Today’s NBA consists of a handful of teams who compete for the championships year in and year out. For the last six years, it has been LeBron James against which ever team comes out of the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. In order to stop these star studded teams, general managers must build their franchises back to the top through the NBA Draft. The NBA draft consists of only two rounds, leaving teams with a limited pool of players to choose from.
Professional basketball players have the unique opportunity to immediately make an impact with their team. With only five guys on the court at once, it is easy to spot top talent versus a guy who doesn’t belong. We have seen lottery picks such as Stephen Curry, drafted 7th overall, and Kyrie Irving, 1st overall, take the team that drafted them to a championship. You also have busts, such as Greg Oden and Hasheem Thabeet, who find themselves out of the association in just a few short years.
In today’s NBA, almost all players can be categorized into four categories: All-Star players who contend for a championship, the first guys off the bench, journeymen who travel from team to team depending their skill set, and draft picks who struggle to ever find their place in the league.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the guys who never found their place in the NBA and are somewhere overseas or floating around the D-League.
15 Ekpe Udoh
Before the Golden State Warriors became the top team in the Western Conference that they are today, they held the 6th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Golden State left future All-Stars, Gordon Hayward and Paul George, on the board to select Ekpe Udoh from Baylor University. Udoh averaged 8 points and 6 rebounds a game during his collegiate career.
The Warriors were looking to add side to their front court after drafting Stephen Curry the previous year. Udoh only played two seasons with the Warriors averaging 4.8 points per game and 3.5 rebounds per game before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. In three years with Milwaukee, Udoh started only 28 games and saw roughly twenty minutes of game action.
After a quick stint with the Clippers, Udoh found himself playing overseas in the Turkish league. He immediately became a starter and averaged 12 PPG and 6RPG. It is unfortunate it took him playing overseas to finally find his strengths as a big man.
14 Craig Brackins
If you had to describe an NBA journeyman to someone who didn’t know what it meant, the career of Craig Brackins would be the perfect answer. After a stellar career at Iowa State, Brackins was selected 21st overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Brackins was then traded two more times before his rookie season began with the Philadelphia 76ers. He spent much of his two seasons in the NBA back-and-forth between the 76ers and the D-league affiliate.
During the 2011 NBA Lockout, Brackins signed with Maccabi of Israel for a few months to stay in basketball shape. His contract ended with them in November of 2011, then found himself playing for the Boston Celtics D-League team. Since then, Brackins has played basketball all over the world including Italy, Poland, Turkey, and his latest team of 2017 in Japan. Brackins seems happy enough overseas to never desire any type of NBA comeback.
13 Jan Vesely
The first international player to make this list is the seven footer Jan Vesely. Vesely was a standout overseas playing in Serbia, convincing the Washington Wizards to select him sixth overall in the 2011 Draft. His four-year stint in the league seemed to get progressively worse with very limited playing time. After averaging 3.4 PPG with the Wizards, Vesely was traded to the Denver Nuggets. He averaged 4.4 PPG in 21 games played.
Vesely decided it was time for a change from the NBA and signed with the Turkish Club Fenerbahce. Although he signed a three-year deal with the club, he is still optimistic the NBA might come calling because he has an NBA opt-out clause at the end of each season.
12 Jimmer Fredette
Jimmer Fredette was one of the best players to ever come out of BYU. He won the 2011 National Player of the Year in his senior year, averaging nearly 29 PPG. He has also set 11 school records. In the 2011 draft, Fredette was drafted 10th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks, only to be traded to the Sacramento Kings. Fredette immediately sparked the basketball interest in the Sacramento area. Unfortunately, it was short-lived and Fredette saw limited action throughout his time with the Kings. After two-plus years with the Kings, Fredette found himself on four teams in three years.
Today, Jimmer Fredette plays his basketball in the CBA in China. This past week, Fredette made headlines scoring 73 points on 25/49 from the field. Maybe another NBA team will be willing to give him a chance.
