The real fun as I investigated the first round selections of past drafts was stumbling upon those names that make your eyebrows crinkle and ask: “Who?” Sometimes the names themselves are not entirely unfamiliar, but, with all of them, the memory of their NBA career is ever-challenging to recall. These are not necessarily busts, although some fit the description. But, for all, to be selected so high, and leave such a small imprint, was surely a disappointment to the teams that selected them.
So, who are those players and names from the past decade? Who was taken in the coveted top half of round one? Who were those prospects to whom NBA teams saddled hopes of upgrading their roster if not becoming a pillar of their organization? Who are these now forgotten ones? Let’s take a walk down memory (or amnesia) lane. Here are a few of the eyebrow-raisers this somewhat-educated NBA fan had trouble pulling out from the cranial archives (either by name, NBA career, or, most often, both).
1997: Olivier Saint-Jean (#11 to Sacramento, San Jose St.)
If you were like us, the name Olivier Saint-Jean conjured up visions of absolutely nothing. Until, of course, one realizes that Saint-Jean is Tariq Abdul-Wahad. Finckle is Einhorn. Einhorn is Finckle! Yes, Tariq cast away his native France in favor of an Islamic conversion in 1997. Among this list, Saint-Jean Abdul-Wahad, although nothing to write home about, was far from the laughingstock of the bunch.
Hmmmm…slow, 6’9 white guy from Indiana. Don’t care how nice a touch he has on his jumper, you might not want to take a pass, Charlotte. Apparently, some lessons are never fully learned.
This person went #5 overall in the draft. #5. Overall. Wait, who is this person?
Since he was drafted by the Knicks, I have a soft spot for Sweetney. He seemed like a real good guy who just couldn’t keep himself away from the buffet table. Plus, it was just awesome when Walt Clyde would say “…with the sweet stuff” after Michael jammed one home. But a #9 pick? Really? Georgetown has been one of my favorite college teams since I went to hoops camp there at age 10. I watched a lot of Hoyas basketball. How could one look at Sweetney and deem him worthy of a top 10 first-round pick? Ahhh, yes. It was the New York Knicks. A team that makes many things possible that could seemingly not be accomplished by any other franchise. By the way, David West went 18th and Josh Howard 29th in 2003. Sure neither of those fellas could’ve helped the Knicks. Nah, not a bit.
Another guy I loved in college. Sweet stroke. Luke had that long-haired Pacific Northwest laid-back vibe going with Ridnour. But Cleveland might want to reference our comments on the 2001 draft and Charlotte’s selection. That said, Jackson appears to be improving a bit with age. Still, it was shocking to look back and see his name next to the #10 pick.
Never heard of these guys? Neither had we. Vazquez is under contract with the basketball version of FC Barcelona – through the 2008-2009 season. He was drafted in 2005. This whole existing contract thing supposedly came as a surprise to the Magic. If we ever hear the name Fran Vazquez associated with any sort of accomplishment in the NBA, that will be our surprise. Korolev was waived by the Clippers in October of 2007. And getting waived by the Clippers is quite an accomplishment.
2006: Patrick O’Bryant (#9 to Golden State, Bradley)
Personally, drafting a seven-footer out of Bradley with a top 10 pick just doesn’t sound right. Sure, it’s way too early to make any sort of judgment about a 22 year-old kid, but when was the last time you heard
2007: Spencer Hawes (#10 to Sacramento, Washington)
This guy just reeks of a future Frederic Weis forgotten All-Star. We won’t judge…yet. But there was a lot of hype around this guy this time last year. He did play in 71 games and average 13 minutes per contest. So, we’ll give him some time before officially naming him a member of this squad.
We’re anxious to see who becomes the early favorite to join this illustrious class of forgettable and forgotten. Guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow. Pins and needles!
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About the Author: Cecilio's Scribe is the founder of The Legend of Cecilio Guante and a generally pessimistic fan of the Mets, Jets, Knicks and Rangers. A fine NYC-based gentlemen who hones his marketing skills as his primary trade by day. Husband, chef, father of a newborn and after-hours blogger by night. Proud alum of the mighty Big Red of Cornell. University. Hot sauce devotee. Staunch protester of the continued wussifcation of American sports. Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick.