Sunday 21st January 2018,
The Hoop Doctors

Top 10 Biggest NBA Draft Busts

NBA Draft Busts

July 25, 2009 – Allen Moll

Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania.

One way NBA teams try to fill voids in their lineups is the NBA draft. NBA General Managers have a difficult task in deciding whether to draft based on their team’s needs or to select the proverbial “best player available.” Although there is no right or wrong answer, many teams over the history of the NBA draft have made preposterous blunders by passing over future stars or just selecting disappointing players. Sometimes a great collegiate player’s skill set just doesn’t translate to the bigger, quicker, and much more talented NBA game. Here is a list of the Top 10 Biggest NBA draft Busts throughout history:

#10 – Shawn Bradley – #2 pick in 1993 by Philadelphia – The Sixers chose to draft the 7’6 Bradley on potential after playing only one season at BYU in college and leading the nation in blocks. He had career averages of 8 points and 6 rebounds per game over 13 NBA seasons on 4 teams. Although he ranks 11th all-time in blocks, he was more known for being posterized by some of the game’s best dunkers. The Sixers passed on drafting Anfernee Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, and Allan Houston

#9 – Danny Ferry – #2 pick in 1989 by LA Clippers – The former NCAA Player of the Year at Duke refused to play for the Clips(who wouldn’t!) and played a season in Italy until they traded his rights to Cleveland. Ferry played 13 NBA seasons, only averaging double figures twice, winning an NBA title with the Spurs in 2003. He became Cleveland’s General Manager in 2005. Career averages of 7 points and 2.8 rebounds. Cleveland passed on drafting Sean Elliot, Glen Rice, and Tim Hardaway.

#8 – Jonathan Bender – #5 pick in 1999 by Toronto – Toronto wisely traded the straight from high school Bender to Indiana on draft night. Touted as the next Garnett, he played in only 237 games over 7 injury plagued seasons averaging 5.6 points. Toronto passed on drafting Rip Hamilton, Andre Miller, and Ron Artest

#7 – Kent Benson – #1 pick in 1977 by Milwaukee – While he is probably best known as the player who forced Larry Bird to transfer from Indiana to Indiana St, Benson led the Hoosiers to the last perfect season in college and winning the NCAA title in college. He was never quite the same in the professional ranks averaging only 9.1 points over 11 unremarkable seasons. Milwaukee passed on drafting Bernard King, Norm Nixon, and Jack Sikma

#6 – Stromile Swift – #2 pick in 2000 by Grizzlies – The 6’10 player could run the floor with the best of them but not much else. Has the distinction of being the only active player to have been on the Grizzlies roster in both Vancouver and Memphis. His current career averages of 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds means he can only move up the list and not down. Vancouver passed on drafting Hedo Turkoglu, Quentin Richardson, and Mike Miller

#5 – Sharone Wright – #6 pick in 1994 by Philadelphia – After starring at Clemson, the Sixers drafted the big bodied Wright to replace the departed Charles Barkley. After teasing the Philadelphia fans by being picked for the All Rookie 2nd team, he only averaged 9 points and 5 rebounds over 4 seasons which were cut short by numerous injuries sustained from a severe car accident. He went on to become a well known coach in Europe. The Sixers passed on drafting Brian Grant, Jalen Rose, and Eddie Jones.

#4 – Robert “Tractor” Traylor – #6 pick in 1998 by Dallas – The Mavericks must have been psychic when they traded the next Chris Webber to Milwaukee for Dirk Nowitzki and what would become Steve Nash in one of the most lopsided draft day trades in history. Dallas eventually got a trip to the NBA Finals and one of the decade’s best players, while Traylor battled weight issues averaging 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in 7 seasons. Other players drafted after Traylor included Paul Pierce, Al Harrington, and Rashard Lewis.

#3 – Michael Olowokandi – #1 pick in 1998 by LA Clippers – The original “Kandi Man” never should have been the number one pick in the great draft class of 98′ since he averaged 9.5 points and 7.7 rebounds over 9 unremarkable seasons for 3 teams. Despite his average numbers, he was always among the leagues highest paid players because of his potential as a number one pick. The Clippers passed on drafting Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, and Mike Bibby.

#2 – Greg Oden – #1 pick in 2007 by Portland – I know it may be early but it appears that the Blazers made the wrong choice between Durant and Oden in the 07′ draft. They should have seen it coming in college at Ohio State where Oden missed almost half of his freshman year with injuries in leading his team to runner up status in the NCAA Championship Game. He missed his entire rookie season by injuring his knee so severely before his first NBA game that it required the dreaded micro fracture surgery. In his first year he suffered through numerous injuries averaging only 8.9 points and 7.0 rebounds in 61 games. Of course the jury is still out but this is a very similar start to a few other players on this list. The Trailblazers passed on drafting Kevin Durant, Al Horford, and Thaddeus Young.

