The NBA Draft is full of mystery. Will the number-one prospect be everything recruiters imagined? Can a team find a sleeper in the second round? Does trading current talent for youth prove better in the long run? There isn’t an exact art to the madness, but some teams get it right. Meanwhile, other franchises tend to drop the ball. Can you believe 34 teams refused to select future champion Draymond Green? With two rounds and a total of 60 picks, click through and find out the most significant NBA Draft mistakes in recent years.
2008: Miami Misses a Future Record Holder
Derrick Rose was the number-one pick of the 2008 draft. No mistakes there by the Chicago Bulls because who could have known he would tear his ACL one year after becoming the youngest player to win the MVP? The Miami Heat, on the other hand, made a huge mistake.
With the second pick, the Heat decided to bring in Michael Beasley from Kansas State. Future all-star Kevin Love was still available, but Russell Westbrook was the real star of this draft. A combination of Dwayne Wade and Westbrook could have been scary for the NBA, but Kevin Durant and Westbrook turned out fine. Sorry, Miami.
2017: 26 Teams Fail To Capture Kuzmania
If you want to know the definition of a draft night steal, then look no further. Kyle Kuzma (now nationally recognized as Kuzmania) somehow managed to fall on the draft board in the 2017 NBA draft. After the announcement of his name, the Lakers didn’t know the full surprise Kuzma would bring.
Kuzma was easily in the conversation for rookie of the year after averaging 16.1 points per game and 6.3 rebounds. He ended up making the All-Rookie 1st team. He worked hard and became a solid foundation piece for a young Laker team.
2015: The Orlando Magic Booked Their Mistake
For some odd reason, the Orlando Magic decided to select international player Mario Hezonja in 2015. In their defense, a few NBA teams were starting to see massive success from foreign players, but Hezonja wasn’t one of them.
Other teams were making sound selections, but someone the Magic should have picked was Devin Booker. Booker didn’t get selected by the Phoenix Suns until number 13. If the Magic scouted a little better, maybe their franchise wouldn’t be towards the bottom of the NBA in 2018. To make things worse, Booker also became the youngest player to score 70 points two years later. 31 more and he could have broken the points record. Up next is possibly the worst number two pick of all time.
2003: A Giant International Gamble
The 2003 draft is one of the most stocked draft classes in recent history. It’s when LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwayne Wade entered the NBA. Unfortunately, the latter two names didn’t get the respect they deserved from the Detroit Pistons.
Granted, the Pistons were in “win now” mode, they elected to choose Darko Milicic with the second pick. His career ended in 10 seasons. Meanwhile, Wade has three rings, and Anthony is an all-time great scorer. Milicic has spoken on his obscure draft selection. “My approach was completely different, as a No. 2 pick coming from Europe I thought I was sent by God,” he said. “So I got into fights, got drunk before practices, spiting everyone.”
2013: The Cavaliers Miss Big
Before the Milwaukee Bucks selected Giannis Antetokounmpo at number 15, they never could have imagined he would transform into the “Greek Freak.” And apparently, the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t think so either. Instead, they trusted their future with Anthony Bennett from UNLV with the number one pick.
Bennett, who played only four seasons in the NBA took his talents to four different teams before getting the boot. His skill set didn’t translate over to the NBA. The Cavaliers made the worst number one pick in NBA history. Thankfully, LeBron James and company made up for this drastic mistake when they won the championship in 2016.
2009: Steph Curry To Minnesota… No Wait…
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The 2009 draft was another one filled with talent. Blake Griffin went first overall to the Los Angeles Clippers, so there are no complaints with that one. When the Minnesota Timberwolves were on the clock with the number six pick, they desperately needed a point guard.
With tons of talent still available, the Timberwolves chose Jonny Flynn over future two-time MVP Steph Curry from Davidson College. The scouting report of Curry was that he was too small and his game wouldn’t work in the NBA. Minnesota wasn’t the only ones who predicted wrong.
2018: Will Dallas Regret This Trade?
The first trade of the 2018 draft was an exciting one. With the fourth pick, the Dallas Mavericks selected Trae Young from the University of Oklahoma. Young, who gained an unusual amount of buzz early in the NCAA season was thought by many experts to be the player with the most star potential.
Drawing comparisons to Steph Curry thanks to his long-range shooting, Young is a player that can help elevate a franchise if in the right environment. The Dallas Mavericks chose to trade him away to the Atlanta Hawks, however for another asset they believe in. The Mavericks might be kicking themselves shortly if Young’s potential comes to form.
