Getting a superstar in the NBA Draft is something some teams never seem to achieve, and obviously, that winds up taking a toll on their Championship odds and developing a winning culture.
Superstars bring the crowd on board, and finding them in the Draft would be the easiest and cheapest way to get them, as other top-tier free agents will also join if you manage to bring a young roster filled with talent and energy.
Over the course of history, several teams have always been quite close to greatness in the Draft, but have just constantly struck out of top-tier talents and wind up getting busts or average players. Today, we’ll let you know about the top 10 unluckiest teams in NBA Draft history.
10. Memphis Grizzlies
The Memphis (and Vancouver) Grizzlies have just recently started to become a relevant team, spending most of their history near the bottom of the standings and struggling to get fans to attend their home games, something that may have been a lot different have they had better luck in the Draft.
For instance, they had the chance to turn things around back then in 1997, when they had the opportunity to get Tracy McGrady, but wind up landing Antonio Daniels with the 4th overall pick.
If that wasn’t bad enough, they had the chance to pair Marc Gasol with a perennial MVP like James Harden in 2009 when they were entitled of the 2nd overall pick, a pick they completely wasted by drafting Hasheem Thabeet.
9. Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers have built their current roster out of mere tanking and even though they’ve put together an impressive and scary squad for many years to come, they could’ve done a bit better have they made the right choice in recent Drafts. Although, maybe winning more games would’ve been bad for them in the end.
Still, it’s crazy to believe that they actually used the 11th overall pick in the 2013 Draft and that Giannis Antetokounmpo fell just a couple of picks later. Also, they could’ve landed a top-tier scoring big man in Kristaps Porzingis, but got Jahlil Okafor with the 3rd pick in 2015 instead.
As a matter of fact, they could’ve even gotten a top-notch big man earlier, but got Evan Turner with the 2nd overall pick in 2010 instead of Cousins. And last but not least, they passed on Anfernee ‘Penny’ Hardaway in 1993 to get Shawn Bradley with the 2nd overall pick.
8. Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers have always been the NBA’s laughing stock, mostly because they’ve had to live in the shadows of their more successful neighbors, the Los Angeles Lakers. Developing a losing culture and failing to get top-tier talents always got the Clippers to pick high in the lottery, but they were never able to actually make the most of it.
This losing franchise would’ve gone entirely different have they scouted better when they had the chance to do so. For instance, they could’ve used the 4th overall pick of the 1987 Draft to get some guy called Scottie Pippen, or even Reggie Miller.
Also, they were entitled of the 7th pick in 1993 and used to get Lorenzen Wright instead of Kobe or Nash. And if that wasn’t enough, let’s go way back and remember the fact that they could’ve gotten Karl Malone with the 3rd overall pick in 1985, but wind up getting Benoit Benjamin.
7. Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks have been stuck on a mediocrity spiral for ages and they just haven’t been able to shake off their losing woes regardless of always being among the lottery teams. Home games at Georgia are often half-empty and who could blame them?
They didn’t have a superstar since Dominique Wilkins.
The Hawks have a long history of making huge mistakes in the Draft for sure, the biggest one of them is trading away Bill Russell (their 2nd overall pick) in order to get Ed Macauley. Needless to say, the move paid off for the Celtics, as they found a guy that led them to 11 Championships.
Also, they had the chance to turn the franchise around by drafting Chris Paul in 2005 but used their 2nd overall pick to get Marvin Williams instead.
6. Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons have been quite inconsistent over the years, but they’ve still managed to find the way to bring a strong fanbase and become occasional Championship contenders, even despite the fact that they didn’t have a star on the team for years before Blake Griffin’s late arrival this prior campaign.
This team had the chance to get some future Hall of Famers aboard during the mythical 2003 NBA Draft but used their 2nd overall pick to get Darko Milicic instead of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade or Carmelo Anthony. That came just 27 years after the team had already committed a blatant mistake by getting Leon Douglas with the 4th overall pick when they had the chance to draft Alex English or Robert Parish.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves have never been much of a winning franchise, so that has obviously granted a lot of high picks over the course of the ages. Other than Kevin Love and Kevin Garnett, they haven’t been able to find much success, at least until Karl-Anthony Towns came on board a couple of years ago.
But what makes this even sadder is the fact that they’ve always been on a better spot on the Draft board than other teams like the Golden State Warriors, but have always found a way to mess things up.
For instance, they passed on Klay Thompson on 2011 to get Derrick Williams with the 2nd overall pick, not to mention the fact that they had already passed on Stephen Curry to get Johnny Flynn and Ricky Rubio with the 5th and 6th pick in 2009. If that wasn’t enough, they could’ve also landed DeMarcus Cousins in 2010, but used their 4th overall pick to get Wesley Johnson.
4. Sacramento Kings
Except for a brief period of time, the Sacramento Kings have always found a way to make terrible moves, and that has obviously reflected in the standings and the fact that they’ve missed the playoffs for a very long time despite always having high picks to turn the franchise around on a yearly basis.
They have always sucked when it comes to drafting, and if you don’t take our word for it, let’s take a look at some of this examples. First, they could’ve got Damian Lillard with the 5th overall pick in 2012 but wind up getting Thomas Robinson.
Also, they used the 4th overall pick in 2009 to get Tyreke Evans, with Stephen Curry slipping all the way to 7th. But, the two biggest mistakes they’ve ever done was passing on Clyde Drexler in 1983 and Larry Bird in 1978, drafting Ennis Whatley and Phil Ford instead.
3. Charlotte HornetsThe Charlotte Hornets were briefly relevant in the 90s led by players of the likes of Mourning, Bogues and Curry, but they haven’t even made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in all of their history, being one of the most unsuccessful franchises ever even with Michael Jordan at the top of their office, perhaps the only remarkable thing they’ve accomplished.
Most of that lack of success has been due to how poorly they’ve fared in the Draft on a yearly basis.
For instance, they will always be remembered for how they passed on both Damian Lillard and Draymond Green in 2012 to get Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the 2nd overall pick, one of the biggest busts in Draft history. But naturally, the biggest mistake has to be trading away their 13th overall pick, a guy named Kobe Bryant, in order to get a borderline washed Vlade Divac.
2. Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers have always found a way to put together a competitive squad, but they haven’t had a superstar in their team since prime Reggie Miller (sorry, Paul George) or at least a player that could lead them through adversity during crunch time, not to mention the fact that they’ve always have to deal with a dynasty in the Eastern Conference.
That could’ve been way different, though, as this team had the chance to Draft players of the likes of Kawhi Leonard, whom they originally drafted in 2011 but immediately traded for George Hill.
They could’ve also gotten Bernard King in 1977, but they traded their pick to get John Williamson. If that wasn’t enough, they passed on Larry Bird in 1978 to get Rick Robey at 3rd. But naturally, their greatest mistake ever will be passing on Michael Jordan back in 1984, as the team traded away their pick in order to get Tom Owens. Who?
1. Portland Trail Blazers
And the Portland Trail Blazers have to be considered the worst drafting team on NBA history, and that kind of poor decision making has always come back to bite them in the rear when they lack a superstar that can get them to the ultimate stage, the never-ending history with RIP City for sure.
Remember Greg Oden? Well, just a handful of people do right now, with the 1st overall pick of the 2007 Draft going down as one of the biggest busts ever due to his proneness to get hurt, while the Seattle Supersonics landed a future Hall of Famer with the next pick on Kevin Durant.
Also, they were entitled of that infamous Pacers 1984 pick they could’ve used to get Michael Jordan, but wind up using it to draft Sam Bowie, who barely averaged 10 points over his career.