#1 – Kwame Brown – #1 pick in 2001 by Washington – Michael Jordan may be the greatest player of all time but not the best Team President. Jordan in 01′ was responsible for drafting Brown as the first high school player #1 overall in NBA history. In his 9 year NBA career, he has averaged 7 points and 5.6 rebounds. Brown has played for 4 teams partly because of poor play, but also for not getting along with teammates, noticeably Gilbert Arenas and Kobe Bryant. His career to date has also been marred by numerous controversial incidents including rape accusation in 06′, disorderly conduct for being in a car driven on the wrong side of the road, and unbelievably throwing birthday cake at a pedestrian by accident, both in 07′.

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    I’m not one to pile on Joe Dumars, but, um, DARKO??!!


    Almost forgot… Nervous Pervis Ellison

  • Dan

    Weakly researched in my opinion. To even venture a guess on someone like Greg Oden at this point is jumping the gun.

    So many options available …you don’t ev en have Chris Washburn on your list ?

    Benoit Benjamin ? Sam Bowie, if for just the reasoning that he was selected over Michael Jordan … Darko Milicic excluded ?

  • FriendOrFoe98

    I don’t think greg oden is a bust just yet. Give him 2-3 more years and we’ll see if he really is a bust.

  • Jason

    Greg Oden aside… not having Darko and Saw Bowie on this list… instantly diminishes any credibility you have.

  • Greg Oden at #2? Poorly played. His rookie season he’s coming off microfracture surgery, plus big men take 3-4 years to develop anyway. I would think if you were going to place GO on this list at all, he wouldn’t be number 2…does anyone remember Darko Milicic, drafted between Lebron and Carmelo, has avg’d 5.5 ppg over his career? That’s a way bigger bust than a rookie player with 1 year under his belt.

  • Greg Oden

    #2 already? Get a life, Bill Simmons.

  • Chris

    Sam Bowie. The Blazers passed up MICHAEL JORDAN to draft him back in the early 80s. Worst. Pick. Ever. Let’s hope the Oden pick isn’t a flashback for Portland fans.

  • pistons

    why the shiet isn’t darko on this list

  • I agree, Darko should be in the top 5 in this list. The Pistons could have got DWade or Carmelo Anthony. The only thing I can say is the Pistons did win a championship with Darko. Would they have won one with either of these two?

  • DARKO should definitely be on that list

  • balian

    LOL @ poster. This is probably the worst basketball list in years.

    18.08 PER – 2007 ROY Brandon Roy
    15.87 PER – 2008 ROY Kevin Durant
    16.05 PER – 2009 ROY Derrick Rose

    18.13 PER – Greg Oden’s rookie year

    17.27 PER – Dwight Howard’s rookie year
    07.36 PER – Andrew Bynum’s rookie year

  • AJ

    Isn’t this biggest draft busts ever? Picking someone before someone great does not make them a bust. So you can you call Sam Bowie a bust based on his performance but not because he went before Jordan. There is a difference in making a bad pick vs. what is available and a player being a bust.

    Oden a bust? You have to give this more than a year. Hard to call him a bust yet. Is Darko at the US Olympic practices this week? Great list.

  • Duckin

    Ya I was just going to mention that Oden is trying out for the olympic squad. He has played one year and averaged 9-7- and was a defensive force. He could easily be a 14-10-2 center who is the defensive cog the blazers needed. Sure Durant is great, but he is no MJ!!!!! How can bowie not be there before oden. HORRIBLE list, not darko! Who writes for these sites, like jesus.

  • balian

    Here are some of the players he left on the list and compare this to Oden:
    18.13 PER – Greg Oden
    10.3 PER – Pervis Ellison
    6.12 PER- Darko Milicic
    5.4 PER- Chris Washburn

  • Stupid

    Man Oden at #2? Is this some kind of joke?

  • David Workman

    You sir have just proven yourself to be a Star Magazine quality reporter. Picking Greg Oden number 2 on this list is quite simply the most ignorant, ridiculous thing ever written by someone pretending to be an NBA writer. Per 18+, one of the best offensive rebounders by percentage in the league, fresh off microfracture, playing limited minutes and after ONE YEAR he’s the second biggest bust in NBA draft history?.. You’re being ridiculous and you know it. This is just a sophmoric attempt to cause controversy and increase you readership. Probably a good plan because I don’t see any other reason to read your elementary take on things. Poor effort and poor execution… Well done!

  • Hey Fellas,

    Easy with the negativity for Allen’s post. Remember it’s an opinion based post. If it’s that easy for y’all, take some time to submit a list yourself and see what others think.

