2. Doug Smith
Smith is another failed draft pick that helped lead to a decade-long playoff drought in Dallas. The 6’10 forward went sixth overall in 1991, but he lasted just four seasons with the franchise. He averaged 22.5 and 25.0 minutes per game in his first two seasons, but his playing time decreased in year three. It was arguably the best year of Smith’s NBA career. He never produced a positive value over replacement player (VORP), but he was closest in 1994 at just negative-0.1.
Anytime a young player’s minutes drop, it is cause for concern. They fell even further in 1995 as he played just 13.1 each night. The Mavs left Smith unprotected in the 1995 expansion draft, and the 6’8 forward was selected by the Raptors. He never played in Toronto and saw action in just 17 more NBA games after leaving Dallas.
It was clear that Doug Smith was below replacement level and showing little to no improvement. The Dallas Mavericks used the sixth overall pick on him and got zero in return four years later. They would have been wise to shop him two years in and see if any team wanted give them anything for a 23-year-old former high lottery selection.
Instead, Dallas held on too long and received nothing. The Mavs had five years of their postseason drought left, and mismanagement played a key role.