The NBA Draft offers teams around the league to secure the right to sign the best up-and-coming talent in the world, and there are plenty of franchises that drastically altered their trajectory by scooping up a superstar during the event.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a “sure thing” when it comes to the NBA Draft, as picking the players who have the most potential tends to be much easier said than done.
Nothing highlights that reality quite like taking a look at the group of guys who’ve been selected with the top overall pick in the draft over the past 10 years, as virtually every franchise on that list probably wishes they could have a do-over when you compare the impact those players managed to have to the more impressive contributions of some of the guys who went after them.
While the NBA Draft is an inherent crapshoot, there are certain years when trying to identify the top talent is an especially difficult task.
There are a number of draft classes that stand out from the rest of the pack due to the number of stars they ultimately produced, but the fact that the vast majority of players who ended up being picked in all of them failed to leave any major mark on the league is a testament to how hard it can be to identify who really has what it takes.
Members of the front office can spend months pouring over stats and game tape while interviewing prospects in the hopes of making the right call, but at the end of the day, there’s only so much you can do—as evidenced by the NBA Draft classes that are primarily defined by the dearth of talent they boasted in hindsight.
What’s the worst NBA Draft class in the history of the league?
In the aforementioned article concerning the best NBA Draft classes of all time, I used the number of players who’ve been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as the primary factor when it came to measuring their strength.
While that had the potential to cause some issues when you consider it largely took NBA players who are still in the league out of the running, it wasn’t a major concern due to the comparatively weak nature of drafts that have taken place in the new millennium.
Of course, that means some of those drafts could be in consideration when it comes to addressing this particular topic; it’s pretty unlikely anyone who was selected in 2006 is going to punch their ticket to Springfield, and you could argue that may also end up being the case with 2015 based on how things currently stand.
The 1989 NBA Draft was an uncharacteristically weak one in a decade that boasted plenty of notable classes, but when it comes to the most underwhelming one the league has ever seen, it’s hard to ignore the contenders that emerged in the early 2000s.
While 2003 boasted one of the most formidable top fives we’ll ever see, it was really the lone bright spot during that era.
The Wizards certainly missed the mark when they drafted Kwame Brown with the first overall pick in 2001, but that draft did produce a lone Hall of Famer in the form of Pao Gasol. Yao Ming was also enshrined after he lived up to the expectations that came with going No. 1 in 2002, but he was also the only major highlight of that year.
2000, on the other hand, featured what is possibly the worst draft class in the history of the NBA.
Kenyon Martin (who was selected by the Nets with the first pick) certainly wasn’t a bust, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest his career could be accurately described as “pretty solid.”
The same, however, cannot be said before basically everyone else who was selected in the top 10.
Mike Miller may have won Rookie of the Year honors in his inaugural season because, well, somebody had to, but he is just one member of a lengthy list that includes Stromile Swift, Chris Mihm, Joel Przybilla, Keyon Dooling, and a handful of other That Guys who have basically been forgotten by basketball history.
No one in the 2000 NBA Draft class came close to earning a spot in the Hall of Fame, and you have to go all the way back to 1951 (the second draft in history) to find another one with the same distinction (although only 19 people were picked in the first two rounds compared to the 58 that were scooped up close to 50 years later).
So, yeah, it’s safe to say 2000 takes the cake.