Stephen J. Boitano/Associated Press

For sports fans, few things are more demoralizing than your favorite team drafting a bust. Young prospects can appear to have all the talent and potential in the world, but many don’t pan out due to injuries, a poor work ethic or the fact that they just flat-out don’t have the necessary skills to compete at the highest level.

PointAfter scoured over stats from every NBA franchise’s draft history to find the biggest bust ever for each team. In order to quantify a “bust,” we used the following criteria.

1. The player had to be selected in the top 10 picks of their draft. Without the hype accompanying a top selection, guys can’t accurately be deemed busts.
2. The player in question never made an All-Star team and objectively had a sub-par career (thanks, Captain Obvious).
3. Players drafted after the bust were considerably better options—like future Hall of Famers and All-Stars—thus making the bust look even more egregious on a historical level.

Believe it or not, there are franchises that have never drafted a bust based on our criteria. We’ll start with those scouting pros before getting into the nitty gritty and counting down to the most catastrophic busts, based on career win shares.

#30. San Antonio Spurs: N/A

The last time the San Antonio Spurs drafted in the top 10 was way back in 1997—a testament to their prolonged excellence over the past decade-plus. That pick happened to be future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan No. 1 overall. Prior to that, San Antonio drafted Sean Elliott (No. 3 in 1989), Willie Anderson (No. 10 in 1988) and David Robinson (No. 1 in 1987).

The Spurs have made some picks in the first round that didn’t pan out, but their track record picking in the top 10 is essentially bust-free. When you scout as well as San Antonio has over the years, well, let’s just say there’s a reason the Spurs have been so dominant.

#29. Orlando Magic: N/A

Even though the Orlando Magic have only been around since 1989, the franchise has netted the No. 1 overall pick on three separate occasions. The three guys they took with those picks are Dwight Howard, Chris Webber and Shaquille O’Neal. They didn’t combine to stick around for very long, but they all succeeded in the NBA.

Frankly, Orlando has never drafted a “bust” in its history. That may change moving forward with Aaron Gordon or Mario Hezonja, but both guys are showed plenty of promise in the 2015 Summer League.

#28. Utah Jazz: N/A

Excluding picks of the past five years, Utah drafted Gordon Hayward, Deron Williams, Thurl Bailey, Dominique Wilkins (traded to Atlanta), Darrell Griffith and Rich Kelley. None of those guys can truly be labeled an egregious bust. Kelley is probably closest, but he was more of an NBA flameout. He also was drafted No. 7 in a weak class, so there weren’t many options that were profoundly better.

As a result, the Jazz are the third and final team to avoid a biggest bust altogether. Rejoice now, Jazz fans, because it’s unlikely that hot streak will last forever.

#27. Atlanta Hawks: Marvin Williams

Draft Year: 2005
Draft Spot: No. 2
Career Win Shares: 41.1

The Atlanta Hawks have made a number of draft miscues over the years (Shelden Williams, DerMarr Johnson and Josh Childress, to name a few), but Marvin Williams stands above the rest due to the circumstances surrounding his draft slot.

Even though Williams has gone on to have a decent NBA career as a role player, the Hawks’ choice to take him No. 2 overall is a major draft blunder because he was picked ahead of point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams. CP3 became one of the game’s all-time great floor generals, while D-Will was great early in his career with two All-NBA Second Team nods.

Perhaps Williams’ lone year at North Carolina—where he didn’t even start, acting instead as sixth man—should have been a bigger red flag.

#26. Milwaukee Bucks: Kent Benson

Draft Year: 1977
Draft Spot: No. 1
Career Win Shares: 33.6

Unlike another player the Milwaukee Bucks selected No. 1 overall—someone named Lew Alcindor, who’d become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer after changing his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—Kent Benson didn’t live up to the No. 1 choice hype.

