February 28, 2015

The Best and Worst of the NBA Draft

With the draft fast approaching, many fans are wondering what caliber player they can pick up at their slot. Well, I’ve compiled a list of 1-30, of the best, and worst picks since 2000.

1. Best: LeBron James / Worst: Kwame Brown

Kwame Brown is a case-study in dealing with players with fragile mental states. He looked dominant in every pre-draft event I saw, and I didn’t disagree with taking him #1. Then Michael Jordan and Doug Collins forced him into the fetal position for several years.

2. Best: Kevin Durant / Worst: Darko Milicic

The #2 pick been surprising mediocre (Stromile Swift, Jay Williams, Marvin Williams), but none compare to the hilarious fiasco that is Darko. Darko isn’t horrible, and is better than Stromile, but taking him over ‘Melo, D-Wade and Bosh cost Detroit 1-2 championships.

3. Best: Carmelo Anthony / Worst: Adam Morrison

So, we’re only 3 deep, and already Michael Jordan is responsible for the 2 of the 3 worst choices. Bravo!

4. Best: Chris Paul / Worst: Marcus Fizer

Was talking to a Bulls fan last night and we discussed how in the NBA, you should never draft for need, you should only take the best player available. As I said, “that’s how you end up with Andrew Bogut instead of Chris Paul.”

5. Best: Dwyane Wade / Worst: Nikoloz Tskitishvili

“After signing with Benetton, Tskitishvili played in six games leading up to the European Final Four. He played limited minutes on a talented Benetton team, averaging just six minutes and 1 point a game.” That was from his 2002 draft profile. If you are averaging 1 point a game for Benetton, that amounts to about 0.5 points per game in the NBA, which turned out to be pretty accurate. To his credit, that same draft profile mentions that he made 10 3′s in a row during one workout. 10!!! How do you pass that up!

6. Best: Brandon Roy / Worst: Dajuan Wagner

The players drafted immediately after Wagner go as follows: Nene, Chris Wilcox, Amare Stoudemire, Caron Butler. Ouch.

7. Best: Luol Deng / Worst: Eddie Griffin

I’m going to avoid the urge to say something funny about Eddie Griffin, and simply say that is no way I could be a Suns fan when they do stuff like trade Luol Deng to the Bulls for nothing in particular.

8. Best: Rudy Gay / Worst: Rafael Arajuo

Arajuo was one of the worst picks in Toronto history and also one of the best in Sixers history as it landed a gift-wrapped Andre Iguodala in our laps.

9. Best: Amare Stoudemire / Worst: Patrick O’Bryant

GS GM: Hey! That guy we just worked out was really tall!
GS Fan: True, but did you notice he had trouble catching the ball?
GS GM: Man, he could almost touch the rim just standing there! I wish I could do that!
GS Fan: He shuffled his feet everytime he did a post move though
GS GM: If I was him, I would just be like, dunking ALL the time
GS Fan: No, if you were him you’d be wondering why you were getting showed up by Adonal Foyle
GS GM: This is gonna be the best draft EVER!

10. Best: Caron Butler / Worst: Saer Sene

See above conversation, only replace “tall” with “long” and “Adonal Foyle” with “Calvin Booth.” Also, Miami becomes the first team to have 2 “best” picks.

11. Best: Andris Biendrins / Worst: Fran Vazquez

Vazquez is the 4th foreign player to make the worst list, while Biendrins is the 1st to make the best list. Vazquez has not so much as sat on the Magic bench, and it doesn’t appear that he ever will.

12. Best: Nick Collison / Worst: Robert Swift

Seattle becomes the first team to have 2 of the worst picks (this is also their 2nd “best” pick). The Robert Swift pick was hilarious at the time and continues to be today as his ponytail grows longer and tattoos expand. We’re talking about a tall, goofy white guy, coming out of High School, who no one had seen work out. Can you imagine being in a draft war room where people were pumped about this kid? They should have had a reality show where after the draft, Swift would work out against Al Jefferson and Josh Smith while the camera’s roll on the Seattle brass. Side Note: Thad Young may well end up being the best #12 pick, but I can’t give it to him after 1 season.

13. Best: Richard Jefferson / Worst: Sebastian Telfair

There is not a non-Sixers pick in any draft that made me more angry than the Sebastian Telfair over Jameer Nelson pick, so it gives me great satisfaction to put him there. Telfair was drafted based on the fact that he was from New York and knew Jay-Z. Turns out 5’8” PGs who can’t play D or shoot aren’t all that good, regardless of how many rappers they know. Telfair has played slightly better of late, but the fact that he was picked over Nelson, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith and JR Smith, and made me angry, puts him here.

