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NBA AM: Other Lotto Picks Who Disappointed

Today, Jay Williams is an excellent analyst, but he’s also one of the biggest lottery disappointments.

Joel Brigham profile picture
Updated 10 months ago on
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Embiid Not the Only Lottery Pick to Disappoint

News came out on Thursday that the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, Joel Embiid, would miss a second full season following another surgery on his bad foot. The Greg Oden comparisons are only getting louder, but as few career games as Oden played in Portland and later Miami, there have been lottery picks over the course of the last 15 years who have been even more disappointing in terms of their contributions to their teams.

The following is a look at lottery picks since 2000 who have failed to play at least 100 games in the NBA before bowing out to injury, poor roles or flat-out lack of talent:

Patrick O’Bryant, #9, Golden State Warriors, 2006 (90 career games played) – O’Bryant wisely left Bradley University early after leading the Braves to a Sweet 16 appearance the season before. While he was big (260 pounds) and tall (7’0), he wasn’t particularly motivated and so wrapped up a pretty ho-hum NBA career in only four seasons. The most he ever played in a given year was 39 games, a 2008-09 season split between Boston and Toronto, where he averaged 2.6 PPG and 1.7 RPG.

Marcus Haislip, #13, Milwaukee Bucks, 2002 (89 games) – While he was a stud at Tennessee, Haislip never quite found his niche in the NBA, though he did start the final eight games of his rookie season with the Bucks. That rookie year would prove to be his best, as he averaged 4.1 PPG and 1.4 RPG and was ultimately waived after his second season in Wisconsin. The Pacers picked him up to fill in for a suspended Jermaine O’Neal the following season, but he only played nine games for the Pacers. He’d quietly squeak in 10 more contests for San Antonio after taking a five-year break from the NBA to play in Turkey, but that never amounted to anything either.

Jay Williams, #2, Chicago Bulls, 2002 (75 games) – Unlike a lot of the other players on this list, Williams wasn’t chased out of the league for lack of talent; an unfortunate motorcycle accident following his rookie year ended his career for him. Williams severed a main nerve in his leg, broke his pelvis and shredded just about every ligament possible in his left knee – more than enough to rob him of his explosiveness and athleticism. His rookie season averages of 9.5 PPG and 4.7 APG weren’t stellar, but they were a solid start, and his injury really set the Bulls back for years to follow.

Joe Alexander, #8, Milwaukee Bucks, 2008 (67 games) – Known for his hops coming out of college, Alexander was never able to transfer that athleticism into actually being productive in the NBA. He averaged only 4.7 PPG his rookie year in a shade over 12 minutes per game, which really didn’t feel like a return on the investment of the eighth overall pick. He was given an opportunity in Chicago the following season, but got even less playing time there. He’s still playing, currently for Dinamo Sassari, a Euroleague team based in Sardinia, but after only two seasons in the NBA he never made it back. In an interview with Basketball Insiders’ David Pick earlier this year, he was very critical of the Bucks.

Mouhammed Sene, #10, Seattle SuperSonics, 2006 (47 games) – Halfway through Sene’s first season in Seattle, he was sent down to the team’s D-League affiliate and actually ended up being one of the best players at that level. Despite his success against minor league talent, Sene never did anything of note in the NBA. He moved with the rest of the Sonics to Oklahoma City in 2008 but was waived, and the rest of his NBA career after that includes a single game and six minutes with the New York Knicks. He toiled in France and Spain for many years with some success, but currently finds himself back in the D-League, this time as a member of the Austin Spurs.

Yaroslav Korolev, #12, L.A. Clippers, 2005 (34 games) – Of the lottery picks over the last 15 years who actually gave the NBA a legitimate go, Korolev had the least success, playing in only 34 games for 168 total minutes over two seasons with the Clippers. He’s bounced all over the world since being waived in 2007 and still plays in Greece, but his flash in the NBA was not a memorable one. Obviously the Clippers have moved on from that disaster rather nicely.

Fran Vasquez, #11, Orlando Magic, 2005 (0 games) – Assuming Embiid plays a game for the Philadelphia 76ers at some point, he’ll automatically have been a more productive NBA player than Vasquez, a former lottery pick who has never even put on his Magic uniform, let alone worn it in an actual game. He’s had plenty of success playing in his native Spain, but Orlando fans are still bitter that he never played for the team. For what it’s worth, the Magic still have his draft rights.

Other Disappointing Lottery Picks Include:

Adam Morrison, #3, Charlotte Bobcats, 2006 (161 games) – One of college basketball’s most dominant scorers and memorable personalities, Morrison and his mustache never quite found a home in the NBA. He averaged a reasonable 11.8 PPG his rookie season, but things went downhill pretty quickly from there.

Kedrick Brown, #11, Boston Celtics, 2001 (143 games) – Brown actually made it through four NBA seasons with three different teams, but he averaged only 3.6 PPG for his career, which helps explain why he never stuck with any of them.

Rafael Araujo, #8, Toronto Raptors, 2004 (139 games) – A confounding lottery pick even at the time, Araujo never amounted to much in either Toronto or Utah. The best he ever did was average 3.3 PPG his rookie season, and that obviously isn’t going to equate to a long career in the NBA.

Greg Oden, #1, Portland Trail Blazers, 2007 (105 games) – We all know the story of Oden, who despite being the top overall pick in 2007 over Kevin Durant couldn’t stay healthy enough to make an impact in the NBA. Easily one of the worst top overall picks ever, Oden is one of the league’s biggest disappointments, even if it was out of his control.

Dajuan Wagner, #6, Cleveland Cavaliers, 2002 (103 games) – Wagner inaccurately got a lot of comparisons to Allen Iverson coming out of college, and while he scored well in his rookie season (13.4 PPG), he did it on 36.9 percent shooting from the field. Personal issues, health problems and a non-stop train of injuries knocked the wind out of him the seasons that followed, and a bout of ulcerative colitis just about ended his career. After having his colon surgically removed, he played seven minutes in a single game for the Golden State Warriors, and that was it for his NBA career.

Hopefully Joel Embiid doesn’t end up on this list, but it’s starting to look like he very well could end up just as disappointing if he can’t get himself right. Considering his injury history at such a young age, though, it’s already looking a little rough for him. Unlike the guys listed above, however, his career isn’t over. He’s still got a chance to get better and prove he belongs.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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