That isn’t to say he should be held to Kareem’s standards, but typically No. 1 overall selections are expected to be best in class. Benson was not, as he averaged double-digit points in just three of his 11 seasons and never averaged double-digit rebounds in a season (capping out at 8.7 per game). He was still serviceable, but other centers like Jack Sikma and Tree Rollins were superior options in hindsight.

#25. Chicago Bulls: Eddy Curry

Draft Year: 2001
Draft Spot: No. 1
Career Win Shares: 21.7

The Bulls opted to take Eddy Curry ahead of Jason Richardson, Joe Johnson, Tony Parker, Gilbert Arenas and others. The big man had one solid year in the NBA—2006-07 with the New York Knicks when he averaged 19.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest—but was otherwise a lackluster center who struggled with his weight and conditioning.

His career box plus/minus (-3.5) and VORP (-5.0) are atrocious, and from 2008-09 through 2012-13, Curry played just 26 total games due to various injuries. He was out of the league by age 30.

In addition to being pegged on our list as Chicago’s biggest draft bust, Curry is also connected to arguably the strangest lawsuit ever tied to a pro athlete (which is saying a lot).

#24. Washington Wizards: Kwame Brown

Draft Year: 2001
Draft Spot: No. 1
Career Win Shares: 20.8

Perhaps the first name that comes to every modern NBA fan’s mind when you say the word “bust” is Kwame Brown. The guy’s face is probably plastered next to the word’s dictionary entry at this point.

For what it’s worth, Brown wasn’t actually that bad. Okay, who am I kidding, he was awful and had bricks for hands. But he did play 12 years in the pros as a serviceable backup big man (the problem was that he was frequently tabbed as the starter wherever he went). Brown was picked ahead of Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Tyson Chandler, Gilbert Arenas and others.

For all the high school products who became stars at the pro level—Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Amar’e Stoudemire—there were those like Brown who were nothing more than too much hype.

#23. Indiana Pacers: Rick Robey

Draft Year: 1978
Draft Spot: No. 3
Career Win Shares: 15.8

It’s truly difficult to comprehend how the Indiana Pacers could possibly have overlooked local Indiana State University product Larry Bird in the 1978 draft. Instead of taking the future Hall of Famer with the No. 3 overall selection, the Pacers opted to take 6’11” center Rick Robey.

The big man played just 43 games for Indy—averaging 8.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 0.3 blocks—before the Pacers traded him to Boston for swingman Billy Knight. Nowadays, Robey is remembered for the infamous trade which sent him to Phoenix in exchange for future Hall of Famer Dennis Johnson.

So to recap, the Suns were so desperate to have a center that they were willing to give up a legitimate All-Star talent for a mediocre big man.

#22. Dallas Mavericks: Bill Garnett

Draft Year: 1982
Draft Spot: No. 4
Career Win Shares: 10.8

Bill Garnett had a successful collegiate career at the University of Wyoming, which included winning WAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year. Dallas believed that accomplishment was a sign of great things to come at the NBA level, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Garnett spent just four uneventful seasons in the NBA. He retired with career averages of 5.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

#21. Miami Heat: Michael Beasley

Draft Year: 2008
Draft Spot: No. 2
Career Win Shares: 10.2

Michael Beasley was a dominant force in college at Kansas State University, but you rarely got the sense that his heart was fully invested in the game. The talented southpaw actually posted some solid numbers—particularly in his first season with Minnesota when he averaged 19.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per contest. However, repeated off-court issues and an indifference toward using his raw talent to become a great player torpedoed his career (his stint with the Phoenix Suns was particularly ugly).

The Heat signed “B-Easy” in February to patch injuries to the team’s frontcourt, but Beasley posted a career-worst PER of 10.6 in 24 games played.

#20. Brooklyn Nets: Dennis Hopson

Draft Year: 1987
Draft Spot: No. 3
Career Win Shares: 7.1

Back when the Brooklyn Nets were still known as the New Jersey Nets, the organization opted to take Ohio State University product Dennis Hopson No. 3 overall. Hopson was a decent scorer, but he couldn’t shoot threes and was out of the NBA by 1992—he continued to play professionally overseas.

