The NBA more now than ever has had lots of players that have come into the league who were not ready to play basketball at the highest level that is prevalent in the NBA. Many of these players come into the NBA draft highly rated, and many predict that they will be bonafide future NBA superstars. These predictions though do not always come to fruition, and the players that fail miserable to live up to the very high expectations put on them are labeled busts. When a player is labeled a bust it can be for a variety of reasons.
Reasons for a players being thought of as a bust include: being injury prone, not being given much of a chance by the team that drafted you, and the most rampant reason is a player just not possessing the skill that many thought they had. The players that are injury prone are the athletes that we feel the worst for. Players who are not given the best chance are somewhat responsible, but coaches also can be blamed for their play never getting better. The most widespread reason though for someone being called a bust is there play on the court is laughable.
Here are The Biggest Rookie Bust From Each Of The Last 15 seasons:
15 2003: Darko Milicic
Darko Milicic is widely considered one of the biggest busts in NBA history, and this is due to the fact that he was drafted second overall in the 2003 NBA draft ahead of superstars such as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Detroit Pistons were the team unlucky enough to draft the young man from Serbia. At the time the Pistons were already a solid team, and had made a trip to the eastern conference finals the previous year. This led to Milicic not getting much playing time during his time with the Pistons. This stunted his development, and after two years with the Pistons he was traded to the Orlando Magic. Milicic played for four other teams after the Magic and had career averages of six points and four rebounds per game.
14 2004: Robert Swift
Robert Swift was one of the best High School basketball players in the country, and had committed to playing college basketball at USC before changing his mind and entering the 2004 NBA draft. The Seattle Supersonic selected Swift 12th overall. Swift struggled mightily while in the NBA, and injuries played a role in him never living up to his potential. In four seasons in the NBA Swift only played in 97 total games. The most games he ever played in a season was 47 games during the 2005-06 NBA season, and after the 2008-09 NBA season he was out of the NBA altogether.
Despite his long injury history his play on the court when he was healthy was not great by any means. Swift holds career averages of four points and four rebounds per game.
13 2005: Yaroslav Korolev
The Los Angeles Clippers have somewhat of a reputation for selecting busts at the top of the NBA draft, but one of their biggest busts was Yaroslav Korolev. He had a very brief stint in the NBA that last only between 2005 and 2007. The Clippers selected Korolev 12th overall in the 2005 NBA draft, but they never imagined that he would only play in 34 career games in two NBA seasons. To make matters worse his lack of play was not due to injuries. Korolev was healthy while in the NBA, but had poor career numbers of one point and half a rebound per game. After his poor NBA career Korolev played all throughout Europe in hopes of making it back to the NBA someday but he never got another chance.
12 2006: Adam Morrison
Adam Morrison had a storied career while playing for the Gonzaga University Bulldogs, but his success would end at the collegiate level. At Gonzaga, Morrison had a stellar 2005 season where he was named co-player of the year along with JJ Redick. Morrison was selected third overall by the Charlotte Bobcats, and his Bobcat teammates even gave him the nickname “The White Mamba.” This nickname resembled the nickname of Kobe Bryant’s “The Black Mamba,” but Morrison’s production never resembled Kobe Bryant’s in the NBA. His rookie season was somewhat successful when he averaged almost 12 points a night. Morrison never averaged over five points a night in his three more seasons in the NBA with the Bobcats and Lakers, and he was one of the biggest disappointments coming out of college the NBA has ever witnessed.
11 2007: Greg Oden
Greg Oden is one of the biggest busts in NBA history, but he was not a bust based off his poor play. Injuries derailed his career from the start. Oden was the consensus number one overall selection in the 2007 NBA draft, and the Portland Trailblazers passed up on Kevin Durant to select Oden. The Trailblazers are infamous for drafting injured big men. Oden had led Ohio State to the national championship game in college where they lost to the Powerhouse University of Florida squad. Oden only play three seasons in the NBA between 2007 and 2014 because of various knee injuries, and he holds career averages of eight points and six rebounds per game. The stats do not look great but he was putting up these numbers in limited minutes.
10 2008: Joe Alexander
Joe Alexander was an exciting prospect coming out of West Virginia, and because of his great play the Milwaukee Bucks selected him eighth overall in the 2008 NBA draft. He had a breakout year his junior season which propelled him into being a lottery selection. It was quickly realized that Alexander could not play at the NBA level, and he would only play one season in a Milwaukee Bucks uniform. He was traded to the Chicago Bulls after his one year with the Bucks. Alexander only played in eight games for the Bulls, and after various D League stints he has remained playing in Europe since 2014 for a number of different teams. His numbers in the NBA of four points and two rebounds per game were very disappointing.
9 2009: Hasheem Thabeet
Hasheem Thabeet was a star at the University of Connecticut, but he was a complete dud at the NBA level. The Memphis Grizzlies gambled on the young big man by selecting him second overall in the 2009 Thabeet was a total bust at the NBA level, and during his first year in the NBA he became the highest drafted player to be sent down to the NBA D League. After two years with the Grizzlies he had brief stint with the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers. He then caught on with one of the best young teams in the NBA in the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he spent 2012 through 2014 playing for the Thunder. After 2014 he could not catch on with another NBA team with his poor career averages of two points and three rebounds per game.
8 2010: Ekpe Udoh
Ekpe Udoh was drafted sixth overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 2010 NBA draft, and he was drafted mostly based off of potential. His college statistics did not jump out at anyone in his three years playing for the University of Michigan and Baylor. His physical gifts gave scouts the impression that he could be a great NBA player especially on defense. His stellar defense kept him in the league for six seasons, but his offense never fully developed into that of a player who was drafted sixth overall. Udoh has been given another chance in the NBA as the Utah Jazz signed him this offseason. The Golden State Warriors gave up on Udoh after two seasons because of his low career average of only four points a night.
7 2011: Jan Vesely
Jan Vesely was unlike many that come out of Europe due to the fact that he was a highly athletic player, but despite having a ton of potential he never panned out in the NBA. The Washington Wizards drafted Vesely sixth overall in the 2011 NBA draft with high hopes. Vesely in his rookie year quickly proved he wasn’t going to be able to adapt to the NBA, but his playing time did increase once coach Flip Saunders was fired in his first season. Despite this increased playing time Vesely only averaged four points and four rebounds per game his rookie year. His numbers continued to dwindle, and by 2014 he was out of the league altogether. Vesely has been playing in Europe ever since his last season in 2014 with the Denver Nuggets.
6 2012: Royce White
Royce White was drafted 16th overall in the 2012 NBA draft, but never played a minute for the Houston Rockets despite being drafted by the team. White was spectacular in college showing he was great at passing, scoring, and rebounding. Teams liked that he could be a point forward, and he preferred setting up his teammate over scoring. White had anxiety problems which coincided with his fear of flying. The Rockets could not come up with a plan to have White integrate with the team, and this ultimately led to him being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers waived him prior to the season starting. The only games that White suited up for in the regular season where with the Sacramento Kings in 2014, and White only played 56 seconds for the time while compiling no stats.
5 2013: Anthony Bennett
Anthony Bennett will most likely go down as the biggest bust in NBA history if he cannot find a way to turn his career numbers of five points and three rebounds per game up. With the first pick in the 2013 NBA draft the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Bennett, and he was not able to produce much during his one season with the Cavs. After his only season with the Cavs he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love. After one season with the Timberwolves he moved on to the Toronto Raptors where he was waived in the middle of the season. That next year he latched onto the Brooklyn Nets, but despite the Nets being a terrible basketball team he was waived during the season. The Phoenix Suns are now the latest team to give Bennett a chance coming into the 2016-2017 NBA season.
4 2014: Noah Vonleh
Noah Vonleh was seen as a possible project coming into the league, and that project has not been successful thus far. In his one season at the University of Indiana Vonleh looked like he would be a solid NBA player with his great defensive aggressiveness and rebounding. The Charlotte Hornets selected Vonleh with the ninth overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, and during his rookie season he was sent down to the NBA League due to the Hornets lack of patience with him. The Hornets then traded him to the Portland Trailblazers to acquire Nicolas Batum. Vonleh has managed to get more minutes per game with the Trailblazers, but his level of play has not been that of a top ten draft pick with his career averages currently standing at four points and rebounds per game.
3 2015: Mario Hezonja
Mario Hezonja was seen as a highly athletic wing player who could shoot lights out coming into the 2015 NBA draft, but the young man from Croatia has struggled to produce for a young team with plenty of minutes to go around. The Magic Selected Hezonja fifth overall in the 2015 Draft after a three year stint with Spanish Basketball powerhouse Barcelona. Many thought Hezonja would be a great three point shooter in the NBA, and this is a skill that is highly coveted in the current landscape of the NBA. Hezonja has only been a career 32 percent shooter from three so far. This was highly disappointing, and his other career averages of five points and two assists per game have him already wearing the label of bust early on his career.
2 2016: Dragan Bender
Dragan Bender coming into the NBA was thought as the next Kristaps Porzingis with his similar frame and skill set, but his play has been far from a resemblance of Porzingis’s first year in the league. The Phoenix Suns are a young team who are developing their young players with lots of playing time. Bender thus far looks like a prospect that was not ready for the NBA yet, and his rookie year Bender only averaged three points and two rebounds per game. The most disappointing numbers were his three point shooting percentage of 27 percent. Bender was touted as a stretch big man coming into the league, but his poor combined field goal percentage of 35 percent proves he needs a lot of work on his shooting.
1 2017: (Prediction) Lonzo Ball
One of the most hyped up rookies in the history of all sports has been Lonzo Ball, but the hype is more based off of his crazy father’s opinions off the court than his play on the court. Ball is already the face of the Los Angeles Lakers before playing a single game for the team. This is a lot of pressure put on the young man out of UCLA, and will be tough for him to replicate his stellar play from college in the NBA. At UCLA Ball had impressive stats averaging nearly 15 points and eight assists a game. There is no denying he is great at passing the ball, but his shooting form can easily be defended by NBA caliber players, and this may cause the hype surrounding him to be false hope.