You played your entire life for this one moment. Your one shot to make your family proud and to earn a place in the history books. Is the Hall of Fame in your future? Is the All-Star Game? Butterflies flutter in the stomachs of many young men who are NBA bound. The countless hours bouncing a ball and squeaking shoes on the freshly polished hardwood replays in their minds. Millions of dollars so palpable as the commissioner slowly walks his way along the carpeted floor to the podium that reaches the height of his chest. He clears his throat. Millions of beady eyes stare as his pink lips slowly open. "Welcome to the NBA Draft."
The story above describes what it must be like for the hundreds of college basketball players hoping for a chance to play in the National Basketball Association. They feel simultaneous excitement and nervousness about their possibilities. But the undeniable fact that everything could go terribly wrong and leave many unemployed and without any kind of true education is a scary reality. For those who have their names called though, their lives are instantly set up for greatness. The only issue with getting set up though, is that many people are set up to fail. Even those who are set up not to fail, still are unable to make their opportunity worthwhile because they find a way to make a mess of their chance.
The following list will highlight the current statuses of 30 of the biggest busts in NBA Draft history.
30 Eric Montross
Eric Montross played eight seasons in the NBA. As the ninth overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft, you would think Montross would have produced decent numbers. The now 45-year-old attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and performed very well there. Coming out of college, everyone though Montross would be a very productive player for years with the Boston Celtics. His selection was warranted, but his play did not translate at all from college to the pros. Montross was only able to put up 4.5 points per game and 4.6 rebounds per game. After Montross turned out to be a bust, many people with the organization and most of the Celtics fans were upset that the General Manager selected Montross over the likes of Eddie Johnson (All-Star), Jalen Rose, and Aaron McKie.
29 Jonny Flynn
Jonny Flynn was an okay player. Based on his college career, he was probably drafted in the right spot at number six overall in 2009. The only issue with the now 27-year-old is that he never performed in the NBA like he did in college or high school. Coming out of high school, Flynn was very highly touted. He went to Syracuse and only played there for two years before declaring for the NBA Draft. After being drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves though, Flynn struggled. He only lasted four seasons in the NBA; two with the Timberwolves, one with the Houston Rockets and one with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Besides only being mediocre and not lasting more than four seasons in the NBA as a lottery pick, the reason Flynn is seen as a bust is because he was drafted before two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry. He was also selected before All-Stars DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, and Jeff Teague.
28 Oliver Miller
The Arkansas Razorbacks star, Oliver Miller, entered the NBA as the 22nd overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft (he was selected by the Phoenix Suns). Miller started his career well, averaging over 12 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, but began to struggle when he put on a lot of weight. At one point in his career, Miller was reported to have weighed 375 pounds. Miller can be compared to George Costanza from Seinfeld — stocky, slow, and terrible at his job.
After leaving the NBA, Miller attempted being a Harlem Globetrotter, but he was unable to succeed. He was released by the team for showing “no appreciation for what it takes mentally and physically to be a Harlem Globetrotter.” After being dismissed from the Globetrotters, Miller went on to play in multiple countries before ending his career in 2010.
Miller was a terrible pick and a terrible player. In fact, he is ranked one of the worst players of all-time.
27 Sam Bowie
Sam Bowie was never really that bad of a player. In 1984, Bowie was drafted second overall by the Portland Trail Blazers out of the University of Kentucky. Over the course of his career, Bowie averaged 10.9 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game, and 1.8 blocks per game. The reason he is considered to be such a bad pick is because Bowie was taken before Michael Jordan. But really, if any player in NBA history had been taken where Bowie was, they would have been considered a bust. Still it does not help that Bowie was still a bust in his own right. Besides Michael Jordan, the Trail Blazers also missed out of Charles Barkley and the all-time assists leader, John Stockton.
