Top 10 Worst Drafts in NBA History

The 2014 NBA Draft looks to be one of the best and deepest in recent history. There are several players from this draft that could either become franchise types of players or potential All Stars. Along the same lines, the 1984 draft, that Steve Nash is now doing a documentary on, is probably the best in NBA history. Sometimes, the basketball gods stockpile a plethora of talent into one draft, so that even the non-lottery picks become future Hall of Famers. Of course, at other times, the basketball gods frown upon a draft, which results in a major famine and dearth of talent.

For example, last year, was one of those starved for talent types of drafts. A strong indication of this is Michael Carter-Williams, The Rookie of the Year from this past year, who was the starting point guard for one on one of the worst teams in NBA history. His play had very little impact for his team in the win column. He had inflated numbers on a historically bad team and it is quite possible that he may not have won Rookie of the Year in any other draft, but this one.

However, it is not Michael Carter-Williams fault that he won Rookie of the Year in a historically bad draft. After all, he was the 11th pick in the draft. Most 11th picks do not even get playing time, let alone become Rookie of the Year. So, MCW in some ways should be praised more than critiqued on an individual basis, but on a collective basis, his Rookie of the Year award does not say much about the level of talent that was in his class. This begs the question, what are some of the worst drafts in NBA history? What are some of the worst collective group of draftees that the NBA has ever seen?

10 1998 Draft

This draft does have two future Hall of Famers and NBA Champions in Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce, however, after these two players, the load of talent drops significantly. Michael Olowokandi was the infamous number one pick in this draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. Kandi Man is widely regarded as one of the worst number one picks in NBA history. Although he will not go down as the worst first pick in NBA history, he is definitely in the top 5. In addition to Olowokandi are number three pick Raef LaFrentz and number six pick Robert Traylor. Both big men had pretty good college careers, but their games just never translated onto the NBA court.

9 2013 Draft

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As mentioned above, this is one of the worst drafts in NBA history. It is quite possible that the number one pick, Anthony Bennett, will go down as one of the worst number one picks in NBA history. The Cleveland Cavaliers even thought about sending Bennett to the D-League, but refrained from doing so just because they thought that it would obliterate the little confidence that he had left. Otto Porter was taken with the number three pick by the Washington Wizards, but already looks like he is a major project that will takes years to develop. Number five pick Alex Len is also a major project and may never develop into a starter. And number six pick Nerlen Noel was injured his entire rookie year because of a knee injury. Normally, you are really lucky if you have a high lottery pick, but this was just one of those years where it was better to trade it away than to actually keep it.

8 1997 Draft

It is hard to put anything associated with Tim Duncan on a "worst" list, but aside from Duncan with the number one pick and a high school kid named Tracy McGrady, who was selected with the number nine pick, this draft was pretty slim. Antonio Daniels was selected with the number four pick, but he never developed into a real point guard. Tony Battie was selected with the number 5 pick, but never fully developed the way that he should have. And Ron Mercer could score on anyone in college, but the number six pick had a harder time scoring on people in the NBA.

7 1986 Draft

It is quite possible that the players in the second round were better than the players in the first round of this draft. That is how backwards and shallow this draft really was. The second round of the draft featured Mark Price with the 25th pick, Dennis Rodman with the 27th pick, and Jeff Hornacek with the 46th pick. Unfortunately, the first round was a little bit depleted with talent. Chris Washburn was the number three pick, William Bedford was the number 6 pick and Roy Tarpley was the number 7 pick. Each of these players are forgetful at best in NBA history. And tragically, the second pick in the draft – Len Bias – passed away before he could really show the world what he could do. If Bias had a full NBA career, he could have single handedly revived this draft, but his shortened career, makes this one of the worst drafts in NBA history.

6 1990 Draft

After the first two picks in this draft – Derrick Coleman and Gary Payton – the amount of talent free-falls faster than a roller coaster on its way down from its apex. Chris Jackson was the number three pick, Felton Spencer was the number 6 pick, and Lionel Simmons was the number 7 pick. Hank Gathers was supposed to be the unanimous number one pick in this draft, but he sadly died of a heart condition during a game. Had Gathers been fully healthy, he really could have put this draft back on the map for all the right reasons.

5 2001 Draft

Kwame Brown was the first high school student in NBA history to be selected with the number one pick. The pick was made by Michael Jordan and it may have been one of the biggest misses of his career. The expectation levels placed upon Kwame were far too much for this high school student to handle. Following Brown was another high school draft pick, Eddy Curry, who was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the number four pick, but despite all the hype around Curry, he was never able to put it all together due to weight issues. Eddie Griffin (no. 7 pick), DeSagana Diop (no. 8 pick), and Rodney White (no. 9 pick) were the other lottery busts selected in this draft.

4 2002 Draft


3 1989 Draft

Never Nervous Pervis Ellison was the number one selection in the 1989 draft, but he was hardly the franchise type of player that the Sacramento Kings thought he was going to become. Danny Ferry was the number two pick in the draft, but he didn't want to play for the Clippers and went to Italy instead. When he returned he was largely a role player throughout his career. In fact, it is safe to say that 8 of the top 10 picks were total busts in this draft. Unfortunately, for the NBA, this was the first time that the draft was televised on national television.

2 2006 Draft

When the Toronto Raptors selected Andrea Bargnani with the number one pick, they were hoping that he would become the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki. The 7-footer could hit three’s as well as any guard in the league, but he lacked one thing – passion. Bargnani is still in the NBA today, but he is one of the most hated and ridiculed players in the league. And for the second time, Michael Jordan whiffed again when he drafted Adam Morrison with the number three pick. Morrison tore it up in the NCAA tournament, so his stock was at a premium when he was drafted, but Morrison was merely fool’s gold. Other busts in this draft were Tyrus Thomas with the number four pick, Patrick O’Bryant with the number 9 pick, and Mouhamed Sene with the number 10 pick.

1 2000 Draft

Kenyon Martin was selected with the number one pick by the New Jersey Nets, but he was largely a role player his entire career, and his value dramatically dropped once the point guard on his team was no longer named Jason Kidd. The number two pick in this draft was Stromile Swift who had all of the athleticism in the world, but almost zero IQ. Darius Miles was the third pick in the draft, but he never learned how to shoot. Marcus Fizer was the number four pick, but he could never utilize his size and strength in the right way. This draft was so historically bad, that it only has a total of three All-Star games between everyone.

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