The NBA Draft is the biggest crapshoot in all of sports. NFL teams get instant improvements right away with picks going all the way into the sixth and seventh rounds holding value. The draft in the MLB sees the prospects go to the minor leagues, but no one is expecting results until many years later. It’s completely different for the NBA with fans and executives hoping for a new face of the franchise. The depth isn’t as strong as other sports with only a handful of talents becoming huge stars from each draft class. Every top tier basketball prospect drafted early will be viewed as a future star with a world of expectation.
LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are some of the current examples of living up to the hype of being an early draft pick. All three men have become NBA stars and household names for the league. Sadly, many of the highly touted rookies entering the league had the complete opposite directions for their careers. It’s one thing for a hopeful Superstar to thrive as a rotation player, but some names aren’t even good enough to remain in the league. We’ll look at some of the biggest NBA draft busts that were forced out of the NBA and find out what they are doing today.
15. Kwame Brown: Free Agent
Kwame Brown’s disappointing NBA career saw him get humiliated by some of the greatest players in basketball history. Michael Jordan drafted Brown with the first overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft to be the centerpiece of the Washington Wizards rebuilding process. Brown showed no signs of improving and Jordan frequently cursed him out for his lack of desire on the court.
Kobe Bryant also would get on Brown’s case by yelling at him during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers. It would become clear that Brown wouldn’t be a good fit for the NBA. After bouncing around from team to team, Brown found himself out of a job and sitting at home. Brown recently signed with player agency Interperformances hoping to make a return to the NBA after a three year absence. Someone is surely in denial about their chances.
14. Adam Morrison: Father Of Three
Adam Morrison dominated college basketball as a star for Gonzaga before entering the NBA. Most scouts didn’t see him as a special talent, but the Charlotte Hornets decided to pick the shooter third overall in the 2006 NBA Draft. Morrison only lasted four seasons in the NBA consistently getting worse as time went on. Unlike someone with similar skills like J.J. Redick, Morrison couldn’t use his shooting touch to become a successful NBA player.
Morrison’s post-NBA life sees him living as a family man. Morrison is married and raising three children in Washington. Shockingly, Morrison doesn’t have a new career path after doing a bit of coaching for Gonzaga and is still living off the money made in the NBA along with endorsements. It’s proof that saving money is important for any young athlete. If Adam Morrison saved enough money to live comfortably with three kids, no NBA player has an excuse of going broke.
13. Anthony Bennett: Turkish Basketball Super League
Anthony Bennett is the most recent massive NBA Draft bust. Pundits were shocked when the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Bennett with the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Cleveland lucked out when they signed LeBron James the following offseason and ditched Bennett in a trade along with other assets for Kevin Love.
Bennett continued to flop on the Minnesota Timberwolves. The lack of talent exhibited by Bennett made you wonder how he was ever a first overall pick. Bennett just saw his most recent chance with the Brooklyn Nets end when they released him. His NBA career appears to already be over as he’s read the writing on the wall by signing with Fenerbahce in the Turkish Basketball Super League. Bennett will likely never return to the NBA unless he can truly dominate outside of the United States.
12. Nikoloz Tskitishvili: Iranian Basketball Super League
The size of Nikoloz Tskitishvili led to the Denver Nuggets taking a chance on him with the fifth overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. Nothing of note would come from Tskitishvili’s time in the NBA, with disappointing results following him through all four seasons in the league. Tskitishvili averaged fewer than three points per game in his NBA career before he was forced out of the league.
Bill Simmons has cited Tskitishvili’s career as the worst case scenario for foreign prospects in the draft. The end of his NBA career saw him join the Iranian Basketball Super League. Tskitishvili is currently a member of Al Manama, continuing his career far away from the NBA. There’s no doubt Tskitishvili will always be among the biggest NBA busts in history.
11. Hasheem Thabeet: Free Agent
Another big man drafted early because of his size,the Memphis Grizzlies selected Hasheem Thabeet with the second pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. An impressive college stint with UCONN added to the temptation that Memphis unfortunately was fooled by. Thabeet was among the worst centers in the league with a career average of 2.2 points per game.
The big man only lasted five years in the NBA playing for four different teams over the short time period. Thabeet tried to continue his NBA career, but would never make the court after signing short term contacts. The Detroit Pistons allowed him to play for their D-League affiliate, but he couldn’t cut the mustard. Thabeet is allegedly working towards another attempt at a comeback. That is nearly impossible to believe.
10. Yi Jianlian: Chinese Basketball Association
Yi Jianlian’s dominance in China created NBA interest because of his talent overseas. Yao Ming was having a successful career to add further incentive for NBA teams to take a chance on the foreign young star. Jianlian would get drafted with the sixth overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. However, his play failed to impress as he made a minimal impact on the game.
Jianlian played with four teams over five seasons. That is always a bad sign for an athlete starting his professional career in a major league. Following a four year absence going back to China, Jianlian returned to the NBA for another chance with the Los Angeles Lakers. Jianlian failed to stand out once again and requested a release to head back to China. Guangdong once again currently employs Jianlian in the Chinese Basketball Association.
9. Jan Vesely: Turkish League
Jan Vesely made his name as a youngster playing in Slovenia and Serbia. The talent, youth and potential of Vesely saw him become a huge asset entering the 2011 NBA Draft. Vesely found his way to the Washington Wizards with the sixth overall pick. Washington believed he could be a cornerstone for the team, which would be based around young stars.
