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7 Of The Biggest Draft Busts In NBA History

The NBA Draft can make or break a franchise. Here are the 7 picks that came closest to breaking them.
NBA comissioner David Stern and Cleveland Cavaliers no.1 draft pick Anthony Bennet

David Stern and Anthony Bennett

For NBA franchises, the Draft is one of the most important events as it can make or break a team. Things changed drastically for the Miami Heat when they drafted Dwyane Wade as the fifth pick of the 2003 NBA Draft - they won their first championship just three years later.

On the other hand, things didn’t work out quite as well for the Washington Wizards after they made Kwame Brown the No.1 overall pick. Brown is one of many former players considered to be draft busts. Let’s take a look at some of them below.

7. Joe Carroll (No. 1, 1980)

Joe Carroll doesn’t seem that bad when you look at his stats. The former center was an All-Star in 1987 and averaged 17.7 points and 7.7 rebounds over the course of his 10-year career. Not bad at all, right?

But when you consider that the Golden State Warriors got the No.1 pick from the Boston Celtics in exchange for Robert Parish, plus a third pick that ended up getting them Kevin McHale, Carroll doesn’t seem that much of a steal anymore. The Celtics would go on to become a dynasty, while the Warriors wouldn’t win another title until 2015.

6. Danny Ferry (No. 2, 1991)

For most fans, Danny Ferry is perhaps most known for drafting LeBron James as the GM of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Ferry, though, was the second overall pick in the 1989 draft, with the Los Angeles Clippers making the selection. Totally against the idea of playing for the Clippers, Ferry opted to go to Italy, where he became a star.

His rights were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who signed him to a 10-year contract which he fulfilled before moving to the San Antonio Spurs. He won a championship with San Antonio in 2003.

While he was a decent player, and the Cavs made the playoffs in six of his 10 years there, he was never the NBA star many expected him to be, averaging just 7.0 points and 2.8 rebounds a game over the course of his career.

The Cavs appear to be on an upward trajectory again, which will be pretty good for residents given that Ohio sports betting is due to launch in January according to There have even been rumors swirling about LeBron James possibly returning to Cleveland.

5. Jay Williams (No. 2, 2002)

It’s perhaps a tad unfair to have Jay Williams on here, but it is sort of his fault. Williams was drafted as the second overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in 2002 but his NBA career ended as quickly as it began, with the former guard, unfortunately, getting involved in a motorcycle accident after his rookie year.

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Williams should have known better than to get on a bike as he was not licensed to ride in Illinois, plus it violated the terms of his contract with the Bulls. On top of that, he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

The Bulls ultimately waived him and were generous enough to give him $3 million to aid his recovery though they weren’t obligated to pay him anything due to him violating the terms of his deal with the team.

4. Sam Bowie (No. 2, 1984)

Sam Bowie spent 10 years in the NBA after getting drafted as the second overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1984 and made the rookie first team that season. He even averaged a double-double in the 1989/90 season, but he is mostly remembered as the guy who was drafted before Michael Jordan, as well as Charles Barkley and John Stockton.

He probably wouldn’t make this list if not for that.

3. Hasheem Thabeet (No. 2, 2009)

Memphis Grizzlies center Hasheem Thabeet

Hasheem Thabeet

Hasheem Thabeet was another second overall selection who failed miserably. The 7ft 3in center was drafted ahead of James Harden, Steph Curry, and DeMar DeRozan - two of the three have gone on to become MVPs, while the other was part of the conversation just last season.

Drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2009, Thabeet was out of the league in five years. He simply couldn’t run at NBA pace and offered very little defensively due to his lack of upper body strength. Drafting Thabeet turned out to be an experiment that didn’t go well for the Grizzlies - they’ve done a lot better in recent years.

2. Kwame Brown (No.1, 2001)

Drafted by the Washington Wizards in 2001, Kwame Brown was the first No.1 pick to come straight out of high school. That would be the highlight of his career.

Brown had small hands and was a poor free throw shooter. He also lacked maturity, which is never great when Michael Jordan is both your teammate and president of basketball operations.

The former center lasted 12 years in the NBA and has suffered lots of unfair criticism over the years. He began firing back at his critics via his now very popular YouTube channel, Kwame Brown Bust Life.

1. Anthony Bennett (No. 1, 2013)

The Cavaliers drafting Anthony Bennett at No.1 in 2013 was certainly a shock, and with good reason. He only lasted four years in the NBA, playing for as many teams and averaging as many points before his exit.

Bennett plays in Taiwan now; he won a Euroleague championship in 2017.

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