Avoiding NBA Draft Disappointments can be key in building a successful NBA team. The well-run franchises manage to find late-round steals like the San Antonio Spurs finding Tony Parker 28th overall in 2001 and Manu Ginobili 57th overall in 1999. NBA commissioner David Stern implemented the "Draft Lottery" system in 1985, where teams that didn't make the playoffs were put into a random lottery to see who would get the first pick. However, getting first choice is not always what it's made out to be. These NBA Draft disappointments prove the old adage that “Good things come to those who wait.”
1. Michael Olowokandi. When people wonder why the Clippers horrible records always gets them selecting in the top five, only one answer is needed— draft disappointment Michael Olowokandi. The first pick of the 1998 draft out of the University of Pacific, Olowokandi was expected to be the second coming of Shaquille O'Neal, but barely managed to be the second coming of Shawn Bradley. He started playing basketball at the age of 17, and it showed in his pro career. While averaging nine points and seven rebounds a game, Olowokandi played for three teams in his nine year career, never becoming a dominate center . Making matters even worse, he was selected first overall in a draft that contained Mike Bibby, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, and Dirk Nowitzki. Ouch.
2. Robert Traylor. The reason Traylor is considered an NBA draft disappointment is not only because of expectations coming out of the University of Michigan, but because he was traded for a future Hall of Famer. In 1998, the Dallas Mavericks made the mistake of drafting "Tractor Traylor" 6th overall, but redeemed themselves by trading the pick later for eighth overall pick Dirk Nowitzki in one of the most lop-sided trades in NBA history.
3. Kwame Brown. Just because you're a great player doesn't always translate into the front office, and Michael Jordan learned that the hard way when he made Kwame Brown the first selection in the 2001 draft. Expected to turn the struggling Washington Wizards around, Brown was the first high-schooler to be picked first overall. While he never matured into a reliable NBA player and proved to be a draft disappointment to the Wizards, he did manage to show enough potential to dupe Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak to trade All-Star forward Caron Butler to get him.
4. Darko Milicic. When the Detroit Pistons traded Otis Thorpe to the then Vancouver Grizzlies in 1996, they had no idea that it would later give them the chance to pick from a slew of All-Stars such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade seven years later. Unfortunately, GM Joe Dumars decided to pass on all of those guys and take a chance on the seven-foot tall Serbian. Spending most of his rookie year on the bench, the only playing time Milicic received was at the end of games when the outcome was decided, becoming known as the "Human Victory Cigar."
5. Sam Bowie. Poor, poor Sam Bowie. In 1984, the Portland Trail Blazers made the mistake of drafting for need and picked Bowie over Charles Barkley, John Stockton, and infamously, Michael Jordan. Any pick over Michael Jordan in that draft would be a clear contender for an NBA draft disappointment. While his career averages of eleven points and seven rebounds isn't necessarily bad, it doesn't compare to Jordan's 32,000 career points and six NBA Championships.
Avoiding NBA draft disappointments is an art and drafting is a guessing game, and unfortunately the teams above got it all tragically wrong.
Posted on: Dec. 16, 2009