Selecting Hopson was a flop for the organization, and it only gets worse when you unveil the rest of the draft class. The swingman was selected ahead of two future Hall of Famers (Scottie Pippen and Reggie Miller), an All-NBA point guard (Kevin Johnson) and additional All-Stars (Horace Grant, Mark Jackson and Reggie Lewis).

#19. Detroit Pistons: Darko Milicic

Draft Year: 2003
Draft Spot: No. 2
Career Win Shares: 7.1

The 2003 NBA draft was absolutely loaded with talent. In hindsight, it wasn’t easy to screw up the top picks with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony all in the same class. And yet, the Pistons managed to whiff spectacularly by taking European center Darko Milicic No. 2 overall.

The decision didn’t matter much in the short term because Detroit went on to win a championship the ensuing season. Nevertheless, fans are left wondering what could have been if the Pistons went with Melo, Wade or Bosh instead of “The Human Victory Cigar.”

#18. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet

Draft Year: 2009
Draft Spot: No. 2
Career Win Shares: 4.8

Even though Hasheem Thabeet boasts a tantalizing 7’3”, 263-pound frame sure to make scouts salivate, it’s still pretty difficult to defend Memphis’ decision to draft the UConn standout. The Grizzlies already had a very promising young center on the roster in Marc Gasol. Instead of doubling down on an unknown center, the Grizz could have drafted more for need with guys like Stephen Curry or James Harden (who finished No. 1 and 2, respectively, in MVP voting a season ago).

Instead, Memphis got a little more than a season out of Thabeet before trading him to Houston (along with DeMarre Carroll and a first-round pick) for Shane Battier and Ish Smith. Thabeet is now playing in the D-League.

#17. Houston Rockets: Cliff Meely

Draft Year: 1971
Draft Spot: No. 7
Career Win Shares: 4.6

In terms of win shares, Cliff Meely ranked 26th in his draft class. Provided that he was drafted all the way up at No. 7 overall, that’s not the best return on investment for the Houston Rockets.

In his pro career, which only lasted five seasons, Meely averaged 8.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists while cashing in on just 41.7 percent of his field goal attempts. He never found success at the NBA level, but he was a two-time Big Eight Conference Player of the Year while playing collegiately at Colorado.

#16. Los Angeles Clippers: Michael Olowokandi

Draft Year: 1998
Draft Spot: No. 1
Career Win Shares: 2.5

The Candy Man Can, but the “Kandi Man” can’t.

Despite standing seven feet tall, Michael Olowokandi never shot above 45.6 percent from the field in any professional season. Drafted ahead of Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce and others, Olowokandi is viewed by some as the biggest draft bust in NBA history regardless of team.

The Clippers have picked a lot of duds in the top 10 over the years—Chris Wilcox, Al-Farouq Aminu, Darius Miles, Danny Ferry—but Olowokandi leaves them in the dust. He never came close to the hype of being a No. 1 overall draft pick.

#15. Portland Trail Blazers: LaRue Martin

Draft Year: 1972
Draft Spot: No. 1
Career Win Shares: 1.9

No franchise in the annals of NBA history has had worst draft luck than the Portland Trail Blazers. That’s more statement of fact than jumping-off point for debate.

Not convinced? Well, there could actually be a feasible three-way tie for biggest draft bust in Trail Blazers history. In 1984, Portland infamously drafted 7’1” center Sam Bowie over the greatest player of all time: Michael Jordan. Bowie was not a good player, but he did carve out a 10-year career. He also averaged a double-double in 1989-90, so he wasn’t a complete lost cause. However, getting picked over MJ (and Charles Barkley and John Stockton) is how he’ll be compared forever.

