3×3: Warriors Draft Busts and Disappointments
Biggest draft bust in Warriors history?
Jesse Taylor: The biggest? Just one? That’s like asking me to pick my most annoying family member. Or the most exasperating CEO of a Silicon Valley start-up. Nearly impossible to settle on one.
The Warriors draft ineptitude goes all the way back to 1953 when they took Ernie Beck #1 overall as their territorial selection. Drafted ahead of three future NBA Hall of Famers, Beck went on to average a whopping 6.3 points in six seasons with the Warriors.
But he’s not the worst. Nor was Fred Hetzel (#2 in 1965), JB Carroll (ahead of Kevin McHale), Chris Washburn (#3 in ’86), Joe Smith (ahead of Kevin Garnett), Todd Fuller (ahead of Kobe Bryant), Mike Dunleavy (ahead of Amar’e Stoudemire), or Patrick O’Bryant and Ike Diogu (each #9 in 2005 and 2006 respectively).
My pick for the biggest draft pick bust goes to Adonal Foyle in 1997 because of the shock and disappointment I felt as soon as it happened. After passing on KG and Kobe for Joe Smith and Todd Fuller, I truly believed that the Warriors had learned their lesson and would no longer fear high school phenoms. So when that #8 pick came up and Tracy McGrady’s name was still on the board, I remember telling everyone, “We finally got ourselves a star!” Then they called Foyle’s name and I knew I would forever be cursed for choosing the Warriors as my favorite sports team.
Sam Esfandiari: There are so many to choose from. Personally, I have to go Mike Dunleavy Jr. Not because he was the worst pick or biggest miss, but because he was the biggest disappointment.
When the Warriors drafted Todd Fuller or Adonal Foyle, I had no allusions to thinking they’d become all-star Centers. But with Dunleavy, we had a decorated college star, who was part of a national champion and who’s father was a former NBA player and coach. I recall around draft time, talks of the ‘the next Larry bird’ and a future all-star. None of that happened. Dunleavy blasting the fan base and organization only added fuel to fire.
Jordan Ramirez: The Warriors used the 11th pick in the 1996 draft on Todd Fuller, a 6-11 center from North Carolina State. Once again, the Warriors looked to draft need over best player available, and while it’s easy to look at drafts in hindsight and play the would’ve/should’ve/could’ve game, this one was especially horrific.
Fuller spent just five seasons in the NBA, that’s 225 games and only two with the team the drafted him. His career-high’s include a beastly 4.1 PPG, incredible 3.4 RPG, all in 12.7 MPG! It’s no wonder the Warriors passed on this level of superstardom
Which Warriors draft pick did you believe would become a star and turned out to be awful?
Jesse Taylor: Tim Young. I thought that silky smooth lefty jumper in a 7-footer’s body would be an unbeatable combination. Okay, not really.
Honestly, the Warriors crushed my hopes so many times over the years, I’m not sure I ever thought any of their draft picks would become stars. I always kept low expectations so I wouldn’t set my self up for disappointment. But if I have to choose, I’ll go with Mike Dunleavy. I might have hoped for several seconds that he’d become an all-around offensive guru. Then training camp started and I saw him play.
Sam Esfandiari: The honest answer? Almost everyone of them since I started following the team in the mid 90s. As a Warriors fan, you were always sold on hope of the future, so when draft time came around, logic went out the window and the kool-aid was heavily consumed.
But if I’m pressed to pick one, it’s probably Brandan Wright. Again he’s not an awful player, but I was so confident he’d be an all-star. I thought that combination of size, athleticism, and skill couldn’t miss, especially mixed with the up-tempo ‘We Believe’ team. He looked like the perfect fit on the pick and roll with Baron Davis. I was in the “Nellie’s an idiot for not playing him” camp during his rookie year.
Seven years later a few surgeries and little development, he’s a solid rotation big men, but his odds of ever being an all-star are on par with Lacob building a statue of Chris Cohan outside the new arena.
Jordan Ramirez: I was all-in on Anthony Randolph. I bought the hype. I saw the potential…until I didn’t. In a draft that has turned into an incredible pool — Derrick Rose (still), Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook — the Warriors managed (again) to find the only player that hasn’t panned out even a respectable NBA career. Randolph quickly turned into trade-bait (even for the aforementioned Love) and the comparisons to Lamar Odom quickly turned laughable. What proved worse for Randolph: he was acquired in an off-season that saw the Warriors miss the playoffs after winning 48 games, fan-favorite Baron Davis leaving for the Clippers (of all places) and signing Corey Maggette for $50 million. He was the youngest player in the NBA at the time he was drafted, so “potential” was being used in each and every description about his future. He indeed had potential, but so does every prospect ever to enter any draft in any sport anywhere. Randolph was eventually traded for David Lee in 2007 in Joe Lacob’s first real move of his ownership tenure. It was addition by subtraction, even if Lee’s subsequent pre-lockout extension was disastrous. The stakes were high and emotions were running higher within the fan base, and the Warriors, like they’ve become historically known to do, failed miserably
Go back in history and re-do one Warriors draft choice, which would it be?
Jesse Taylor: Screw picking one. Let’s go with the worst back-to-back-to-back trifecta in the history of sports and re-do 1995, ‘96 and ’97. Joe Smith over KG, Todd Fuller over Kobe and Adonal Foyle over McGrady. You couldn’t even try to do worse than that. How I, or any other Warriors fans, made it through those three drafts without abandoning ship is a credit to us all. Or a case for our stupidity.
That right there is why Oracle is fuckin’ loud as hell when the Bobcats are in town. Previous Warriors drafts have caused us to go insane.
Sam Esfandiari: I try not to live too much in the past, but if I had to it’d be 2010 and Ekpe Udoh over Paul George. Who knows how that would effect future trades (Udoh was part of the Monta for Bogut package), but I just hated that pick from day one. Udoh was 23 before his rookie year and not a particularly great college player. Warriors had an awful year and had a shot with the #6 pick to grab a player to start building around with curry and completely whiffed.
Add to it they also had Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph on the roster (two other skinny PFs) I never saw the logic. Trading for David Lee that summer only buried Udoh on the bench and basically wasted the 6 pick on a 3rd/4th big man.
George would have fit seamlessly with Curry, and together with Klay Thompson in 2011, would have given the Warriors a perimeter to torture teams in the west for the following decade.
Jordan Ramirez: Seeing a young Kobe Bryant mesh with Latrell Sprewell would’ve been must-see TV (they had TV back then I believe), but witnessing Kevin Garnett in a Warriors uniform would’ve been something special. Once again, the Warriors decided not to draft a player coming out of high school, instead favoring the 6-10 forward from Maryland with the first pick in the 1995 draft — yes, that’s the draft before they passed on Kobe Bryant and others. Say what you want about Garnett’s personality and antics both on/off the court, but his Hall-of-Fame career speaks for itself. The Warriors passed on one of the best forwards this game has ever seen for a player that suited up 211 times for them. Only the Warriors.