    With that said, in Allen’s defense his email to us with the submission said:

    “In reading about how Thabeet is already considered by some to be a draft bust after some poor summer league play, I thought i’d put this list together of big draft busts without the usual Sam Bowie/Darko Milicic references as those are played out…”

    I agree with you all that Darko and Sammy should have been in the list of Top 10 Busts, but it seems Allen thought so as well. So now that we are all, including the writer, in violent agreement about those two being big time busts, let’s discuss the others.

    Greg Oden….I agree with you guys that its a little early to call him a draft bust. But I would venture to guess that Allen is considering a little more than PER rating, and was mostly taking into account the public, media, and analysts expectations of the player at draft time when developing this list.

    How quickly you all forget that Greg Oden at one time was considered the second coming of Christ in an NBA uniform. He was considered to be Shaq and Lebron all rolled up into one. When he played a season of College ball with a broken wrist and a cast and still put up ridiculous numbers his expectations hit a ridiculous high for a big man.

    So yes, when you consider expectations at draft time, and now your argument for him not deserving to be on this list is based on a PER rating and calling him a future “14 and 10 guy”, I would have to agree with Allen, he should be considered a let down to this point.

    But I do think expectations as high as those put on Oden can kill the confidence of most players not named Lebron, so I agree, and digress…..give the man a chance to develop. He’s been injury riddled and will be a defensive anchor for the Blazers moving forward.

    So, good job Allen…..well done stepping to the plate with the list….

    Doc A.

  • Ace

    How about Len Bias?

    He was drafted at the same spot as the famous Mr Bowie. I guess it’s okay to hate on exceptional players who may become – or may have been allstars if they remained healthy, but through no fault of their own they were injured (this includes Oden).

    Len Bias killed himself. Sad as that is, and with all respect to his family and friends, THAT is a bust. On so many levels.

  • Mark R. Jackson

    Add these to the list.
    1.Pearl Washington
    2.Walter Berry
    3. Harold Miner
    4.Leon Wood
    5.Chris Washburn

  • Mark R. Jackson

    Can’t for get Keith Lee………..

  • KD

    I’m willing to say that this post deserves to be in the top three on this list.

    Not including LaRue Martin, and referring to the Trail Blazers as the “Trailblazers” pretty much sets the tone.

    And including a 21-year old who just averaged 9, 7 and a block in only 21 minutes just takes that tone and cranks it up to 11.

    Nash had nothing to do with the Tractor Traylor trade. Even Wikipedia, I’m sure, could tell you that.

    “07′” instead of “’07” … this is pretty poor.

  • Leo

    What about the Euros? Nikoloz Tskitishvili, drafted 5th by the Nuggets, averaged less than 3 points a game. Quoting Bill Simmons, “the worst-case scenario for any foreign pick.”

  • Joel

    Dr. Anklesnap, your arguement is that Oden is a dissappointment to all the media morons who like to hype… oh wait…

    i see..

    i rest my case.

  • David Workman

    Dr.Anklesnap you work for,”The Hoop Doctors” right?.. Nice attempt to cover for one of your own.

    Your defense of him is as baseless as the original post . Then you compound it by riding the fence and trying to take both sides. Are you guys politicians or Hoops writers??? You input makes your entire organization look even weaker to me. Let this Moll fellow fight his own battles and defend his position… If he has the stomach for it…

  • sam jackson’s love child

    biggest bust?

    all these guys at least PLAYED.

    len effing bias

    thank you, good night, thanks for playing

  • @sam jackson’s love child – I would agree with you if Lenny had played. Maybe Allen should have clarified the post subjects had to have been alive and playing in the nba at some point…..good catch though….nice loophole…. :)

  • Kevin

    Some of these guys have actually had careers. What about lottery picks like Luke Jackson, Rafael Arujao, Robert Swift, Saer Sene, Kedrick Brown, Todd Day, Pervis Ellison, Mark Macon, Felton Spencer, Benoit Benjamin. There are guys from the range of total bums that everyone knew would suck except for the team drafting them to the bums that had a good season or two and earned a cap killing contract.


  • The list was meant to be an alternate with a more modern twist top 10 bust list. If I did the usual Darko, Washburn, Bowie list all of you would have written about how unoriginal it was. For the record, I personally consider Oden a bust. He had so much hype coming out of college, he hasn’t come close to living up to it. He may improve and have the bust label come off. I would’t consider Len Bias, dying isn’t a qualification for this list.

  • David Workman

    Nice try pal… You have absolutley no basis for your claim that Oden is a bust..

