Drafting in any professional sport is a huge gamble. You never really know what to expect when you’re drafting players so young, especially with many of the players entering the NBA Draft at only 19 or 20 years old. Normally you can get some great production in the top five, with many of the players going on to become superstars, but we’ve seen some recent cases of players flopping hard.
Since we’re looking at such a small window of players, we want to expand our definition of a bust to players that were drafted in the top 20 since 2010. Many of these players at least showed signs of becoming solid contributors, but never lived up to their potential whether it be due to injury or other factors. Also, none of the players on our list are currently on an NBA roster. With that in mind, who were some of the biggest NBA busts since 2010? Some of these names you may have completely forgot about, while others were very highly publicized busts, including a former top overall pick.
Here are the 15 biggest NBA Draft busts since 2010 and what they are up to today.
15. Derrick Williams
Kicking things off with the 2011 NBA Draft, Kyrie Irving was the clear-cut first overall selection. After the Cavaliers took the Duke product, there were some questions as to who would go second, and that honour went to Derrick Williams from Arizona. Williams started off with the Timberwolves, and improved enough in his second year (12.0 points, 5.5 rebounds per game) where it looked like he had potential.
However, that second season would be the peak for Williams as his numbers have dipped ever since. Williams has played for a total of five teams, and spent the 2016-17 season with the Heat and Cavaliers. Williams is now a free agent, and there were rumors that the Cavaliers would bring him back for a low cost, but he never got the phone call and is still looking for a team.
14. Terrence Jones
One thing we found out about the 2012 NBA Draft was that it wasn’t very deep outside of the top 10. With the 18th pick in the draft, the Houston Rockets selected Terrence Jones from Kentucky. Like Derrick Williams, Jones showed signs of becoming a good NBA player with back-to-back seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15 of scoring at least 11 points and hauling in at least six rebounds per game.
Jones faded out of the limelight in Houston thanks to injuries though, and has played in more than 54 games during only one season across his career. Jones last played for Milwaukee for three games in 2016-17, not scoring a single point. Now, Jones is out of the NBA and announced this offseason that he’s headed to China to play with the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles.
13. Thomas Robinson
Continuing with the 2012 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings had a chance to draft the likes of Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond or even Harrison Barnes. Instead, the Kings picked Thomas Robinson, a power forward from Kansas. Despite being the fifth overall pick, Robinson has struggled to break into a starting lineup throughout this career, starting just 12 games with six different teams.
Robinson has a career average of just 4.9 points and 4.8 rebounds, and he spent the most recent season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Robinson is on the free agent market right now to try and break back into the league, but hasn’t gotten any offers. He’s had workouts for both the Celtics and Timberwolves, but the teams decided not to sign him as Robinson waits to see what his future holds.
12. Andrew Nicholson
There aren’t too many NBA success stories from St. Bonaventure, but many thought that Andrew Nicholson would be one of the few. Nicholson was an All-American for the Bonnies and the 2012 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, which allowed him to be drafted 19th overall by the Orlando Magic in 2012. Nicholson’s production topped out in his rookie season with 7.8 points and 3.4 rebounds while starting in 28 games.
Nicholson spent four years with Orlando, and then spent the 2016-17 season with both the Wizards and Nets, playing in just nine minutes per game. With his NBA prospects waning fast, Nicholson decided this season that he was going to head overseas. Now, he’s in China with the Guangdong Southern Tigers after the Trail Blazers waived him in the offseason.
11. Larry Sanders
Looking all the way back to the 2010 NBA Draft, there were plenty of flops after the top 10 once Gordon Hayward and Paul George were off the board. Among those flops was Larry Sanders, the 15th overall selection out of VCU by the Milwaukee Bucks. By his third season, Sanders had become a starter for the Bucks and was averaging nearly a double-double per game, but injuries and off-the-court issues would take their toll.
Sanders had been suspended multiple times for violating the drug policy and decided to leave the NBA in 2015. Sanders stayed away from basketball for the entire 2015-16 season, though he did make a return to the Cavaliers in 2016-17 for just five games. Most of Sanders’s time was spent in the D-League, and he was still having trouble away from the court that made him a free agent once again, and it appears his career may be over.
10. Sergey Karasev
Not many selections from the top 20 of the 2013 NBA Draft are out of the league already, but Sergey Karasev happens to be among them. Karasev was the 19th overall selection from Russia and landed with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Karasev played in just 22 games for the team, averaging just 1.7 points and 0.7 rebounds. The next two seasons, he would play for the Brooklyn Nets, with his numbers not improving despite getting more playing time.
During the 2016 offseason, Karasev decided to head back to Russia to play professional basketball, signing with Zenit Saint Petersburg. Karasev is still with the team, and was actually an All-Star with the United League in 2017, winning the Three-Point Contest. Since he is enjoying more success in Russia, he might not be coming back to the NBA.
9. Donatas Motiejūnas
The Minnesota Timberwolves looked to the country of Lithuania for a potential star in 2011 when they used the 20th overall selection on Donatas Motiejūnas. Motiejūnas, just one day later, was traded to the Houston Rockets. With the NBA lockout happening, Motiejūnas decided to head back to Europe, playing with Asseco Prokom Gdynia on a loan from Benetton Basket Treviso. Finally, Motiejūnas would head to the NBA in 2012 to play with the Rockets.
By his third season, Motiejūnas improved to scoring 12.0 points with 5.9 rebounds per game, but 2015-16 would see a drop in his production and playing time due to injury and he was going to be traded to the Pistons before he failed a physical. There was actually a bidding war between the Rockets and Nets in 2016 before having more health problems that caused him to miss his physical, and he spent the 2016-17 season playing just 34 games with New Orleans (including no starts). Like many others on the list, Motiejūnas has now gone to China, signing a one-year deal with the Shandong Golden Stars.
