When it comes to the NBA Draft, and projecting what a player was versus previously versus what a player could be in the future, at the risk of using even more sports cliches, it really is all about beauty being in the eye of the beholder, and the process being much more of an art than a science.
For every “generational, can’t-miss” prospect that enters the NBA and changes the league’s landscape, there are countless players whom we all thought would be future superstars… only to watch their careers fall disappointingly flat. And then, there are those “diamonds in the rough” – the guys who get overlooked in the draft’s beauty contest, only to end up being among the “prettiest” players we have in the NBA today.
Here’s our look at 25 players who emerged as franchise-altering picks (in a good way) since the turn of the century, and 25 more players who were complete swings and misses.
When we all come to our senses and acknowledge that 1) LeBron James is not better than Michael Jordan, and 2) still acknowledge that James has ascended to the rank of the 2nd-greatest NBA player of all time, we’ll finally be able to truly appreciate his greatness.
James fulfilled the prophecies foretold about him when he was still in high school, winning three NBA Championships — including the 2016 title which he brought back to his home region of Cleveland, Ohio. James was selected as the league’s MVP four times, although there are arguments that could easily be made about him being shortchanged in that area more than once.
Perhaps most impressive is his streak of playing in nine consecutive NBA Finals between 2010 and 2018.
Stephen Curry is the greatest basketball shooter in human history. That much is not up for debate. He’s already third all time in three pointers and will be first in a little more than a season. And despite all the difficult shots, Curry ranks top five in career three point percentage and number one all time in free throw percentage.
The advanced metrics are even better. Curry ranks 4th all time with 62% true shooting on a leaderboard populated by seven foot dudes shooting two feet from the rim, and he’s #2 all time in OBPM. He won back to back MVPs in 2015 and 2016, and the latter season was perhaps the greatest offensive season in NBA history with 30/5/7 on 50/45/91 shooting. He’s been the best player on three champions — yeah, you heard me — and might add another ring to his resume soon.
That’s finally a career for Dwayne Wade, and what an amazing career it was. Wade finishes top 50 all time in points, assists, steals, free throws, and win shares with a career average of 22 points per game. He played in five NBA Finals, four of them with LeBron and one on his own.
Winning the 2012 and 2013 titles with James pushed Wade up the all time guard rankings, but it was his 2006 championship that really made him a legend. That run made Dwyane Wade the only shooting guard besides Michael Jordan to be the clear best player on a title team. Wade slashed to the rim and finished at an elite level, and he earned every bit of the retirement tour he got.
Chris Paul is The Point God, and he’s even better than you give him credit for. CP3 is good at pretty much everything. He’s made nine All Defense teams and led the league in steals six times. He’s also a walking elite offense. CP3 has a 118 or better offensive rating 12 seasons in a row — and counting.
He currently has the #1 all time offensive rating and he ranks top eight all time in assists and steals per game, BPM, PER, and win shares per 48 minutes. CP3 never won an MVP, though he probably should’ve in 2008, and he never made the Conference Finals until last season. Still, Chris Paul might be the only player in history that’s the best player for two different NBA franchises.
A man who was blessed by the basketball gods with the height of an NBA center, limbs that go on for days, the offensive versatility of a Swiss-Army Knife, and a love for basketball that’s as pure as the first snowfall, Kevin Durant seemed destined for stardom since becoming the second pick of the 2007 NBA Draft.
Between 2009 and 2012, Durant led the NBA in scoring three consecutive seasons, averaging 28.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3 assists per game over that span. Two seasons later, Durant averaged a league-high 32 points per game, along with 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists, earning him his first NBA MVP. And, of course, as virtually every NBA fan is aware of, Durant added two NBA titles to his resume after signing with the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2016.
While you can’t really fault the 14 other teams for passing on a mysterious Greek prospect named Giannis Antetokounmpo, whom very few people knew anything about, the fact that he fell to the 15th overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft just seems more ridiculous by the day.
