It takes a special kind of talent to even make an NBA roster. And you need to be even more special to become a star player in the NBA, someone whom you can count on to add to the stat sheet, and more importantly, to the win column. But what happens when one avoidable factor or another contributes to a player becoming a disappointment for his team or a pariah to the fans? It's simple – that talent gets wasted, not only for the fans expecting much more, but also for management, who paid a handsome sum to sign or re-sign said player.
When qualifying "wasted talent," I didn't want to look at NBA busts who came in with a ton of expectations, yet didn't even come close to tasting stardom – guys like Chris Washburn, Kwame Brown, or Ed O'Bannon. What makes a talent truly wasted is if he comes into the NBA, has quite a productive run for a while, yet sabotages his career not through injuries alone, if applicable, but mainly through his own doing – it could be drugs, alcohol, feuds with coaches, laziness, or miscellaneous attitude problems. That's why you also won't be seeing the likes of Brandon Roy in here, as he was a solid citizen cursed with two bad knees, and nothing more to greatly abbreviate his stellar pro career.
So with that said, let's look at all 30 NBA teams, and see which player was the biggest wasted talent of all-time on those teams.
30 Atlanta Hawks: Eddie Johnson
Despite being a mere 3rd-round pick in 1977, "Fast" Eddie Johnson wasted little time establishing himself as the Atlanta Hawks' starting point guard. Aside from living up to his name with his blazing speed, Johnson was arguably more known for his scoring ability, also excelling as an undersized shooting guard when playing alongside the likes of Charlie Criss, and later on future Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
What casual fans didn't know was that Johnson was becoming more of a mess off the court as his career progressed, serving several suspensions due to his cocaine addiction. After being traded to Cleveland midway through the 1985-86 season, and spending his final pro season in Seattle, Johnson was permanently banned from the NBA. He's now doing a lifetime jail sentence without parole, over a series of sexual assault charges.
29 Boston Celtics: Bob McAdoo
Does a quarter of a season with one team qualify one to be said team's biggest wasted talent of all-time? If your name is Bob McAdoo, then it might. By the time he joined the Boston Celtics late in the 1978-79 season, he had played in five All-Star Games, won three scoring titles, and won league MVP honors. But at that point, he was only 27 and looking more and more like a flash in the pan. Sure, he averaged over 20 ppg for Boston, but these were largely garbage stats for a pre-Larry Bird Celtics team that went just 29-53. It didn't help either that McAdoo had a lingering reputation as a selfish, stats-first malcontent.
McAdoo's next two NBA stops (Detroit and New Jersey) were even more unproductive for a man of his talent, but when the Nets traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers for a 2nd-round pick on the day before Christmas, 1981 – a sign of how far his stock had fallen – it was the perfect holiday present. McAdoo's minutes and numbers were down as a Lakers 6th/7th man, but he was finally happy, and much more of a team player than he ever was in the past.
28 Brooklyn Nets: Micheal Ray Richardson
There was great interest in Micheal Ray Richardson from the moment the New York Knicks picked him 4th-overall in 1978 – he was, after all, hyped up to be the "next Walt Frazier." And just like Clyde, he would excel as a combo guard who could score, pass, and hound the hell out of his opponents on defense. He was then traded to the Golden State Warriors in 1982-83, then shipped to the New Jersey Nets midway through that season after an underwhelming 33 games in the Bay Area. And it was in the Garden State where Micheal Ray had his best NBA season, averaging 20.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 8.2 apg, and 3.0 spg in 1984-85.
Sadly, Richardson's career renaissance was short-lived, as his drug problems finally came to a head with a two-year NBA ban in 1986. He chose not to return to the NBA when he became eligible for reinstatement in 1988, and while he did get clean like many others in this list, that potential Hall of Fame career literally went up his nose, to say the least.
27 Charlotte Hornets: Lance Stephenson
Lance Stephenson was seemingly on the verge of NBA stardom after the 2013-14 season with the Pacers. Aside from averaging a well-rounded 13.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, and 4.6 apg, he reached peak notoriety when he blew into LeBron James' ear during the Eastern Conference Finals. Oh, we still remember those antics, don't we? But they might as well be forgotten, because the rich contract Stephenson signed with the Hornets in 2014 proved that he wasn't, well, "Born Ready" for the next level of stardom.