Greg Oden, the No. 1 overall pick in 2007, is another cautionary tale. The Ohio State University product battled some injury troubles in college, but Portland opted to go with the potential-packed center over future MVP Kevin Durant. The pick was defensible, but recurring knee problems knocked Oden out of the NBA after just his second season at age 22. He returned for the Miami Heat in 2013-14, but played just 23 games. The talent was there, but health cut the big man down before his career got off the ground.

Finally, LaRue Martin is the guy we’ll lock in as the biggest bust. You have to search the history books back to the early 1970s, but the former No. 1 overall pick was a colossal disappointment in the NBA. A 6’11” center with a majestic afro, his career lasted just four seasons. He scored a grand total of 1,430 points in that time. For reference, the 1972 No. 2 overall pick (Bob McAdoo) scored 1,441 points in his rookie season.

#14. Philadelphia 76ers: Fred Boyd

Draft Year: 1972
Draft Spot: No. 5
Career Win Shares: 1.4

Fred Boyd, or Freddie Boyd, played all 82 games as a rookie after getting drafted No. 5 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. He averaged double-digit points at 10.5 per game, but he converted a lackluster 39.2 percent of his field goals.

His efficiency would improve after his first year, but Boyd was injury prone and never averaged double-digit points in a season again. In his career, Boyd had nearly as many personal fouls (651) as free throw attempts (681). He was out of the NBA before his 28th birthday.

#13. New Orleans Pelicans: Austin Rivers

Draft Year: 2012
Draft Spot: No. 10
Career Win Shares: 1.0

Even if we don’t discount the years the New Orleans Pelicans’ franchise spent as the Charlotte Hornets from 1989-2002, Duke guard Austin Rivers still makes a strong case as the organization’s biggest draft bust. After adding superstar big man Anthony Davis with the No. 1 overall pick in 2012, New Orleans used its No. 10 selection to take Rivers over guys like Terrence Jones, Jared Sullinger, Draymond Green and Khris Middleton—who have all been far more successful thus far in the pros.

Rivers looked more like a capable NBA player in Los Angeles playing under his father, Doc Rivers, with the Clippers, but it still wasn’t anything to write home about (except maybe within the Rivers’ family tree). Through three seasons, Rivers has amassed just one win share. His BPM sits at -4.1 and his VORP is -2.3.

#12. Phoenix Suns: William Bedford

Draft Year: 1986
Draft Spot: No. 6
Career Win Shares: 0.9

The Phoenix Suns have been around since their 1968-69 inaugural season, but they’ve never had a No. 1 overall pick in that time due to a combination of consistent solid play and bad luck. Phoenix has often made the most of its draft picks, though, with Shawn Marion and Amar’e Stoudemire both becoming franchise staples out of the No. 9 slot.

On the opposite end of that spectrum is Williams Bedford, who shouldn’t be debated as the franchise’s biggest draft bust. The 7-footer played 50 games for the Suns as a rookie (18 starts), but he shot a pathetic 39.7 percent from the field. Phoenix traded him to Detroit almost exactly one year after drafting him. Substance abuse problems forced Bedford to miss the entire 1988-89 season. He was out of the league by 1993. His career averages of 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game scream bust.

#11. Oklahoma City Thunder/Seattle SuperSonics: Bud Stallworth

Draft Year: 1972
Draft Spot: No. 7
Career Win Shares: 0.7

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Seattle SuperSonics struck gold numerous times in the draft with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Gary Payton. The franchise even drafted Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, but idiotically decided to trade him to Chicago in exchange for Olden Polynice.

But the ThunderSonics draft record is certainly not perfect. For instance, in 1972 (a draft class riddled with busts), the franchise drafted small forward Bud Stallworth No. 7 overall. In five professional seasons (two spent with Seattle), Stallworth averaged 7.7 points on 41.4 percent shooting. His career was cut short due to a back injury he sustained in a car crash.

