More often than not, making bad decisions will come back to get you, even if it may take a while for you to notice you dropped the ball. It happens at work, it happens in life, and of course, it happens in basketball.
Poor drafting is something that’s always going to take a toll on the team’s winning chances, especially if they’re always stuck with high lottery picks but fail to make the most out of the year in and year out.
The Los Angeles Clippers have always been a prime example of that trend, being a team that was always right at the bottom of the standings but that struggled to find a superstar with the high lottery picks they got.
Moreover, the Clippers have fared so poorly in the Draft, that they’ve actually struck out on 7 players ranked in the all-time top 25 list.
Today, we’re going to let you know exactly who those players were and who they got instead.
1984 NBA Draft
Lancaster Gordon (8th) & Michael Cage (14th) – John Stockton (16th)
Back in 1984, the Clippers were entitled to a couple of top 15 picks, and it looked like they were finally ready to turn things around. Sadly, they wasted them in Lancaster Gordon, a shooting guard that averaged just over 5 points a game, and Michael Cage, who was a solid rebounder for a brief period of time and that was it.
Not only they wasted two picks on subpar players, but also, they could’ve had the second greatest point guard ever in John Stockton, a dime machine that could play lockdown defense and that actually led the league in assists and steals multiple times, not to mention the fact that he took his team to the Finals a couple of years.
1985 NBA Draft
Benoit Benjamin (3rd) – Karl Malone (13th)
Benoit Benjamin was actually a decent big man with a nice feel for defense and great rim protection skills, averaging just over a couple of blocks throughout his career. He was a nightly double-double threat and even though he wasn’t a standout scorer, he could get by.
On the other hand, they could’ve gone with Karl Malone, an offensive stud considered to be one of the best power forwards ever. Malone was a deadly scorer that dominated both sides of the paint and even found his way to the MVP, but sadly; he was never able to put the cherry on top of the sundae with a Championship, thanks to some guy named Michael Jordan.
1987 NBA Draft
Reggie Williams (4th) – Scottie Pippen (5th)
Coming out of Georgetown, it looked as if Reggie Williams was going to be a dominant scorer at the wing, granting him the right to be drafted 4th overall in 1987. Still, just a couple of seasons afterward, the Clippers parted ways with him in return for Ron Harper and a couple of picks.
Instead, the Clippers should’ve landed Scottie Pippen, who went drafted right after Williams. Not only they would’ve landed the best two-way forward in the history of the game, but they would’ve also prevented the Bulls from drafting him and building the strongest dynasty ever.
Pippen won’t be the one to complain about it, though, as he went on to win 6 NBA Championships.
1995 NBA Draft
Antonio McDyess (2nd) – Kevin Garnett (5th)
Don’t get me wrong, Antonio McDyess had quite a solid 15-year career and even managed to make it to 1 All-Star game, but he was never able to live up to the hype of being a 2nd overall pick. Also, trading their 2nd overall pick for Bret Barry and Rodney Rogers looks like a dumb deal to me.
Instead, the Los Angeles Clippers should’ve landed a major stud in Kevin Garnett, a heartfelt competitor that was never going to be out hustled in either side of the hardwood. The Big Ticket was efficient, tough, physical, had a nice shooting stroke and was an elite rim protector and perimeter defender as well, and eventually became the greatest Timberwolves ever (and an NBA Champion).
1996 NBA Draft
Lorenzen Wright (7th) – Kobe Bryant (13th)
Lorenzen Wright was immediately thrown as the Clipper starting big man, as they considered he was going to finally be the kind of dominant rim protector they had craved for years. Needless to say, they were miserably wrong, and they wind up trading him away for a couple of 1st round picks 3 years later.
To be fair, nobody probably expected Kobe Bryant, who slipped all the way down to the 13th spot would eventually go on to become one of the best shooting guards and the greatest player in Lakers history. Winner of 5 Championships and 1 MVP, he had the kind of talents to completely turn their franchise around while still becoming a city idol, just playing for them instead of their long life rivals.
1998 NBA Draft
Michael Olowokandi (1st) – Dirk Nowitzki (9th)
Michael Olowokandi was supposed to be a dominant rim protector, and even though it took a while for the Clippers to give up on him, he was never able to live up to the expectations. Averaging just over 8 points and 6 boards a game throughout his career, Olowokandi had a mediocre 9 season NBA tenure.
Not only they landed one of the biggest busts in NBA Draft history, but they also missed on the opportunity to draft Dirk Nowitzki. Yes, Nowitzki wasn’t ranked as high as he could’ve been at the time and he was a late bloomer, but grew up to become the best foreign in the history of the game, an MVP, an NBA Champion and one of the few players able to surpass the 30 thousand career points milestone.
2009 NBA Draft
Blake Griffin (1st) – Stephen Curry (7th)
To be fair, Blake Griffin looked like a safe bet for the Clippers and the best player of his class (at least on paper), and even though he was injury prone and they eventually traded him for nothing, Blake didn’t let any of his supporters down as the team’s star throughout his Clippers tenure.
Mostly due to ankle concerns and his proneness to turn the ball over, Stephen Curry slipped all the way to the 7th pick of that Draft. Still, the Los Angeles Clippers could’ve landed the best player on that class, the greatest shooter in the history of the game and the best player on the best team of the decade. Even if Griffin was solid, Curry has won 2 MVPs, 3 Championships and still has a lot left in the tank.