After former head coach Jason Kidd toyed with the idea of making Antetokounmpo a point guard, he inadvertently unleashed a 6’11 basketball hydra who can do almost everything (except shoot 3-pointers) at a scary level, making him the guy to carry the torch for the NBA as LeBron James’ career comes closer to an end.
James Harden won an MVP in 2018 and will finish at least second this year, his fourth top two finish in five seasons. He already ranks ninth all time in three pointers and just made the second most threes ever in a season. Harden’s already top 100 all time in points, assists, and steals, and at age 29, he’s still going to add to those numbers — quite a bit, if this 36/7/8 season is any indication.
Of course you’ll want to hold his playoff performance against him until he breaks through, but it’s easy to forget Harden has already played in four Conference Finals and might have been the second best player on a Finals team at age 22. The flopping, the free throws, it’s all difficult to watch at times. But James Harden is an all time great already, whether you like it or not.
Five years ago, it would have been crazy to imagine if any NBA player would ever average a triple double over a whole season again, like Oscar Robertson once did. Now Russell Westbrook has done it three straight seasons and we barely even bat an eyelid anymore. Westbrook won MVP his first such season and probably won’t even finish top 10 in 2019. He’s now averaging 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists over almost a decade at his peak, and though his recent teams haven’t come through, Westbrook has already played in four Conference Finals.
Sure he’s also the worst volume three point shooter ever and takes more than a couple things off the table, but he brings a whole buffet to start with. Westbrook ranks top 30 all time in points per game — that part’s not a surprise — but he’s also third best ever in assist percentage, behind only legendary passers John Stockton and Chris Paul.
What do Evan Turner, Wesley Johnson, Ekpe Udoh, and Al-Farouq Aminu have in common? All four guys were taken among the top eight picks of the 2010 NBA Draft, ahead of a scintillating small forward by the name of Paul George from Fresno State University.
After the Indiana Pacers drafted him, George blossomed into one of the best all-around wing players in the NBA, and the leader of Pacers’ teams that would routinely battle LeBron James’ Miami Heat teams in the early 2010’s.
A 6’10 big man with the fluidity and agility of a guard, but with the wingspan of a condor (7’6) allowing him to absolutely suffocate anyone he guarded and protect the rim (almost 5 blocks per game in college) as well as anyone we had seen in years, Anthony Davis was the no-brainer, don’t-even-think-twice consensus top prospect in the 2012 NBA Draft.
The only two questions about him was whether he would continue to build on his offensive game (which he did) and put some bulk and muscle on his frame (a little more debatable), but if they were answered sufficiently, he was easily a franchise-changing talent with all the talents in the world to be a perennial All-Star.
Joel Embiid has played only 150 NBA games, but we can already list him among the best Kansas draft picks ever. Embiid is already a two time All Star and looks certain to make his second All NBA team as he leads the Philadelphia 76ers back to the playoffs.
Embiid was the crown jewel from years of Philadelphia tanking, which earned him the nickname The Process. He’s averaging 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists in the NBA and, as long as those knees stay healthy, looks like a player who will only rise up this list as his career moves forward.
You could easily make the argument that there aren’t four better centers in the NBA right now than Rudy Gobert. But in the 2013 NBA Draft, four different centers — Alex Len, Nerlens Noel, Gorgui Dieng, and Mason Plumlee — were selected ahead of the shot-swatting Frenchman who set NBA Draft Combine records for wingspan (7 feet 8½ inches) and standing reach (9 feet 7 inches).
Whether you know him as “The Stifle Tower” or “The French Rejection,” Gobert has emerged as perhaps the preeminent rim protector and/or shot blocker in the NBA right now.
Admittedly, Serbian center Nikola Jokić doesn’t always physically look the part of a 7-foot basketball savant. But as the saying goes: that’s why you should never judge a book by its cover. That must be what NBA teams did, though, as Jokic fell to the 41st overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, despite being one of the best basketball players in the basketball-crazy Balkan region.