#10. Sacramento Kings: Ken Durrett

Draft Year: 1971
Draft Spot: No. 4
Career Win Shares: 0.6

Drafting Ken Durrett No. 4 overall was a questionable decision by the Sacramento Kings (known as the Cincinnati Royals and then Kansas City Kings at the time). His collegiate career at La Salle was cut short by a knee injury, but that didn’t deter the franchise from taking Durrett with a high draft pick. The 1971 draft was admittedly weak, but Durrett’s 0.6 career win shares didn’t bring anything to the table.

His knee problems persisted in the pros, as he played just 120 games throughout a four-season career. He retired with averages of 4.0 points, 1.9 rebounds and 0.4 assists per contest.

#9. New York Knicks: Tom Riker

Draft Year: 1972
Draft Spot: No. 8
Career Win Shares: 0.4

The New York Knicks have been in existence since the 1950s, so the franchise has a huge crop of picks vying for the “biggest bust” label. When you’ve been around that long, you’re sure to make some mistakes, and the Knicks have made plenty of them.

But of the many busts, our choice is New York native Tom Riker. The 6’10” center averaged only 2.7 points and 2.1 rebounds while shooting 38 percent from the field during a brief three-season, 82-game career. The Knicks also picked him ahead of future All-NBA First Teamer Paul Westphal and Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving.


#8. Boston Celtics: Ollie Johnson

Draft Year: 1965
Draft Spot: No. 8
Career Win Shares: N/A

The Boston Celtics have had a myriad of draft hits throughout the franchise’s illustrious history. Dave Cowens, Kevin McHale, Larry Bird, Jo Jo White, John Havlicek, Sam Jones…all were top-10 picks who went on to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Boston’s ability to draft superstars with repeated success is arguably the biggest reason it boasts one of the most impressive franchise résumés in the sport. But even the Celtics didn’t select big-time talents 100 percent of the time. Some might peg former No. 2 overall pick Len Bias in this spot, but that’s not exactly kosher provided that the big man died tragically of a cocaine overdose two days after getting drafted.

Instead, the biggest draft bust in Celtics lore by our measure is a guy named Ollie Johnson. Drafted No. 8 overall in 1965—ahead of future All-Stars Dick Van Arsdale, Tom Van Arsdale and Flynn Robinson—Johnson was cut by the Celtics before he played a single game in the NBA. That didn’t matter, as Boston went on to win the title anyway.

#7. Cleveland Cavaliers: Anthony Bennett

Draft Year: 2013
Draft Spot: No. 1
Career Win Shares: -0.1

The optimist will say it’s still too early to label Anthony Bennett the biggest bust in Cleveland Cavaliers history, but even those with a rosy outlook would likely be saying so tongue-in-cheek.

The UNLV standout has been dreadful to start his professional career. He shot 35.6 percent from the field and 24.5 percent from three-point range as a rookie. He was then shipped to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a package with Andrew Wiggins in exchange for All-Star power forward Kevin Love. Bennett made ever-so-slight improvements in Minny, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the T-Wolves from waiving him prior to the 2015-16 season.

He’s since been picked up by the Raptors. Perhaps the Toronto native can experience a career resurgence in his home country.

#6. Toronto Raptors: Rafael Araujo

Draft Year: 2004
Draft Spot: No. 8
Career Win Shares: -0.4

Any time your team drafts someone who winds up as a net negative in terms of win shares, scouts and front office personnel really need to take a hard look in the mirror.

Brazilian center Rafael Araujo lasted just three seasons in the NBA. His averages of 3.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.1 (!!) blocks per game as a rookie were all career “bests.” He last played for the Brazilian basketball team Esporte Clube Pinheiros in 2014.

#5. Los Angeles Lakers: Wayne Yates

Draft Year: 1961
Draft Spot: No. 5
Career Win Shares: -0.5

The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t often been in a position to a take a true draft bust. The past two drafts have changed that trend, with Lakerland selecting at No. 2 and No. 7 following its worst two-season stretch ever. But while the jury is still out on D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, there are some players in LA’s past that already went down in history as draft busts.

