What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Since the NBA season is fast approaching, it is time to look back at some of my all-time favorite NBA draft mistakes. In retrospect, some of these decisions were so bad they defy logic. Sure, I get that hindsight is 20/20, but take an honest look at this list and just try to say they weren’t colossal disasters.
Joe Barry Carroll – #1, Golden State Warriors, 1980
In what will prove to be a theme here, teams that constantly make awful player personnel decisions tend to sink to the bottom and stay there. The worst kind of decision is when you not only draft the absolute wrong guy, but you way overpaid for the right to do it. Enter the Golden State Warriors. In one of the worst moves ever, the Warriors trade Robert “Big Chief” Parish and the Number3 draft choice (eventually used to select Hall of Famer Kevin McHale) in exchange for the Number 1 pick in 1980, which they pissed away on Joe Barry Carroll. Carroll averages more than 17 points per game in his career, but earns the dubious nickname “Joe Barely Cares” for his losing ways and complete lack of effort.
LaRue Martin -#1, Portland Trail Blazers, 1972
Portland begins a long tradition of drafting a stiff in front of a future Hall of Famer. The Number 1 overall pick in 1972, LaRue Martin is a sure-fire pick for the Afro Hall of Fame, but can’t make hair translate into success; Martin averages a balding 5.3 points per game in his forgettable four-year career. Who could have Portland had instead? Bob McAdoo.
Kent Benson – #1, Milwaukee Bucks, 1977
Indiana University’s Benson was selected first in 1977. However, his four-club, 11 year slog through the NBA is really only remembered for his being such a douche-nozzle that in his second professional game he got shit-hammered in the face by the normally mild-mannered Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It is also reported that Benson was such a prick he was the main reason Larry Bird walked away from his IU basketball scholarship to transfer to Indiana State.
Sam Bowie – #2, Portland Trail Blazers, 1984
Bowie is often underrated in his importance in the history of the NBA. As a Portland Trail Blazer, Bowie blazed a trail for a long line of big men to be victims of guys doing poster-quality dunks on them. When not being dunked on, and when staying healthy, Bowie actually performs as a serviceable player during his 10-year career. But the Trail Blazers will always lament selecting him with the Number 2 pick; some guy named Michael Jordan goes Number 3. After all, there’s a reason why Portland makes multiple appearances on this list.
Chris Washburn – #3, Golden State Warriors, 1986
It says a lot about Washburn that it takes a guy dying for him not to be the biggest draft disaster of 1986 (see Len Bias). A high-school phenom, Washburn gets picked with the Number 3 selection, but it only takes two years for him to crime-and-drug his way out of the league. Again, it is worthy to note this is not the only time here you see the words “Golden State Warriors.”
Dennis Hopson – #3, New Jersey Nets, 1987
I told you it would become a theme, so consider yourself warned. In what somehow is the Nets’ only entry on this list, Dennis Hopson spends six seasons in the NBA just never really getting the idea of how to play the game. When they selected Hopson out of Ohio State, the Nets passed on such stars as Scottie Pippen, Kenny Smith, and Reggie Miller.
Shawn Bradley – #2, Philadelphia 76ers, 1993
See the entry for Sam Bowie. Nobody got more poster-quality “dunk-rapes” than the awkward, gangly, yet monstrously slow Bradley. But Philadelphia saw something in him the rest of us missed since they passed on Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, and Allan Houston to take “the Mormon Wonder.”
Pervis Ellison – #1, Sacramento Kings, 1989
When a team spends a #1 pick on a player, they expect him to play as often as possible. However, this would never be the case for “Rarely in Service” Pervis, who only played in more than 70 games once in his injury-shortened career.
Michael Olowokandi – #1, Los Angeles Clippers, 1998
How the Clippers only pop up once on this list has to be some sort of minor miracle. Nobody has made more bad decisions on players than the Clips. In the 1998 NBA Draft which featured future All-Stars Mike Bibby, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, and Paul Pierce, the Clippers clip themselves once again by taking Olowokandi with the first overall pick. The seven-foot stiff just 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in his unremarkable career.
Kwame Brown – #1, Washington Wizards, 2001
Great players seldom make great managers. Micheal Jordan is no exception to this rule. His drafting of this high-schooler in 2001 as the general manager of the Wizards exemplifies the futility of his front-office career. Brown is a colossal bust by all standards as he only manages 7.0 points per game and was plagued by injury.
Adam Morrison – #3, Charlotte Bobcats, 2006
Morrison is another Michael Jordan debacle. This time, Jordan as part-owner of the Bobcats selected in 2006, passing on soon-to-be stars Brandon Roy, Randy Foye, Rudy Gay, and Rajon Rondo. Morrison is allegedly a great shooter, but his almost c0mplete immobility limits him to 4.5 points per game in the 2008-09 season and is traded to the Lakers midway through.
Darko. Seriously, Darko. How does Joe Dumars still have a job?
Darko slipped off my radar because drafting him was so clearly a bad move at the time I just shrugged my shoulders and moved on. Most of these listed failures took some time for their magnitude to become apparent.
How could you leave out the Portland Trail Blazers drafting Greg Oden? There’s no question he’s a bust while Kevin Durant could be the next year’s MVP.
Because the book on Oden isn’t finished being written yet. Guy is only in his early 20’s; he still has a shot to get over this injury problem and resurrect his career.
Bird didn’t ‘transfer’. He dropped out of school and didn’t head to Indiana State until three years later.