14. Best: Al Thornton / Worst: Mateen Cleaves

Thornton looks like he’s going to be a good player. You can’t really blame Detroit for picking Cleaves, he just didn’t pan out as an NBA player.

15. Best: Al Jefferson / Worst: Reece Gaines

Jefferson was a very risky pick at the time. He averaged something absurd like 45ppg in some really weak High School division in Mississippi and had never really played against top talent. Turned out OK though.

16. Best: Hedu Turkoglu / Worst: Troy Bell

This is where the Sixers pick, and is arguably the worst spot in terms of production of those drafted there. Bell (11 career points) barely edged out Kirk Haston (32 career points) and the incomparable Jiri Welsch.

17. Best: Josh Smith / Worst: Zarko Cabarkapa

The most surprising thing about this one? Cabarkapa wasn’t the first “Zarko” in NBA history. That honor belongs to the great Zarko Paspalj, who scored 72 points for the Spurs in 1989-90.

18. Best: David West / Worst: Curtis Borchardt

And with the 18th pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz select “A tall, injured, white center from Stanford!” Sorry Curtis, you never had a chance.

19. Best: Zach Randolph / Worst: Ryan Humphrey

I was a student at Notre Dame at the time, and I remember being very surprised when Humphrey’s name was called at 19. His best attribute was at least once a game he would blatantly goaltend a shot to see how far he could get it into the crowd.

20. Best: Jameer Nelson / Worst: Julius Hodge

Portland should have drafted him, Miami should have drafted him, Denver should have kept him. Jameer isn’t a superstar, but he’s an above-average PG and a big game player. It’s almost like he won national player of the year and led his team to an undefeated season. (I’m still bitter about this draft, can you tell?). On the other end, I really can’t believe Julius Hodge didn’t make it as a pro. He was so tough (that was a serious statement, I fear my sarcasm as seriousness may be hard to distinguish between).

21. Best: Rajon Rondo / Worst: Pavel Podkolzin

The Mavericks could have drafted Andre the Giant and had the same success they did with Podkolzin. The 7’5” monster scored a total of 4 points in his career, to go along with his 4 turnovers and 4 fouls.

22. Best: Jarrett Jack Worst: Jeryl Sasser

#22 would give #16 a run for its money for worst pick to have (sorry, Orlando). Meanwhile, Sasser was the first player who I had never heard of.

23. Best: Tayshaun Prince / Worst: Sergio Monia

Monia, along with Viktor Khryapa was selected by the Portland Trailblazers with back-to-back picks in 2004. Strangely enough, both of them already played together, at the same position, in Russia. One of my favorite quotes from the draft was something like this “either that is the greatest SF platoon in international basketball history, or the Blazers just made a huge mistake.” Given that the next 4 picks (Delonte West, Tony Allen, Kevin Martin and Sasha Vujacic) are all productive pros, I’d go with the latter.

24. Best: Delonte West / Worst: Dalibor Bagaric

It’s NOT homerism that I have Nelson and West on here. I swear. Nelson’s closest competitor was Brenden Haywood, who finally had his first good season last year, and West’s closest was Nenad Kristic and Kyle Lowry, neither of whom have been healthy enough to play. As for Dalibor, he’s a real guy, I checked into it. Proof of his existence is here. He even played 50 games for the Bulls in 2001, shooting a whopping 40% from the field, which would be OK if he were Kyle Lowry’s size, and not 7’1”.

25. Best: Gerald Wallace / Worst: Frank Williams

Remember how excited Knicks fans were about Frank Williams? About as excited as Jason Kidd was after this block.

26. Best: Kevin Martin / Worst: Ndubi Ebi

Kevin Martin is the perfect example of great pick. Someone who no ones talks about before, during or after the draft, and then when he drops 30 on your squad, you are wondering where on earth he came from. As for Ebi, he was the T-Wolves first pick after a 2-year hiatus for illegally signing Joe Smith. Moving forward, the NBA will reward them with extra first rounds picks as a penalty instead.

27. Best: Linas Kleiza / Worst: Chris Jefferies

How good is Linas Kleiza? So good that the Nuggets wouldn’t part with him for a player they desperately needed, Ron Artest, before the trade deadline. However, a few months later, he’s so good that they are trying to package him and their draft pick for Kyle Lowry. That makes sense.

28. Best: Tony Parker / Worst: Erick Barkley

How did no one else pick Tony Parker? Radmonovic and Raul Lopez went ahead of him, so teams were scouting foreign players. Was it because he was French? Too skinny? Talks like a girl a little bit? If you watched film of him, you had to see he had rare quickness, right? This is one of the biggest draft mysteries to me. If anyone knows why he went here, let me know.