But as the Denver Nuggets began to play Jokić more and more, they realized they have the most gifted passing big man since perhaps Arvydas Sabonis.
A tough, embattled youngster that grew up in one of the toughest situations possible, former Marquette University head coach Buzz Williams helped mold Jimmy Butler into a two-time All-Big East honorable mention. The Chicago Bulls managed to snag Butler with the very last pick of the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft, watching future afterthoughts like Nolan Smith and JaJuan Johnson be selected ahead of Butler.
Though he was overshadowed by Derrick Rose for the early part of his NBA career, Butler would go on to become one of the best – and toughest – two-way wing players in today’s NBA.
If you’re a hard-core NBA fan, the fact that there were three personnel executives in the NBA who decided that it would be a better idea to select guys like Jan Vesely, Bismack Biyombo, and Jimmer Fredette over the sharpshooting Klay Thompson from Washington State has to leave you shaking your head.
After the Golden State Warriors drafted Thompson and paired him with Stephen Curry, the duo became known as “The Splash Brothers,” thanks to their sniper-like ability to nail shots from deep.
Gilbert Arenas played for two seasons under Lute Olson at the University of Arizona, being named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team and then First-team All-Pac 10 in his two seasons of college hoops. After his second season in Tucson, in which the Wildcats advanced all the way to the 2001 NCAA Tournament Finals, Arenas declared for the NBA Draft. In what was a shock to many observers, Arenas fell to the early second round of the 2001 NBA Draft, being selected 31st overall.
After being drafted by the Golden State Warriors, Arenas wore the number “0” as retribution to detractors who said he would never play in the NBA (or would play zero minutes in his NBA career). Though his NBA career would end in a rather bumpy manner, Arenas was a three-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA selection, becoming one of the more exciting guards in the NBA while with the Washington Wizards.
If you ever have a conversation about the 2012 NBA Draft with Draymond Green, he will quickly (and loudly) remind you that 34 players were selected ahead of him. While four of those guys turned out to be All-Stars (and one of them — Anthony Davis — turned out to be an unquestioned superstar), you can legitimately say that Green became one of two or three best players in that entire draft, along with Davis and maybe Damian Lillard.
While Curry and Thompson might be the engine that makes the Warriors’ juggernaut go, Green has become the heart and the backbone of those teams.
There’s a reason why many NBA fans will say that, like the New England Patriots of the NFL, the San Antonio Spurs are playing chess while the rest of the NBA is playing checkers. After watching forward Kawhi Leonard, a second-team All-American in 2011, fall to the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, San Antonio engineered a trade with the Indiana Pacers for the rights to Leonard.
After something of a slow start in San Antonio, Leonard went on to dominate LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals, and become perhaps the best on-ball defender the NBA has ever seen since Scottie Pippen.
Even before he developed a body befitting of one of the Gods on Mount Olympus, Dwight Howard was a physical beast down low in the paint with the projected ability to finish around the rim with a variety of moves using both hands, but also with a startling ability to shoot from a bit further out or capably pass the ball out to shooters. Teams openly threw around the “Kevin Garnett” comparison for Howard, while acknowledging he should be even bigger and stronger than the wiry Garnett.
Still, there were plenty of teams who wondered whether the Orlando Magic, who had the #1 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, were better off taking a “proven commodity” in Emeka Okafor, especially considering the concerns about how much Howard really wanted to become a dominant player were there from day one.
Even in one of the two most talent-laden NBA Drafts of this century, which ended up yielding Stephen Curry, James Harden, and DeMar DeRozan in the top 10 picks, Blake Griffin was the unchallenged #1 prospect heading into the 2009 NBA Draft.
The best way to describe how NBA teams saw Griffin after his two years at the University of Oklahoma (the latter in which he won the Naismith college player of the year award) was a high-motor, high-character, rim-rocking freak of nature athlete who was like a hybrid of a brahma bull and a kangaroo, with a gallon of Red Bull intravenously dripped into his system.