Although injuries contributed to Stephenson's lack of productivity in his lone season as a Hornet, his attitude also left a lot to be desired, as he all too often appeared to be dogging it. Save for a brief period of productivity for the Memphis Grizzlies, Stephenson was largely an afterthought thereafter, and as a sign of how far the nearly-mighty had fallen, he split the 2016-17 season playing 6 games each for three teams. Let's see how long he lasts with the Pacers in his second go-around in Indiana.
26 Chicago Bulls: Rajon Rondo
And now, we've got another modern-day example for you. Although it seemed like Rajon Rondo would have the starting point guard job handed to him on a silver platter when he joined the Bulls in 2016-17, he would eventually lose that starting job on account of three things – one, his attitude, two, nagging injuries, and three, Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg's aversion to traditional point guards in the starting lineup.
After averaging just 7.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 6.7 assists – pretty much his worst numbers since his rookie year, Rondo was waived. Now 31 years old, he's now a New Orleans Pelican for the 2017-18 season, but we're not expecting him to return to his glory days as a Celtic. Not close. Instead, we're looking forward to another extended stint on the bench for this once-brilliant point guard, this time as Jrue Holiday's backup.
25 Cleveland Cavaliers: Delonte West
Delonte West's eccentric and oftentimes troublesome behavior as an NBA player could possibly be chalked up to his bipolar disorder, which we could get. Still, it's hard to say whether he was regularly getting help for this all-too-serious issue, which is what puts him in this list as a highly debatable case. West’s off-the-court troubles can be blamed for his rather short, eight-year NBA career, which included two and a half seasons for the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he enjoyed a productive stint as a 3-and-D combo guard alongside the pre-“Decision” LeBron James. Whose mother he allegedly slept with.
West could have easily been useful beyond the 2011-12 season, which is when he last played in the NBA. Instead, he’s got his varied shenanigans partly to blame for the fact that he's spent the last five seasons globetrotting, if not making appearances in the D-League, and getting into even more trouble off the court. Here's hoping West is indeed getting the help he needs, as recent reports have claimed.
24 Dallas Mavericks: Roy Tarpley
Roy Tarpley made an impact early on in his NBA career as a strong, athletic 7-footer who could run the floor and put up double-doubles in his sleep, even as the Dallas Mavericks' sixth man. But he was as troubled as he was talented, as he fell victim to the NBA's old "three strikes, you're out" drug policy and got himself banned from the NBA in 1991, aged only 26.
Tarpley would return to the Mavericks for the 1994-95 season, and while obviously rusty at times, he was still a productive bench player who seemed to have turned his life around. Alas, that wasn't to be, as he received a lifetime NBA ban in December 1995 for violating the terms of his court-imposed aftercare program.
Tarpley, sadly, passed away in January 2015 at the young age of 50, with liver failure suspected, but not confirmed to be his cause of death.
23 Denver Nuggets: David Thompson
Five years, $4 million. That’s peanuts by today's standards, but in 1978, it was the record-breaking deal David Thompson signed to remain with the Denver Nuggets. He was a bona fide superstar and one of the league’s most exciting players, and he was fresh off a scoring title. Unfortunately, it was the beginning of the end for the Skywalker’s status as an NBA superstar.
Aside from multiple injuries, Thompson’s drug use and partying became a problem as the ‘70s drew to a close, and by 1981-82, he was demoted to a bench role, somehow averaging almost 15 ppg despite being reduced to 20 minutes a game. A trade to Seattle seemed to re-energize him a bit, but injuries and drugs combined to end his career after the 1983-84 season.
Thompson eventually got clean and got inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, but who knows how long his star would have shone, had it not been for his drug problems?
22 Detroit Pistons: Reggie Harding
Although the late Reggie Harding was never a star player in the truest sense, he was a 7-foot-tall high school phenom from Detroit who became the first NBA draftee never to play a minute of college ball. From 1963 to 1965, he manned the middle for the Pistons, and seemed to have the makings of a future superstar with his double-double averages. Then came the legal problems that had him sitting out all of 1965-66, after which his career was never the same again.
Apparently, Harding was quite the loose cannon back in the day, as stories have alleged that he used to carry a gun in the locker room. In the "renegade" ABA, he had even threatened to shoot his GM, as well as a teammate he suspected to be racist! Drugs were also a problem for the big man, and his penchant for petty crime had him in and out of the slammer. Harding's short and tragic life ended in 1972, when he was shot dead, never seemingly having outgrown the thug lifestyle he fancied as a teenager.
