Dallas Mavericks all-time draft bust starting small forward: Bill Garnett
Garnett was a power forward, but he slides down to play the three to fit into the starting five. The Mavs drafted him fourth overall in 1982. They had won just 43 games in their first two seasons combined, and Dallas was hoping that Garnett was the answer to their woes.
The 6’9 forward played just four seasons in the NBA. He was in the Mavericks rotation as a rookie playing 18.8 minutes per game, but Garnett never earned more playing time. In his 300 career NBA games, Garnett averaged 5.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 17.5 minutes per game.
The 6’9 forward only spent two seasons with the Mavericks before being traded to Indiana for a first-round pick in 1984. Garnett was out of the league by 1986, but he did play three more years overseas before hanging up his shoes in 1989.
The Mavericks could have drafted Fat Lever, Sleepy Floyd, Ricky Pierce, or Mark Eaton, who all went on to become All-Stars. It was a massive miss by their front office, but trading with Ted Stepien helped Dallas recover and make the playoff six times in seven years through 1990.
Bill Garnett was not technically a small forward, but he had to be included in the Mavericks' biggest draft busts after selecting him fourth overall. He is tied for the third-highest draft pick in team history, but Garnett never blossomed into a star.