    Odens Linear Weights PER was the 10th best of any center drafted in the first round since 1988 and half of a point from being top 6. His PER of 17.94 (pace adjusted it would have been 18.13) was better than Dwight Howards rookie year. You know that “bust” right?.

    Portland was the best Offensive rebounding team in the NBA last year (Philly was 2nd at 33.4%). With Greg out of the line up their rate was 32.5%. With him in the line up it was 38.7%!.. Pretty big impact for a bust huh?

    You obviously did no research and spent very little time watching the Blazers. You are suppose to be in the know but instead fell into the hype circus created by others as lazy and uneducated as yourself.

    You sir are the BUST and should man up and admit that this “list” was made solely to create controversy and increase hits to this site. Even then I don’t see “the bust label” coming off you anytime soon.

    Maybe The National Enquirer could use your services. I hear they require no real investigative skills… Should be right in your wheel house.

  • SO FAR Oden is a bust…..because of injuries. Why was Danny Manning a bust…..because of injuries. Early on Bill Walton was a bust……because of injuries. The bust label came off of Walton sort off because he won a championship. Oden, being a number 1 overall pick and averaging 9 pts and 7 rebs after your second season, regardless of the reason, means you are a bust… far. I am actually a fan of Oden. I watched most of his games back at Ohio St. I hope he stays healthy and improves. He’s got the talent…….so I can put him on the list of former draft busts that became All Stars…..Since you claim to be so knowledgable, I’ll look forward to reading your articles on Hoopdoctors….Why so negative?

  • David Workman

    SO FAR you haven’t made points or used any facts to change my mind regarding this “list”. On your list a guy who averaged 14pts. and 11rebs. per 36min. in his very first season in the NBA is the #2 BIGGEST DRAFT BUST. Danny Manning isn’t on your list. Why would you use him as an example? His entire career can be evaluated yet you give him a free pass? Also nice try on the,”after your second season, regardless of the reason” angle. “Regardless” of your prejudice it was in fact his first season playing in the NBA.

    Finally, I claim no unusual knowledge of the NBA. I am a casual fan that, with my lack of resources and time to immerse myself in information, finds it shockingly apparent that you did no real leg work on this article. You followed the sheppard on this and made a judgement based on so little time and fact that I’m amazed it was published. I’m sure you’ve been exposed to sports fans prior to this. Most of them show negativity when talking heads make unfounded claims regarding players they support… Weird huh?..

  • BlazersEdgeSucks

    Funny how all of the excuse makers from B-edge have come to this topic to justify the 2nd biggest bust in NBA history…. LMAO !!

  • David Workman

    It’s funny how uneducated trolls can be found anywhere… Just like Laker fans…

  • BlazersEdgeSucks

    Greg Oden = Sam Bowie and Ryan Leaf as the biggest pro sports draft bust in history !!!

  • Reed

    Well who was the guy taken ahead of Michael Jordan.

  • Z

    You list SUCKS.

    It’s missing some of the biggest ever in Darko Milicic (taken ahead of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, David West, Josh Howard, Mo Williams). Also it’s missing LaRue Martin, a not even NBA quality player taken #1 overall. Drafted ahead of NBA great Bob McAdoo. Meanwhile being mediocre and #1 overall seems to be the only reason Kwame Brown is on this list at all.

    Then you COMPLETELY jump the gun on Greg Oden. Statistically if Greg Oden stayed in the game for 36 minutes he’d have averaged 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks. His constant injuries, and the fact that he’s still only a year removed from one of the most major kinds of surgery in professional sports, and the only thing keeping him off the court.

    Watch some basketball and come back and look at this list and realize how stupid you are.

  • Corb

    I’m glad someone decided to comment that Sam Bowie was missing from this list. EASILY the biggest draft day bust ever. So many people are commenting on Darko for being drafted before Melo, but Bowie was drafted before Michael Jordan and never amounted to anything. Case closed

  • fearghoul

    PER doesn’t mean shit, the fact of the matter is that Greg Oden is the bust of the decade. Even worse than Kwame Brown. Kwame Brown still has a career. What does Oden have? Nothing but injuries. He will never come back. He is Sam Bowie #2.

    Sam Bowie is obviously missing because the list just doesn’t go back that far. It’s unfair to make a list that encompasses the entire NBA history.

  • zulu

    adam morrisom is the worst

  • fearghoul

    Pundits are saying Kevin Durant is the 2nd best player in the NBA right now behind Lebron James.

    That makes Oden even more of a bust! can you imagine, picking this guy who has barely played, when you could have the 2nd best player in the NBA?

    Bust of the decade!

  • Ckm1163

    Adam Morrison?

    Eric Montrose?

    Plus a few guys on this list may not have had stellar careers but they did manage to hang around for a long time.