21 Golden State Warriors: Latrell Sprewell
Latrell Sprewell is exactly the type of player I had in mind when making this list. There's no arguing his success in the NBA, but there's also less arguing how things could have been much better had he kept his head straight. Of course, it needs little reminding that Spree was at the peak of his game, and already a sizable headache for the Warriors beforehand, when he choked coach P.J. Carlesimo just 14 games into the 1997-98 season, getting himself suspended for the rest of the year.
That also marked Sprewell's departure from the Bay Area to the Big Apple, as he was traded to the New York Knicks, where he continued his strong play. But even if he did play reasonably well until his (unreasonable) demands for more money ended his NBA career in 2005, he wasn't as dynamic as he was with the Warriors. Also, he remains the player many of us think of when it comes to bad financial decisions among NBA players. Hell, he even made a commercial referencing these financial missteps!
20 Houston Rockets: Lewis Lloyd
It was either him or Mitchell Wiggins, but since Lewis Lloyd was the more talented and established of the two Houston Rockets guards banned for two and a half years for cocaine use in 1986, he’s the one making this list.
After two years riding the bench for the Golden State Warriors, Lloyd came to the Rockets in 1983, dazzling opponents with his flashy moves and big-time scoring. He started at off-guard for the 1985-86 Rockets who lost in the 1986 NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics, but by the 1986-87 season, his play began to fall off. Then came the cocaine suspension, and a brief comeback in 1989-90 that saw the player nicknamed “Black Magic” on the deep end of Houston’s bench.
Lloyd would play in the international scene after his NBA retirement, including a 1991 run in the Philippine Basketball Association that this writer remembers as one of the more impressive stints for an American “import” during that time.
19 Indiana Pacers: Metta World Peace
We probably should be calling him Ron Artest, because the future Metta World Peace was still legally known as Ronald William Artest when he was enjoying the peak years of his career as an Indiana Pacer. When he made his only All-Star appearance in the 2003-04 season, he was a certified two-way threat on offense and defense, and his stats suggested that he'd be leading the team on and off the court once Reggie Miller retired.
Then came the infamous "Malice in the Palace," when Artest/World Peace triggered a massive brawl with the Detroit Pistons (and one of their fans), resulting in him getting suspended just 7 games in to the 2004-05 season, and for a whopping 86 games in total! Making things worse was his subsequent demand to be traded, which left teammates and management rightfully feeling betrayed.
Artest still had a solid run in Sacramento and Houston, before transitioning to role player status and his new name as a Laker. But once again, take note that this was supposed to be the man to take over from the legendary Reggie Miller as the Pacers' franchise star.
18 Los Angeles Clippers: Benoit Benjamin
At this point, we're preparing for the eventuality that the Clippers may be back on the road to mediocrity, or worse, outright awfulness. But during Donald Sterling's long reign of terror as the Clips' owner, the team fielded a motley crew of busts, underachievers, washed-up vets, and out-and-out wasted talents. Guys like Benoit Benjamin, whom the Clippers picked over the likes of Chris Mullin and Karl Malone as the 3rd pick in the 1985 draft.
To be fair, Benjamin looked like an exciting prospect out of mid-major Creighton, thanks to his size and potential as a two-way force. And his numbers with the Clippers weren't all that bad. But he never got to shake his reputation as a soft underachiever. By the time the Clips finally gave up on Benjamin in 1991, it was time to go downhill, as he became a certified NBA nomad, playing for eight (!!!) teams over the next nine seasons.
17 Los Angeles Lakers: Dennis Rodman
Going back to our Celtics entry on Bob McAdoo, we must remind you that playing only 20 or so games in a season doesn't absolve you from "wasted talent" status, as long as you stayed long enough on the team (and 20 games is long enough) to make any kind of impact. In Dennis Rodman's case, the former Pistons/Spurs/Bulls bad boy/NBA resident weirdo played just 23 games for the Lakers in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, but it was long enough for him to disrupt chemistry on a team that already had Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. Who, as you should remember, oftentimes didn't get along.
Rodman obviously wasn't the missing piece in the puzzle to help the Shaq/Kobe Lakers win some titles. Worse, he was clearly dogging it, to the tune of 11.2 rebounds per game (low by the Worm's standards), and an abysmal 2.1 points per game and 34.8 percent clip from the field. He then moved on to Dallas for his final NBA season, which was even shorter (at 12 games), yet even more troublesome for the Mavs coaching staff that had to deal with his antics.