The stories about Kyrie Irving’s fearlessness, rare set of offensive basketball skills, and overall “alpha dog” demeanor began to permeate even when while Irving was sitting on the sidelines. There was an “X-factor” to Irving’s game that was greater than the individual sum of things like his innate feel for the game of basketball, ability to finish around the hoop in a profound number of ways, his body control when breaking down a defense, and ability to be a one-man offensive dynamo.
The problem was, he didn’t really get to showcase any of those during his injury-curtailed season in Krzyzewski-ville, which led reliable scouting services to rank Irving as being in a tier just below guys like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Derrick Rose.
Scouting services referred to Derrick Rose’s package of overall athletic abilities as “extraordinary” and “breath taking,” acknowledging that if he cleaned up what they saw as wonky mechanics on his jump shot, he would develop into one of the most un-guardable point guards in the NBA.
Many of the things we remember about Derrick Rose during his heyday on the Chicago Bulls — the blinding speed in which he attacked the basket, the variety of ways he could finish around the basket, and the balance in which he could either create for his teammates or take over the game himself — were evident during his one year at the University of Memphis.
That’s what led Rose to overtake the previously more-heralded Michael Beasley as the top prospect in the 2008 NBA Draft, even if it was still somewhat rare for a team to take a 6’3 point guard with the top pick.
The Chicago Bulls made the right choice in drafting big man LaMarcus Aldridge with the second overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft; unfortunately, it didn’t do them a lot of good in the long run. Aldridge emerged into a seven-time All-Star with the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs, and has been named to five All-NBA teams (twice on the second team, and three times on the third team).
After all the main stars of the 2000’s on the Spurs retired, Aldridge has now become the face of San Antonio’s beloved basketball franchise.
In many ways, Chris Bosh has been the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA: he just doesn’t get the respect he deserves. We’re always going to remember Bosh as the “third banana” on the Miami Heat teams led by LeBron James, even though he was a four-time All-Star and All-NBA Second-Team selection during his first seven years with the Toronto Raptors.
Bosh almost signed a maximum deal with the Houston Rockets in 2014, but elected to stay in Miami even after former teammate LeBron James left to go back to Cleveland. Bosh retired from the NBA in 2017 after a career-ending blood clot diagnosis.
Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has become one of the best guards in the NBA, evidenced by being named to four All-NBA teams in his first seven seasons in the league. An ultra-dynamic scorer with absolutely no conscience when hosting up shots, Lillard is only the eighth player to get 10,000 points and 2,500 assists in his first six seasons in the NBA.
His preternatural ability to put the ball through the hoop has earned him the nickname “Video Game Dame,” because when he gets on a hot streak of scoring, his production becomes something you’d only see out of a video game.
Joseph Forte (Worst)
After leaving school after completing his sophomore year in Chapel Hill, Joe Forte was the 21st overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, selected by the Boston Celtics (ahead of guys like Tony Parker and Gilbert Arenas).
Forte spent his first two seasons on two different NBA teams (after the Celtics gave up on him after just one year), struggling to transition from shooting guard (his natural position) to point guard, averaging 1.2 points and 0.7 assists per game. Seattle released him after Forte’s second season in the NBA, and the rest of his career was spent in the NBA’s Developmental League and/or playing hoops overseas.
Adam Morrison (Worst)
As bad as the drafting history of the Charlotte basketball organization (in its most recent iteration) has been, it’s hard to fault them for drafting Adam Morrison. The All-American was the co-national player of the year, and helped make Gonzaga University a college basketball powerhouse.
But Morrison’s reasons for failure in the NBA were two-fold: for one, he simply lacked the pure athleticism needed to really be a star at the professional level; teams — like Charlotte — overlooked that fact, because of his production in college. Then, Morrison tore his ACL in his second season, taking even more away from his already-limited athletic ability.
Eddy Curry (Worst)
Back in 2000, when NBA scouts saw a precocious kid from just outside of Chicago standing 7’0, with the strength of a bull and the feet of a ballerina, they all thought they found the next Shaq. That’s why the Chicago Bulls made Eddy Curry the 2nd overall pick of the 2001 NBA Draft, straight out of high school.
Curry flashed a lot of promise early in his career, but a combination of immaturity, bloated contracts, and future health problems, killed that promise.
Anthony Bennett (Worst)
This one might seem obvious if only viewed through the prism of revisionist history, because you could have a rousing debate as to whether Anthony Bennett wasn’t just the worst #1 overall pick since the turn of the century, but one of the worst in the history of the NBA Draft itself. Teams loved the fact that Bennett had a big, strong body at 6’7 and 240lbs, with the ability to out-muscle smaller defenders and “out-quick” larger defenders.
But there were a lot of NBA teams who didn’t even have Bennett ranked among their top five prospects in a rather weak 2013 NBA Draft class, and believe that Bennett was much more of a product of being the #1 pick by process of elimination, since most teams has significant questions about every other player taken among the top picks in that draft.
Nikoloz Tskitishvili (Worst)
The Denver Nuggets rolled the dice with the number five pick in the 2002 draft, selecting Georgian (the country, not the state) prospect Nikoloz Tskitishvili, and Skita was one of the biggest busts in recent memory.
He never even averaged four points a game, and he didn’t even play double digit minutes any year after his rookie season. Tskitishvili shot 30% for his career — not a typo — and was out of the league entirely in four years.
Darko Milicic (Worst)
The Detroit Pistons made the Conference Finals in 2003 and then had the number two pick in the draft a few weeks later thanks to a savvy trade years before. They wouldn’t get the chance to pick high school phenom LeBron James, but in a draft with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade, it was hard to go wrong. Enter Darko.
Milicic could barely get on the floor his rookie season as the Pistons won the championship, and it didn’t get much better from there. He bounced around the league for a decade before retiring to kickboxing and owns an apple orchard in Serbia today, but he’ll always be remembered as one of the biggest busts in NBA history.
Greg Oden (Worst)
From the moment he headed to Columbus to serve his required year before he could officially declare for the NBA Draft, everyone had Greg Oden pegged as the #1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. Even with a somewhat questionable offensive game, and even after missing the entirety of his one year at Ohio State University due to injury, NBA-types simply couldn’t get over Oden’s “grown man” body — standing 7’0 and 250lbs — at only 18 years old, leading the majority of the league to stannd by the conventional NBA wisdom of “you can’t pass on a gifted big man.”
But there were a few intrepid NBA teams who did question said conventional wisdom, especially after more than one team being floored by the combination of size and basketball skills possessed by the next best player in the 2007 draft class (Kevin Durant).
Hasheem Thabeet (Worst)
There were a lot of questions about Hasheem Thabeet’s motor, heart, and drive coming out of the University of Connecticut, but that didn’t stop the Grizzlies from selecting him second in the 2009 draft, just after Blake Griffin.
Thabeet was supposed to be a block party but turned into a foul machine instead and couldn’t even stay on the court, starting just 20 games in his entire career.
Michael Beasley (Worst)
The Heat used the second pick in the 2008 draft on Michael Beasley, who looked like a star out of Kansas State. Two years later the Heat saw LeBron James and Chris Bosh join Dwyane Wade in South Beach, and Beasley might have been the perfect fourth banana. Instead he was deemed so bad that he was traded in essentially a salary dump. Beasley’s still bouncing around the league
Yi Jianlian (Worst)
After seeing the potential of guys like Yao Ming, NBA front offices all headed to the Far East to try and unearth more basketball talents. The Milwaukee Bucks clearly thought they might’ve found such a player in Yi Jianlian, a five-time Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) champion and three-time CBA Finals MVP.
But the fact that Jianlian didn’t hold any workouts for any teams leading up to the 2007 NBA Draft, and the fact that his most famous pre-draft workout came with him playing against a folding chair, should’ve been major red flags. One year after drafting him, the Bucks traded him away.
Johnny Flynn (Worst)
Johnny Flynn was the crown jewel of then General Manager David Kahn’s raging incompetence. Kahn and the Timberwolves selected Flynn with the 6th-overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.