11 Fab Melo
Fab Melo’s basketball journey has been the saddest ending to any player on this list. After growing up in Brazil, Melo moved to the United Stated in 2008 and began playing for Syracuse in 2010. Part of a historic 2012 season, Syracuse finished with a 34-3 record and Melo won the Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
Melo was selected 22nd overall by the Boston Celtics and spent only one season with the team. He played in six games before being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. Aside from some D-League affiliates, Melo never played again in the NBA, and decided to go home to play ball in Brazil. On February 11, 2017, Fab Melo was found dead in his home with the probable cause being a heart attack.
10 Arnett Moultrie
With the 27th pick of the 2012 draft, the Miami Heat selected Arnett Moultrie from Mississippi State, and immediately traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers. During his junior year at Mississippi state, he averaged a double-double with 16.4 PPG and 10.5 Rebounds. Even though he was at the back end of the 1st round, one would expect him to play more than two seasons in the league. In two seasons with the 76ers, Moultrie averaged just over 3 PPG. He was traded to the Knicks in 2014 for Travis Outlaw and future assets, essentially ending his NBA career.
Moultrie has also done a world tour playing in three different countries as of the past three years. He was last known to be playing in Puerto Rico.
9 Perry Jones III
Immediately following Arnett Moultrie, Perry Jones III was selected 28th overall out of Baylor by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Jones career got off to a strange start while at Baylor after being investigated by the NCAA for receiving benefits from his AAU coach. Jones was forced to sit out of a Big 12 tournament loss versus Oklahoma, ending the team’s season. Jones decided to return for his sophomore year and averaged 13.5 PPG and 7.6 RPG.
Jones spent three seasons with the Thunder and even had a career high 32 points against the Clippers in 2014. The Thunder traded Jones to the Boston Celtics, who waived him before the 2015 season. Jones was then drafted 3rd overall in the D-League draft by the Iowa Energy, where he still plays.
8 Shane Larkin
Shane Larkin has strong athleticism running in his family with his dad being a Hall of Fame shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds. Larkin made his name known during his time as a Miami Hurricane. His sophomore season was one of the best seasons in Hurricane history, beating number one ranked Duke University 90-63. Following a trip the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament, Larkin was voted ACC Player of the year by the coaches.
Larkin was drafted 18th overall in the 2013 draft by the Atlanta Hawks and was traded to the Dallas Mavericks. He saw limited action as a rookie averaging roughly ten minutes per game. He was traded to the New York Knicks after his rookie year where he saw a greater role with the team. Larkin signed with the Nets following his second year in the league for his third team in three years. He had a career high in PPG and APG but still was unable to secure a new contract with Brooklyn. Today, Larkin can be found playing for Baskonia, a team located in Spain for the Euroleague.
7 Dante Exum
The Utah Jazz have missed out on the postseason for the last four seasons. Even with All-Star Gordon Hayward, the Jazz have failed to put talent around him to help them win. Their latest attempt was drafting Dante Exum with the 5th overall pick in the 2014 Draft. With no collegiate experience, Exum was lucky to have the Jazz take such a high pick on him. Exum played in every game for the Jazz his rookie year averaging 4.8 PPG and 2.4 APG.
While playing for his national team in the summer of 2015, Exum tore his ACL and was forced to miss the entire 2015-2016 season. Exum made his return this past year but has made little impact with the Jazz. Whether it is because of injury or not, Exum has not lived nearly as close to expectations as Utah fans had expected.
6 Nik Stauskas
Just three picks later in the 2014 draft, the Sacramento Kings selected Michigan guard, Nik Stauskas. Stauskas built an impressive resume during his time with the Wolverines, winning multiple All-American honors and Big Ten Player of the Year honors in 2014. Upon entering the NBA draft, he was scouted as the 2nd highest ranked shooter behind only Doug McDermott. He averaged just over 4 PPG his rookie year and started in the King’s season finale of the 2014-2015 season. Stauskas was traded to the 76ers after just one season with the Kings, following reports that he did not get along with Demarcus Cousins.
Now with the 76ers, Stauskas has proven to be a reliable 7th or 8th guy off the bench. He has shown glimpses of his Michigan three-point stroke, but now sees a limited role for a rebuilding team.
