina team.
Williams never got close to living up to the billing of being the #2 overall pick in the draft, while Paul has been one of the best point guards in NBA history.
Brooklyn (New Jersey) Nets: Scottie Pippen, 1987 NBA Draft
With the 3rd overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft, the then-New Jersey Nets took Dennis Hopson, a 6’5 scorer who was a second-team All-American and the Big Ten Player of the Year. At the time, it seemed like a good pick.
Of course, that perspective changes when you consider the fact that six-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen was taken by the Seattle SuperSonics with the 5th overall pick; as we all know, Seattle subsequently traded Pippen to the Chicago Bulls.
Chicago Bulls: Lamarcus Aldridge, 2006 NBA Draft
This one stings a bit more for the Chicago Bulls, considering they actually drafted forward Lamarcus Aldridge with the 2nd overall pick in 2006 NBA Draft, using a pick they acquired from the New York Knicks.
But the Bulls then swapped Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas, taken 4th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers, as well as forward Viktor Khryapa. Aldridge has played in six All-Star games, whereas Thomas and Khryapa combined for zero appearances.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Victor Oladipo, 2013 NBA Draft
After securing the 1st overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to make Anthony Bennett, a forward from UNLV, the top pick in that year’s draft, despite a bunch of teams souring on the prospect in the days leading up to the draft.
In hindsight, taking Victor Oladipo would have been a much better decision, considering Bennett might be one of the most colossal busts since the turn of the century. Oladipo’s career got off to a slow start, but he blossomed into a near superstar with the Indiana Pacers.
Detroit Pistons: Chris Bosh, 2003 NBA Draft
This will undoubtedly go down as one of the biggest draft pick blunders in the history of the NBA Draft. One pick after LeBron James was selected, the Detroit Pistons selected Darko Milicic, a seven-footer from Serbia who dazzled many grizzled NBA scouts in private workouts.
But between his own immaturity, and head coach Larry Brown ruining his confidence, Milicic never came close to fulfilling all that talent. Meanwhile, the guys taken after Milicic include Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, and fellow big man Chris Bosh.
Miami Heat: Kevin Love, 2008 NBA Draft
For much of the pre-draft process leading up to the 2008 NBA Draft, people believed Michael Beasley, the high-scoring forward from Kansas State University, would be the #1 overall pick in the draft. But once the lightning-fast point guard named Derrick Rose took that mantle, the Miami Heat happily “settled” for taking Beasley.
Back then, it was a no-brainer. It’s only now that we look back and realize that Miami should have instead taken forward Kevin Love, if they wanted a big man with the gift for scoring.
Milwaukee Bucks: Dirk Nowitzki, 1998 NBA Draft
In his attempts to rebuild the Dallas Mavericks in the late 1990’s, the great Don Nelson selected Robert “Tractor” Trailer with the 6th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft. However, before it became common practice to select prospects from overseas, Nelson had his eyes on another player: a German forward named Dirk Nowitzki, whom the Milwaukee Bucks selected with the 9th overall pick.
Dallas and Milwaukee swapped Traylor and Nowitzki (among other players), and the rest, as they say, is history.
New York Knicks: Nate Thurmond, 1963 NBA Draft
The New York Knicks have their share of Draft Day hits (Patrick Ewing in 1985) and blunders (Frederick Weis in 1999). But you have to go a ways back for their great “what if” draft pick miss. In 1963, the Knicks made swingman Art Heyman the #1 overall pick in the draft, passing on Nate Thurmond, who would be drafted by the then-San Francisco Warriors.
Thurmond went on to become a seven-time All-Star, and was named five times to an All-NBA defensive team. He was later enshrined in the Hall of Fame as well.
Orlando Magic: Danny Granger, 2005 NBA Draft
The Orlando Magic’s history has been much more about the players they take either getting injured (Anfernee Hardaway) or disgruntled (Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard), as opposed to horrifically missing on draft picks.
In recent memory, one of their more bad misses came in the 2005 NBA Draft, when they selected Fran Vazquez with the 11th overall pick, passing on the chance to take a future All-Star like Danny Granger, who was taken just six picks later by the Indiana Pacers.
Philadelphia 76ers: Demarcus Cousins, 2010 NBA Draft
Everyone knew that the Washington Wizards would take John Wall with the #1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. With the #2 pick in the draft, we weren’t really sure what the Philadelphia 76ers would do.
While many people agreed with their pick of former Ohio State All-American Evan Turner, a lot of people believed center Demarcus Cousins was a much more talented player, albeit with his fair share of personality issues — and those people were right, on both accounts.
Toronto Raptors: Zach Randolph, 2001 NBA Draft
Heading into the 2001 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors were coming off a season when Vince Carter led them to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers. Trying to get him some help in the front court, the Raptors selected forward Michael Bradley with the 17th overall pick, and passed on the chance to take Zach Randolph, who was taken two picks later.
While “Z-Bo” has been something of a headache for the teams he’s been on, he’s also been a solid power forward for the better part of two decades — more than we can say about Bradley.
Washington Wizards: Pau Gasol, 2001 NBA Draft
The great Michael Jordan was a minority owner of the Washington Wizards in 2001, and in gearing up to return to playing in the NBA, he would work out against the prospects in the 2001 NBA Draft. Kwame Brown, whom the team would take at #1 overall, famously guaranteed Jordan that if the Wizards drafted Brown, they’d never regret it.
In actuality, it was the exact opposite; Brown just couldn’t handle the transition from high school to the pro’s, and especially playing alongside Jordan. What makes matters worse is that Jordan had no interest in drafting Pau Gasol, who was taken three picks later.