June 1999: Lottery Pick = Aleksander Radojevic
Remember how the New York Knicks were laughed at for picking Frederic Weis with their first-pick in the 1999 draft? Everybody laughed a little harder when Vince Carter dunked over Weis (quite literally) during the 2000 Olympics. Well, Raptor fans can stop laughing right now as Weis was picked three spots after Aleksander Radojevic.
What qualified Radojevic for the NBA lottery? I'm certain that it wasn't his amateur pedigree which consisted of two seasons at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kansas. It probably wasn't the level of competition since he was playing against other community colleges in western Kansas -- you know, big time schools like Dodge City Community College and Pratt Community College. Against such competition Radojevic averaged a pedestrian 13 points per game. I'm guessing Grunwald was looking at one stat only when making this pick: 7 foot 3. You can't teach height!
And you can polish a turd all you want, in the end it is still shit.
Radojevic played 3 games for the Raptors during the 1999/2000 season. That was it. For his 24 minutes of Raptor action, Radojevic was paid $1.3 million. Actually, Radojevic ended up getting paid $4.2 million over 3 years for those 24 minutes. Maybe the Raptor Draft of 1999 was cursed as Jonathon Bender only played 237 games over 7 seasons. Of course it wasn't cursed for Bender as he made over $29 million in his NBA career.
In January 2001, Radojevic was shipped off to Denver in the Keon Clark/Kevin Willis trade which meant that Radojevic went from lottery pick to salary-cap match in a season and a half.
The real travesty of this pick was that there were a number of players chosen after Radojevic that could have been the difference-maker in the series against the 76ers in May of 2001. Players like Corey Maggette, James Posey, Andrei Kirilenko or Ron Artest. That's what hurts a fan like myself. Can you imagine the comedy gold of having Artest and Charles Oakley on the same team? Oh, what could have been!