There may not be a bigger sport more affected than players turning out to be busts than the National Basketball Association. An NBA scout has the extremely difficult task of evaluating NBA prospects and letting the organization you work for know exactly what they are getting if they decide to draft one of the players you have been scouting. Watching a player ball in high school and college is a way to see how they will perform in the league, however, they must have a certain edge and skill-set to actually be a good player in the NBA. With that in mind, it is also vital that a young player can play through the grind of the league because injuries can seriously derail a teams plans of success when they spend a top draft selection on a guy who can't play a full season.
In this article, we will be looking at 20 of the biggest busts in the NBA's long history, 10 of whom who were busts because of their injuries and 10 who just were not talented enough to compete at the level at which the NBA requires you to compete. While it's a little unfair to label a player a bust because of various injuries, the old saying goes, the best ability is availability.
We certainly have seen some big draft busts make a name for themselves in the league for the wrong reason.
Here are 10 NBA players who were busts because of injury and 10 who just weren't talented enough.
20 Injury: Greg Oden
Greg Oden was drafted with the 1st pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. This turned out to be the wrong move for Portland, as Oden, who was a freshman star at Ohio State University, never turned out to be the dominant center everyone thought he was going to be.
A giant human, Oden's knees gave out on him early in his career, and he never had the same career as the guy drafted right behind him.
Kevin Durant, of course, became an MVP and scoring champion. Injuries ruined what could have been a legendary career for Greg Oden.
19 Not Talented: Darko Milicic
Many NBA fans know the name Darko Milicic, due to the fact he was drafted second overall in the legendary 20o3 NBA Draft. The Pistons missed on a lot of talent that day when they selected Darko second overall, as he never turned out to be a good player in the league. He showed no star potential once playing in his first game, and he would have been better off being selected with a second-round pick rather than a second overall pick. He did eventually get some playing time after leaving the Pistons, but his production was still short of what you'd expect from someone picked as high as he was.
18 Injury: Sam Bowie
Sam Bowie was drafted in front of the "worst" guy you can get drafted in front of. Of course, we now know that player as Michael Jordan, and we know how good he turned out. Considering Bowie never turned out to be a star player in the league, the legend of Michael Jordan grew more and more, making the selection of Bowie with the number 2 pick in the 1984 draft look worse and worse. While he was not a bad player, injuries hurt Bowie badly throughout his career, as he had the talents to be a really good NBA player.
17 Not Talented: Kwame Brown
Kwame Brown is considered by many to be the worst draft selection of all-time. He was taken with the first overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards, which turned out to be to the fault of one Michael Jordan, who was why the team made the move and drafted the center out of high school.
He was dominant in the high school basketball world, but Kwame Brown didn't have the talent to compete in the NBA.
That's why it's a surprise he was able to play in the league for more than a decade, albeit mostly as a backup.
16 Injury: Michael Olowokandi
Michael Olowokandi was expected to be one of the league's next dominant center when he was drafted with the first overall selection in the 1998 NBA Draft, ahead of Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, and others. Injuries ended up derailing the Kandi Man's career, as his knees were not able to keep up with the grind of daily life in the NBA. He was drafted by the Clippers, and with the luck they had back in the '90s and early 2000s, it's not a surprise this draft selection went awry. Olowokandi played nine seasons in the NBA, averaging just 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds over his career.
15 Not Talented: Anthony Bennett
Anthony Bennett was easily one of the worst draft selections of all-time, as it was soon found out once he was drafted that he was not a top draft selection, maybe not even worth a selection at all. Bennett was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first pick in 2013 NBA Draft after his one-year college career at UNLV. Bennett has played for a multitude of NBA teams, as he hasn't found a foothold in the league at all to this point. He's now hoping to return to the NBA via the G League after an unsuccessful stint in the international basketball scene.
14 Injury: Shawn Bradley
Shawn Bradley was probably a little too big for his own good, as while it did get him to the NBA for being 7'6", his body could not handle his own weight which is why he is considered a draft bust.
He was a great shot blocker during his time in the league and really could have made a name for himself with the 76ers if he was able to stay healthy throughout his career.
Instead, he faded out after a promising first few years, and averaged just 8.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks in 12 NBA seasons – not what's expected from a second overall pick.
13 Not Talented: Robert Swift
Robert Swift was drafted with the 12th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. He only spent a few seasons in the league with the team that drafted in the SuperSonics/Thunder, due to the fact that his play at center was not up to par with the rest of the NBA's centers. He was last seen being forced to leave his mansion and ran into a number of outside issues after his brief NBA career ended. Swift was definitely not cut out for the NBA, and the numbers show – only 4.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in a 97-game career over four seasons.
12 Injury: Pervis Ellison
Pervis Ellison was selected first overall in the 1989 NBA Draft by the Kings, who passed up on great players such as Shawn Kemp, Tim Hardaway, and Glen Rice.
Pervis had the talent to be a great player in the league, showing his potential throughout his early days in the league and averaging 20 points and 11.2 rebounds in his third NBA season.
However, his frequent trips to the disabled list were the main reason why he did not enjoy much success despite enjoying a fairly long NBA career, and never lived up to being the first overall pick in the NBA Draft.