On top of the fact that Flynn was out of the NBA in less than five seasons, this pick really makes Minnesota fans want to take a long walk off a short bridge when they remember the team passed on Stephen Curry.
Mike Sweetney (Worst)
A highly-regarded player coming out of the amateur basketball hotbed that is the Washington, D.C. area, Michael Sweetney went to nearby Georgetown University with dreams of being the school’s next legendary big man. But Sweetney was more “big man” than legend, in the sense that his playing weight would once hover around 300lbs (despite standing only 6’8).
In a 2003 NBA Draft that saw LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony be selected among the top 5 picks, the New York Knicks too Sweetney with the 9th overall pick. Two years later, they dumped him on Chicago, in the deal that brought Eddy Curry to New York.
Fran Vazquez (Worst)
The Magic have had plenty of busted draft picks this century, but perhaps none as big as Spanish big man Fran Vazquez. Orlando took Vazquez with the eleventh pick of the 2005 draft but never could convince him to come stateside and play in the NBA.
Vazquez chose to stay in Europe and is the all time Spanish League leader in blocked shots, but that didn’t do the Magic much good.
Markelle Fultz (Worst)
Don’t let hindsight fool you on this one. In the weeks and months leading up to the 2017 NBA Draft, you couldn’t find anyone who thought Markelle Fultz was not only both the best player in the draft, but a guaranteed star in the making. The idea of a team taking someone like Lonzo Ball (the #2 overall pick) or even Jayson Tatum (the #3 overall pick) was almost unfathomable at the time, even as he did little more than earn style points while his University of Washington team endured a miserable season during Fultz’ one year of college hoops.
While people will tell you that Boston Celtics’ General Manager Danny Ainge saw something about Fultz that made him trade out of the #1 overall pick, that’s probably true to a large extent, but Ainge probably also saw an opportunity to select another player whom the Celtics loved (Tatum) while further stocking his war chest of assets.
Dragan Bender (Worst)
The guy with the ferocious-sounding name turned out to be the Cowardly Lion-sort in the NBA. Dragan Bender was a 7’1 Croatian big man whom some thought would turn into an Uber-athletic big man, ala Kristaps Porzingis. Instead, all they got was a guy who personified the stereotype of European players being “soft.”
The 2016 draft wasnt exactly a star-studded one, but the Suns have to be kicking themselves at some level for drafting Bender ahead of someone like Jamal Murray, who was taken three picks later in the same draft.
Andrea Bargnani (Worst)
Just moments after the Toronto Raptors selected the Italian-born Andrea Bargnani with the #1 overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas offered a rather harrowing assessment of Bargnani’s game: “he does not rebound, he does not post up, he is not physical; he needs to work on his body.”
In other words, Bargnani was a personification of what terrified so many NBA executives from taking players from Europe: he flashed the skill to be a difference-maker when playing on the perimeter, but his overall lack of physicality, and the fact that he was still so young (20 years old) and raw when drafted, made him a rather high-risk roll of the dice.
Kwame Brown (Worst)
Kwame Brown is as good an example of what a risk it was for NBA teams to draft talented but immature players straight out of high school. At the time, teams fell in love with the physical abilities Brown flashed as a high school senior in southeast Georgia, and scouts recounted how the 6’11 Brown could handle the ball like a guard and shoot the ball reliably out as far as 17 feet from the rim.
But Brown was also an example of teams loving how well the proverbial car could perform, without checking what’s underneath the proverbial hood. In other words, they failed to see that Brown was still a very immature kid who would end up struggling to face the transition of playing against teenagers to playing against grown men.
Wesley Johnson (Worst)
Wesley Johnson might be one of the players that NBA scouts will point back to, in terms of the risk you take on guys who have played four years of college; namely, they’ve maximized all their talent, and won’t really further develop in the NBA. The Minnesota Timberwolves used the fourth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft on Johnson, who played at Iowa State University and then Syracuse University.
