There’s a reason why a given NBA team has a pick early in the draft. They were either one of the worst teams in the league the preceding year, or they were lucky enough to acquire the draft pick of one of the worst teams in the league that year. Regardless, the lottery is where teams try to take players that will change the fortune of their franchise.
That being said, it is far from a given that teams will make the right decision. For every superstar taken in the lottery there is also a bust. With the 2018 NBA Draft just a few days away, here are the five worst draft day decisions since the turn of the century.
5. Hasheem Thabeet, Memphis Grizzlies (No. 2, 2009)
At 7-foot-3, Hasheem Thabeet was a defensive juggernaut at the collegiate level. He was named the National Defensive Player of the year and a second team All-American in 2009. The only issue was once he hit the NBA it became glaringly obvious that he did not possess any offensive talent.
The Memphis Grizzlies selected Thabeet with the second pick in the 2009 NBA Draft and things quickly went downhill. In his five-years in the league, Thabeet averaged 2.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and 10.5 minutes.
To make things even morse for the Grizzlies, James Harden, Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry and DeMar DeRozan were all on the board with they selected Thabeet.
4. Anthony Bennett, Cleveland Cavaliers (No. 1, 2013)
What were the Cavaliers thinking? Sure, the 2013 NBA Draft was a historically awful draft, but Cleveland still managed to make heads turn with their selection.
They opted to select Anthony Bennett over the far more accomplished Victor Oladipo and Otto Porter. Bennett spent four seasons in the NBA with four different teams. In his four seasons, Bennett started a grand total of four games and averaged 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in 12.6 minutes.
3. Johnny Flynn, Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 6, 2009)
The Minnesota Timberwolves had the fifth and sixth picks in the 2009 NBA Draft and a had multiple holes to fill on their roster. However, for some unknown reason, they decided to take two point guards in a row. They selected Ricky Rubio at No. 5 and then Johnny Flynn at No. 6.
Syracuse sophomore Jonny Flynn will always be remembered as the guy taken one spot before Stephen Curry. Yes, the Timberwolves took two point guards and still failed to draft the right one. Rubio wound up being a solid NBA player, but Flynn washed out of the league by age 22.
Not to mention the prospect who was picked one spot after him just won his third title in four years, is a two-time MVP and is one of the best shooters this league has ever seen.
2. Kwame Brown, Washington Wizards (No. 1, 2001)
The Washington Wizards took Brown with the No. 1 pick in the 2001 NBA Draft with Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol and Shane Battier still on the board. The result was one of the most disappointing careers in NBA history.
After making the jump from high school to the NBA, the 6-foot-11 big man spent four years with the Wizards before being traded to the Lakers in 2005 and bounced around the league after that.
Brown averaged 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds a game while shooting 49.2 percent from the field in his career. On top of that, the former high school phenom’s average value over replacement player for his career was -0.4.
1. Darko Milicic, Detroit Pistons (No. 2, 2003)
Four of the first five picks from the 2003 NBA Draft are no-doubt Hall of Famers. The other is Darko Milicic. The Detroit Pistons selected him ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
Milicic was an athletic, 7-footer out of Serbia who had been playing professional basketball since he was 16. He was supposed to be a game-changing talent who could stretch the floor and dominate on both ends.
He did none of that. Milicic averaged 6.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks as he bounced around the league for ten seasons.
Honorable Mentions: Greg Oden (Trailblazers), Jan Vesely (Wizards) and Adam Morrison (Bobcats).