Detroit Pistons: Top 10 draft busts in past 30 years

Serbia's Darko Milicic (R) shoots against Greece's Dimosthenis Ntikoudis. AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)
Serbia's Darko Milicic (R) shoots against Greece's Dimosthenis Ntikoudis. AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images) /
3 of 4
D.J. White
BLOOMINGTON, IN – JANUARY 8: D.J. White #3 of the Indiana Hoosiers (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The 6th, 5th and 4th worst draft picks of the Detroit Pistons in last 30 years

6. D.J. White, Indiana (2008, 29th)

Sometimes, it is the deals you do not make, that are the best. Unfortunately for the Pistons, they did deal D.J. White.

The 6-foot-9, 251-pound forward/center was a draft day trade to the newly moved Oklahoma City Thunder. Detroit received in return Walter Sharpe and Trent Plaisted.

Sharpe played a total of eight games for Detroit,  and Plaisted played zero.

White played five years in the NBA as a backup big man. He finished with averages of 5.9 points and 3.2 rebounds. Better than the career of the guys the Pistons traded for.

If Detroit had kept the pick, they could have taken Mario Chalmers (who went 32nd) or center DeAndre Jordan (drafted 35th).

If Detroit has Jordan, they then have no need to use a top 10 pick a few years later on Andre Drummond and who knows what direction the franchise would have taken.

But they did draft, and then traded for nothing, D.J. White.

Rick Mahorn, Cliff Levingston
LANDOVER, MD – CIRCA 1983: Cliff Levingston #53 of the Detroit Pistons shoots over Rick Mahorn #44 of the Washington Bullets during an NBA basketball game circa 1983. Levingston played for the Pistons from 1982-84. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

5. Cliff Levingston, Wichita State (1982, 9th)

Cliff Levingston was a big star in college. He led the Wheatshockers (now shortened to Shockers) to national prominence, long before they recently became a top 25 program.

Personal Note: I actually saw Levingston play against Temple, coached by the late John Chaney. Great atmosphere in Wichita. I also remember all the Wichita State players somehow left the arena in new cars (I am sure they earned it thru summer jobs).

But the 6-8, 210-pound Levingston was a beast. After drafting Isiah Thomas and Kelly Tripucka the year before, Detroit was hoping it had another star when it took Levingston at No. 9.

Levingston was a solid player, but never lived up to being a top 10 draft pick. He was probably a bit under-sized for a player who did his scoring down low. In 11 years, he tried just 33 three-pointers, making five.

But he was a tough, hard-nosed, dependable guy, and there is always a place for that style of player in the NBA. He only averaged 10 points one time.

In 1984, Levingston was part of the package sent to Atlanta in the Dan Roundfield trade. He would then be with the Hawks for quite a few years in the Dominique Wilkins-era.

The Pistons actually did better with the 18th pick in the 1982 draft, when they took sharpshooter Ricky Pierce.

Detroit Pistons
Jonas Jerebko #33 (L) and Austin Daye #5 (R) of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images) /

4. Austin Daye, Gonzaga (2009, 15th)

A 6-foot-11 wing who can shoot, was what Austin Daye was supposed to bring to the Detroit Pistons, when they took him with the 15th overall pick.

Future All-Star Jrue Holiday was still on the board but Detroit went with Daye. Holiday was selected by the 76ers two picks later.

In a five-year NBA career, Daye was not a bad shooter (35.1% from three) but he did not contribute enough overall. He played three-and-a-half seasons for the Pistons, his highest average being 7.5 points, before getting dealt as part of the Jose Calderon trade.

How much of the Pistons arc in the 2010s would have changed if they had Jrue Holiday?