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.