Game Time: NBA DRAFT -- Worst Lottery Picks Of The Last 15 Years
As "must see" events on the sporting calendar go, the annual NBA Draft is highly underrated. If you ask the average sports fan his or her five most watchable sports nights of the year you'll probably get canned answers like the Super Bowl, a Game 7 in the MLB or NBA playoffs, and any interview involving Ron Artest -- all valid answers.
But with the suits, the interviews with foreign players trying to wade through kindergarten level English, and of course actual basketball highlights, I contend that the NBA Draft has something for everyone.
Tonight's draft has actual intrigue for Rockets fans as well with the Rockets poised to make an actual lottery-level selection for the first time since 2002 when they selected Yao Ming -- unfortunately they forgot to draft a functional pair of feet to go with him, but that's another story. (And I'm not counting 2006 when the Rockets swapped the rights for Rudy Gay to Memphis for Shane Battier.
The lottery comes with many a cautionary tale, so while I'm not one of the three or four NBA "insiders" who can tell you with any level of certainty what the Rockets or the thirteen teams in front of them (or at least in front of them for now -- rumors abound of the Rockets trying to move up) will do tonight, I can leg-work some history for you.
So I'll use the 1995 Draft as the cut-off point and go back slot--by-slot and put together the Ultimate Donkey Lottery of the last fifteen years. (1995 is the cutoff for a couple reasons -- first, that was the first draft class playing under a rookie wage scale so the fiscal mentality over that period most mirrors today; second, 1995 was the last time the Rockets won a title, so for Houston fans the post-title era unfortunately is the de facto "modern era.")
Here we go....
1. KWAME BROWN, 2001 Washington Wizards -- The first lottery selection of then-Wizards president Michael Jordan, Brown became the poster child for (a) the risk involved with selecting immature big men whose highest level of competition was against guys six inches shorter than he and (b) NBA legendary players being D-League level talent evaluators (yes you, Michael). He lasted four seasons in Washington, and is probably best known for bowing out of a practice because of a stomach ailment and yet being seen that same night at a Chinese buffet. Nice.
HONORABLE DONKEY MENTION: Michael Olowokandi (Clippers 1998), Joe Smith (Warriors 1995)
|Darko Milicic wasn't even a cult hit|
2. DARKO MILICIC, 2003 Detroit Pistons -- This one is a lock for this slot for two reasons -- (1) the Pistons were on the verge of becoming a championship team and could have ensured their future into the next decade with Carmelo Anthony or Dwyane Wade (or, hell, Chris Kaman!); (2) Darko's body of work consisted largely of Zapruder-style film of him dribbling around chairs and shooting open jumpers in an empty gym (as opposed to Anthony and Wade whose film consisted of footage of each of them playing in the Final Four).
HONORABLE DONKEY MENTION: Jason Williams (Bulls 2002), Stromile Swift (Grizzlies 2000)
3. ADAM MORRISON, 2006 Charlotte Bobcats -- By 2006, Jordan was poisoning the future of his next NBA franchise back in his home state of North Carolina. A Jordan favorite, Morrison is best known for crying uncontrollably while his final college game was still going, and battling J.J. Redick for Player of the Year honors in 2006, which sounds so very ridiculous now. Sadly, Morrison has two rings for sitting in street clothes next to the Lakers the last two seasons.
HONORABLE DONKEY MENTION: Mike Dunleavy (Pacers 2002), Darius Miles (Clippers 2000), Raef LaFrentz (Nuggets 1998)
4. EDDY CURRY, 2001 Chicago Bulls -- Marcus Fizer was probably a bigger bust of a Bulls draft pick, but Curry almost has to be thrown in here -- where else do you get a weight problem, cardiac issues (not like metaphoric "heart" problems, like an actual heart ailment), sexual harassment allegations, and loans procured with 85 percent APR's? Where? Curry, that's where.
HONORABLE DONKEY MENTION: Mike Conley (Grizzlies 2007), Fizer (Bulls 2000)
5. SHELDON WILLIAMS, 2006 Atlanta Hawks -- Nikolas Tskitishv-whatever-the-fuck from Denver is probably a more deserving selection (but not by much), but the Nuggets didn't have a "Darko" to go off of when it came to drafting Euro guys with virtually no meaningful film. Williams needs to be in here (a) to represent the ridiculous string of overrated Duke players in the last decade and (b) because he is best known for impregnating Candace Parker, who at this point would have been a more sensible draft choice than Williams.
HONORABLE DONKEY MENTION: Nikolas Tskitish-blah-be-dee-blah (Nuggets 2002), Jonathan Bender (Raptors 1999)