29. Best: Josh Howard / Worst: Wayne Simien

With James, Anthony, Wade, Bosh, Kaman, Hinrich, Ford, Collison, Ridnour, West, Barbosa and Josh Howard, the 2003 draft was one of the best ever. Of course, the Sixers were not involved in the festivities after trading this first round pick in 2001, for Jerome Moiso, who never played a game for us. 25 years and counting folks.

30. Best: David Lee / Worst: Joel Freeland

It’s tough to rag on a team for a bad 30th pick, but Freeland is a British guy who, when drafted, had only played 1 year of profesional basketball. Shockingly, he has not yet made it to the league.

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  1. Ian says:

    I call shenanigans…if you had the chance you would take Reece Gaines over Fredric Weis 7 days a week and twice on Sunday. Everyone knows this, but I thought this sumed it up best. From his Wikipedia page –

    He is infamously known for being “posterized” by Vince Carter at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where France won the silver medal. Carter took off, pushed off Weis’s head, spread his legs in midair, and literally jumped over the 7’2″ Weis’s head before slamming the ball home. The French media dubbed it “le dunk de la mort” — the dunk of death.

    Dude, the Dunk of Death!! Gaines had a few cups of coffee in the league and is playing for one of the top teams in Italy. My main man Freddy is on a SECOND division team in Spain.

    PS I’m still excited about Frank Williams. But maybe that’s just me…

  2. GARGS says:

    Nice post, very comprehensive. Obviously Darko sucked/sucks/will continue to suck but he wasn’t that bad of a pick (2nd worst all time) because the Pistons won the championship that year. That’s what the whole thing is about–winning championships. While Darko clearly did nothing to help with that, the Pistons should be cut some slack. Saying that the pick cost them 1-2 championships when they won the following year is a bit bold. On a sidenote, you’d have to be a total loser to buy a Darko jersey, right Pete?

  3. Pete says:

    Ian –

    Danillo Gallinari, I mean, Fredric Weis was 1999 draft. I started this in 2000. However, he would have easily have dominated Reece Gaines.

    Gargs –

    yes, you have to be a total loser to buy a darko jersey. UNLESS its discounted for $15 and you are buying it to be ironic, then, only an awesome person would do that.

  4. Jordan says:

    Don’t forget Sammy D at 26. He’s not better than K-Mart, but worth a mention just because he’s a Sixer. Very nice post.

  5. Jason says:

    Can’t say I’m upset the Cavs picked Wagner. Had we gotten someone like Stoudemire we probably wouldn’t landed the #1 pick for LeBron down the road.

  6. Thomas says:

    Why didn’t Tony Parker get drafted earlier? Well, you can blame Red Auerbach, for one. The Celtics were trying to choose between Parker and Joseph Forte, and while the team wanted Parker, when they asked the old fella he told them to take Forte. I think that was the last time they took his advice, and I think that’s why Forte belongs on the list. Another beaut was when Red told them to take “the kid from Kentucky” and they drafted Ron Mercer, only to find out that he meant Derek Anderson.

  7. PR says:

    Do you not think Dwight Howard was a good draft-pick…?

    He belongs in the top 3-4…

  8. PR says:

    Whoops… I get it now… slot. My bad.

  9. Fredrick Weis didn’t even every bother to fly over to the U.S. That’s gotta be the biggest waste of a pick ever. All time screw-ups like that ought to make a mention at least !

  10. Justin says:

    Julius Hodge isn’t a bust – he got shot and was out of the league for 2 years recovering. When he played in NBADL, he was tearing it up. If he ever recovers completely, you could see him again.

  11. #20 Ronaldo Balkman NY Knicks a pick that puzzled everyone. You can have his 4 points per game. But on the plus side he does have 3 nicknames.

    Plastic Man, Taz, and Kool


  12. Take Hodge off and replace him with NY Knicks Ronaldo Balkman and his 4 points per game

  13. Dave T says:

    Loved the “inside the mind of the G-State GM” at #9 Pete!

  14. Peter says:

    Bit contradictory sayin thad cant be put in because of only one year in da NBA yet u put in al thornton nd durant??????????? also speaking of durant he hasnt done much,yes he scored nearly 20 a game this year but so would alot of players if there were given the freedom he was…..tyson chandler although poor at the start has come gd over the last few years nd would be a much better No.2 or even LaMarcus Alderidge who avgs a double double on a gd team

  15. Pete says:

    Hey Peter, What’s Happening:

    The reason I excluded Thad was not his inexperience, rather he simply did not put up the numbers that Thornton and Durant did. I wasn’t gonna put anyone on here based on potential and upside, just results.

