Like every proud franchise, even the Philadelphia 76ers have made some mistakes, especially in the draft.
NBA Draft busts are always such a fun conversation. It’s a painful thought to contemplate about who could have been taken by the team instead, if only they just made a better decision. On the other hand, you can always get a good laugh when you look back and remember their stories.
Either way, Philadelphia is not immune to this as the organization has accumulated a bunch of draft busts over the years. Here, we take a look at the five biggest NBA Draft busts in Philadelphia 76ers history.
5. Shawn Bradley (1993)
When you’re drafted second overall, you should know that a lot of eyes are on you. It’s not as much pressure as being first, but second is still pretty high on the list. Sadly, Shawn Bradley was a disappointment. More so, the organization could have had its hands on Penny Hardaway instead; and could have even paired him up with Allen Iverson in just a few more years.
With Shawn Bradley, they got a 7-foot-6 big man who only averaged 9.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. He got pushed around in the paint often and he simply lacked the impact on the floor that was highly expected of him in the first place. Eventually, he was sent to the New Jersey Nets after 43 games in less than three seasons.
4. Evan Turner (2010)
He wasn’t worthy. Philadelphia was already lucky enough to bag the 2nd pick back in 2010. However, they still dropped the ball. In hindsight, Evan Turner showed a lot of promise as he was just named the National Player of The Year before heading to the NBA. Be that as it may, he only cracked 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game in just four seasons before getting traded. Keep in mind that the Ohio State product was taken ahead of DeMarcus Cousins, Gordon Hayward, and Paul George.
3. Markelle Fultz (2017)
Remembers how this turned out? There’s simply a different kind of pressure when someone bags the No. 1 overall pick. In another life, Philadelphia could have landed promising up-and-coming talents in Jayson Tatum or Donovan Mitchell. Sadly, it looked like the pressure got to Markelle Fultz as several Sixers news outlets and the national media alike caught wind of the rumor that Fultz looked like he forgot how to shoot a basketball.
He averaged 7.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in less than 40 games with the 76ers. Everyone had high hopes for the kid, but he just didn’t meet expectations. Luckily for him now, it looks like he’s finally finding his stride with the Orlando Magic.
2. Leon Wood (1984)
With the 10th pick, the 76ers drafted Leon Wood. He averaged a disappointing 4.1 points, 0.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. What’s the worst part? They passed up on one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game, John Stockton. Although, the front office was able to land a lifesaver earlier in the same draft with the likes of Charles Barkley. Thus, they get a bit of a pass for screwing the pooch in the 10th pick.
However, it’s still scary to think about how dominant the team could have been with a duo of Barkley and Stockton. Instead of the Utah Jazz going up against Michael Jordan‘s Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals, this duo could have put up a fight as well. Another “what if” situation that we can only speculate on.
1. Larry Hughes (1998)
This one hurt. When the 76ers drafted Larry Hughes with their eighth pick in the first round, they passed up on Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce. To be clear, this “bust” has more to do with who else was available. Hughes was a fine player.
To put into context, this was the Allen Iverson era too. Just imagine Iverson running with the likes of Nowitzki or Pierce and what a sight it could have been. In just two seasons with the 76ers, Hughes averaged a measly 9.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game.
However, we can give him a bit of consolation as he did end up leading the league in steals and placed in the 1st All-Defensive team later on in 2004 in Washington.
Nevertheless, he was the biggest draft bust during his time in Philadelphia and it’s just painful to think of what could have been instead. Iverson with Nowitzki or Pierce could have possibly even brought a championship to the city.