Kwame Brown was on NBA TV twice yesterday: First when the news of his agreeing to a free-agent deal with the Charlotte Bobcats was announced, and again during the day-long celebration of Kobe Bryant’s 32nd birthday — Kwame making his cameo during the replay of Kobe’s 81-point game against the Raptors in January 2006.
Darko Milicic also made an appearance during the 81-point game. A graphic from the Lakers broadcast showed the top five picks of the ’03 Draft — LeBron, Darko, Carmelo, Bosh and D-Wade — and their scoring averages from that season. While LeBron was dropping like 30 ppg at the time, and ‘Melo, Wade and Bosh were all above 20 points a night, Darko stuck out like a white-collar criminal in a gen-pop prison yard, boasting an average of 1.6 points per game.
Back then, Kwame still seemed capable of resurrecting his career, while Darko was on the verge of going down as the biggest NBA Draft bust of all-time. Four years later, in 2010, Darko and Kwame are moving in opposite directions. Darko just signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he will be next season’s starting center, while Kwame had to settle for a one-year, minimum-salary contract that may not have been much more than a favor from Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, who drafted Kwame No. 1 overall in 2001.
Heading into another proving ground season, Darko and Kwame are two of the names mentioned most often when talk turns to NBA Draft busts. In the past decade, they might be the two biggest busts.
Determining a draft bust involves a lot of factors. For Darko, even if he becomes a solid starter in the NBA, he’ll always be compared to the superstars who were drafted around him: LeBron, Wade, Bosh and Carmelo, and thus considered a bust.
Kwame’s draft class wasn’t as talented as Darko’s — only Pau Gasol and Joe Johnson have reached close to superstar status from that year’s Lottery — but Kwame’s disappointing play on big stages (with Jordan in D.C., with Kobe in L.A.) and his status as the No. 1 pick have made him more memorable as a bust than somebody like Robert “Tractor” Traylor or Rafael Araujo, who had shorter (and worse) NBA careers.
We’ve now had a full decade’s worth of NBA Drafts in the 2000s, and for a variety of reasons, “bust” status has been handed to everybody from DeMarr Johnson to DeSagana Diop, from Jay Williams to Marvin Williams. Some of them get rightfully dogged, while some have gotten a raw deal due to circumstances beyond their control.
Who do you think is the biggest draft bust of the decade?