26 Luther Wright
Luther Wright was drafted in the first round of the 1993 NBA Draft (18th overall) by the Utah Jazz out of Seton Hall. That is really all there is to know about Wright. He played his rookie year with the Jazz, only participating in 15 games where he scored 1.3 points per game. Before leaving the league, Luther Wright entered into a mental institution, where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
25 Marcus Camby
Marcus Camby was drafted second overall in 1996 by the Toronto Raptors. He was chosen out of the University of Massachusetts and played in the NBA for 17 seasons. While 17 years is a long time, if you look at his statistics and who was drafted after him, Camby was not the best pick for the Toronto Raptors. Over the course of his career, he averaged 9.5 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game, and 2.4 blocks per game. Unfortunately for the Raptors, Camby was chosen before Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Ray Allen, Antoine Walker, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Peja Stojaković, Jermaine O'Neil, and Žydrūnas Ilgauskas.
24 Shawn Bradley
Shawn Bradley was drafted second overall in the 1993 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. He was drafted before the likes of Penny Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, Vin Baker, Allan Houston, and Sam Cassell. It is hard to say that Bradley had an okay career because he really just did not. He was able to last longer than a lot of the other names on this list (12 seasons), but he struggled throughout his career.
The 76ers moved on from their first round pick after two-and-a-half years, and he bounced around the league for awhile. Bradley eventually found a permanent home in Dallas with the Mavericks for the final nine years of his NBA career. Over the course of his career, Bradley was only able to average 8.1 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, and 2.5 blocks per game. Sure, his statistics are not awful, but for one of the tallest men to ever play the game, you would expect far more.
23 Rafael Araújo
Rafael Araujo was just terrible. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Araujo played three seasons in the NBA; two of those seasons were for the Toronto Raptors and one was for the Utah Jazz. He was drafted eighth overall by the Toronto Raptors in 2004. Some of the players taken after him that the Raptors missed out on were: Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson, and Jameer Nelson. His best season was his rookie year, when he was drafted 8th overall and managed to only score 3.3 points per game in about 13 minutes per game (started 41/59 games). After so much hype coming out of college, Rafael Araujo is effectively a draft bust.
His best season was his rookie year during which he managed to only score 3.3 points per game in about 13 minutes per game (he started 41/59 games). After so much hype coming out of college, Rafael Araujo is effectively a draft bust and was just an overall terrible player.
22 Pervis Ellison
Pervis Ellison was drafted in 1989 out of Louisville. He was selected first overall by the Sacramento Kings. Now sure, it is not uncommon for the Kings to mess up, but Ellison was bad in his own right. Ellison played 11 seasons in the National Basketball Association and in that time, averaged 9.5 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game, and 1.5 assists per game. Had the Kings decided not to take Ellison, they could have ended up with a very good talent such as Sean Elliott, Glen Rice, Mookie Blaylock, Tim Hardaway, Dana Barros, Shawn Kemp, B.J. Armstrong, Vlade Divac, and Cliff Robinson.
21 Dennis Hopson
Dennis Hopson was drafted third overall out of Ohio State in 1987. The New Jersey Nets made the selection and Hopson played three seasons for them. Over the course of his five-year career, he was able to average 10.9 points per game, 2.8 rebounds per game, and 1.6 assists per game. While Hopson was never terrible, he was never good either. Given who he was drafted before, he should have been great. The players that the Nets could have taken instead of Hopson were Scottie Pippen, Kevin Johnson, Horace Grant, Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, Reggie Lewis, and Šarūnas Marčiulionis.
20 Patrick O'Bryant
Patrick O’Bryant came out of college with a lot of hype. He was drafted ninth overall out of Bradley by the Golden State Warriors after leading Bradley to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Championships. After being drafted though, the hype immediately died because O’Bryant was just terrible. In his first season he only played in 16 games, starting none, and only scoring 1.9 points per game. He went on to have a four-year career in which he averaged a lackluster 2.1 points per game in a total of 90 games. The most games he played in a single season was 39, and by the end of 2010 he was out of the league. He almost made a comeback, being signed by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2013, but was ultimately waived within a month.
