Top Ten: Bad NBA GM Top Pick Decisions

Worst. Decision. Ever. 

In 1985, the NBA adopted the Draft Lottery. The rationale behind this is to give the season’s worst teams the opportunity to find a quality player in the draft. The team with the worst record gets the most balls. Currently the worst 14 teams duke it out to claim a quality rookie. Because of trades however, an already playoff-bound squad has the chance to further improve their chances.

The best example of this was when Darko Milicic was picked second in the 2003 NBA Draft by the then-championship contending Detroit Pistons. This was good for the Pistons because it added depth to their bench but bad for Darko because he played in limited minutes.

Darko will not play a part in this list because he was the second pick – after Lebron James in that star-studded list. Sam Bowie – the person picked ahead of Michael Jordan in 1984 is also not included in the list because aside from being a number two pick, the draft lottery started a year after their selection. We are focusing on the top draft picks from 1985 onwards.

There are a lot of ways to waste a perfect top lottery pick.

Technically the New Jersey Nets didn’t waste theirs when they selected Kenyon Martin in 2000 in what is perceived as the worst draft class. While almost 30 teams overlooked Michael Redd who is clearly the most accomplished player in this class, Martin proved to be a good performer especially in the Nets’ two trips to the Finals. Larry Johnson’s selection proved also worthy for the Charlotte Hornets because LJ’s Charlotte stint proved to be the best part of his NBA career. I wouldn’t even throw in Derrick Coleman’s name because even if he turned useless in his later years, he started out exceptionally well for the New Jersey Nets.

The criteria here concerns with the skills as well as the decision-making of the then-general managers.

Here are ten ways to ruin a general manager’s credibility.

Game starts now.


First of all, it’s not what you think. Chris Webber’s Sacramento version is a favourite of mine but ever wondered how he’ll fare if he got paired up with another dominant big man? A year ago, Shaquille O’Neal was drafted by the Magic. He turned out to be a goldmine of a rookie. A couple of months back, Shaq starred on a college basketball movie called Blue Chips. In that film Shaq befriended a dude named Penny Hardaway. Orlando was bent to select the consensus choice Chris Webber but Shaq wanted the Magic to pick Penny. So the Warriors and the Magic planned for a trade and Webber was sent to the Warriors for Hardaway and three future first round picks. Fact is, imagine a Shaq-Webber partnership. At that stage, Scott Skiles can still go and with Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott in the slasher positions, they could have probably easily disposed of Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Houston would eventually topple the Magic en route to their second consecutive championship. Still, Orlando was the winner of this trade because Hardaway became a superstar in his own right. As for Golden State, Webber was eventually traded to Washington after one season for Tom Gugliotta and that prompted Golden State’s playoff-less years. That sucked for GS. 


While people would again denounce his entry on my list – check this point out. Navy’s David Robinson was selected first in the 1987 NBA Draft which also had the likes of Scottie Pippen, Kevin Johnson, Horace Grant, Mark Jackson, Muggsy Bogues, and Reggie Miller. However, because Robinson had a two-year commitment to serve the Navy (which is why he is called The Admiral) the Spurs couldn’t maximize their potential. During the wait, the Spurs posted a 52-112 record. While there were speculations that Robinson will choose free agency over San Antonio, his “Navy-ness” prompted him to honor the Spurs. This was a scary gamble for the Spurs that ultimately paid off but what if Robinson didn’t sign with them? Or worse... what if he signed with them and turned out to be a dud?


I like the guy’s gameplay and I still think that once his injuries end (the key word is end), he will help Portland (if he is still with Portland) to the top. However, had the Blazers pick Kevin Durant, Al Horford, or Oden rival Joakim Noah, things would have been different. He has yet to have an injury-free season and all indications point that next season wouldn’t be any different. Hopefully he can deliver before his talent fades. The upside of Oden’s injury-plagued years is that Bill Walton had the same career en route to a MVP and a championship. Hopefully lightning will strike twice for the Blazers. 


In fairness to Il Mago, his scoring averages are increasing and he could make a run for a great season. Unfortunately I don’t really see him as a star player... yet. Compared to Dirk Nowitzki, his NBA evolution is considerably slower. Also, for a player who plays in the SF/PF/C spot, he doesn’t rebound well. This has been a problem for the Raptors since their entry to the league that was temporarily solved by the acquisitions of Marcus Camby and Chris Bosh. Also, he is playing for the Toronto Raptors – a team that couldn’t get established superstars to play for them (other than top Euroleague players) for a long period of time because for some insane reason, players don’t want to play in Canada. Anywho with his gameplay, it’s either Andrea will play well with a talent-starved squad or become a third of fourth option when he plays for a top-tier squad. Toronto could have gotten LaMarcus Aldridge, who was picked after the Raptors selected Bargnani.    


The Australian-born Bogut should have been the current face of the franchise with the regression of Michael Redd (because of injuries) and not Brandon Jennings. Okay, Bogut is steadily increasing his scoring but a career average of 12.7ppg is nothing to brag about. His rebounds is a big asset to his game but in his NBA career, he only played 70 games or more twice. He was much-hyped at the start of his career but now I don’t think Aussie fans go gaga when a Milwaukee game is in the telly. The Bucks snubbed Deron Williams and Chris Paul because they wanted a formidable big but they could have had it better with David Lee, Danny Granger, and Andrew Bynum. Monta Ellis – the 40th pick of the draft, is getting better numbers and fanfare than Bogut. Also, now with Stephen Jackson joining the Bucks, expect him to get buried further.  


Don’t get me wrong. Joe Smith is a serviceable forward who can strike when needed. He is also a good rebounder when given the minutes. This is one of the reasons why he lasted this long in the league. However, that’s the problem actually with Smith. With all that talent, it seems as if he is weak. I just can’t help but wonder if Smith deserves the top pick citation. He is not flashy like Tim Duncan but he isn’t imposing unlike Duncan. The reason why the Warriors selected him over Kevin Garnett, Jerry Stackhouse, Michael Finley, Damon Stoudamire, and Rasheed Wallace is because they thought he was the dominant force in the middle that they forever lacked. This thinking and eventually the disappointment that went with it was a reason why Smith switched allegiances 14 times in his 16-year NBA career.


The Kandi Man was born in Nigeria but was raised in England. He then took his game to the States and was able to lead the University of the Pacific to a NCAA Tournament stint. When he came to the NBA though, the next Hakeem Olajuwon proved to be nothing more than a role player. He played for teams that lacked a stellar center but he was unable to own the position because of inconsistent play and various injuries. By the way, he was drafted during the NBA lockout and used that time to go to an Italian squad to “hone” his skills. The GM of the Clippers then could have selected Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, and Mike Bibby.


Kyrie Irving has yet to prove himself but this is an enough reason to make the Clippers GM go bonkers! A trade between an aging Baron Davis and an often-injured Mo Williams could have been enough but adding a first round draft pick is just insane. Sure, Jamario Moon is also part of the trade but... what the hell, right? Davis whether or not he leaves Cleveland is still a many-time All-Star and he can slide to the SG spot to dish a super scary backcourt tandem a la Golden State. Hopefully Mo Williams excels in giving Blake Griffin the supplementary punch because the Griffin/Irving tandem sounds exciting. If only the Clippers own a crystal ball... 


Drafted ahead of Shawn Kemp, Tim Hardaway, Sean Elliott, Glen Rice, and Vlade Divac, Never Nervous Pervis was named Out of Service Pervis by Sacramento Kings teammate Danny Ainge because he was always out of action. While he was a starter in all of his four years in Louisville where he is hailed as the college’s most important player, he only reached 70 games in his eleven seasons. This was bad for Sac-Town because unlike other squads, the Kings really need Ellison to perform awesomely. For the Kings GM’s sake, at least he was able to shift Ellison to Washington after his rookie year. However, his four years with the Bullets proved to be his best. Also, the Kings GM gave up Ellison to Washington for Jeff Malone which is good... but they sent him to Utah for a bunch of role players and two draft picks. One of those picks was Anthony Bonner. The other was Eric Leckner. Ouch.

Jordan wants this bust to become a winner that he re-acquired Kwame in Charlotte. 


The debacle known as Kwame Brown forced David Stern to decree that incoming rookies must at least play one year of college basketball. The reason for this is that to have players to have at least a sense of maturity – physically and mentally. Forget the lawsuits and the problems he caused – his game was predictable and uninspired. At 29, he has exhausted beliefs that he can be a NBA superstar. Michael Jordan personally tapped him to when he was a Washington bigwig. Jordan could have picked Pau Gasol, Tyson Chandler, Joe Johnson, or late first round picks Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, and Tony Parker. Hell, second round players like Memo Okur and Gilbert Arenas had better careers. Ultimately, picking Kwame was one of the reasons why Jordan was fired by the Wizards. 

Over the years, general managers have been gambling their prospects with the intentions of gaining major score. Fact is, most of their decisions are stupid and that is enough for them to get to my list. 

Did the Clippers do good in trading away what could have a potential top pick? 

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Game over.


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