Vesely spent five seasons in the NBA and never averaged over five points per game in a single season. The prospect just wasn’t ready for the competition of the NBA and instantly flopped. Following his depressing NBA career ending, Fenerbahce signed him to join the Turkish League. Vesely has remained with Fenerbahce over the past two years and signed a new contract to remain with the club for the foreseeable future.
8. Jonny Flynn: Free Agent
The Minnesota Timberwolves had two chances to draft Stephen Curry in the 2009 NBA Draft. They somehow selected two point guards over Curry in a draft that will always haunt them. Ricky Rubio was a decent pick, but Jonny Flynn turned into a huge bust. The talented guard showed great potential in college that never found its way in the NBA.
Flynn had a solid rookie season, but an injury issue saw the remainder of his NBA tenure gradually decline. His NBA career ended in disappointment with no teams offering him a role with playing time. Flynn has continued his career in other leagues such as the Australian National Basketball League, China Basketball Association and Italian Basketball League. Unfortunately, more injury issues would force him out and he currently remains sidelined.
7. Marcus Williams: Plays For Buducnost Podgorica
Marcus Williams was a huge part of the UCONN Men’s Basketball team, achieving great success in college. Unlike many others on this list, Williams didn’t get drafted in the top tier of his class, but many believed he would still win out by having the most consistent career. The New Jersey Nets selected him with the 22nd pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.
Williams only lasted four seasons in the NBA before teams no longer felt he was worth taking the risk on. A career average of 5.6 points per game and a body of work with poor defense rendered him obsolete in the NBA. Williams has become a world traveler playing for leagues in Puerto Rico, China, Russia and Serbia. His current home is in Montenegro playing for Buducnost Podgorica.
6. Michael Olowokandi: Retired
Michael Olowokandi possessed enough talent that could have made him a Superstar if he progressed and kept a good head on his shoulders. Olowokandi was selected with the first overall pick by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1998 NBA Draft. The Clippers were struck with bad luck, as they were many times before, when realizing Olowokandi would never become a difference maker.
Olowokandi averaged just 8.3 points per game during his career, failing to stand out as a noteworthy talent. The disappointing big man did remain employed for nine years as a role player mostly coming off the bench. Olowokandi has stayed out of the spotlight and remained retired following the end of his NBA career. Unlike the other busts, he never tried to become a bigger fish in a smaller pond in other leagues.
5. Jimmer Fredette: Chinese Basketball Association
His successful body of work in college for BYU made Jimmer Fredette an exciting name entering the 2011 NBA Draft. Fredette didn’t have the glaring athleticism that most top ten picks have, but the Sacramento Kings still decided to select him with the tenth overall pick. The NBA proved to be above his talent level as he floundered right away.
Fredette only played five seasons in the NBA with a career average of six points per game. No one wanted to sign him in the 2016 offseason and it led to him making the move to China. Fredette is a member of the Shanghai Sharks, fitting in much better in the Chinese Basketball Association today. We saw Fredette’s name in the news recently when he scored a career high 51 points for the Sharks in November.
4. LaRue Martin: UPS Manager
Most of the names on this list are somewhat recent due to the fact that competition has become more prevalent over the past few decades. The international talent pool has changed the game. Older flops in the draft would still get the chance to keep a roster spot despite failing to live up to the potential. One player from the past that couldn’t hold a spot in the NBA was LaRue Martin.
The Portland Trail Blazers drafted him with fourth pick in the 1972 NBA Draft. Martin was out of the NBA after four seasons, proving he just wasn’t good enough to compete professionally. The once highly valued prospect chose to leave the basketball world for a career at UPS. Martin is currently 66 years old and still working for UPS as a manager.
3. Darius Miles: Bankruptcy
Darius Miles’ exciting style of play and athletic ability made him a fascinating prospect early in his NBA career. Miles made the jump from high school to the NBA without attending college, making it a tougher journey to compete with the best stars in the sport. His highlight dunks and horns celebration gesture made him stand out but not enough to see his game progress.
The Los Angeles Clippers would regret drafting Miles third overall in the 2000 NBA Draft. Miles did contribute to the team, but he could have been so much more and that’s the sad part. Following his NBA career ending much faster than anyone could have predicted, Miles ended up having to file for bankruptcy. The $60 million made during his career was wasted on bad decisions and Miles is broke right now trying to rebuild his life.
2. Darko Milicic: Kickboxing & Farming Industry
Darko Milicic will always be associated with the all-time horrible drafting decisions. Everyone remembers LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh being drafted together in the 2003 NBA Draft. The Detroit Pistons made the terrible decision of selecting Milicic over Anthony, Wade and Bosh due to his size and athleticism making for an intriguing combination.
Unlike his peers, Milicic could never build momentum and was consistently a flop. The Serbian center failed to find a role in the NBA and struggled to get playing time. Milicic averaged just six points in 18 minutes per game at the end of his NBA career. Darko shockingly left basketball altogether to pursue a career in kickboxing. The big man lost his only fight in embarrassing fashion. Today, Darko works in the farming industry back in Serbia. What a long, strange trip it’s been.
1. Greg Oden: Back To School
Greg Oden probably has the saddest story of all the huge NBA busts. There were two extremely talented prospects in the 2007 NBA Draft – Oden and Kevin Durant. One went on to become an MVP and the other never saw his career get off the ground. Oden’s size and talent made the Portland Trail Blazers select him with the first overall pick over Durant.
Injuries ruined Oden’s career, with the staggering stat of just 105 games played in the NBA. Oden retired from the game of basketball and is still figuring out his life, in his own words. The former college basketball Superstar returned to Ohio State to get his degree and earned a job as a student manager for the school’s team.
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