Every NBA Team’s Worst Draft Mistake

Milwaukee Bucks — Dirk Nowitzki (1998)

Who They Picked Instead: Robert Traylor

Trades during the draft aren’t typically finalized until after all picks have been made. As a result, awkward moments are created with a prospect sporting gear of a team that has already agreed to send him elsewhere. One of the most famous incidents of this occurring was when the Charlotte Hornets selected Kobe Bryant with the 13th overall pick in 1996, knowing full-well they were going to swap immediately after the draft for Lakers big man Vlade Divac.

Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki endured a similar fate. The 7-foot German was selected 9th overall in the 1998 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, but ended up being traded to Dallas for Robert “Tractor” Traylor — the 6th overall pick. It’s a particularly crushing blow for the Bucks knowing how Nowitzki’s career played out. Dirk was faithful to the Mavericks through his entire career, a trait that would have been welcomed by a Milwaukee team that has never been a major free agent destination.

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