16 Memphis Grizzlies: Bryant Reeves
To be a bit fair to "Big Country" Bryant Reeves, hardly anyone was expecting him to be a star at Oklahoma – he was a legit 7-footer, albeit a very raw, small-town project. But he went on to become a star for the Sooners, and parlayed that into a 6th-overall selection in the 1995 NBA draft, becoming the Vancouver Grizzlies' first-ever draft pick. He had a solid first two seasons, and that convinced Grizz management to give him a rich six-year, $61 million deal as their franchise center.
Reeves' first year in that new contract was another solid one, but in the years that followed, weight and back issues combined to cut his career short to a mere six years. In the end, it was millions of wasted dollars for the Grizzlies, and a ton of wasted talent for someone who could have at least eked out a longer career (as long as his back would have allowed) if he had probably slimmed down to 260 from his usual 280-plus pounds.
15 Miami Heat: Michael Beasley
As the 2nd-overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft, Michael Beasley was expected to be beastly, pardon the bad pun. He was joining a Heat team that went 17-65 the year prior, and even with a healthy Dwyane Wade expected to suit up, many were looking forward to the 6'10" Kansas State product making an immediately awesome impact. Instead, what Miami fans got was a mostly one-dimensional volume shooter whose character issues from college oftentimes flared up, as evidenced by multiple team-imposed fines.
Heat management had had it with Beasley after just two seasons, and while he initially proved them wrong with a career-best 19.2 ppg in his first season in Minnesota, he would soon return to his original role as a rookie – instant offense off the bench. He's just 28 as of this writing, and fresh off another similar role for the Milwaukee Bucks, so there's still time for him to live up to his potential. But for now, he's another example of a player whose attitude limited him to a good career, instead of the great, Kevin Durant-esque career expected out of him.
14 Milwaukee Bucks: Larry Sanders
Larry Sanders was the 15th pick in the 2010 NBA draft, and he was a huge defensive presence for the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging a career-high 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks in 2012-13. Now these aren’t great numbers, especially on offense, but the kid had huge potential, only for him to blow it through off-court incidents. And while I’m not the type to argue that weed always leads to a wasted NBA career, it was rather irresponsible of Sanders to have two positive marijuana tests (and two suspensions) in the 2014-15 season.
Citing issues with anxiety and depression, Sanders essentially retired from basketball after his second weed suspension, only aged 26 at the time. He would then make a 5-game comeback for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 before getting waived. Apparently, he was still the same head case he was during his tumultuous last two seasons in Milwaukee, with his desire to play still falling far short of his talent.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves: Christian Laettner
Christian Laettner didn't have as good an NBA career as what you would expect from the 3rd pick in the 1992 NBA draft, and the only college player in the 1992 "Dream Team" that dominated that year's Olympics. While he was a big-time contributor for the moribund, pre-KG Minnesota Timberwolves, he wasn't happy in the losing environment of the time, and it manifested through unprofessional behavior and frequent clashes with the T-Wolves coaching staff. As such, they were probably glad to see him go when he and Sean Rooks were traded to Atlanta in 1996, for journeyman center Andrew Lang and a past-his-prime Spud Webb.
Although Laettner made his only All-Star Game appearance for the Hawks in 1996-97, it was downhill from there, as he would spend the rest of his 13-year NBA career bouncing from team to team. What could have been a first-ballot Hall of Fame career turned out to be a merely solid one, and you can chalk up a lot of that to Laettner's attitude.
12 New Orleans Pelicans: Emeka Okafor
When Emeka Okafor won Rookie of the Year honors in 2004-05, greatness might have beckoned for the former UConn big man. Injuries did halt his progression over the next few years in Charlotte, but when he was traded to New Orleans for Tyson Chandler, it was clear who ended up with the short end of the stick.
Despite playing healthy for most of his first two seasons with the then-Hornets, Okafor was clearly an underachiever, as his play continued to regress slowly, but surely. Then injuries began to rear their ugly head by Okafor's third Hornets season. He was out of the league after a similarly lackluster season with the Wizards in 2012-13, and while he's just been cleared to return to the NBA after four years dealing with a neck injury, we don't think he'll even match his decent, but underwhelming productivity with the now-Pelicans and Wizards, now that he's turning 35 in September.
11 New York Knicks: Stephon Marbury
We here at TheSportster have often wished that Stephon Marbury would come back home from China and give the NBA another try. Though he's just turned 40 and is far removed from his glory days as one of the NBA's most exciting, high-scoring point guards, he's older and likely wiser now, emphasis on wiser. Or at least we hope he is, because "Starbury" was quite the headache for New York Knicks coaches and management during his five-year run with the team.