11 Not Talented: Adam Morrison
Adam Morrison was a great player at Gonzaga, but he certainly did not have the talent to recreate the spark that made him special in the NCAA. He was so special in college, that Michael Jordan made the Bobcats select him with the 3rd overall pick in 2006, and it turned out to be a huge blunder by the greatest player (yet one of the worst general managers) of all-time. Morrison was out of the league due to the fact he couldn't score efficiently from the field, ending up being one of the worst draft picks of all time.
10 Injury: Chris Washburn
There was a multitude of reasons that Chris Washburn couldn't stay in the NBA, and it wasn't necessarily the fact he wasn't talented enough.
A lack of work ethic, injuries, and a number of off-court issues are among the reasons that Washburn faded from the league very quickly after he was selected with the third pick in the 1986 NBA Draft.
Washburn's potential was questioned coming into the league, and it turned out the doubters were right on that one, as the Warriors made a mistake picking him over Chuck Person, Ron Harper, or even second-rounders Dennis Rodman or Mark Price.
9 Not Talented: Marvin Williams
Marvin Williams didn't even start on UNC during his college days there, so it was a bit of a surprise when the Hawks drafted him with the second pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, even if he spent just a year in Chapel Hill and had loads of potential.
Williams never made the impact that Atlanta wanted him to at all, and talented point guards such as Chris Paul and Deron Williams would have been a much better fit for the struggling Hawks, whose starting point guard at the time was Tyronn Lue. He's still in the league, but merely being a solid 13-year veteran won't cut it for a No. 2 pick.
8 Injury: Joe Alexander
Joe Alexander had a great college career at West Virginia, and he looked to have all the tools needed to be a solid player in the NBA. At the draft combine, he showed incredible physical talent as he was honestly the best athlete their as he led the rookies in speed and strength on many tests. Alexander played a few seasons with the Bucks, but a hamstring injury is what made him get sent down to the D-League, and from there, he was never able to recover. He moved to Europe after his unsuccessful two-year stint in the NBA was over.
7 Not Talented: Eddy Curry
Eddy Curry was one of the biggest and best prospects in basketball back in the early 2000s, as he was named MVP of the McDonald's Game. He was drafted with the 4th overall pick back in 2001, and it turned out to be the wrong move for the Chicago Bulls.
Despite having good numbers at some points in his career, Curry just didn't have what it takes to be a good player in the league, as he looked lethargic on both the defensive and offensive ends of the court.
He's a rare example of someone who looked like a bust even while averaging close to 20 points a game.
6 Injury: Luke Jackson
To be honest, this was a bit of a two-way street for Jackson, as injuries certainly hurt his NBA career, but his talent was nothing special on top of that. As a four-year star with the Oregon Ducks, he was selected 10th overall in 2004 to pair up with LeBron James. After only playing a half of a season in two full years, Jackson left the league, which is why no one really knows his name. He could have been solid, but maybe playing with a young stud version of LeBron got to his head a bit and affected his confidence in the NBA.
5 Not Talented Enough: Jonny Flynn
Jonny Flynn will be considered a worse and worse bust as the player drafted behind him, Stephen Curry, continues to become one of the greatest basketball players of all-time. The former Syracuse star was selected by the Wolves with the sixth pick in 2009, and after a rookie season where he was decent and showed some potential, he was out of the league after bouncing around with a few other teams. Flynn was a solid player at Syracuse, but he wasn't so solid in the NBA and has not been able to return to the league after three short seasons.
4 Injury: Jonathan Bender
Drafted directly from high school, Jonathan Bender never turned out to be a good player in the league despite being selected 5th overall by the Pacers in 1999. Bender had the stature and talent to be a great player, but injuries ruined his career as was never able to play a full season in the league.
His per-36 minutes numbers were very good, but he wasn't able to stay on the court long enough and was considered a bust due to the injuries.
All in all, he averaged 5.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in eight NBA seasons, and never was healthy enough for a regular starting job.
3 Talent: Jon Koncak
If you look up Jon Koncak, you won't really see any of his highlights, instead, you will see Michael Jordan making him look silly with a fake pass, and you will see him getting dunked on multiple times. Jon was a great player at SMU and put up some great numbers for the Mustangs, but the Hawks took the wrong guy when they selected him fifth overall in the 1985 NBA Draft, passing on guys such as Karl Malone and Joe Dumars. Averages of 4.5 points and 4.9 rebounds in 11 seasons are not the kind of production you expect from someone picked fifth in the draft.
2 Injury: Shaun Livingston
Shaun Livingston is actually considered a pretty good bench player for the Warriors dynasty in today's game, but many new fans don't know that Livingston was selected 4th overall over a decade ago by the Clippers, and really struggled throughout his career with injuries. You can look Shaun's first injury up at your own risk, as it really was a bad one that many are surprised he ever came back from. Livingston easily could have been a dominant scorer in the NBA if injuries didn't sadly get in his way, and forced him to settle for being one of the NBA's better role players.
1 Not Talented: Jan Vesely
Boy, are the Wizards kicking themselves about this one. Drafting Vesely with the sixth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, they wound up leaving a ton of talent on the board such as Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, and Klay Thompson. Vesely pretty much fell out of the league once he was drafted, as it soon became clear he did not have what it takes to be a good player in the NBA. Now playing overseas, the only people that know the name Jan Vesely are people from Washington, and chances are they do not remember him in a good way.