Milicic, Oden among pack of worst picks
The NBA draft can be quite a crapshoot. Highly regarded players in college, high school or international play can end up as busts in the NBA.
Taking a bust in the lottery can have devastating effects on teams. Here's a look at 10 of the worst draft picks from the past decade, virtually all of whom have one thing in common: A team swung for the upside fence and ended up striking out.
Darko Milicic's name will live in infamy forever in Detroit and on my Wikipedia page. Milicic was a supertalented 17-year-old Serbian big man and was known as an athletic, 7-foot-1 forward who could play in the paint and shoot it from the perimeter. I traveled all the way to Serbia with a number of NBA scouts to see him in November 2002, and we were all wowed by his skill-to-size ratio. An amazing workout in front of Pistons GM Joe Dumars and me in New York the day before the NBA draft lottery convinced us both that he would be a star. Longtime Pistons scout Will Robinson (the guy who discovered Dumars and Grant Hill) compared him to a young Wilt Chamberlain. The Pistons were so enthralled that they ended up drafting Milicic ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
Alas, just a few months after getting drafted, Milicic's name became more punch line than legend. Pistons coach Larry Brown had no need for him on his NBA championship team. Milicic would play only in blowouts or at the end of games, and fans anointed him the Human Victory Cigar. During his third season in the league, the Pistons gave up on him and traded him to Orlando for a future first-round pick.Milicic began to show some promise in Orlando alongside Dwight Howard, but Orlando decided to go in a different direction when Milicic hit free agency. Then he signed with the Grizzlies, expecting significant playing time. It never happened. He now earns regular DNPs at the end of the New York Knicks' bench and has recently indicated that he wants to return to Europe next year -- ending his NBA career and sealing his destiny as the bust of the decade.
To see Chad Ford's take on the rest of the 10 worst draft picks of the decade, you must be an ESPN Insider.