Former No. 1 draft pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming decided to call it quits on Friday. Yao played roughly seven seasons to start his career, missed 2009-10 and played just five games last season. Whether his retirement can even be official now or if it must wait until the lockout is over, one thing is for sure: the 2002 draft doesn't look to great at the top.
Of the top five players selected in the 2002 NBA Draft, only two are still in the NBA: Mike Dunleavy and Drew Gooden.
The Denver Nuggets know all too well about that. With the fifth overall pick, the team selected Nikoloz Tskitishvili out of Tbilisi, Georgia, Europe. He played two undistinguished seasons with the Nuggets, averaging a career-best 3.9 points as a rookie. He was eventually traded to the Golden State Warriors with Rodney White in 2005 for Luis Flores, Eduardo Najera and a 2007 first-round pick. Tskitishvili played his way out of the league by the end of the 2006 season.
Luckily for the Nuggets, they wound up trading for the rights to Nene that same night--though Nene is set to cash in as a free agent, possibly away from the Mile High City.
As for the other top five selections: Yao had the best career: No. 2 pick Jay Williams played one undistinguished season and was involved in a motorcycle accident during the 2003 offseason that ended his career; Dunleavy and Gordon are solid players; and Skita never lived up to all the predraft hype.
Amare Stoudemire and Yao Ming are the two players to emerge from this draft with second-round pick Carlos Boozer right behind them.