1. 2000: The 2000 Draft isn’t worth doing because there just weren’t any good options. You can’t be faulted for making a bad lottery pick when they were all bad lottery picks.
2. 2001: DeSagana Diop, 8th Overall, Cleveland Cavaliers
OK, so: Diop’s a true seven-footer who played at basketball factory Oak Hill. But he had no semblance of an offensive game — not even the kernel of one; it’s not that hard to average 14 points a game when you’re seven feet tall in high school — and though Diop’s put together a career as a pro, he’s never been more than a defensive specialist. He’s certainly not an offensive specialist — the most points per game he’s ever scored in a season was 3.0, in 2007-08. He also did this.
Players who were drafted after Diop:
3. 2002: Nikoloz Tskitishvili, 5th Overall, Denver Nuggets
Georgian seven-footer Nikoloz Tskitishvili was drafted sixth overall despite averaging only 6.6 points per game in the Italian league the year before the draft — not exactly a sign of future NBA greatness. Sure enough, the guy shot 30% from the field for his career. (Reminder: HE’S SEVEN FEET TALL.) That would be a terrible number for a volume-shooting guard; for a center, it’s abysmal.
Players who were drafted after Tskitishvili:
Roger Mason, Jr.
4. 2003: Darko Milicic, 2nd Overall, Detroit Pistons
Everyone knows the story of Darko Milicic, and it seems at first glance that maybe he doesn’t belong on this list — lots of people though Milicic would be good, right? Sort of. Even at the time, there were serious questions not only about Milicic’s game, but also his motor and state of mind, and the latter two concerns especially proved to be millstones that he could never quite get rid of in the following decade. (“Weaknesses: Millstone Disposal.”) Milicic will forever be notable, though, for the sheer quality of players drafted after him, including Melo, Chris Bosh, and D-Wade, who even at the time were all regarded as can’t-miss superstars.
Players who were drafted after Milicic:
5. 2004: Luke Jackson, 10th Overall, Cleveland Cavaliers
Despite having a remarkable college career, Jackson’s game never seemed like it would translate well to the NBA — he wasn’t fast enough to be anything but a spot shooter, and you can’t be a spot-shooter as a pro unless you’re reallllllly accurate and add some other elite skill, like defense or rebounding, which Jackson didn’t. Indeed, in the pros he couldn’t create his own shot and would only score 252 points over the course of seven seasons.
Players who were drafted after Jackson:
6. 2005: Sean May, 13th Overall, Charlotte Bobcats
Sean May won a national championship at UNC; this is true. But even then, he was overweight and unathletic, two of the hardest things for an NBA player to overcome, and he just didn’t have the quickness to make his size worthwhile for professional teams.
Players who were drafted after May:
7. 2006: Adam Morrison, 3rd Overall, Charlotte Bobcats
Oh, Adam Morrison — how I’ve pulled for you. It’s just that, even after his remarkable senior season, no one really understood how a guy who made his bones feasting on mid-major defenders would survive in the pros, and being drafted by the Bobcats, who had one of the worst developmental track records in the league, only made it worse. One of the biggest warning signs regarding Morrison was his three-point shooting: his junior-year 43% rate was an aberration from his sophomore and freshman performances, and when that regressed back to precedent once he entered the NBA, he was without a reliable way to score.
Players who were drafted after Morrison:
8. 2007: Yi Jianlian, 6th Overall, Milwaukee Bucks
A guy with questions about how old he was who admitted that he wasn’t good enough to play in the NBA a year before he was taken sixth overall? How could this go wrong!
Players who were drafted after Yi:
9. 2008: Joe Alexander, 8th Overall, Milwaukee Bucks
If you can’t shoot threes or create your own shot, and you’re not 6’11” or taller, it doesn’t matter if you’re a tremendous athlete: you have no chance in the NBA. Joe Alexander had no chance in the NBA.
Players who were drafted after Alexander:
Luke Richard Mbah a Moute
10. 2009: Johnny Flynn, 6th Overall, Minnesota Timberwolves
If you’re six feet tall and you aren’t REALLY REALLY GOOD AT BASKETBALL, you have no chance in the NBA. Johnny Flynn… yeah. And Flynn can’t even use the excuse that he didn’t get a fair shake because Minnesota drafted two other PGs that same year: they traded Ty Lawson — hahahahaha they traded Ty Lawson and kept Johnny Flynn — and Ricky Rubio waited a few years to come over.
Players who were drafted after Flynn:
Stephen Curry (Stephen Curry!!!)
Nando De Colo
11. 2010: Wesley Johnson, 4th Overall, Minnesota Timberwolves
Oh, look, another Timberwolves pick. Wes Johnson was a senior who’d only had one good year in college and played a well-rounded but unspectacular game. He just wasn’t good enough at any one thing to be a successful NBA player.
Players who were drafted after Johnson:
12. 2011: Jan Vesely, 6th Overall, Washington Wizards
It’s hard to declare a player a failure after only two seasons, but in his second year, Vesely has shown virtually no improvement and very little potential as far as basketball skills; he’s an athlete and nothing else right now, and there’s more than enough of those floating around the league.
Players who were drafted after Vesely: