The 10 Most Impactful NBA Draft Busts

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Greg Oden and the 10 Most Impactful NBA Draft Busts

Greg Oden
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There have been plenty of bad NBA draft picks throughout the years, but some are more impactful than others in terms of who teams missed out on by making the selection they did. True franchise-changing players are hard to come by, and some team’s fates were altered for years to come by missing out. Here are the ten most impactful draft busts in NBA history.

10. Kwame Brown (Washington Wizards) 2001

Kwame Brown
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10. Kwame Brown (Washington Wizards) 2001

Kwame Brown
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Although the 2001 draft was not laden with talent, the Wizards did miss out on some very good players when they took Kwame Brown with the first pick. Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph and Tony Parker were all up for grabs. Brown would go on to play for 13 seasons, for seven different teams, but only averaged 6.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks per game.

9. Dennis Hopson (New Jersey Nets) 1987

Dennis Hopson
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9. Dennis Hopson (New Jersey Nets) 1987

Dennis Hopson
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The New Jersey Nets took Hopson with the third overall pick in 1987, passing up several hall of fame worthy players in Scottie Pippen, Kevin Johnson, and Reggie Miller. Hopson only played in the league for five years, averaging 10.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. The Nets would go on to virtual irrelevance for the next ten years.

8. Robert Traylor (Dallas Mavericks/Milwaukee Bucks) 1998

Robert Traylor
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8. Robert Traylor (Dallas Mavericks/Milwaukee Bucks) 1998

Robert Traylor
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The Dallas Mavericks selected Traylor with the sixth pick in the 1998 NBA draft, and later pulled off one of the most one-sided trades in NBA history, sending Traylor to the Milwaukee Bucks in return for their prospect, a guy named Dirk Nowitzki. Traylor went on to play seven extremely underwhelming seasons, and sadly fell victim to a heart attack and died in 2011, at 34 years of age.

7. Jan Vesely (Washington Wizards) 2011

Jan Vesely
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7. Jan Vesely (Washington Wizards) 2011

Jan Vesely
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Taken by the Wizards with the sixth pick of the 2011 draft, Vesely has already washed out of the NBA after four short seasons. The Wizards passed up on Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Kenneth Faried and Kawhi Leonard by selecting Vesely. You think they’d like that one back?

6. Hasheem Thabeet (Memphis Grizzlies) 2009

Hasheem Thabeet
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6. Hasheem Thabeet (Memphis Grizzlies) 2009

Hasheem Thabeet
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Thabeet was taken second overall in the 2009 NBA Draft, and was touted to be the second coming of Dikembe Mutombo. His career so far has much more closely resembled Eddy Curry’s. By taking him with the second pick, the Grizzlies passed up on James Harden, Steph Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday and Ty Lawson. Ouch.

5. Michael Beasley (Miami Heat) 2008

Michael Beasley
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5. Michael Beasley (Miami Heat) 2008

Michael Beasley
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Beasley seemed like a sure bet coming out of college. He was one of the most celebrated college players in recent history, but all that changed once he entered the NBA. The Heat selected him with the second pick in the 2008 draft, passing on Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez and Roy Hibbert in the process.

4. Greg Oden (Portland Trail Blazers) 2007

Greg Oden
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4. Greg Oden (Portland Trail Blazers) 2007

Greg Oden
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In 2007, the Blazers were lucky enough to win the draft lottery and land the top pick, though they may have been better off had they not. They selected Oden, who at the time was the next can’t-miss big man prospect coming out of college, but he missed, and missed big. Oden was immediately sidelined with the first in a string of injuries that ruined his career. The Blazers missed out on Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Mike Conley and Joakim Noah.

3. Darko Milicic (Detroit Pistons) 2003

Darko Milicic
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3. Darko Milicic (Detroit Pistons) 2003

Darko Milicic
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In what is considered to be one of the two best draft classes of all time, the Pistons swung and missed with the second overall pick. Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade were all still on the board. Milicic did manage to stay in the league for 12 seasons, as team after team clung to some hope that he would eventually realize his promise. He of course never did, and effectively retired from the league in 2013.

2. Michael Olowokandi (Los Angeles Clippers) 1998

Michael Olowokandi
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2. Michael Olowokandi (Los Angeles Clippers) 1998

Michael Olowokandi
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In 1998, the Clippers were one of the laughing stocks of the NBA, and they received a golden opportunity to select first in a draft filled with amazing talent. They did what the Clippers have always done, until recently, and whiffed. By selecting Olowokandi with the overall number one pick, they missed out on Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce.

1. Sam Bowie (Portland Trail Blazers) 1984

Portland Trailblazers: Sam Bowie
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1. Sam Bowie (Portland Trail Blazers) 1984

Portland Trailblazers: Sam Bowie
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Not much needs to be said here that hasn’t already been said ad nauseum. Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley or John Stockton could have been Blazers. Even if you buy the argument they shouldn’t have selected Jordan because they had Clyde Drexler on the roster, anybody think Barkley or Stockton may have been able to help that team?