19 Danny Ferry
Daniel Ferry was selected with the second overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers out of Duke University. Ferry was actually considered a good pick when he was chosen, but the major issue with his selection was that he refused to play for the Clippers, and instead decided to play overseas with Il Messaggero, which is now known as Virtus Roma (of the Serie A2 Italian League).
After the 1989-90 season, Ferry was traded by the Clippers to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who decided to sign Ferry to a 10-year guaranteed contract, which he accepted. Over those next 10 seasons, Ferry played alright though he never lived up to his contract or draft status. The Cavaliers believed he would be a star when they signed him, but in Ferry's best year (1995-96), he was only able to manage 13.3 points per game and 1.3 assists per game (in an average of 33 minutes per game). After his contract with Cleveland was up, Ferry moved on to the San Antonio Spurs, where he played three seasons as an off-the-bench shooter. Ferry never averaged more than six points per game with the Spurs and was unable to find anywhere else to play after the 2002-03 season. The Clippers missed out on players such as Sean Elliott, Glen Rice, Mookie Blaylock, Tim Hardaway, Dana Barros, Shawn Kemp, B.J. Armstrong, Vlade Divac, and Cliff Robinson.
Today, Danny Ferry is best known for the 2014 controversy when he was the General Manager of the Atlanta Hawks. Ferry was accused of making racial remarks in a meeting and in emails about then Miami Heat player Luol Deng. After taking an indefinite leave of absence though, an independent investigation was conducted on the matter and found that Ferry did not make any of the comments he was said to have and, in fact, attempted to sign Deng to the team.
18 Raef LaFrentz
Raef LaFrentz was selected third overall in the 1998 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. He played four seasons for Denver and played ten seasons altogether. Over the course of his decade-long year career, LaFrentz averaged 10.1 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game. He was chosen before Antwan Jamison, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, and Paul Pierce. Given these names, it is clear that LaFrentz was an awful pick and a bust. The latter half of Lafrentz's career was plagued with injury, which is sad considering the big man had all the tools to stretch the floor and open up lanes while playing in Boston and Portland.
17 Joe Alexander
Joe Alexander was drafted eighth overall in 2008 by the Milwaukee Bucks. Alexander was only able to last two seasons in the NBA before being cut. During his time in the NBA, Alexander averaged 4.2 points per game and 1.8 rebounds per game. It is hard to explain why the Bucks took Alexander here because he did have a good career at West Virginia, but not great. Players like, Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, Serge Ibaka, DeAndre Jordan, and Goran Dragić, were all available at the time that the Bucks selected Alexander, but for some reason, they decided to go with him.
16 Russell Cross
Russell Cross was selected sixth overall in the 1983 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. There is not much to say about Cross because he was only in the NBA for one season. After the 1983-84 season, Cross was waived by the Warriors and signed by the Denver Nuggets, Before he was able to appear in a game though, the Nuggets waived him. Over the course of his career, Cross averaged 3.7 points per game and played in 45 games. The sad part is that Cross was a legendary Purdue player, having been listed as one of the school's top 50 players of all-time. Cross is just another example of how college skills don't always translate to the NBA.
15 Marvin Williams
Marvin Williams is a bust. He was drafted second overall in the 2005 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. While Williams has averaged 10.5 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game over the course of his 11-year career, he was selected way too high considering the class he came in with. Instead of Williams, the Hawks could have instead drafted Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Andrew Bynum, Danny Granger, or David Lee. Marvin Williams has been a fine role player that comes off of the bench, but is nowhere deserving of being a top five draft pick.
14 Derrick Williams
Derrick Williams was selected second overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Williams played two full seasons for the Timberwolves before being traded to the Sacramento Kings in 2013. Over the course of his five-year career, Williams has averaged 9.3 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game. Yes, he is still in the NBA, but he is, and has been, very ineffective for his entire career. Some of the all-stars that the Timberwolves missed out on were Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and Isaiah Thomas.
