The worst lottery picks in NBA history
The NBA Draft Lottery is Tuesday night, and that means the NBA Draft is just around the corner. With 14 teams currently keeping their fingers crossed in hopes of winning the lottery, we started thinking – who are the biggest lottery busts?
Usually, when you think of draft busts the same names come to mind: Anthony Bennett, Darko Milicic, Sam Bowie, Greg Oden, Kwame Brown, the list goes on. But you won’t see those names on this list.
This list is of all the “other guys.” The players that were picked in the lottery, had high hopes of great NBA careers, but never amounted to more than a footnote in the NBA history books.
These are in no particular order, but here is a list of the biggest lottery busts…
Draft: Drafted 5th overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2012
Career Stats: 4.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 0.6 apg in 319 career games.
Notes: Never hitting his groove, Thomas Robinson played for six different NBA teams over five seasons – last playing with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017. He showed energy, and Blazers fans probably remember him fondly, but Robinson just never lived up to the hype of being the 5th overall pick.
Draft: Drafted 5th overall by the Denver Nuggets in 2002
Career Stats: 2.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.7 apg in 172 career games.
Notes: Tskitishvili was an athletic seven footer that would mostly play PF/C, but could also play SF when called upon. He had versatility written all over him. Unfortunately, the writing was in pencil and easily erased as he never showed much on the court. To make matters worse, the PF/Cs selected after Tskitishvili included: Nenê (7th), Amar’e Stoudemire (9th), Carlos Boozer (35th), and Louis Scola (56th). Tskitishvili attempted a comeback with the Clippers in 2016, but it never got off the ground.
Draft: Drafted 10th overall in by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2011, and was later traded on draft night to the Sacramento Kings
Career Stats: 6.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.4 apg in 235 career games.
Notes: His best season was his rookie season when he averaged 7.6 ppg and 1.8 apg, but it was all downhill from there. He was waived by the Kings in 2013 and played for three different teams over the next two and a half seasons.
Draft: Drafted 8th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2008
Career Stats: 4.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.7 apg in 67 career games.
Notes: Alexander lasted just one season with the Bucks before being traded to Chicago. He played just eight games with the Bulls, and his career was over before it ever really started.
Draft: Drafted 6th overall by the Washington Wizards in 2011
Career Stats: 3.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 0.6 apg in 162 career games.
Notes: Vesely had chances with the Wizards, but never really shined. Washington waved the white flag on him in 2013, trading him to the Denver Nuggets. Vesely played in 21 games for the Nuggets, but once the season came to an end so did his NBA career.
Draft: Drafted 2nd overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2009
Career Stats: 2.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 0.1 apg in 224 career games.
Notes: Thabeet was a beast at UConn where he averaged 10.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, and an amazing 4.17 blocks per game for his career. Known for his defense, he went from nearly five blocks a game in college, to fewer than one per game in the NBA. It’s not great when your best skill doesn’t translate to the next level.
Draft: Drafted 9th overall by the Golden State Warriors in 2006
Career Stats: 2.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.3 apg in 90 career games.
Notes: O’Bryant could never crack the rotation with the Warriors and spent most of his career in the G-League. Golden State declined his third-year player option, making him a free agent and paving the way for a new beginning with the Celtics. Things weren’t much better in Boston, as he lasted just half the season before being traded to Toronto. He attempted a comeback in 2013, signing with the Charlotte Bobcats, but he was waived a month later.
Draft: Drafted 11th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1999
Career Stats: 5.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.3 apg in 119 career games.
Notes: Langdon was Cleveland’s second pick of the 1999 draft. Who was Cleveland’s first pick that year? Andre Miller with the 8th pick. Needless to say the Cavs hit a home run with their first pick, and struck out looking with their second. However, Langdon did find a role in the NBA, just not on the court. After a successful career overseas he landed in an NBA front office as the assistant GM of the Brooklyn Nets.
Draft: Drafted 12th overall by the LA Clippers in 2005
Career Stats: 1.1 ppg, 0.5 rpg, 0.4 apg in 34 career games.
Notes: What can you really say about a player whose career high in scoring was a 7-point “outburst” his rookie season?
Draft: Drafted 8th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001
Career Stats: 2.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.4 apg in 601 career games.
Notes: 7’0”, 300lbs. Diop should have been a force in the paint on both sides of the ball, but it just never happened. His best season on the boards came in 2006-2007 when he averaged 5.4 rebounds per game. Not what you would expect from a guy of that size. While his career was long, it wasn't worth spending a lottery pick to get him.
Draft: Drafted 11th overall by the Orlando Magic in 2005
Career Stats: 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg, 0.0 apg in 0 career games.
Notes: Zero. Zero. Zero. The Magic had high hopes for Vazquez, but after spending a lottery pick on him the euro-star announced his intentions to stay in the Spanish ACB League. There had been rumors of him coming to the NBA over the years, but nothing ever materialized. Now, at 35-years-old, it seems the Vazquez ship has sailed. Even a guy who averages one point per game is better than a guy that never played in the first place, right? Easily one of the worst lottery picks of all time.
Draft: Drafted 8th overall by the Toronto Raptors in 2004
Career Stats: 2.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 0.3 apg in 139 career games.
Notes: 6’11”, 280lbs. Araujo had the frame but didn’t have the skill. The Raptors expected big things from him in the block, but the only block he made an impact on was the trade block. He played just two seasons in Toronto before the Raptors traded him to Utah.
Draft: Drafted 10th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2004
Career Stats: 3.5 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 0.8 apg in 73 career games.
Notes: Jackson was a star for the Ducks, averaging 21.2 ppg his final season at Oregon. His ability to score had many GMs looking at him to help their offense. Cleveland was the team that took the chance, and it backfired. Jackson could never find his stroke, shooting just 35% for his career. Four years after being drafted Jackson was out of the league.