But through nine seasons in the NBA, Johnson has bounced around six different teams. His career stat line hasn’t been terrible, but they’re the type of empty stats that clearly haven’t meant anything to his employers.
Shelden Williams (Worst)
The two-time NABC Defensive Player of the Year (2005 and 2006), First-Team All-American in 2006, and John R. Wooden National Player of the Year Finalist in 2006, Shelden Williams lived up to his 5-star billing when arriving in Durham, having his Number 23 retired after four successful years at Duke.
The Atlanta Hawks selected Williams with the 5th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, but less than two seasons later, Atlanta traded him to Minnesota. Over the next two years, Williams spent time on three different teams, before heading to Europe to finish out his career.
Tyrus Thomas (Worst)
Remember when the Bulls drafted LaMarcus Aldridge with the second pick of the 2006 draft? Most Chicago fans have certainly blocked that out of their minds. The Bulls traded the rights to Aldridge for number four pick Tyrus Thomas, hoping to pair him with Eddy Curry to bring back the glory days of the 90s.
The Twin Towers pairing never got off the ground for the Bulls as Thomas farted his way through four meaningless seasons, and Aldridge just played in his seventh All-Star Game and is still going strong.
Thomas Robinson (Worst)
It’s hard to believe Thomas Robinson was a top five pick this decade as much as the game has changed the last few years. Robinson was a classic college big man, dominating in the post for three years with the Jayhawks, and the Sacramento Kings took him with the number five pick, one spot ahead of Damian Lillard. He didn’t even last one season in Sacramento, traded at the deadline his rookie season in a package for Patrick Patterson.
Tyler Hansbrough (Worst)
Tyler Hansbrough was the first player in ACC history to not only be named First Team All-ACC four times, but to also be named to a First Team All-American squad in each of his four seasons. He was also named ACC Rookie of the Year in 2006 and ACC Player of the Year in 2008, while sweeping all national player of the year awards that year as well.
After an eight-year NBA career, where he played for three different NBA teams, Hansbrough continued his NBA career in China, signing with the Guangzhou Long-Lions in 2017.
Ray Felton (Worst)
One of the most decorated college basketball players of this century, Raymond Felton made one of the three All-American teams in each of his three years in Chapel Hill. As a junior in 2005, Felton averaged 12.9 points and 6.9 assists per game, and helped North Carolina advance to — and win — the NCAA Tournament Finals. Felton became the third guard taken in the 2005 NBA Draft, infamously being picked immediately after two perennial All-Stars: Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
Felton was a decent player during his five years in Charlotte, who took him with the aforementioned pick, though the questions about his ability to shoot the basketball certainly followed him to the NBA and lingered early on in his career. While Felton has enjoyed a 14-year NBA career to date, his overall resume doesn’t really fit with a top five NBA Draft selection.
Jimmer Fredette (Worst)
Playing for the usually unheralded Brigham Young University men’s basketball team, James Taft “Jimmer” Fredette led all NCAA Division I players in scoring during his senior season (2010-2011), en route to being named the 2011 National Player of the Year. Fredette helped the Cougars reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament that year, which was the first time in 30 years that they had made it that far.
Fredette left BYU holding 11 scoring records, which still stand today. Unfortunately, Fredette was never able to translate that scoring touch into the NBA game, as he’s now playing for the Shanghai Sharks in China, less than seven years after being drafted into the NBA.
Trey Burke (Worst)
Alfonso Clark “Trey” Burke III played for two years at the University of Michigan, and was constantly referred to as one of the best — if not the best — players in the nation during his sophomore year in college. In 2013, Burke became the first player to win the college basketball player of the year award and lead his team to the national championship since Ed O’Bannon in 1995.
But college basketball appeared to be the peak of Burke’s career, as he was one of those guys whose game simply couldn’t translate in the NBA. After being dumped by the Utah Jazz (who originally drafted him), Burke has had a couple of forgettable seasons as of late, with the Washington Wizards and New York Knicks.