The Biggest NBA Draft Busts of the 21st Century

NBA Monroe Milicic

For every star in the NBA, there are overrated prospects who enter the league and flame out. Whether it’s a player who doesn’t work hard, or talent that doesn’t translate to the professional level, NBA draft busts sneak through the scouting reports and leave us all shaking our heads in disbelief.

Many selections have qualified as NBA draft busts in the 21st Century. However, only some poor souls stand above the rest as the biggest NBA draft busts of this century. Let’s examine where scouts got it wrong, and list the NBA’s biggest draft busts since 2000.

Kwame Brown – No. 1 Pick 2001 NBA Draft (Washington Wizards)

Before becoming known as one of the worst Lakers of all time, Kwame Brown was the first-ever high school basketball player to be drafted with the top pick in the NBA Draft.

In an era of NBA basketball that prized dominant centers in the paint, Brown appeared like the perfect option for the Wizards. Brown used his strength and size to bully opponents in school. The 6-foot-11, 240-pound center also showcased solid athleticism in high school.

As a senior at Glynn Academy in Georgia, Brown averaged slightly more than 20 points, 13 rebounds, and six blocks per game. He finished as the Glenn Academy all-time leader in rebounds and blocks1.

However, Brown never managed to put it together after transitioning from high school to the NBA. Despite being strong and holding his own on the blocks defensively, he was a massive liability on offense.

Brown’s poor footwork and lack of ability to finish at the hoop made him a frustrating player to watch. Just simple tasks such as catching and holding onto the ball were difficult for him.

After averaging just seven points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 0.7 blocks per game in 2004-05, Brown was traded to the Lakers, where his career continued to sputter playing alongside Kobe Bryant.

Following stints with seven different teams, Brown retired after the 2012-13 campaign. He finished his career with just 6.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists, and 0.6 blocks per game. For a big man who played at the rim, his 49.2 percent field goal percentage was a disappointment, as well2.

Instead of Brown, the Wizards could have drafted Tyson Chandler (No. 2) or Pau Gasol (No. 3). Zach Randolph (No. 19) and Tony Parker (No. 28) were also available in the 2001 NBA Draft, though neither were viewed as Top 10 prospects.

Darko Milicic – No. 2 Pick 2003 NBA Draft (Detroit Pistons)

In 2003, the Detroit Pistons lucked out and won the second overall pick at the 2003 NBA Draft Lottery. Despite being one of the championship favorites at NBA betting sites, the Pistons owned the pick due to a trade with the Vancouver Grizzlies for Otis Thorpe in 1997.

With LeBron James a lock for No. 1 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Pistons were debating between making Carmelo Anthony (No. 3) or Darko Milicic the second overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft. Chris Bosh (No. 4) and Dwyane Wade (No. 5) were also on the board.

At the time, there was only one glaring hole in the Pistons starting five aside from a true center. Tayshaun Prince was showing major strides at small forward, which prevented GM Joe Dumars from giving Anthony more consideration. Dumars traded for Rasheed Wallace after it was clear Milicic wouldn’t contribute.

Being drafted by a hard-working team that had incredible chemistry, Milicic was a bad fit from the start. He was unwilling to work hard, showed up to practices late, didn’t get along with teammates, and never meshed in Larry Brown’s system that emphasized unselfishness.

By Milicic’s own admission, he would get drunk before practice and believed he was sent from God3. This is a far cry from a player who was dubbed as the next Euro superstar. Scouts saw an athletic 7-foot center that could shoot the three, run the floor, and play at the rim.

Dumars wanted the next Dirk Nowitzki, but received a lazy player with no confidence who didn’t want to put in the work. After averaging 1.6 points per game in three years with the Pistons, Milicic departed Detroit and spent time in Orlando, Memphis, New York, Minnesota, and lastly, one game with Boston in the 2012-13 season.

Milicic concluded his NBA career with six points, 4.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists, and 1.3 blocks in 18.5 minutes per game4. After going down as one of the NBA’s most overrated players, he moved back home to play in Europe, got into apple farming, and dabbled in kickboxing.

Despite being known by Pistons fans as the “Human Victory Cigar” and an all-time NBA draft bust, he won an NBA title before James or Wade in 2004.

Greg Oden – No. 1 Pick 2007 NBA Draft (Portland Trail Blazers)

Greg Oden is one of the biggest “what ifs” in NBA history. Part of being a good NBA player is staying healthy and ready for your team. Oden wasn’t able to fulfill this requirement after being selected with the first overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft.

After averaging 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game at center for Ohio State, Oden declared for the NBA Draft5. However, before even playing in the NBA, Oden’s season was lost due to season-ending microfracture surgery on his right knee.

Multiple surgeries later, Oden only played in three seasons and 105 NBA games from 2008 to 2014 with the Trail Blazers and Heat. The 7-foot big man averaged eight points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. He shot a respectable 57.4 percent from the field and was a solid rim protector in the paint.

As one of the biggest NBA draft busts of all time, Oden has injuries to at least blame for his ineffective career. Oden already had injury concerns going into the draft, and instead of selecting Kevin Durant, the Trail Blazers opted for the big man out of Ohio State.

Oden isn’t the worst NBA draft bust ever, but he qualifies as a Top 5 draft bust in NBA history. Currently, Oden is the director of basketball operations at Butler University.

Hasheem Thabeet – No. 2 Pick 2009 NBA Draft (Memphis Grizzlies)

In a decision that set the franchise back years, the Memphis Grizzlies drafted center UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet instead of James Harden (No. 3) or Stephen Curry (No. 7). Additionally, Ricky Rubio (No. 5) or DeMar DeRozan (No. 9) would have been a better choice.