To find our choice as the biggest bust in Lakers lore, you have to go all the way back to 1961. In that year’s draft, the Lakers took 6’8” center Wayne Yates No. 5 overall. Yates would play just one injury-plagued season with the Lakers as the backup center, averaging 1.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and shooting a paltry 29.5 percent from the field.

He was traded to the St. Louis Hawks the following offseason, but instead of reporting to the team, he signed with the ABL. Provided that Yates collected -0.5 win shares in a Lakers uniform, LA was (statistically speaking) better off drafting a Gatorade cooler.

#4. Golden State Warriors: Chris Washburn

Draft Year: 1986
Draft Spot: No. 3
Career Win Shares: -0.6

A case could be made here for former No. 1 overall pick Joe Smith, who had a decidedly mediocre career as an NBA journeyman despite being selected ahead of Kevin Garnett, Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and others. But since Smith carved out a steady 16-year career, he shouldn’t be seen as the biggest bust in Warriors history.

Instead, that notorious label falls to Chris Washburn, 72-game NBA career looks ugly even in a draft class full of underachievers. In 35 games as a rookie for Golden State, the center out of North Carolina State averaged just 3.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and converted only 39.3 percent of his field goals. A combination of poor play, knee tendinitis and a cocaine problem ensured he was out of the league by 1988.

#3. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonny Flynn

Draft Year: 2009
Draft Spot: No. 6
Career Win Shares: -1.1

The Minnesota Timberwolves have had no shortage of opportunities to select elite talent over the years. They’ve had a top-five pick in the draft a whopping 10 times since the inception of the franchise in 1989-90, but the only bona fide star Minny picked in that time was Kevin Garnett—we’ll have to wait and see with Karl-Anthony Towns.

You could make an argument for Derrick Williams or Wesley Johnson here, but Jonny Flynn takes the cake.

Minnesota’s 2009 draft strategy remains utterly indefensible. With the No. 5, 6 and 18 picks in the first round, the Timberwolves brass went with three point guards (Ricky Rubio, Flynn and Ty Lawson), then traded the best of the three: Lawson. That fails to mention their decision to pass over the best point guard in the class, Stephen Curry, for two consecutive picks.

Flynn’s career went down in flames largely due to a bad hip injury, but he was merely adequate even at full health. He was out of the league by 2012.

#2. Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats: Adam Morrison

Draft Year: 2006
Draft Spot: No. 3
Career Win Shares: -1.4

I doubt anyone will disagree that former Gonzaga standout Adam Morrison is the biggest bust in Charlotte’s brief history. So instead of harping on it, I’ll defer to NBA legend Charles Barkley rehashing a conversation he had with team owner Michael Jordan leading up to the draft, per ESPN.

“I said, ‘Michael, I think you should take Brandon Roy, and he said ‘We like Adam Morrison.’ I said ‘Adam Morrison can’t play. I said let me ask you a question, did you say Adam Morrison first and [the Bobcats front office staff] agreed with you or did they say Adam Morrison first? He said ‘What do you mean?’ I said ‘Michael, nobody wants to disagree with you. You are such a powerful personality nobody, especially your flunkies as I call them, the flunkies are never going to disagree with you.’ Adam Morrison is a nice kid. He can’t play in the NBA.”

#1. Denver Nuggets: Nikoloz Tskitishvili

Draft Year: 2002
Draft Spot: No. 5
Career Win Shares: -1.6

The 2002 NBA draft wasn’t brimming with talent by any stretch of the imagination, but Denver’s decision to gamble on European prospect Nikoloz Tskitishvili was still a questionable one. Throughout his rookie year with the Nuggets, the lanky forward looked every bit the overwhelmed 19-year-old kid that he was (well, save for his seven-foot frame).

During that season, Tskitishvili converted just 115 of his 393 field goals (29.3 percent). After two plus years in Denver, he played stints in Golden State, Minnesota and Phoenix, but was out of the NBA by 2006. His career shooting percentages of 30.4 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from long range are ghastly, and cement his spot as the biggest draft bust on this list.