Though Marbury was a productive player stats-wise during that 2004-09 stint, he had public feuds with the likes of Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas, with the latter feud a particularly ugly one that did neither man any favors with the fans. The native New Yorker was oftentimes a pariah with the vocal-as-always hometown crowd, and it goes without saying that he could have potentially led the struggling Knicks to more playoff success, had he swallowed a bit of his pride and kept his mind on the game.
10 Oklahoma City Thunder: Vin Baker
While you may consider Shawn Kemp the biggest Seattle SuperSonics/OKC Thunder waste of talent ever, he did waste his talent big-time for another team (more on him later). Instead, we're going with Vin Baker, whose NBA career got off to a hot start – four All-Star Games in his first five seasons, including his first with the Sonics after four strong years with the Milwaukee Bucks.
It was in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season where the bottom began to fall out for Baker, who went from regular 20-10 power forward to drunken mess faster than you can say "Seattle SuperSonics." His game would drop off even further when he joined the Celtics in 2002, as he mostly rode the bench until his NBA career ended in 2006.
Baker could have been a Hall of Fame candidate, but his drinking and weight issues meant his run as an NBA superstar was over well before he even turned 30.
9 Orlando Magic: Isaac Austin
Remember when Isaac Austin had "next big thing" written all over him? The guy had literally come out of nowhere in 1997-98 to become a productive center for both the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers, and he won that season's Most Improved Player award for his unexpected rise to prominence. Turns out that was a contract year for Ike, who signed a lucrative free agent deal to join the Magic in 1998-99.
Now nobody was going to confuse Austin for the second coming of Shaq, but what the Magic got was a starting center who shot just 41 percent from the field, and suddenly forgot that centers are supposed to grab rebounds. In short, he began to underachieve big-time after that one big season of his. Suffice to say, that season, and Austin's last three NBA seasons, put him alongside other 1990s one-hit wonders such as the Macarena.
8 Philadelphia 76ers: Derrick Coleman
With his mix of size, strength, skill, and athleticism, Derrick Coleman could have easily been up there with Bob Pettit, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and Tim Duncan among the best NBA power forwards of all time. Instead, the #1 pick in the 1990 NBA draft produced some of the emptiest big-time numbers in the history of the league, relying on his physical tools, but oftentimes mailing it in instead of delivering like the aforementioned Mailman. This started to become especially true when he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in 1995.
Playing for a sad-sack Philly team that had yet to add Allen Iverson to its lineup, DC was still the headache he had previously been for Nets coaches, and while he did deal with his share of his injuries, "lackadaisical" was a charitable way to describe how he played while healthy. Again, the numbers were good – around 18 points and 10 rebounds a game in his two full seasons with the Sixers. But he didn't really add to the win column, nor endear himself to coaches in this largely wasted three-year run in the City of Brotherly Love.
7 Phoenix Suns: Richard Dumas
A second-round pick of the Phoenix Suns in 1991, Richard Dumas had to wait one year before fans could see how good he was, as his NBA career started with substance abuse issues from the get-go. But when he was done serving his one-year suspension, fans got to see a dynamic, slam-dunking small forward whom some had even compared to the legendary Dr. J, Julius Erving. Those comparisons were a stretch, but you can't argue with the promise of 15.8 points and 6.4 rebounds a game, and 52.4 percent field goal shooting as a rookie.
Dumas then spent the entire 1993-94 season in rehab, but once he returned, he was on the deep end of the Suns' bench, playing just 15 games in 1994-95. His next, and final season saw him play for recovered drug addict John Lucas on the Philadelphia 76ers, but those moments of brilliance he showed as a Suns rookie were few and far in-between.
Sadly, post-NBA life has not been too kind to Dumas, who was given three years' probation in 2015 for a series of thefts from a military base store.
6 Portland Trail Blazers: Shawn Kemp
As a Seattle SuperSonic, Shawn Kemp was the "Reign Man," a strong, athletic power forward who could virtually do it all. He was a force inside when he teamed with Gary Payton on those successful Sonics teams of the '90s, and even when his weight began to balloon after a trade sent him to Cleveland, he still had good, and even great numbers to hide his growing disinterest in the game. Then he became a Portland Trail Blazer, or should we say, Jail Blazer, and that's when his career truly began heading south.
Not only was Kemp battling weight problems as a Blazer, he was also dealing with a growing addiction to cocaine and alcohol. And with his laziness truly showing, it finally reflected in his numbers, as Kemp's two worst NBA seasons were the ones he spent in Portland. He closed out his career in Orlando, and while his numbers were slightly better, it was clear that his vices (drugs, booze, presumably food) clouded what could have been a surefire shot at the Hall of Fame.
