NBA Draft: Overrated Draft Picks Over the Years

Published 10/26/2020, 5:00 PM EDT


The NBA Draft is a huge opportunity for franchises. A fledgling NBA franchise can find the player that will lead them to the promised land.

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Michael Jordan and LeBron James are just two examples who took historically poor franchises and turned them into NBA championship contenders. However, these are generational players and are not easy to find.

The NBA Draft has generated some amazing picks, and some picks that are…not so great. In all fairness, picking a rookie is always a gamble, and these teams do their best to make sure that these gambles pay off in the best way.

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Also, it should be said that these judgments can only be made with the advantage of hindsight. With that in mind, let us look at some of the most overrated draft picks.

DeAndre Ayton

This may seem harsh, given Ayton was only drafted 2 years ago. And his inclusion isn’t a knock on his quality. But rather, an indictment of the poor scouting and planning from the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns had the first overall pick in a draft class that had Luka Dončić, Jayson Tatum, and Trae Young. Yet they went and selected Ayton as the first overall pick.

The players mentioned above have far exceeded Ayton since they entered the league, with Dončić and Tatum making All-NBA teams within this time.

There is still time for Ayton to turn out to be a good pick for the Suns as the potential is definitely there. He averaged about 17 points and 10 rebounds in his first 2 seasons. But his selection as the #1 pick overall, considering his fellow draft class, is still mind-boggling.

Darko Miličić

This selection should require no explanation. Miličić was drafted second overall in the 2003 NBA Draft. The same NBA Draft Class that had the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh.

James was the obvious choice for the first pick. But the Pistons picking him ahead of players like ‘Melo, Wade, and Bosh is a decision that still leaves heads turning.

The other 3 names that the Pistons snubbed went on to be multiple time All-Stars and NBA Champions in the future.

In all fairness, Miličić did make NBA history from the get-go. With the Detroit Pistons, Miličić became the youngest player in the NBA Finals and the youngest to win an NBA Championship.

He was the first to win from his draft class. But Miličić’s career flamed out quickly in the NBA, and he retired in 2012 with the Boston Celtics. He was only 27 at the time. But the ‘what if’ of the Pistons picking Melo, Wade, or Bosh before him is a scary prospect.

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Marvin Bagley III

It seems unfair that this article has two players from the same draft. But the fact that Ayton and Marvin Bagley went first and second in an NBA draft that had Dončić, Tatum and, Trae Young (among others) is quite unsettling.

Again, this is not a knock on the quality or the potential of Bagley. But how the Sacramento Kings let some gems slip away, AFTER the Suns tossed them aside is unfathomable. In the eyes of many, this decision is even worse, as they had the chance to make the Suns look the fool.

Since entering the league in 2018, Bagley has averaged close to 15 points and 7 rebounds a game. Those numbers do not measure up to the players the Kings passed upon.

Again, like Ayton, Bagley could surpass expectations. But so far, the decision is one that has more questions than answers.

Anthony Bennett

Unlike the 2018 draftees that were mentioned above, this move can be scrutinized with the benefit of hindsight. Anthony Bennett was drafted first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013. This was the second #1 overall pick for the Cavs in 2 years.

The 2011 pick turned out to be Kyrie Irving. Bennett was picked ahead of players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Victor Oladipo. Granted, the other two players only bloomed much later in their careers, but given that LeBron James returned to the Cavs the next year, one can only imagine what could’ve been.

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Instead, Bennet proved to be a bust, not just for the Cavs, but in the NBA. Bennett was traded in 2014, after poor numbers. After bouncing around with teams like the Timberwolves, Raptors, and Nets, Bennett left the NBA to play abroad in 2017.

He hasn’t made it to the NBA since. Bennett was unimpressive, and frankly, had done very little to merit such a high selection in the NBA Draft.

There is a great deal of luck and timing involved with making successful draft picks. The players listed above were not bad players. But perhaps their selection, given who else was in their respective class, left their performances underwhelming.

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1313 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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