The 5 Worst Draft Picks in the History of the Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs have the 21st pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, and (seeing that they won’t have a pick next summer thanks to the Rajon Rondo trade) they desperately need to select a good player.


Why? Because – for a myriad of reasons – that combination has rarely clicked in, oh, forever. Wednesday we’ll examine the best draft picks in Mavs’ history. With any luck, it’ll fill up a Post-It note.

Today, however, we tackle the awful selections.

To be fair, a lot of times the Mavs trade away their picks (like last year, shipping them to the Knicks for Tyson Chandler). Sometimes they do the draft-‘n-stash, hoping a European player develops for the future.

But when they have drafted players recently, it hasn’t been pretty. By my math the Mavs haven’t made a “good” draft pick since taking Josh Howard at the end of the first round back in 2003. Since then – we’re talking 11 drafts – the Mavs have selected with their first overall pick only two players that have actually scored points (88 combined) for them: Maurice Ager in ’06 and Nick Fazekas in ’07.

But, nope, not even they can crack this infamous list of The 5 Worst Draft Picks in Mavs’ History:

5. Chris Anstey – Hyped by GM Don Nelson as the "best running big man in the NBA", the Australian 7-footer was an absolute joke as the 18th pick in '97 (the Mavs actually acquired him in a draft-day trade with Portland for Kelvin Cato). Too skinny and embarrassingly unskilled, he started just 23 games in three seasons before going back Down Under to, we can assume, run. Mavs' should've taken Stephen Jackson, or even Bobby Jackson.

4. Randy White – Pegged as the next Karl Malone as a power forward out of Louisiana Tech, the 8th overall pick in '89 fell flat. In five seasons he never averaged more than 9.7 points per game. Mavs could've taken Shawn Kemp, Mookie Blaylock or Vlade Divac.

3. Bill Garnett – A stiff, white, horrible power forward from Wyoming, the No. 4 overall pick in '82 simply couldn't play at the NBA level despite the amazing "character" so praised by GM Norm Sonju. Somehow the Mavs ascended to '80s greatness despite this botched pick that should've been Fat Lever or Ricky Pierce.

2. Leon Smith – A year after landing Dirk Nowitzki, Nellie went absolutely nuts and drafted an immature, unpolished Chicago high-schooler with mental problems. Drafted 29th overall in '99, Smith never played a game in a Mavericks' uniform and only 15 overall with the Hawks and Sonics. Meanwhile, 28 picks later, the Spurs selected Manu Ginobli.

1. Samaki Walker – Needing a power presence to supplement The Three Js (Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn), the Mavs took the Louisville power forward with the 9th overall pick in '96. Walker played only three years in Dallas, but produced a 10-year career punctuated by starting 63 games on the Lakers' championship team in '02. Drafted after Walker: Peja Stojakovic (15th), Steve Nash (14th) and a guy named Kobe Bryant (13th).

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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