The 25 Worst Lottery Picks 2010-19

There is an old saying. A wise man learns from other’s mistakes. An average man learns from his own mistakes. A fool never learns. And so it is, the NBA and a Covid lottery. The problem with professional sports is that decisions made a long time ago, still linger. For NBA teams, even though ten years of the draft lottery is in the books, they are paying the price. There is a reason Sacramento hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2006 and Phoenix since 2010, despite De’Aaron Fox and Devin Booker. The rest of their draft picks have been questionable at best.

The lottery was never designed to only reveal elite players. It is a combination of All-Stars and role players. The collection of picks 1-14 are supposed to fill a roster, and at the very least, make an impact. While elite players, All-Stars, and role players are up and down the lottery, there are mistakes as well. Players who were less than advertised, one dimensional, couldn’t achieve in the league, had no business being in the lottery in the first place. Some couldn’t get past injuries, their bodies were brittle. Others were victims of bad coaching. Or, wrong place, wrong time. Many weren’t skilled enough.

Lottery mistakes are costly.  GM’s that make lottery pick mistakes cost their franchise years in the rebuilding process. If scouting and drafting talent was easy, then every team would excel. But it’s the hardest thing a GM has to do. Make the decision on who to draft in the lottery.

The worst lottery pick in the past decade wasn’t Anthony Bennett, though he gets all the abuse. Bennett was the worst number one pick of the decade. But Georgios Papagiannis only played in 30 games. He was the worst of all.

Resumes of the rest. (Rostered players denoted with an asterisk.)

#1 Pick (2013)

Anthony Bennett, Cleveland.  4 years, 4 teams. 151 games. 4.4 ppg.

#4 Pick (2010, 2016)

Wesley Johnson, Minnesota. 9 years, 6 teams.  609 games. 7.0 ppg

*Dragan Bender, Phoenix. 4 years, 3 teams. 187 games. 5.4 ppg.

#5 Pick (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016)

Thomas Robinson, Sacramento. 5 years. 6 teams. 313 games. 4.9 ppg.

*Dante Exum, Utah. 6 years. 2 teams. 239 games. 5.6 ppg

*Mario Hezonja, Orlando. 5 years. 3 teams. 330 games. 6.9 ppg.

*Kris Dunn, Minnesota. 4 years. 2 teams. 227 games. 8.3 ppg.

#6 Pick (2011)

Jan Vesely, Washington. 3 years. 2 teams. 162 games. 3.6 ppg.

#8 Pick (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Nik Stauskas, Sacramento. 5 years. 5 teams. 335 games. 6.8 ppg.

*Stanley Johnson, Detroit. 5 years. 4 teams. 310 games. 6.6 ppg.

*Marquess Chriss, Sacramento. 4 years. 4 teams. 256 games. 8.0 ppg

*Frank Ntilikina, New York. 3 years. 1 team. 178 games. 6.0 ppg

#9 Pick (2014, 2016)

*Noah Vonleh, Charlotte. 6 years. 6 teams.  335 games. 5.0 ppg.

*Jakob Poltl, Utah. 4 years. 2 teams. 279 games. 5.5 ppg

#10 Pick (2011, 2016, 2017)

Jimmer Fredette, Milwaukee. 6 years. 5 teams. 241 games. 6.0 ppg

*Thon Maker, Milwaukee. 4 years. 2 teams. 255 games. 4.7 ppg

*Zach Collins, Sacramento. 3 years. 1 team. 154 games. 5.7 ppg

#11 Pick (2014, 2017)

*Doug  McDermott, Denver. 6 years. 5 teams. 410 games. 8.2 ppg.

*Malik Monk, Charlotte. 3 years. 1 team. 191 games. 8.6 ppg

#12 Pick (2010, 2015)

Xavier Henry, Memphis. 5 years. 3 teams. 185 games. 5.7 ppg

*Trey Lyles, Utah. 5 years. 3 teams. 351 games. 7.4 ppg

#13 Pick (2012, 2016)

Kendall Marshall, Phoenix.  4 years. 4 teams. 160 games. 5.0 ppg.

Georgios Papagiannis, Phoenix. 2 years. 3 teams. 39 games. 4.1 ppg.

#14 Pick (2015, 2016)

*Cameron Payne, OKC. 5 years. 4 teams. 161 games. 6.2 ppg.

*Denzel Valentine, Chicago. 3 years. 1 team. 170 games. 7.8 ppg.