The NBA Draft is an opportunity for teams to find young basketball prospects and add those players to their rosters. The NBA is one of the most difficult leagues to get into, so if you are lucky enough to be one of the 60 players drafted each year, you are definitely a good basketball player.
That being said, their pure talent doesn’t always translate into the NBA. The league is extremely competitive. Players have to push themselves each day in order to keep up and stay in the league. Some players are able to meet or even exceed that boundary. Others aren’t as fortunate.
Although the NBA is filled with great scouting, it is almost impossible to predict how well some players will perform in the NBA. This often leads to extreme draft misses or steals.
In this article, we look back at three of the biggest draft mistakes of the past 20 NBA seasons. These draft mistakes not only resulted in drafting players who were NBA busts, but teams also missed out on the opportunity to draft future NBA stars.
Passing Up On Stephen Curry
The 2009 NBA draft was filled with many future NBA stars, but the best among them turned out to be Stephen Curry. Now a four-time NBA champion and two-time league MVP, Curry was drafted seventh overall. Everyone knew at the time that he was a good shooter.
However, it was impossible for anyone to predict how much he would change the game and bring such a dynamic style of play to the game.
With that in mind, some teams did not consider him a draft priority in 2009. That led to some serious draft mistakes. The first one was the Grizzlies selecting Hasheem Thabeet with the second overall pick.
He is no longer in the league and hasn’t played in the NBA since 2014. Not only did the Memphis Grizzlies miss out on Curry, but they also drafted Thabeet ahead of James Harden, who went third overall to the Thunder.
The more famous mistake was probably the selections made by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves had the fifth and sixth picks in the draft. With the fifth pick, they selected Ricky Rubio, who has had a solid NBA career, but was never more than a role player.
With the sixth pick, they selected Jonny Flynn, who hasn’t played in the NBA since 2012 and has otherwise suffered injuries. The Timberwolves drafted two point guards ahead of Steph Curry, who ended up being one of the greatest basketball players of all-time.
It could also be argued that the New York Knicks made a mistake in this draft by not trading up for Curry. There was mutual interest between both parties, but the Knicks did not move up in the draft and instead selected Jordan Hill with the eighth overall pick.
The Knicks were hopeful that the Warriors would not select another guard since they already had Monta Ellis as a key piece to their roster. However, they were wrong and they paid the consequence.
Portland Trail Blazers Select Greg Oden in 1984 NBA Draft
The Portland Trail Blazers have a long history of making draft mistakes. The most famous among those was their selection of Sam Bowie in the 1984 NBA Draft, one spot ahead of Michael Jordan. In 2007, Portland selected Greg Oden with the first overall pick in the draft.
Oden was more of a traditional center. However, injuries derailed his career and he only ended up playing three total seasons in the league.
What stings even more was that the player selected right after Oden was Kevin Durant. While Oden’s career went on a downward spiral, Durant became one of the greatest players in NBA history. With his prolific scoring ability, Durant led his teams as one of the top three players in the league for the past decade.
Throughout his career, he has earned an MVP trophy, four scoring titles, and two championships.
Cleveland Cavaliers Select Anthony Bennett
The 2013 NBA Draft was one of the more unique drafts in the sense that there was no clear favorite to be selected with the first overall pick. International scouting was not as proficient as it is today. Looking back now, we can see that there were talented players throughout the draft that might have not been as easy to foresee back in 2013.
That lack of foresight led the Cavaliers to drafting one of the biggest busts in NBA history. With the first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Cavs selected Anthony Bennett. Being the first overall pick in a draft comes with a lot of expectations. It is safe to say that Bennett failed to live up to those expectations.
He struggled to stay in the league, playing in only four seasons during his career. During those four seasons, he only averaged 4.4 points per game.
We can now see the missed opportunities that Cleveland had to draft a star to their team. There were several future stars in this draft, including Victor Oladipo, C.J. McCollum, and Rudy Gobert. The best player in the draft was selected fifteenth overall. That player was Giannis Antetokounmpo.
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