5 Sacramento Kings: Phil Ford
Phil Ford's case is a rather obscure one, but a sad one nonetheless, as he had quickly gone from bona fide superstar and Second Team All-NBA selection to journeyman who couldn't even muster double figures. The decline started in Ford's fourth season, his last in Kansas City (where the Kings played in before moving to Sacramento), as he went from 17.5 ppg and 8.8 apg to just 9.9 and 6.3, despite not losing his starting job nor sitting out extended periods due to injury. Allegedly, Ford was battling a drinking problem around that time, while also unable to adjust to the Kings' switch to a more deliberate style of play.
Ford's NBA career never recovered, and by his final season in 1984-85, he was down to just 1.8 points and 2.4 assists per game, and out of the NBA at the age of 28. (The Rockets waived him in December 1984.) He would go on to enjoy more success as an assistant coach for his alma mater, the North Carolina Tar Heels, and even served as an assistant for the Charlotte Bobcats in the late-2000s.
4 San Antonio Spurs: Walter Berry
Statistically speaking, Walter Berry was the epitome of young up-and-comer for the San Antonio Spurs in 1987-88, averaging 17.4 points and 5.5 rebounds in less than 30 minutes a game for a struggling Spurs team that was still waiting for 1987 top draftee David Robinson to finish up with his Navy commitments. But he was an absolute headache to Spurs coach Larry Brown, as the original "Truth" (well before Paul Pierce assumed the nickname) didn't play defense, and made no apologies for his lack of fundamentals.
Berry's crummy, me-first attitude essentially turned him into persona non grata in the NBA, as he was out of the league in 1989, aged only 24, after splitting his third and last NBA season with the Nets and the Rockets. He did, however, have a very productive overseas career, playing in the international circuit until his retirement in 2002.
3 Toronto Raptors: Keon Clark
Former UNLV big man Keon Clark had a pretty average, if short NBA career, and you may even call him a mild disappointment for someone drafted 13th-overall in 1998. But he was showing a lot of promise in the season-and-a-half he spent with the Toronto Raptors, including one full season (2001-02) where he averaged 11.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks despite being a part-time starter. Heck, he even set the Raptors single-game blocked shot record, with a 12-block game late in the 2000-01 season!
What's simultaneously amazing and disappointing is Clark's later admission that he may have done all that while under the influence of booze. Clark claims he "never played a game sober" in the NBA, and by 2013, he was sentenced to an 8-year prison sentence for weapons charges. Had he stayed sober, he just might have spent twice as many years (at least) than the six seasons he played in the NBA.
2 Utah Jazz: John Drew
In an era when the NBA's simplistic, uptempo play style allowed a plethora of super scorers to thrive, John Drew was one of the best. Scoring was a way of life for this 6'6" forward, who starred for the Atlanta Hawks for several seasons, before joining the Utah Jazz in 1982. It was there where his cocaine habit became more than public knowledge, as he missed almost all of the 1982-83 season due to drug rehab. One season later, he was ostensibly clean as a whistle, and won the NBA's Comeback Player of the Year award, averaging an unthinkable 17.7 points in just 22 minutes a game!
Drew, however, would relapse big-time by 1985, and one year later, he got a permanent ban after numerous drug arrests and drug policy violations. He's since cleaned up, though it's hard to say if he's making a comfortable living these days, as reports have suggested he's been working as a Houston-area cab driver since the 2000s.
1 Washington Wizards: Gilbert Arenas
Hibachi. Agent Zero. Dude who wished Javaris Crittenton a merry Christmas by reminding him of his gambling debts with a gun. For three short years in the mid-2000s, Gilbert Arenas was one of the NBA's biggest and most colorful stars, and while injuries are certainly to blame in part for his decline, it's not like his attitude didn't play a huge role as well. With the Wizards plunking down a cool $110 million over six years to keep Arenas in DC, the Hibachi responded not only by getting hurt, but also with all manner of shenanigans, not the least that little gun incident with Crittenton that had him serving a lengthy league-imposed suspension.
By the time the Wizards shipped him to the Magic for fellow albatross Rashard Lewis, Arenas was a mere shadow of his old self, as he backed up Jameer Nelson in Orlando, then Mike Conley in Memphis in his final NBA season. Arenas hasn't played in the NBA since 2012, and reports have since claimed that the onetime $110 million man is now too broke to send his kids to private school.