This year’s crop of international talent is deep. SI.com’s Chris Mannix mocked six international players in the first round, including Dante Exum and Dario Saric in the top eight picks. By Mannix’s estimation there’s a 1-in-5 chance your team will select an international prospect in the first round. Be very afraid of players whose story resembles any of these eight international phonies – particular 7-footers with “potential.”
8. Yi Jianlian – Bucks – 6th overall, 2007
The Bucks selected Yi Jianlian with hopes of a Yao Ming effect. Three-time Chinese Basketball Association champion, Yi should have brought a winning mentality to Milwaukee. Before long, he’d be a lightning rod of foreign interest. The Chinese Yen would flow like champagne. The 7-footer turned out to be an incredibly soft defender and his 7.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg and pathetic .7 bpg resulted in his return to China after six seasons and three NBA teams.
Still on the board: Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Spencer Hawes
7. Maciej Lampe – Knicks – 31st overall, 2003
This kid was rotten meat right away. The Knicks traded him to Phoenix before he saw the court. A year later, he went from the Suns to the New Orleans Hornets, only to be traded the following year to the Houston Rockets. He went on to play in Russian in 2008, Israel in 2009, Russia again in 2010 and Spain in 2012. Tagging him with the clichéd “journeyman” title doesn’t even begin to explain Lampe.
Still on the board: Steve Blake, Mo Williams, Kyle Korver
6. Yaroslav Karolev – Clippers – 12th overall, 2005
Karolev killed it in the D-League with 10 whole points per game. But when he brought his talents to LA, he had 1.1 ppg, 0.5 rpg and 0.4 apg. After two seasons, he left the NBA and moved on for some Euro league dunk contest conquest. A least the chicks dig him.
Still on the board: Danny Granger, David Lee
5. Fran Vasquez – Magic – 11th overall, 2005
Imagine if Ricky Rubio never caved and you’d have Vasquez’s story. The Spaniard stuck around in Spain – who would have figured? He used the Magic’s contract rights as leverage for contracts in the Euro league. He was drafted at age 22. He’s now 31-years-old and hasn’t recorded a single NBA stat.
Still on the board: Danny Granger, David Lee
4. Michael Olowokandi – Clippers – 1st overall, 1998
It’s comforting to know that Olowokandi was a Donald Sterling bust… or maybe not. The Kandi man managed 8.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 0.7 apg during his nine years in the league. Nigerian born, Olowokandi went to an unknown school called University of Pacific for college where he put up 22, 11 and 3 as a senior, which somehow elevated him to the No. 1 pick. If it’s any consolation, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had some really nice things to say about him.
He’s “uncoachable,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “He took his place on the list of athletically gifted washouts who have been in and out of the league in the past 10 years.”
Still on the board: Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitski, Paul Pierce
3. Nikoloz Tskitishvili – Nuggets – 5th overall, 2002
Mike D’Antoni was this Georgia (the country) prospect’s coach in Italy. D’Antoni eventually worked for the Nuggets from 1997-1999. Whether he left this shit stain in the Nuggets’ bed is unclear, but Tskitishvili was supposed play a Kevin Durant game with the length to play forward but the shooting ability of a guard. He averaged 2.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg and .7 apg. Not exactly KD numbers.
Still on the board: Nene, Amar’e Stoudemire, Caron Butler
2. Frederic Weis – Knicks – 15th overall, 1999
When you’re expected to come in and fill the Nikes of a guy like Patrick Ewing, you’re pretty much screwed. (Colts fans must know Andrew Luck is a godsend.) Weis’ career stat line looked a lot like a bad soccer game – zeroes across the board. He never overcame his knee issues. The 7-foot-2 center never saw the court. To make things worse, Vince Carter absolutely demoralized him in international play.
Still on the board: Ron Artest, Andrei Kirilenko, Manu Ginobili
1. Darko Milicic – Pistons – 2nd overall, 2003
Utah Jazz Director of International Scouting, Alberto Dal Cin said this guy was “a can’t-miss player” and he would “take Darko ahead of Lebron James …”
What. An. Idiot.
Hindsight is 20-20, but this guy over Lebron? Come on. The 7-foot Serb bounced around the NBA for twelve seasons and averaged 6.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.9 apg and 1.3 bpg. In the company above, the stats appear gargantuan. But look at his company below. 2003 was a talent pool filled with actual can’t-miss players and the Pistons took this guy. Poor, poor Detroit.
Still on the board: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, David West
Yi Jianlian image: Jeramey Jannene, Flickr
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