2005: What Were The Hawks Thinking?
The season ends, and the Atlanta Hawks finished with a 13-69 record. That means it’s time for someone in the head office to get fired…but that’s a different topic. The team was strong at the forward position, so they needed to think about a guard in the upcoming draft.
With the number two pick, the Hawks ended up making Marvin Williams dreams come true. A forward who was the sixth man off the bench at UNC. Two future all-star and Olympic point guards were chosen right after that (Deron Williams and Chris Paul). Hawks fans are still upset.
2015: The 76ers Didn’t Trust The Process
Between 2012 and 2018, the Philadelphia 76ers had historically bad seasons. Their frustrations translated into the tanking method, where they lose games on purpose in hopes of securing prime draft positions. For the most part, the strategy worked selecting Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid along the way.
In 2015, they decided to select another center with their number three pick only one year removed from selecting center Embiid. Names like Kristaps Porzingis, Stanley Johnson, and Devin Booker were still available. Instead, they went with Jahlil Okafor who has only played 131 career games compared to Stanley Johnson’s 219. The 76ers ended up trading him.
2018: Michael Porter Jr. Drastically Falls
After he was considered a top-five draft pick the whole year, it was surprising to see Michael Porter Jr drop so low in the 2018 draft. Porter Jr., who says his game is a mix between Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo, ended up falling to the number 14 pick. The Denver Nuggets might have picked the steal of the draft.
Thanks to injury concerns, teams were reluctant to select the highly heralded prospect. “Honestly, the teams at the very, very top of the draft told me last week I was their guy, they were going to take me,” Porter said. “Then the hip episode happened, and then doctors got involved. … So once one team gets scared, a lot of them get scared.”
2007: The Thunder Lucked Out
Another loaded draft class, future superstars were separated by only one pick. In a selection that could have changed the course of the Portland Trailblazers, they elected to go with Greg Oden with the number one pick. The player picked second after Oden was the unanimous national player of the year, won the Naismith College Player of the Year and was the first freshman to win any national player awards.
His name is Kevin Durant. Selected by the then Seattle Supersonics, (now Oklahoma City Thunder) the Thunder must have thanked the basketball gods. Oden went on to have a career plagued with injury and only played in three seasons.
2012: Draymond Green Remembers Well
Saying Draymond Green isn’t the glue that holds the Golden State Warriors together would be a mighty disservice to Green. Green can essentially plug into any team and make them compete instantly. In 2012, every team missed out on him in the first round.
“I will never forget that night,” Green said. “I had to wait all that time. I’m not saying I’m cocky or anything, but I felt like I had to wait behind guys I was better than. And I think I’ve proven it.” As of 2018, he’s the only one from that draft with three rings. No one else comes close.
2018: The Cavilers Try And Keep LeBron Happy
The summer of 2018 should change its name to “where will LeBron James go.” James has publicly gone on record and said he wishes the Cavaliers had a playmaker other than himself. The organization didn’t provide him that through trades but tried their best via the draft when they got the electric point guard Collin Sexton.
“Man, LeBron, let’s do it,” Sexton said to reporters after being drafted. “Let’s do it. I see you need a few extra pieces this past season, and let’s do it. Let’s go back to the Finals.” Maybe this was a little too late? Cleveland should have drafted another forward to attempt and fill the enormous void James leaves behind.
2006: A Costly Trade For Chicago
Trades on draft day don’t always happen, but it’s exciting when they do. In 2006, the Chicago Bulls pulled off an absurd trade. They drafted future all-star LaMarcus Aldridge at number two. A fantastic choice, but for some reason, they decided to trade him to the Portland Trailblazers.
In return for Aldridge, the Bulls received the fourth pick Tyrus Thomas, and Viktor Khryapa. Thomas only played 3.5 seasons, and Khryapa lasted four seasons in the NBA. Aldridge went on to prove his worth while the Bulls soaked in their sorrows until Derrick Rose arrived two years later.
2009: Memphis Skips The Beard
We get it; defense wins championships. That only applies if you have every other category under control. For example, in 2009 the Memphis Grizzlies desperately needed a scorer. With the number two pick, the Grizzlies drafted Hasheem Thabeet. Standing at 7’3″, it’s hard to argue over the height.