5 Tyler Ennis
After just missing the playoffs the year before in a stacked Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns looked to improve their point guard play by drafting Syracuse guard, Tyler Ennis, with the 18th pick. At the end of his freshman year, Ennis was considered a finalist for the Naismith Player of the Year with the award, eventually going to Creighton’s Doug McDermott.
Ennis played in just eight games with the Phoenix Suns his rookie year and spent much of his time in their D-League affiliate. Halfway through his rookie year, he was sent to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team trade. He saw his minutes double from 7 with the Suns to 14 with the Bucks. After one and a half seasons with the Bucks, he was traded to the Rockets for Michael Beasley. Hopefully he can settle in with a team for more than a season in the near future.
4 P.J. Hairston
It is not often you see a North Carolina Tar Heel on a list like this, but P.J. Hairston has had quite a unique basketball journey. Hairston played two seasons at North Carolina and averaged nearly 15 PPG in his sophomore year. Following his sophomore year, he was suspended by the team for speeding and reckless driving. Hairston decided to leave North Carolina instead of serving his suspension. In January of 2014, Hairston signed with the D-League Texas Legends.
Hairston became the first ever D-League player to be drafted in the 1st round of the draft when Charlotte took him 26th overall. He spent two seasons with Charlotte averaging 5.8 PPG, before getting traded to the Grizzlies near the trade deadline of the 2015-2016 season. He finished the season playing in 18 games averaging 6.9 PPG. Today, he serves as part of the Houston Rockets D-League affiliate, Rio Grand Valley Vipers. Hairston must find a way to not end his career in essentially the same place it started.
3 R.J. Hunter
With future stars like Karl Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis headlining the top of the 2015 NBA Draft, there wasn’t much room for success at the bottom of the draft. R.J. Hunter was selected 28th overall by the Boston Celtics. For the people who are unfamiliar with him, Hunter played for his father as head coach at Georgia State University. While at Georgia State, Hunter won Sun Belt Male Athlete of the year in 2014 and 2015.
However, the Celtics took a big risk on a guy from such a small basketball program. He played in just 36 games for Boston during his rookie year, averaging 8 minutes per game and 2.4 PPG. After spending the better half of the 2015-2016 season in the Celtics D-League, Harper signed with Chicago in 2016. With the Bulls he played in just three games before being assigned to their D-League team. Today, you can find him playing for the Brooklyn Nets D-League team coming off the bench.
2 Georgios Papagiannis
With one of the biggest reaches in recent history, the Phoenix Suns selected Georgios Papagiannis with the 13th pick in the 2016 NBA draft, then immediately traded him to the Sacramento Kings. Papagiannis left his home in Pennsylvania as a junior to go play basketball overseas in Greece. At the age of fourteen, he became the youngest player to play in the Greek Basket League. He was projected to go somewhere in second round on draft night, but the Kings took a huge risk that hasn’t quite panned out yet.
Papagiannis has played in only four games with the Kings averaging only 1.5 PPG. As of today, he spends his time with the Kings D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns. Although it is still quite early in his career, it does not look promising for the 19-year old. Don’t be surprised if you see his name playing overseas in a few years like several others on this list.
1 Anthony Bennett
The 2013 NBA draft was considered a weak class by many of the experts, but number one overall pick Anthony Bennett may still go down as one of the biggest busts in NBA history. Bennett played only one season with the Runnin Rebels of UNLV and averaged just over 16 PPG in a limited role. When LeBron James came home to Cleveland, there would be no room for Bennett on the roster. He was traded to Minnesota along with Andrew Wiggins to acquire long-time Timberwolve, Kevin Love.
During the 2015 season with the T-Wolves, Bennett averaged a career high of 5.2 PPG before being bought out of his contract. The 2016-2017 season gave Bennett one last chance with the Brooklyn Nets. In mid-November, he was sent to their D-League affiliate and then waived mid-January. He now plays for the Turkish Basketball Club Fenerbahce along with number thirteen on this list, Jan Vesely.
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