Luther Head is gone. The once beloved three-point bazooka is now a free agent, and thus, another first round pick is officially wasted. Normally, the Rockets have done a great job with their draft day decisions, as we have picked up Shane Battier, Yao Ming, and Aaron Brooks, as well as Ralph Sampson, Sam Cassell, and of course, Big Shot Bob, Steve Francis and Hakeem Olajuwon.
But what about the stinkers? The picks that everyone knew just wouldn't pan out, and didn't pan out? I've put together a list, consisting solely of first round picks, as second rounders are usually shots in the dark that rarely pay off. Here they are, your top ten worst first round draft picks since 1990:
10. Luther Head -- 24th overall, 2005. Halfway decent players drafted after Luther: Monta Ellis, David Lee, Louis Williams, Von Wafer, Ryan Gomes
Drafting Luther was like drafting a stripper that couldn't dance. Luther was a sharpshooter that couldn't shoot, and yet he still retained some value. True, he did have one phenomenal season, but otherwise, he was a giant bundle of disappointment and missed layups. Cross your fingers that the Spurs sign him instead of Drew Gooden.
9. Rodrick Rhodes -- 24th overall, 1997. Players drafted after Rodrick: Marc Jackson (GSoM's slogan star), Stephen Jackson, God Shammgod
I'm just pissed that we didn't take someone named God Shammgod. We also could have changed the fate of the Golden State Warriors forever. But we took Rodrick, of USC, and he had a decent season before playing for Vancouver, Dallas, and then disappearing forever.
8. Kenny Thomas -- 22nd overall, 1999. Players drafted after Kenny: Andrei Kirilenko, Gordan Giricek, Manu Ginobili. Would life be worth living if I had to root for Andrei or Manu?
Kenny convinced us he was good for a season, got paid, then sucked. Then he got traded, convinced Philadelphia he was good, got paid 50 million dollars, then sucked. Now he's lounging in Sacramento and playing for the Kings in his free time. Consider Kenny the NBA's premier con man.
7. Bryce Drew -- 16th overall, 1998. Players drafted after Bryce: Ricky Davis, Al Harrington, Rashard Lewis, Rafer Alston.
He made a really cool shot, and suddenly, we thought he was basketball's Doogie Howser. Turns out he wasn't - he was more like a white Luther Head. I guarantee you, if he hadn't made that shot for Valpo, he would have gone undrafted. I'm still surprised we took him expecting more than a taller Brent Price.
6. Bostjan Nachbar -- 15th overall, 2002. Players drafted after Bostjan: Tayshaun Prince, John Salmons, Carlos Boozer, Roger Mason, Luis Scola.
For kicks, doesn't Boki's head look a bit small in his "Welcome to the Rockets, Yao Ming and Other Foreign Guy" picture? Bostjan's game was about as small as his head (zing!), and while he was a solid outside shooter, he was never the player we expected him to be. After three terribly unproductive seasons in Houston, we shipped him off to New Orleans, where he had a bit of a renaissance, raising his scoring average to an incredible 8 points per game! Drat - he was worth it after all!
But even before Bostjan, there was worse. We have to go back one year...to the year 2001.
2001: A Griffin Odyssey
Out of all the blunders we've had over the years, none was a greater f*** up than our decision to trade THREE first round picks for Eddie Griffin, a guy who never panned out, and sadly, died a few years ago at too young an age. And while I offer my sincere condolences to the Griffin family, the decision to trade away three first-rounders for Eddie was, in BarkleySpeak, "turrible." The next three picks were all taken in 2001, and then promptly shipped off for Griffin. And while I realize that when a team has three first-rounders, the chances that they trade one of them is probable, this was just...bleh.
5. Richard Jefferson-Griffin -- 13th overall. Players drafted after Richard:Doesn't matter - I would have been perfectly fine keeping Rich in this slot.
Richard was the first of our three first rounders to be traded to New Jersey. By far, he was the best player of the three. He turned into a lethal scorer and went to two NBA championships with the Nets. Oh, the things I would have done to see Rich, Steve, and Yao together on a team. I'm giddy just thinking about it. We surely would have won quite a few games with Charlie's Angels leading the way (and yes, Lucy Liu would indeed be Yao).
4. Jason Collins-Griffin -- 18th overall. Players drafted after Jason and before Brandon Armstrong: Zach Randolph, Brendan Haywood.
Bust. I realize we took Collins and Armstrong because the Nets wanted them, but, for the sake of repeating myself, we had three first round picks! Shenanigans!
3. Brandon Armstrong-Griffin -- 23rd overall. Players drafted after Brandon:(...sigh...) Gilbert Arenas, Tony Parker, Gerald Wallace, Sam Dalembert, Jamaal Tinsley, Mehmet Okur, Earl Watson.
This one hurt the most. It was the back-breaker. In my mind, I give our scouting unit the benefit of the doubt and assume that they would have probably taken Tony Parker had this been our pick. Or, at the very lest, they would have drafted a guard better than Armstrong. But nooooo, in reality, we took Armstrong and then traded him. I'm not even sure how we got three first-rounders that year, but something tells me if we could go back in time, we would have just kept our picks. Actually, no, screw that, we would have traded up to get J-Rich, Pau Gasol, or Joe Johnson. Someone find me a goddamn flying DeLorean.
In all seriousness, the sad thing about all this was that Griffin (pictured above) was actually a huge prospect and could have been a dynamic scorer and was already a great shot-blocker, but drug issues dragged him down. When he finally seemed to be getting his life together, he died in a train crash. In two seasons with Houston, Griffin averaged 8 points and 4 rebounds per game. Rest in peace.
2. John Turner -- 20th overall, 1991. Players drafted after John: Rick Fox and a bunch of guys I don't remember.
John is on this list because we drafted him and he bailed. He only played one season, averaged 2.8 points per game, and then went off to Europe to party with Spaniards. Hell, I'd do the same thing, but only if I got Josh Childress money. Or free margaritas. Yup, that may do the trick. All right, Real _____, shoot me an e-mail. And speaking of shoot me...
1. Mirsad Turkcan -- 18th overall, 1998. Players drafted after Mirsad: See Bryce Drew above. Thankfully, we got Michael Dickerson and Cuttino in the second round.
Yes, here he is, Mirsad Turkcan, our worst first-round draft pick in the last twenty years. You tried to forget about him, but Mirsad lives on as a the next best Tskitishvili, the king of all European big men busts. Mirsad never played a game for Houston, and was traded to Philadelphia the season after he was drafted. So, yeah, we kinda/sorta swung and missed on this one. It depresses me more than Radiohead, which I never considered possible. Crap, Mirsad.