8. Chris Singleton
Just two spots before Motiejūnas was taken off the board in 2011, Chris Singleton was the 18th overall selection by the Wizards out of Florida State. Singleton had been a defensive force for the Seminoles, winning the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Award. In his three seasons with the Wizards, Singleton would average a total of 4.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game.
We haven’t seen Singleton in the NBA since the 2013-14 season, as he announced on Halloween 2014 that he was joining the Jiangsu Dragons in China. It didn’t last long, and Singleton tried to make an NBA return before not making it to an NBA-level roster. With that, Singleton headed to Russia where he was a star for Lokomotiv Kuban, and he’s now with Panathinaikos in Greece where he was one of the league’s best players.
7. James Anderson
The San Antonio Spurs get a lot of credit for being able to draft beneficial players, especially later on in the draft. It’s not too common that they have a top 20 pick, but they did in 2010. With the 20th overall selection, the Spurs took shooting guard James Anderson from Oklahoma State. Anderson was only getting around 10 minutes per game for just over two seasons, and was sent to the Rockets in the 2012-13 season.
Anderson spent a brief amount of time in Houston before joining Philadelphia in 2013-14, where he actually averaged 10.1 points per game. After the team released him, Anderson played for one season in Lithuania, and returned to the NBA with the Kings in 2015-16 where he had a lacklustre season. Since then, Anderson has played with Darussafaka (Turkey) and is now a member of Khimki (Russia).
6. Kevin Seraphin
Three spots before James Anderson was selected, French native Kevin Seraphin was drafted by the Chicago Bulls, and then traded to the Washington Wizards. In his third season, Seraphin averaged 9.1 points and 4.4 rebounds, playing in 79 games. He would immediately take a drop in playing time and production the next year though, and was gone from the Wizards after five seasons in the 2015 offseason.
Seraphin spent a year with the Knicks where he never cracked the starting lineup, and spent the 2016-17 season with the Pacers in a backup role. If you were wondering why he hasn’t signed with another team, it’s because Seraphin also went overseas, heading to Spain to play for FC Barcelona Lassa where he hopes to join the list of draft disappointments that became stars away from the United States.
5. Xavier Henry
There was a lot of hype for Xavier Henry coming out of high school. It was expected that Henry would be a one-and-done, and he confirmed that when he declared for the 2010 NBA Draft. Henry would end up being the 12th overall selection by the Memphis Grizzlies, where he would spend just one season. Henry played in just 38 games, and spent the next two seasons with New Orleans.
Henry then joined the Lakers where it looked like he might be able to turn things around, but it wouldn’t work out. Henry would suffer through injuries that kept him out of the NBA and he spent time in the D-League. He hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2014-15 season. Now that it’s rebranded as the G-League, Henry is still there as a member of the Oklahoma City Blue.
4. Jan Vesely
The surprisingly weak 2011 NBA Draft makes yet another appearance on our list, this time with the sixth overall pick in the form of Czech Republic forward Jan Vesely. Vesely became a member of the Wizards because of the draft, and had an underwhelming rookie season where he averaged just 4.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Vesely would receive a reduction in playing time the next season and was traded in 2013-14 to the Nuggets.
Vesely played in only 21 games for Denver, and he chose to head back overseas to play with Fenerbahce in 2014 on a two-year contract. Vesely has found success with the squad as a 2017 EuroLeague Champion that was named to the all-league team, and he’s helped Fenerbahce win two Turkish League titles. Vesely is signed with the team through 2019, with an ability to opt-out if the NBA ever calls back.
3. Kendall Marshall
There certainly isn’t a shortage of players that have made their way from North Carolina to the NBA, but that also leaves a lot of room for disappointment. One of the Tar Heels that never really panned out in the NBA was Kendall Marshall, taken with the 13th overall selection in 2012 by the Phoenix Suns. Marshall struggled his rookie season, and was then waived by the team when the Lakers signed him in 2014 when they were struggling with injuries.
Marshall had his best season with the Lakers as a starter in the 2013-14 season as he was getting 29 minutes per game. Marshall would play with the Bucks and 76ers over the next two seasons in a reserve role, never really getting back into the starting lineup. This past season, Marshall spent all of his time in the D-League and now is a free agent. He would join a group of non-NBA stars that played for the USA team in the FIBA AmeriCup, winning the title in September 2017.
2. Jimmer Fredette
There was a lot of talk about whether or not Jimmer Fredette would be a draft bust after coming out of BYU in 2011. The Bucks would end up drafting Fredette using the 10th overall selection and trading him to the Kings. There was still hope for Fredette despite struggling in his rookie season, but that rookie year saw a career high in points (7.6), assists (1.8) and rebounds (1.2) per game.
Fredette played for four different teams in the NBA, playing in just six games during the 2015-16 season. In 2016, Fredette decided to try his luck in China, becoming a member of the Shanghai Sharks. Things have been beneficial for Fredette in China, where he was named International MVP and an All-Star in 2017 and he re-signed with the team in July 2017.
1. Anthony Bennett
The Cleveland Cavaliers surprised a lot of analysts in 2013 when they used the first overall selection on Anthony Bennett out of UNLV. In his one season with the team, Bennett struggled mightily and never even started a game. Bennett was then traded to the Timberwolves where he didn’t improve much, and has spent one season each with the Raptors and Nets in very limited roles.
2016-17 saw Bennett put up 5.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game over 23 games, but he never made it through the season when the Nets let him go in January 2017. Bennett went to Turkey just a couple of weeks later to join Fenerbahce, but the team let him go in May 2017. Now, Bennett is looking for a job anywhere around the world, although he claims he’ll have “the last laugh.”
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