Each NBA team's best/worst draft move over the past 20 seasons
Best Pick: John Collins (19th overall, 2017 NBA Draft)
Through two seasons in Atlanta, Collins has looked like a steal coming out of Wake Forest and has developed a good rapport with Trae Young. The future is very bright in the ATL.
Worst Pick: Marvin Williams (2nd overall, 2005 NBA Draft)
Williams has stuck around the NBA as a rotational stretch-forward but never really could capitalize on his high draft status. Adding the three-point shot to his game has kept him around the league, but as pick No. 2, his career never really took off as a star.
Best Pick: Rajon Rondo (21st overall, 2006 NBA Draft)
Without Rajon Rondo in 2008, the Celtics do not win their 17th title. The pass-first guard managed to get his shooters the touches they needed and became a fan-favorite for his two-way play in Beantown. While Rondo has bounced around the association since his time in Boston came to an end, his best years were something to celebrate.
Worst Pick: James Young (17th overall, 2014 NBA Draft)
Young was never able to put it together. He showed flashes off the bench but never could get to the next level. His best season as a Celtic? .353/.258/.552.
Best Pick: Brook Lopez (10th overall, 2008 NBA Draft)
Brook Lopez had a very good career with the Nets. He has always been a very dominant low-post scorer and ultimately he brought them D’Angelo Russell; not a bad return on investment in my opinion.
Worst Pick: Terrence Williams (11th overall, 2009 NBA Draft)
Terrence Williams was a little bit of a project but he had the physique and he had the bounce to succeed at the next level but he could never put it together.
Best Pick: Kemba Walker (9th overall, 2011 NBA Draft)
Kemba Walker has embraced Charlotte as his home since being selected fresh off a historic season at UConn. He has been their heart and soul and is the most undervalued superstar in the Eastern Conference.
Worst Pick: Adam Morrison (3rd overall, 2006 NBA Draft)
Adam Morrison put together a storied career at Gonzaga and was a red-hot name coming into the draft, and that is why the Bobcats opted for him at pick No. 3. He lasted just two years in a Charlotte uniform and started 28 total games.
Best Pick: Jimmy Butler (30th overall, 2011 NBA Draft)
One of the best draft steals in recent memory, Tom Thibideau unearthed Butler out of Marquette and gradually turned the defensive prospect into a bonafide superstar. Despite never reaching the NBA Finals, the Bulls were able to flip Butler to the Timberwolves for several young prospects including Lauri Markkanen.
Worst Draft Move: Swapping their 2nd overall pick, LaMarcus Aldridge, for Portland's 4th overall pick, Tyrus Thomas, in the 2006 NBA Draft.
In my opinion, the worst draft swap of the last 20 years. Imagine LaMarcus Aldridge coming up in the Windy City and his game blossoming in one of the biggest markets in the country. But it was not meant to be, and the Bulls opted for the forward out of LSU. In four years in Chi-town, Thomas' best scoring season came in 2008-09, when he recorded 11 PPG. Aldridge on the other hand hasn't averaged less than 17.8 PPG over the last 12 years and has seven All-Star nods to his name.
Best Pick: Anderson Varejao (30th overall, 2004 NBA Draft)
Varejao carved out a nice career for himself in Cleveland after being taken with the last pick in 2004. He was well known for the dramatics on the defensive end, but managed to stick around for the Cavaliers for twelve seasons.
Worst Pick: Anthony Bennett (1st overall, 2013 NBA Draft)
The pressure for Bennett to succeed was too much for the UNLV star, whose struggles at the professional level will be a conversation in the basketball community for years to come. It took Bennett 33 games his rookie year to reach double figures. What could have been.
Best Pick: Luka Doncic (3rd overall, 2018 NBA Draft)
Doncic has dazzled in his first year with the Mavericks and shocked many when he was snubbed from the All Star ballot back in February. The Slovenian superstar can stack up with the best in our league, and once Kristaps Porzingis gets healthy enough to return to the floor, the league will have to deal with this two-headed monster for years to come.
Worst Pick: Justin Anderson (21st overall, 2015 NBA Draft)
Anderson had a solid career in Charlottesville with UVA but never could find his niche in Dallas and as a result, is now on his third team in four years.
Best Pick: Nikola Jokic (41st overall, 2014 NBA Draft)
Jokic right now is the best big man in the Western Conference and in my opinion he is the best passer in the NBA. He recently almost got them to the Western Conference Finals; he’s under 25, and he’s just going to get better.
Worst Pick: Emmanuel Mudiay (7th overall, 2015 NBA Draft)
Mudiay was pegged as the next great Denver floor general but never could adjust. Jamal Murray could. That was all she wrote.
Best Pick: Tayshaun Prince (23rd overall, 2002 NBA Draft)
Tayshaun Prince proved to be a very serviceable small forward throughout his entire career and was a big part of them winning their first title since the late 1980s in ‘04.
Worst Pick: Darko Milicic (2nd overall, 2003 NBA Draft)
Darko Milicic will always be considered a bust and that’s just because he was picked after LeBron James and before Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony. Ultimately his career in Detroit was not a good one but apparently, now he’s doing competitive kickboxing now and he’s doing a pretty good job at that.
Golden State Warriors
Best Pick: Draymond Green (35th overall, 2012 NBA Draft)
Draymond Green is one of the hardest working players in the NBA, but he is also one of the biggest divas of the NBA. But when you win three rings and you sacrifice personal accolades for the team, people respect you. To find him in the second round out of Michigan State, and to see the way he has remade his body and reshaped his game is incredible. He is one of the core members of the Golden State Warriors and without him I don’t think any of this is possible.
Worst Pick: Anthony Randolph (14th overall, 2008 NBA Draft)
After being chosen by the Warriors, Randolph bounced around the association as a journeyman rotation player, and nothing more.
Best Pick: Clint Capela (25th overall, 2014 NBA Draft)
The Rockets found a real Swiss Army knife in the draft a few years back and Capela is a great rim runner, a great shot blocker, and he’s only going to get better.
Worst Pick: Terrence Jones (18th overall pick, 2012 NBA Draft)
Terrence Jones was another one of the Kentucky class that people assumed would thrive. He wasn’t quite 6’10’, he wasn’t really the best shooter and the whole smallball generation was really just getting started. He bounced around the league for a few years and now is playing overseas.
Best Pick: Paul George (10th overall, 2010 NBA Draft)
Molding Paul George into the player he is today made him into the perennial All-Star the league has come to admire. Although he did leave, the compensation has proved to be more than adequate.
Worst Draft Move: Trading the 20th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Caris LeVert, to the Brooklyn Nets for Thaddeus Young.
Caris LeVert has struggled to stay on the floor for the Nets but when is he has shown flashes of greatness. If he would have stayed in Indianapolis, he and Victor Oladipo could have been one of the league’s best backcourt tandems.
Los Angeles Clippers
Best Pick: DeAndre Jordan (35th overall, 2008 NBA Draft)
DJ has moved on from Lob City, but those Clippers teams were must-see TV every night, and his power was a force to be seen.
Worst Pick: C.J. Wilcox (28th overall, 2014 NBA Draft)
Wilcox could never adjust to the professional level and as a result, never could make an impact in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Lakers
Best Pick: Kyle Kuzma (27th overall, 2017 NBA Draft)
Kuzma has been such a pleasant surprise for the Lakers that he became untouchable in the Anthony Davis trade talks. New Orleans opted to ask for other pieces, and now the trade is agreed upon. Most people didn't have Kuzma as a first-round prospect in 2017, and two years later he is deemed untouchable for a bonafide superstar. What a time to be alive.
Worst Pick: Javaris Crittenton (19th overall, 2007 NBA Draft)
Aside from Crittenton's off-court issues, he was never able to complement Kobe Bryant on the court and the two never got along. The Lakers generally draft very well, but this was a selection that they will want to forget.
Best Pick: Mike Conley Jr. (4th overall, 2007 NBA Draft)
Conley has been a staple of consistency for Memphis since being selected 12 years ago, and he has outlasted the remainder of the "Grit N' Grind" Grizzlies and paved the way for their next floor general, who is rumored to be Ja Morant on Thursday night.
Worst Pick: Hasheem Thabeet (2nd overall, 2009 NBA Draft)
Thabeet was fantastic while at UConn, but could never put it together at the next level. The players selected after the ex-Husky? James Harden (3rd overall), Steph Curry (7th overall), and Demar DeRozan (9th overall).
Best Pick: Josh Richardson (40th overall, 2015 NBA Draft)
Richardson has been quite the surprise after being selected in the top half of the second round and has established himself as one of the league's up-and-coming 3-and-D wings.
Worst Pick: Michael Beasley (2nd overall, 2008 NBA Draft)
If you ask someone in the basketball community in the D.C. area about who the best prospect they ever saw, they will not answer Kevin Durant, they will answer Michael Beasley. He showed his talents during his time at Kansas State, but after being selected to Miami, off-court distractions have plagued what could have been a legendary career.
Best Pick: Giannis Antetokounmpo (15th overall, 2013 NBA Draft)
The Greek Freak is something the NBA has never seen before and the scary part is that he hasn't even hit his prime. If Giannis is able to add a consistent jumper to his repertoire, it's over.
Worst Pick: Yi Jianlian (6th overall, 2006 NBA Draft)
Yi was not happy when he was chosen by the Bucks and soon after forced a trade to leave Milwaukee because he wanted to be on a better team. He was then moved to the Nets, who in 2009, won 12 games.
Best Pick: Nikola Pekovic (31st overall, 2008 NBA Draft)
Never much of a household name, Pekovic flew under the radar during his stint in Minnesota where he was able to complement Kevin Love at the center position and was one of, if not the, strongest players in the game.
Worst Pick: Jonny Flynn (6th overall, 2009 NBA Draft)
The Timberwolves spent two draft picks in the top six on point guards in 2009 and Stephen Curry wasn't one of them. Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio were. Rubio has had a respectable career since coming to the NBA, and Curry has won two MVP awards and three titles. As for Flynn? He started 81 games his rookie year at point guard, and the team won 15 of them. He was moved the following season.
New Orleans Pelicans
Best Pick: David West (18th overall, 2003 NBA Draft)
David West was one of the most underrated big men during his career and his low-post presence was a force to be reckoned with. His pick-and-roll game with Chris Paul was a sight to see, and he capped off his solid career with a championship ring in Golden State.
Worst Pick: Pierre the Pelican
Why this costume was never used in a horror film to this day is absolutely baffling. The Pelicans made the right choice revamping their mascot's costume after scaring many young Pelicans fans, but that is a face that is hard to forget.
New York Knicks
Best Pick: David Lee (30th overall, 2005 NBA Draft)
Lee is the last player selected by the Knicks to receive and sign a contract extension with the club. An All-Star with the Knicks, Lee is as good as a value pick you can find at the end of the first round.
Worst Pick: Frank Ntilikina (8th overall, 2017 NBA Draft)
Ntilikina still shows some promise, but for where he was drafted, he qualifies for this column. He was taken 8th overall, and their new point guard Dennis Smith Jr. was taken 9th by Dallas. The Knicks then traded their superstar big man Kristaps Porzingis for Smith. They traded the best player they have drafted since Patrick Ewing for a player that was AVAILABLE for them to take in the 2017 NBA Draft that they could have taken with their pick.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Best Pick: Nick Collison (12th overall, 2003 NBA Draft)
Collison didn't put up flashy numbers in his career with the Sonics/Thunder, but he was a consistent option off the bench, a fan-favorite, and was a pivotal locker room player. That is why he stayed with one franchise for his entire tenure, and has his jersey number in the rafters.
Worst Pick: Cameron Payne (14th overall, 2015 NBA Draft)
The last point guard to gain draft buzz coming out of Murray State who has now been overshadowed by promising prospect Ja Morant, Payne never put it together for the Thunder after being taken at the end of the lottery and as a result, his time with the organization wasn't for long.
Best Pick: Mo Bamba (6th overall, 2018 NBA Draft)
Mo Bamba not only had a hit song named after him prior to him taking his first steps in the NBA but has emerged as a promising rim protector, and you can’t ask for a higher quality individual.
Worst Pick: Mario Hezonja (5th overall, 2015 NBA Draft)
Mario Hezonja was another international prospect that had an appealing size and a skill set that many teams coveted but he was not able to put it together and that’s why his rookie extension was not picked up and that is why he is no longer in Epcot, Florida.
Best Pick: Joel Embiid (3rd overall. 2014 NBA Draft)
Embiid is the most dominant big man in the NBA today, and if he is able to finally stay healthy for an extended period of time, he could get even better.
Worst Pick: Markelle Fultz (1st overall, 2017 NBA Draft)
Fultz had all of the hype coming out of Washington. After being selected first overall, the Sixers appeared to have a Big 3 that could put the league on notice. But his arrival never really came. He missed the majority of his inaugural season with a nerve injury, and was then moved in year No. 2 for fifty cents on the dollar.
Best Pick: Amar'e Stoudemire (9th overall, 2002 NBA Draft)
Amar'e Stoudemire was incredible. He was really the first player to have a devastating injury and come back at 100% if not better. His pick-and-roll game with Steve Nash was remarkable and he even made the move to New York before Carmelo Anthony got there and he was thriving. Stat is now playing overseas and hopefully, he gets a nod to the Hall of Fame very very soon.
Worst Pick: Dragan Bender (4th overall, 2016 NBA Draft)
Dragan Bender, unfortunately, landed in the situation that he will not be able to thrive, he hasn’t gotten the minutes he really needs and he hasn’t been able to develop. If he was picked up by another team maybe his career would’ve gone differently but that remains to be seen.
Best Pick: Damian Lillard (6th overall, 2012 NBA Draft)
Lillard has been nothing short of remarkable since joining the Blazers out of Weber State. From Day 1 in Portland, he has been a top-five floor general in the league and has hit big shot after big shot. The Blazers have a very bright future.
Worst Pick: Greg Oden (1st overall, 2007 NBA Draft)
What could have been. After a dominant season in Columbus at Ohio State, Oden was pegged as a once-in-a-generational big man, but a multitude of injuries derailed his career before it ever took off. If only they would have selected the next best prospect in the draft, Kevin Durant.
Best Pick: Demarcus Cousins (5th overall, 2010 NBA Draft)
DeMarcus Cousins had a lot of buzz coming out of Kentucky and when he was picked fifth the Kings got a great talent but that talent comes with everything else. At one point he was the best center in basketball but he couldn’t get his team to the playoffs. After constant trade rumors, he was finally moved to the Pelicans, and unfortunately, before his first playoff run, he tore his Achilles. He made it back to the playoffs this year a smaller role with the Warriors but the Toronto team they faced was too much for him to handle and he was not at 100%.
Worst Pick: Ben McLemore (7th overall, 2013 NBA Draft)
Ben McLemore had a lot of people comparing him to the great Ray Allen when he was coming out of Kansas because of the fluidity of his game and the smoothness of his jumper. His story was inspiring to others. When the Kings grabbed him at number seven people thought it was the steal of the draft but the way his career has panned out it was clearly a reach.
San Antonio Spurs:
Best Pick: Manu Ginobili (57th overall, 1999 NBA Draft)
One of the top three international players to grace an NBA hardwood, Ginobili is considered the most well-liked and highly regarded San Antonio Spur in franchise history. He continues to be an ambassador for the game he loves, and the NBA is thankful for everything he was able to bring to the floor.
Worst Draft Move: Trading Leandro Barbosa (28th overall, 2003 NBA Draft)
The Spurs don't make draft mistakes. They are always in the postseason and haven't selected in the lottery since 1997. Barbosa carved out a great career as a reliable scorer in Phoenix after being traded, and despite all of the success in San Antonio, I'm sure they were kicking themselves every time they had to game plan for him.
Best Pick: Pascal Siakam (27th overall, 2016 NBA Draft)
Pascal Siakam has been revolutionary during his time with the Raptors when most people didn’t really see much in his game when he was at New Mexico State. He found his role. He didn’t do too much and his game is so polarizing, they could not afford to keep him off the court and now he will most likely be named Most Improved Player and they just helped bring the first title to Toronto, Canada.
Worst Pick: Andrea Bargnani (1st overall, 2006 NBA Draft)
Andrea Bargnani was supposed to be the next great European star. Teams wanted to find the next Dirk Nowitzki, and they opted to take a guy who was not him. He proceeded to bounce around the league as a serviceable role player.
Best Pick: Rudy Gobert (27th overall, 2013 NBA Draft)
Rudy Gobert is the best defensive center in the NBA. The Jazz thought they had their man in the Enes Kanter but opted to go for the best prospect available and ultimately got a superior player, moved on from the latter and haven’t looked back.
Worst Pick: Dante Exum (5th overall, 2014 NBA Draft)
Dante Exum was a project from day one and an early ACL tear completely stunted his growth. The Jazz have kept him in their organization but it appears they are moving in a different direction.
Best Pick: Richard Hamilton (7th overall, 1999 NBA Draft)
Richard Hamilton carved out a very nice career for himself out of UConn. Although the majority of his best years were not in Washington it still feels to be a very good pick.
Worst Pick: Jan Vesely (6th overall, 2011 NBA Draft)
Personally, I was a big fan of Vesely. He had the type of game and skill set that was fun to watch but never could live up to being a top-six pick. His highlights are always fun to re-watch, and personally, I liked that team. But as a top-10 pick, it wasn’t the correct choice.