August 25, 2009
OK, we know the first decade of the 21st century doesn't really end until 2011. We think. But we also know there have been 10 full NBA seasons played since the phrase "Y2K" was on all of our lips (1999-2000), and here at Ball Don't Lie we've decided to use this as an offseason excuse to rank some of the best and not-so-brightest of the 10 campaigns in question. The result? Why, top 10 lists!
There have been 10 drafts since the year 2000, including the year 2000. Seriously. Use your fingers. And, because drafting prospects of any regard is an inexact science, teams are bound to run into some bum picks here and there. Here's our list of the top 10 busts of the decade.
Some say Yi was born in 1987. Others contend he might have been born a year earlier, or even three years before. Most contend he's a willowy waste of a 7-foot frame, who refuses to get to the line, work on anything but a low-percentage long jumper, while allowing opponents to walk all over him defensively and on the boards. He makes the fringe of this list merely because he's still in the league, but after two full seasons in Milwaukee and New Jersey, it's pretty clear what Yi is all about. And it ain't unrealized potential.
9. Kedrick Brown, Boston Celtics, taken 11th overall in 2001
He wasn't exactly taken ahead of Jordan, Stockton or Malone; but by my count, Brown was selected ahead of 15 players who started an NBA game last year. An athletic ... something, who was working out of a junior college long enough to impress Chris Wallace and the C's, Brown was an immediate washout.
8. Rodney White, Detroit Pistons, taken ninth overall in 2001
He came with a slightly shinier resume than Kedrick Brown, selected with an Andy Katz stamp of approval by Joe Dumars, who was in his first year as Detroit's personnel chief (after merely working as a consultant the year before). White had skills and an offensive touch, but he never put any work into that game of his. He was sent to Denver before being packaged with Nikoloz Tskitishvili and shipped to the Golden State Warriors for a pick that eventually (after being tossed around by several teams) landed the Philadelphia 76ers the rights to Petteri Koponen(notes). History!
I watch a lot of basketball, and as a curious sort, I'm often on the lookout during garbage time for prospects both heralded and unknown. And yet, despite his lottery status, I never saw a second of Korolev's 168 NBA minutes. It's possible that I missed him without knowing it, I fully concede. But I sure can't remember a lick of his NBA career. And it is a career, because even at age 21, he ain't coming back. Mike Dunleavy clearly dropped the ball with this Russian athlete, who shot 28 percent from the field in 34 NBA games.
Your humble narrator received all sorts of stick from Toronto backers for calling Hoffa a bust after his rookie year, as if he was ready for a bust-out season at age 25 after turning the ball over on nearly 21 percent of the possessions he used up in 2004-05. Raps fans, as they sometimes do, warmed to a dose of reality a year later when Araujo continued to stink, and Jazz fans got a taste in his third season before he was mercifully left to play overseas. And Rob Babcock? Don't draft players who are two months away from their 24th birthday, unless they're averaging 30 and 20 in the NCAAs. It's not Hoffa's fault; he worked his butt off. He was just a huge reach at eighth overall.
Morrison is ranked this low (high?) because he's still in the league. He still has a chance, even at age 25, to improve upon his 37 percent lifetime mark from the field. He still has a chance to learn how to rebound, defend, get to the line or pass the ball properly. The unfortunate truth is, were I to compile this list in 2012, Morrison would likely vault to the top three, as he was taken ahead of Brandon Roy(notes), Craig Smith(notes) and Jose Juan Barea(notes) in 2006. The last two players leave you a little cold? Apologies, but they're still (much) better NBA players than Morrison.
4. Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Denver Nuggets, taken fifth overall in 2002
Dirk Nowitzki(notes) was a month away from shooting the Dallas Mavericks to their second consecutive postseason appearance, a fact (Dallas? In the playoffs?) that still tended to boggle the mind in 2002. Peja Stojakovic(notes) was a few weeks removed from, well, shooting his Sacramento Kings out of a Game 7 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. But the ideal remained. Big guy, big shooter, pretty young, gobble him up. The Nuggets got two of the three correct. Skita shot 30.4 percent in 172 career NBA games. Yikes.
Kwame's the first top pick on this list, which holds quite a bit of weight because a top selection's success or failure will rightfully be measured alongside all that come after him. Every pick. Even the free agents. Luckily for Kwame, the 2001 draft wasn't great shakes in terms of star power, though it was a deep and helpful prospect pool, so his middling NBA career can almost be left to its own merits. And his merits (seven points, 5.6 rebounds in 23 minutes a contest, career) are bloody awful.
2. Entire 2000 NBA draft
You can't pick a single bust-worthy standout. Sure, Stromile Swift(notes) (taken second overall) has disappointed greatly, but what were the Grizzlies' options? Darius Miles(notes)? Marcus Fizer? Chris Mihm(notes)? DerMarr Johnson(notes)? Do you want me to go on? Or do you want me to just mention Jerome Moiso's name and move on with it? It nearly bears mentioning that any time I see a comment wondering how it was, exactly, that a dope like me got this job, I think back to this draft. And I think, "I live-blogged the 2000 NBA draft. I've paid my dues, dammit."
He's the total package. His name eases right into the lame jokes ("you could get yourself another Dar-ko Milicic; you know what I mean? This guy knows what I'm talking about!"), he's been an underachieving flameout, he only rose to prominence by taking advantage of well-sourced but not entirely basketball-savvy (at least, then) hoops scribes who were smitten by his ability to spin and dunk in an empty gym, and he was taken ahead of franchise types like Dwyane Wade(notes), Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes). Darko is, quite easily, the biggest lottery bust of the decade.