    Consider this on Durant- the only 2 players to average more points per game in the NBA before turning 20 were LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Durant had a higher FG% and less turnovers than both players and was playing out of position the entire season.

  16. LT says:

    I think Andrea Bargniani will replace Kwame Brown as your #1 worst in a couple of years.

  17. Jon B says:

    Gotta take Paul Pierec at #10 for best. C’mon!

  18. Pete says:

    Pierce was drafted in 1998 I think. This is from 2000 on.

  19. Pete says:

    I know that well – since my Sixers passed on Paul Pierce (who I was crazy excited had dropped to us) for Larry Hughes.

  20. Jim says:

    St. Joes had an undefeated season as much as the Patriots did. And Phil Martelli looks like Sam the Eagle from the Muppets.

  21. WePoFoSho says:

    I think it is hilarious how teams never learn their lesson and keep picking foreign players. 95% of them suck. I would put Andrea Bargnani up there cuz he is straight ass. Why do GMs constantly think some kids who do ok in the italian league can play in the NBA? I know some dummy in the top 10 will pick that kid who led the italian league in scoring this year and I bet when the season starts he aint even on the roster. How bad is the italian league when the leading scorer averages 19 pts per game. Why do foreigners grow so tall and then proceed to shoot jumpshots? I’m a laker fan and we have a plethora of foreigners and I think if we combined all of them they still couldn’t play defense. (or get a decent haircut…and yeah I mean you sasha and Pau). With the exception of Petro, Manute, and Arvitis Sabonis (R.I.P) I can’t really say that I have ever liked a foreign player that much.

  22. Zack says:

    Freakin’ awesome interview with Andre Miller

  23. bski says:

    ZACK: Thanks for the link. It was a great read.

  24. Brandon says:

    How is Kirk Haston not on here? Does anybody remember him?…exactly. He was a dorky white kid from Indiana that didn’t even touch the hardwood. Another fabulous Bob Knight product!

  25. Todd M. says:

    I know it was BEFORE 2000, but shouldn’t your “Best #3″ spot be reserved, all time, for a guy named Mike Jordan? Sort of like MLB retiring Jackie Robinson’s #42?

  26. miguel says:

    Good list except #2 pick. Right now, Durant has the muscle mass of a 10-year old girl. He doesn’t get rebounds and is pushed around by shooting guards. Both Okafor and Chandler are better although I guess Durant has more potential.

  27. Vince says:

    The worst at 11 should definitely be JJ Redick. The guy is not an NBA player. He’s a shooting guard that can’t shoot. Even Dick Vitale recently called him a failure.

  28. Vince says:

    And one more thought, any reason you don’t have Jay Williams at the worst for 2? I mean Darko is still an NBA player, jay williams isn’t because he’s a dumbass. I’d rather have Darko right now that Jay Williams. I also think dejuan wagner’s inclusion is unfair. He had a serious health problem. I think he would have been a really good player right now.

  29. miguel says:

    Redick was injured last year although when he did play he shot 39.5% from 3-pt range. That’s not bad. He’s got to get out of Orlando.

  30. Vince says:

    What did he have? Was it the same back problem he had when he was drafted? He’s a poor excuse for an NBA player. His coach even said he had no intent on giving him any real playing time. You would also think that if he did play it’d be easy for him to get shots off since dhoward is always doubled.

  31. ryan says:

    Funny thing is Morrison still might end up being real good, not all-star good, but reliable good, like 13-16 ppg– 4th option good

  32. mike says:

    Umm… Kobe at number 13 as best draft?

  33. Dannie says:

    @ mike – Read the first paragraph again…

    Well, I’ve compiled a list of 1-30, of the best, and worst picks since 2000.

  34. Jacob says:

    Best- Michael Jordan Worst- Sam Booey 1984 draft. Blazers could have MJ but decided to go with booey who was not able to play a single minute in the NBA because of an injury.

  35. Joel says:

    if you went down to the 2nd round, man i’d like to see who the worst 57th pick – best is manu ginobili: the greatest steal of all time

  36. Linda says:

    Nice post!

  37. bjbob says:

    wasn’t chris paul picked #5 during the 2005 nba draft and deron williams #4?

  38. Dannie says:

    bjbob – Chris Paul was 4th and Williams was 3rd in 2005.

  39. Ryan says:

    eddie griffin not worst he still can play if he didnt die… he plays good in nba…

  40. illwill says:

    U never heard of Sasser!!!  True he never paned out but he was one of the best pure scorers to ever come out of the Dallas area.  We talking about a city that produced Larry Johnson, Jimmy King, Deron Williams, Chris Bosh and countless others that had decent game.