As time went on, Thabeet proved he wasn’t worthy of such a high draft selection. He ended his career after seven seasons and never averaged double-digit rebounds despite being freakishly tall. The Grizzlies only missed one of the greatest scorers in history, James Harden.
2005: The Magic Get Bamboozled
One of the worst-case scenarios that can happen to a team happened to the Orlando Magic in 2005. No, they didn’t miss out on a big name player drafting at number 11. The Magic selected Fran Vazquez from Spain. Another foreign player experiment performed by an NBA franchise.
The biggest name still left on the draft board was Danny Granger, but his career started out hot and took a turn for the worse. The player the Magic drafted has never played in an NBA game. He didn’t want to leave Spain, so the Magic wasted a pick in 2005.
2010: Cousins Slips Down
Honestly, three teams dropped the ball at this draft. John Wall is arguably the best talent from the 2010 draft, so it makes sense he went number one. Sadly, DeMarcus Cousins was also in this draft but didn’t hear his name called until number five.
The team most in question are the Minnesota Timberwolves. They decided to pick up forward Wesley Johnson who hasn’t had a career worthy of being the fourth pick. Cousins, on the other hand, could have comfortably gone number one. More on this draft next and you won’t believe how many teams missed this next talent.
2010: Teams Didn’t See The Potential In George
“In five years, Paul George will be the best player to come out of this draft. Trust me.” – Anonymous NBA scout. That anonymous scout couldn’t have been more correct. Except for John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, George’s talent stands superior.
Wesley Johnson, who ended up drafted six slots ahead of George had an interesting scouting report. One scout reported, “Johnson has star written all over him: He’s efficient, a promising defender.” That is the complete opposite of what Johnson has delivered. Whereas George getting drafted tenth overall still leaves people scratching their heads.
2011: 12 Teams Let a Finals MVP Get Away
Outside of the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, 12 teams made a grave mistake. The San Antonio Spurs always seem to make the perfect draft choice. The management most likely had to be shocked back to life once they saw Kawhi Leonard was still available at the 15th pick.
The Warriors chose Klay Thompson ahead of him, and the Cavaliers ended up with Kyrie Irving. Both players helped bring their team’s titles, and Leonard helped the Spurs win one as well. It’s still up for debate, but Leonard is arguably the best from this draft.
2012: The Sacramento Kings Don’t Know What Time It Is
It’s Dame Time and has been ever since he entered the league in 2012. Dame Time has become Damian Lillard’s second moniker as he always proves to show up at the right time and deliver for the Portland Trailblazers.
The Sacramento Kings had the 5th pick in this draft and chose Thomas Robinson, an undersized big man. Meanwhile, Lillard has carried his team to consecutive playoff berths. Robinson isn’t in the NBA anymore.
2001: Kwame Brown Over Pau Gasol
We are well aware that hindsight is 20/20, so this selection examines the career of both players in the long run. Still, Kwame Brown had no business becoming the number one draft choice in 2001.
Brown came straight from high school while Pau Gasol (16) came in from Barcelona. Naturally, teams would have reservations for both players. The Washington Wizards got Brown who ended up averaging 4.5 points his first season. Gasol put up 17.6 points per game his rookie campaign. It’s safe to say the Wizards regretted things immediately.
2017: Trading Up For Worse Pick
The 2017 draft class had the most talent since the 2003 LeBron James class. We discussed earlier how Kyle Kuzma fell to the bottom. What about the first selection? The Philadelphia 76ers managed to trade for the Boston Celtics first pick. They got Markelle Fultz (left).
After the season concluded, NBA fans learned how great young players are. The Celtics chose Jayson Tatum (right) at number three, but he was the real player worthy of a number one selection. Tatum became the youngest player in history to score 250 career points (20 years-old 73 days). He edged out some people by the name of Magic Johnson (20 years-old 274 days), and Kobe Bryant (20 years-old 267 days).
2002: The Nuggets Make The Worst Selection At Number Five
In 2002, the Denver Nuggets had the number five pick. Besides Yao Ming, this draft didn’t have much star power. Still, that doesn’t excuse them for picking Nikoloz Tskitishvili from the Soviet Union. One player that lived up to his potential was Amar’e Stoudamire (12).
Stoudamire fell to number nine in that draft, and the Phoenix Suns ended up with the second-best player in the draft. Tskitishvili played with four teams before calling it quits in the NBA.