NBA scouts just completely whiffed with rating Thabeet this high. He was never worthy of being the No. 2 pick. Thabeet’s size at 7-foot-3 made him an attractive prospect. However, in the NBA, Thabeet showed no court awareness, didn’t use his size in the paint, couldn’t shoot the ball, and couldn’t keep up.

Like Milicic, Thabeet showed no interest in getting better or caring much about basketball. Once the first NBA paychecks cleared, Thabeet packed it in and gave zero effort.

It wasn’t entirely unexpected, as many experts predicted that Thabeet would be a bust. If you look at the stats alone, Thabeet might be the biggest NBA bust of all-time from that metric.

Thabeet’s best season was in 2012-13 where he averaged 2.4 points, three rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game. For his five-year career, Thabeet finished with 2.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks in 10.5 minutes per game6.

Anthony Bennett – No. 1 Pick 2013 NBA Draft (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Entering the 2013 NBA Draft, there wasn’t much hype for this draft class. Without any unanimous No. 1 pick on the board, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected UNLV’s Anthony Bennett.

Nonetheless, GM Chris Grant passed on CJ McCollum (No. 10) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (No. 15) to draft Bennett at No. 1. Rudy Gobert (No. 27) is also a first-round pick from the 2013 NBA Draft that has panned out nicely.

In fairness to the Cavaliers, none of those three players were projected to be top selections. If Antetokounmpo had been selected, draft pundits would have been in an uproar over how much of a reach the pick was.

Bennett declared for the NBA Draft after one solid year at UNLV. Bennett averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds in 27.1 minutes per game7. Bennett showed some ability to play big in the paint, and also spot up from three in college.

But he entered the NBA out of shape and was never a hyped-up No. 1 pick by pundits and most scouts. Between four teams in four seasons, Bennett averaged 4.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 0.5 assists in 12.6 minutes per game8. The highlight of Bennett’s NBA career was his first preseason. He will go down as one of the biggest number 1 draft busts in NBA history.

Fortunately, for depressed Cavaliers fans, James made his return to Cleveland in 2014. The Cavaliers’ NBA betting odds witnessed a considerable jump, and two years later, the Cavaliers won their first title.

Who Is The Biggest NBA Draft Bust Of The 21st Century?

Before getting to the biggest NBA draft bust of the 21st Century, let’s talk about some honorary mentions. Adam Morrison (No. 3 in 2006), Dragan Bender (No. 6 in 2016), and Markelle Fultz (No. 1 in 2017) are worth noting. Fultz has developed into a serviceable role player, but he isn’t a No. 1 talent.

So, who is the biggest NBA draft bust of this century? Thabeet and Bennett were terrible players, though there were several draft experts and scouts who didn’t think highly of either prospect. In Bennett’s case, he was in a weak draft class.

With Milicic, albeit referred to as a bit raw, he was widely regarded as the next basketball prodigy from Europe. Since the Pistons already were a contender, it seemed like a good fit at the time.

The Pistons could afford to wait a few years until Milicic reached his full potential. Based on a few private workouts, scouts, management, and experts were enamored by Milicic’s potential. The hype was real for the 18-year-old lefty.

However, while Anthony, Bosh, and Wade were making names for themselves, Milicic was getting drunk before practices. You can blame the coaching staff for not developing him, but he wasn’t interested in learning.

At the 2003 NBA Draft, there were fans in attendance shouting “overrated” when he was selected. There was at least some common sense in the room.

We agree with the fans who saw into the future: Milicic is the biggest NBA draft bust of the 21st Century. Although we don’t know if Milicic’s NBA draft bust crown will hold in the future, we do know about the best sports betting sites for wagering on future draft picks.

At BetUS, you can bet on a variety of NBA prop bets, futures, games, live betting, and, of course, the NBA Draft. As one of the safest betting sites, bettors can deposit with confidence knowing that their money is protected. BetUS has a wide array of convenient deposit and withdrawal methods, including a credit card and cryptocurrency.

Currently, BetUS is offering a lucrative promotion for all deposit methods. Deposit with a credit card and instantly earn a 100% sports welcome bonus of up to $2,500 and a 25% casino bonus of up to $625. Crypto deposits are eligible for even more, with a 150% sports welcome bonus of up to $3,570 and a 50% casino bonus of up to $1,250!

Ready to play at BetUS?


  1. Kwame Brown | GCSHOF. Retrieved From “

  2. Kwame Brown Career Stats – NBA | ESPN. Retrieved From “

  3. Darko Milicic used to get drunk before practice | WDIV. Retrieved From “

  4. Darko Milicic Career Stats – NBA | ESPN. Retrieved From “

  5. Greg Oden Jr College Stats | Retrieved From “

  6. Hasheem Thabeet Career Stats – NBA | ESPN. Retrieved From “

  7. Anthony Bennett College Stats | Retrieved From “

  8. Anthony Bennett Career Stats – NBA | ESPN. Retrieved From “

About the Author
Kyle Eve profile picture
Kyle Eve
Sports/Casino Writer
Blog and News
FaceBook Twitter
Kyle Eve is a seasoned pro of The Sports Geek. Since joining the team in 2012, Kyle, has covered some of the biggest sporting events in the world. From the Super Bowl and World Series to March Madness, the NBA Finals, Kentucky Derby, and many more, Kyle has provided reliable analysis for millions of readers. After dedicating himself to hockey and football in high school, Kyle placed his first sports bet on his 18th birthday. Since then, he has spent his entire adult life devoting himself to becoming the best sports bettor and casino gambler possible. Kyle is from Windsor, ON, Canada

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *