The youth movement in the NBA has given us quite a few new top stars in the recent years. We have witnessed the ascension of Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and John Wall among others, make the jump into Superstar territory. Other younger stars like Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Damian Lillard are on the verge of taking over, showing just how great talent can be in each individual draft. The recent 2017 NBA Draft was regarded as one of the best in recent memory based off potential. Unfortunately, potential doesn’t always translate to success.
We'll take a look at some of the most extreme examples of top prospects over the past seven years to flop. These players completely fell apart before the teams that drafted or acquired them could find any success from their presences. Most of the players on the list have been forced to continue their careers in other leagues overseas. Others are still working towards an NBA return as they bounce around developmental leagues. A few have retired from the sport altogether. The top fifteen biggest NBA busts since 2010 will be examined as we take a look at what each man is doing today.
15 Jan Veselý - Fenerbahçe (EuroLeague)
Jan Veselý was selected sixth overall by the Washington Wizards in the 2011 NBA Draft. The talent of Veselý showed great potential in EuroLeague. Washington drafted Veselý hoping he would become the second Superstar to pair with John Wall as the two young talents to build around. One of two isn’t bad as Wall is still the face of the franchise today.
14 Jeremy Lamb - Charlotte Hornets (NBA)
The story of Jeremy Lamb’s isn’t as depressing as others. Lamb is still in the NBA as a member of the Charlotte Hornets, but the reason for him being a disappointment makes him join this list. The Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets for a package centered on Lamb entering the league as a rookie. Houston selected him twelfth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft and had no hesitation making the deal.
13 Nolan Smith - Assistant Coach For Duke
Duke has given us some great college players that turned into huge NBA busts. The players benefit from a great system but struggle to adapt to the NBA where you have outplay the best in the world on your own. Nolan Smith showed this better than anyone in recent years. Following four great years at Duke, Smith was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.
12 Kendall Marshall - Reno Bighorns (D-League)
The Phoenix Suns have been hit with a few disappointments in the NBA Draft in recent years. Kendall Marshall is one of the more noteworthy busts to be selected by the Suns. Marshall looked impressive during his two-year run in North Carolina before declaring for the Draft. Phoenix selected him with the 13th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, and many pundits considered it a steal.
11 MarShon Brooks - Jiangsu Dragons (CBA)
The Brooklyn Nets are another team to get hit with bad luck in the NBA Draft. Aside from Brook Lopez, most of the Nets picks over the past decade have been busts. They decided to trade a bunch to the Boston Celtics and those ended up becoming high lottery picks. One of Brooklyn’s more noteworthy picks was MarShon Brooks in the 2011 NBA Draft.
10 Derrick Williams - Free Agent
Derrick Williams is one of the most recent high draft picks to become a huge disaster. The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Williams second overall in the 2011 NBA Draft after Kyrie Irving. Williams had tremendous athleticism that made NBA teams believe he’d blossom into an All-Star forward. Instead, Williams had a mediocre first two seasons in Minnesota and only regressed from there.
9 Kevin Séraphin - FC Barcelona Lassa (Liga ACB)
Kevin Séraphin was one of the most talked about prospects in 2010 following a few years in France’s Cholet Basket league. The Washington Wizards acquired him after he was initially drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the first round. Washington felt Séraphin had all the tools to become their top big man. Séraphin struggled for all five of his seasons on the Wizards never averaging double digits in points per game.
8 Xavier Henry - Oklahoma City Blue (G-League)
Xavier Henry had one very impressive year in college with Kansas that swayed many NBA minds into believing he’d be a star. The talk around Henry saw him become a top name in the 2010 NBA Draft. Henry would get selected by the Memphis Grizzlies with the 12th overall pick. Unfortunately, the talent of Henry never materialized into becoming a successful NBA player.
7 Shabazz Napier - Portland Trail Blazers (NBA)
The Miami Heat selected Shabazz Napier very late in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. Most players selected in such a spot would not have much hype or pressure entering the league. Napier however had a few things working against him. Following four successful years in college at UCONN, Napier was one of the most popular names in the draft class.
6 Terrence Jones - Qingdao DoubleStar (CBA)
Terrence Jones appeared to be a steal for the Houston Rockets when they selected him in the middle of the first round in the 2012 NBA Draft. The second season of Jones’ NBA career saw him average 12 points per game as a noteworthy factor on a talented Rockets team. Houston expected him to become the power forward of the future.
5 Dante Exum - Utah Jazz (NBA)
Dante Exum is one of the very few players on this list with a realistic chance of changing his fortunes. The Utah Jazz selected Exum with the fifth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Exum made his name in his home country of Australia before declaring for the Draft, and Utah absolutely loved his potential. The rookie season of Exum was lackluster. Things got worse when he missed his entire second season due to injury.
4 Thomas Robinson - Free Agent
We probably shouldn’t be too surprised at Thomas Robinson flopping considering he was selected by the Sacramento Kings. There may be a jinx on the Kings these days. Everything the franchise does seems to turn into failure. Sacramento selected Robinson with the fifth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Robinson had a terrible rookie season getting traded away from Sacramento to the Houston Rockets. Both teams saw him average less than five points per game.
3 Ekpe Udoh - Utah Jazz (NBA)
The Golden State Warriors appear to do everything right these days. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were all steals of different degrees in their respective drafts. One high draft pick that didn’t work out for the Warriors was Ekpe Udoh. Golden State selected Udoh with the sixth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. The hope was to build around Ekpe and Curry as the two Superstars of the future.
2 Jimmer Fredette - Shanghai Sharks (CBA)
Jimmer Fredette excelled on the college level for the BYU Cougars. A shocking average of 28.9 points per game made him one of the hottest prospects entering the 2011 NBA Draft. The Sacramento Kings acquired Fredette when the Milwaukee Bucks selected him with the tenth overall pick. Fredette’s strength is as a shooter but he could never get it to a high level in the NBA.
1 Anthony Bennett - Free Agent
The biggest bust in recent NBA history would have to be Anthony Bennett. An argument can be made that Bennett is the biggest bust of all time given he was selected first overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a shocking pick as Bennett was forecasted to fall in the lower half of the top ten, but Cleveland believed in him.
Bennett had a horrible rookie season and the Cavaliers lucked out when LeBron James returned. This led to them dealing Bennett and Andrew Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love. Bennett once again flopped in Minnesota and a couple of other teams. It became obvious Bennett wasn’t good enough for the NBA. The next move for Bennett saw him join Fenerbahçe of the Turkish Basketball Super League. They released him in May of 2017. There’s no telling what’s next for Bennett as he is without a job in basketball.
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