With the regular season over and the postseason in full swing, the teams who are not competing in the playoffs are already preparing for the NBA Draft. The draft is one of the most pivotal moments of the year in basketball, because it gives an opportunity for every team to possibly change their fortune. Deciding which fresh young talent to add to a team's roster and whether that pick will become an impact player is what keeps general managers awake at night.
Management prepares all season to make one of their most important decisions of the year. What makes the NBA draft so great is the uncertainty of every selection, all the possibilities and all the different outcomes. The reason for this uncertainty, is because nobody actually knows what type of NBA players these young picks will eventually become. While some teams believe they are selecting the next Michael Jordan, the player could ultimately turn out to be the next Sam Bowie. Some picks will develop into the player that the scouts thought they would be, and some, well some players just can't adapt to NBA life.
What causes a bright young college prospect to fail in the NBA? It could be a lack of chemistry with the team, various personal reasons, or just their actual skill level. Year after year we have consistently seen quite a few "busts". A "bust" is a player who did not live up to the teams expectations before they took to the court. This lack of performance not only negatively affects the player, it can also hinder their team's chances of winning a championship for years to come. That is why being an NBA scout is so difficult, because the advice given to the franchise's management is key to the development of the team...good or bad.
In this article, we are not looking at any certain draft class nor the worst busts of all time. We will be discussing young NBA players, 23 or younger, that already seem to be slipping into the dreaded "bust" zone. While some are more obvious than others, the simple fact that the player is underachieving what were once high expectations is why I place them on this list. I hope these players will prove me wrong, because being known as an NBA bust is something nobody would ever wish for.
Here are the top 15 young NBA players who already look like busts.
15 Joel Embiid
Placing Joel on this list was hard, but he was drafted in 2014 with the third pick to the Sixers, and still hasn't set foot in an NBA game. The potential is there for Embiid. He is so athletic he can do spectacular dunks with the ball between his legs and the best part is he is still growing. Unfortunately multiple injuries to his feet may be the death of Embiid's career. Being from Philadelphia, I really hope Joel can stay healthy and finally start contribute.
14 Dante Exum
Dane Exum was supposed to be a lightning fast combo guard from Australia, but the assumptions of this so far is looking to be completely off. In his rookie season, Exum played a solid amount of minutes with about 22 a night, but still could only contribute 4.8 ppg. That really is not impressive considering he was picked with the 5th pick to the Jazz in 2014. Not only was his sub-par rookie season a bust warning sign, but he tore his ACL in his left knee prior to the first game in his sophomore campaign, ending his second season before it even began. Hopefully he can turn things around once he recovers from this unfortunate injury.
13 Otto Porter Jr.
Picked with the third pick in 2013 to the Washington Wizards, Otto Porter Jr. has not turned out to be who the Wizards thought he would be. He was projected to be an NBA star, who could dominate games with his shooting and size, but Porter has done just the opposite. In his rookie season, a hip injury kept him to only playing 37 games, where he averaged just over two points a night. Bumping his minutes up to 19.4 in his sophomore season, Otto Porter managed to score only six points a night. In his third season this year, he was given countless opportunities to show his dominance, but it has yet to be seen, as he flies under the radar in almost every game he plays in. Porter's fans haven't given up on him and there are sure to be more chapters yet to be written in this story.
12 Justice Winslow
Justice Winslow seems to take a back seat every time he enters the game. He is just a rookie though, so the possibility may be high that Justice can break out of his shell soon. The Heat selected Winslow with the 10th pick in this years draft, but so far he has yet to make much of a contribution. He has been given minutes, 28.6 per game, but Winslow only managed to average 6.4 ppg and 5.4 rpg this year. In the playoffs, Winslow got some valuable experience, as he and the Heat made a strong push to Game 7 of the second round. This experience is sure to help him in next year's season.
11 Trey Burke
Even though he has proved he can score in the NBA, Trey Burke might just be a bit too small to dominate in this league. At 6'1, it is pretty hard for Burke to get a good shot off against the tall and athletic point guards. He has played three NBA seasons, with little development and even regression in his past year. Being a starter in his first two seasons, Trey was sent to the bench and only played in 64 games this season, where he averaged 10.6 ppg. Trey's game may be more suited towards using picks and screens to take spot up jumpers, since so far he hasn't proven that he can man the starting position as a point guard in the NBA. I hope Trey can turn this around, because he has a lot of potential.
10 Harrison Barnes
After a very promising career at UNC, it was clear to most that Harrison Barnes had the potential to be a deadly offensive threat on the wing. So far Barnes has consistently failed to show signs that he is developing into that role, and can appear a bit passive on the court. In three years he has yet to show he can be a dominate force in this league. In his defense, we should be mindful that he is playing for the best basketball team of all time, so it is hard for him to shine. Now that he is an NBA Champion, hopefully all this playoff experience will help him reach his potential.
9 Dion Waiters
Lets face it, if you were picked before Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, and Draymond Green, you would have needed to play pretty darn well not be considered a bust. A 4th overall pick for the Cavs in 2012, Waiters had a pretty successful first two years with them, averaging 15.9 ppg in his second season. Bothered by a multitude of injuries in his third season, Waiters' stats were down in all categories, especially field goal percentage with his 3 point shooting in the .200's.
Dion Waiters can score, that's not the question, but it's the way he scores which may be a red flag for Waiters. This year playing for the Thunder, he has been one of those guys that chuck up questionable shots that go in about 3/10 times. So far Waiters has not been an impact player like some of the players picked behind him in his draft class, but he still has time to turn this around and with his kind of talent he can do it.
8 Lucas Nogueira
Lucas Nogueira was drafted with the 16th pick to the Cavaliers in 2013, but was then traded to the Raptors. So far he has averaged 7.1 mpg in his career. With these sort of numbers he has not convinced the Raptors that he deserves more playing time. This first round pick has been sent down to the D-League multiple times. Being one of the best teams in the East this year, the Raptors have not felt the effects of the underachieving Lucas. Although the team is doing just fine without his contribution it doesn't take away from the fact that this first round pick so far looks like a bust. The final chapter on his story has yet to be written, so I won't count him out, things could change in the upcoming season.
7 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
MKG does show flashes of his athleticism and rebounding skill, but being picked with the 2nd pick in the 2012 NBA Draft to the Bobcats, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has not lived up to the hype just yet. He has played four NBA seasons, with his career averages being 9.1 ppg and 6.1 rpg. This was not expected of Michael. He was supposed to be a star on both ends, but MKG has troubles scoring consistently in the league. This year during the preseason, he suffered a separated right shoulder and he was declared out for the year. On a more hopeful note, he was able to make a quicker recovery than expected, and he managed to play seven games at the end of the season. Maybe this is a sign of good things to come.
6 Nik Stauskas
Pegged as a knockdown shooter by NBA scouts, Nik has yet to adjust to the 3 point length of an NBA court. Drafted by the Kings with the 8th pick in 2014, Nik didn't get much time to show his skill with the Kings, only playing about 15 minutes per game. Then being traded to the Sixers, it looked like it was time for Nik to show his deadly shooting abilities.
Unable to shoot well consistently, Nik only shot .326 from deep, which is very low considering he has been compared to the likes of Kyle Korver. One thing about Stauskas is he is one of the best driveway shooters of all time. He needs to take some confidence to the court this coming season. He's got the skills.
5 Ben McLemore
Undoubtedly a high flyer (even jumping over Shaq in the NBA Dunk Contest), Ben McLemore can't seem to find his footing in the competitive NBA. After having a solid rookie and sophomore season where he averaged about 10 points a night over the two years, McLemore scoring dropped from 12.1 ppg to 7.8 ppg this season. He only played in 68 games this year ,which snapped his consecutive game streak at 211.
Hopefully this past season is not the new norm for McLemore, because all of his stats where down and he had a bit of trouble staying healthy as well. With his kind of talent it's hard to count him out, the future may still be bright. We shall see.
4 Sam Dekker
Sam Dekker was drafted with the 18th pick in the draft to the Rockets this past year, but only managed to play three games for the franchise, because he can't seem to stay healthy. After missing the entire summer league due to a back injury, he was only able to play in three regular season games before being ruled out for three months when his back needed surgery. When he returned, he was sent down to the D-League to play for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. So far, he has yet to score a single point in an NBA game.
Sam Dekker has the potential to be one of those high powered college players, who couldn't make it in the big leagues. Lets hope he can get healthy and turn this around.
3 Dario Šarić
Dario Šarić is another young player who has yet to play in the NBA. After being picked 12th in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic and then traded to the 76ers, this 22-year-old has only played overseas. At this rate this pick is looking like a bust. A solution may be in the works as Sixers coach Brett Brown and other representatives are flying to Turkey to speak to the young man. Hopefully he comes to the United States soon to apply his talents. The Sixers can use all the help they can get.
2 Noah Vonleh
Many may not be aware that Noah Vonleh was supposed to be a pretty solid center in the NBA. Drafted with the 9th pick in 2014 to the Hornets, Noah Vonleh has yet to show the dominance in the NBA that he showed while in college. During his rookie season with the Hornets, Vonleh suffered a sports hernia which ruled him out for much of the season. When he returned, he was then sent down to the D-League. He played 25 games for Charlotte where he averaged 3.3 ppg.
His second season did not show much improvement, which is never a good sign. Traded to the Trail Blazers, Noah played 15.1 mpg scoring 3.6 points a night, only 0.3 more than his rookie season. This prospect has the potential to be a great player in the NBA, and hopefully he can make the adjustments needed to make it happen.
1 Anthony Bennett
The easiest pick for this list, Anthony Bennett could be considered one of the worst draft picks in recent history. Although many questioned whether Bennett would even be in the top 10, the Cavaliers selected him as the number 1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. For Cleveland that decision turned out to be a major bust! Bennett now holds several dubious distinctions. He is the only number one pick to ever be sent down to the D-League. He has also played for three different NBA teams in three years, having been waived by two of them.
So far only playing in 128 games in his three year NBA career, Bennett has struggled to score and rebound as predicted. The potential is there for this young player, and hopefully he can put these problems behind him and achieve more success in the coming years.
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