13 Michael Beasley
Michael Beasley is a questionable call here. It is not questionable whether he was a terrible pick, but it is questionable whether or not he is worthy of these top 30. For me, he is. Sure, he has averaged 13 points per game over the course of his eight-year NBA career, but if you look at who was drafted after him and his actual impact on his previous teams, you see why he can be considered a bust. If the Miami Heat had chosen Russell Westbrook or Kevin Love, their team could look vastly different than it does today.
12 Chris Washburn
Chris Washburn came out of college in 1986 and was drafted third overall out of North Carolina State. He was selected by the Golden State Warriors. From the beginning, Washburn was extremely ineffective for the Warriors. During his rookie season, he took medication for the tendinitis in his knee, which led to a kidney infection. To make matters worse, in 1987 he checked into a drug rehab facility for a cocaine addiction. Even after being rehabilitated, Washburn was still very bad when he went back to playing. Over the course of his short two-year career in the NBA, he averaged 3.1 points per game and 2.4 rebounds per game.
11 Rick Robey
Rick Robey was drafted third overall in 1978 by the Indiana Pacers. He played his college ball for the University of Kentucky. While Robey was okay, he was no Larry Bird (who he was drafted before). His career averages were 7.6 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game, and 1.2 assists per game. Again, like a lot of the other players on this list, Robey was not an awful player, but given where he was drafted, he is seen as a huge bust. In his defense, Robey was a member of the 1980-81 championship Celtics team...just not an important member.
10 Joe Smith
Joe Smith had a very long career, in fact, Smith played 16 seasons in the National Basketball Association. Unfortunately, Smith was extremely mediocre his entire career. Sure, he made the NBA All-Rookie First Team, but what is that really saying? He was playing for a bad Golden State Warriors team that failed to make the playoffs that season (1995-96) and he was the first overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. When you are drafted first overall and play for a bad team, you can usually expect to play a lot, which ensures big numbers.
Over the course of his career, Smith played for 12 teams and was only able to average 10.9 points per game (boosted by his first two seasons when he averaged over 34 minutes per game ) and 6.4 rebounds per game. If Joe Smith was not a first overall pick, he would have been an okay role player, but given how high he was picked and who came after him (Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Kevin Garnett, Theo Ratliff, and Michael Finley), Smith was a terrible pick.
9 Adam Morrison
A former third overall pick by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006, Adam Morrison was supposed to be a star in the NBA. He had great success in college and had the size and athleticism of a perennial all-star. Unfortunately for Morrison, the NBA just did not work for him. He lasted all of four years in the NBA, playing his first two for the Bobcats and his second two for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was able to average a solid 11.8 points per game in his rookie season, playing almost 30 minutes per game. After his rookie season though, Morrison’s production dropped off a cliff.
In his other three years in the NBA, he averaged 4.5, 1.3, and 2.4 points per game respectively. During his entire NBA career, he only played a total of 161 regular season games, which is less than two full seasons. It goes without saying that any player who was a Player of the Year in college should be much better than Morrison ever was.
8 Anthony Bennett
Maybe this one is a little bit premature, but at this point it would appear that Anthony Bennett is headed towards being considered the biggest bust in league history. Being selected first overall in 2013 by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Bennett has played in 52 games, starting none, and averaged a measly 4.2 points per game. Looking at Bennett today, he is now on his fourth team in his fourth NBA season. He is young and we have seen careers turn around, but unfortunately for Bennett, the NBA just does not seem to be the league for him.
7 Michael Olowokandi
Michael Olowokandi, besides having a fun name, was just about the worst pick ever. He was selected number one overall in 1998 by the Los Angeles Clippers out of the University of the Pacific. By the end of his career, Olowokandi could look back and see an average of 8.3 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game, and 1.4 blocks per game. While he was an exciting player in college, Olowokandi was an extremely underwhelming player at the professional level. When you consider that Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, and Paul Pierce were all chosen after him, his pick is especially disappointing for the Clippers.
6 Nikoloz Tskitishvili
Nikoloz Tskitishvili was drafted fifth overall (before Amar'e Stoudemire, Caron Butler, and Carlos Boozer) in 2002 by the Denver Nuggets out of Italy. He might possibly be the worst pick out of the Draft Lottery ever. There were reports made that the Denver Nuggets had never actually seen Tskitishvili play before drafting him, which is crazy. In the NBA, he only averaged 2.9 points per game over four seasons. He was almost able to make it back to the NBA in 2015, when he was signed by the Los Angeles Clippers, but he was waived before the season began.
5 LaRue Martin
LaRue Martin is arguably the worst pick ever, but we will keep him here rounding out the top five for now. Martin was selected first overall in the 1972 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. He played four seasons in the NBA with the Trail Blazers and averaged just 5.3 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, and 0.7 assists per game. Martin was taken before Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers, Bob McAdoo and Julius Erving. While he probably would have made an okay bench player if drafted later, his expectations were just so high, that he was never able to live up to them.
4 Hasheem Thabeet
Hasheem Thabeet was selected second overall by the Memphis Grizzlies out of the University of Connecticut. He played five years in the NBA and was never effective. As a rookie, he played in 68 games and was only able to average 3.2 points per game; his career average is 2.2 points per game. While Thabeet was a great college player, his game just never translated to the NBA. He had all the size at 7-foot-3, but many said that he never had the drive or desire to be great.
3 Greg Oden
While Oden is technically an NBA Champion, even he acknowledges his place in basketball history. Just two weeks ago the former number one pick in the 2007 NBA Draft said that he would go down as the “biggest bust in NBA History”. At seven feet tall, the former Ohio State Buckeye’s legacy is even more lopsided, as you compare his career to the career of the number two pick in 2007; Kevin Durant. Unfortunately, Oden was only able to play in 105 games during his seven-year career in the NBA, as injuries decimated his true potential on the hardwood. Oden can also be found on other lists, like this one, where he is ranked as the worst player of all time.
2 Darko Miličić
Darko Miličić was the second overall pick in 2003 by the Detroit Pistons. Darko could very well be the worst pick in the history of the NBA. It is not that he was a terrible player because he was never awful, it was a matter of where he was drafted and those taken after him. Drako was the legendary class that included Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. All three of those could make it into the Hall of Fame.
In his 10 year NBA career, Darko averaged 6.0 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, and 1.3 blocks per game. If he were drafted much later, he could have been a fine role player, but given where he was chosen, it would appear that the expectations were much too high for him. He struggled from the beginning and had a lackluster career from then on.
In 2014, Darko retired from basketball to begin pursuing kickboxing. On December 18th, 2014, he fought Radovan Radojčin. This was Darko's only fight and he lost in two rounds by TKO. Currently, it has been reported that he is back in his native country of Serbia working as a farmer.
1 Kwame Brown
And the worst pick in the history of the National Basketball Association is...Kwame Brown! Yes, with a cool name like Kwame, you would think he should have been a great player. Unfortunately, all Brown is really known for is being the first, first overall pick out of high school that year, and being the worst pick in NBA history. After being drafted first overall in 2001 by the Washington Wizards, Brown went on to average 4.5 points in his rookie season. Not much changed over the next 11 seasons as Kwame ended up averaging just 6.6 points per game for his career.
While Kwame Brown was stinking it up for his entire career, the Wizards missed out on players like Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, and Tony Parker, three of whom are NBA Champions.
Kwame Brown has been out of basketball for three years now, but apparently, he is attempting to stage a comeback. Earlier this year, Brown signed with the player agency, Interperformances, to attempt this comeback. Let us all just wait and see folks, we may just get to see some more of Kwame!
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