TheSportster.com

Top 20 Draft Busts in NBA History

The NBA Draft is one of the biggest annual events of the NBA.  An aspiring young basketball player dreams of this day. College and overseas players work hard at getting noticed by NBA scouts so that t

The NBA Draft is one of the biggest annual events of the NBA.  An aspiring young basketball player dreams of this day. College and overseas players work hard at getting noticed by NBA scouts so that they can get drafted. NBA scouts can sometimes figure out whether or not the pro prospect will be a good player in the NBA. If a player plays well against top competition in the  NCAA tournament they can increase their chances of getting drafted higher than expected. This also gives the pro prospect the ability to get more playing time and a higher salary.

However, when it comes to draft day, the ultimate decision belongs to the teams. They will pick either the best player available or the player that fills their biggest needs.  The decisions made that day by the teams range from brilliant to moronic. Sometimes teams can make risky decisions which can set their franchise back for years. When the player they have selected does not live up to the enormous expectations of their draft positioning, they are considered disappointments. If that player doesn’t show any signs of improvement after their rookie years are over they are now known as an NBA bust.  An NBA bust is often labeled for players who were drafted in the top-5 and due to either lack of skills, injuries or inconsistency did not play up to the hype. Twenty of the NBA’s biggest busts are listed below with their career numbers, why they were a bust and an update on where they are now.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

20 Ed O'Bannon

via walldesk-hd.com

Ed O'Bannon was a shooting guard and a small forward who in 1995 was drafted 9th overall by the New Jersey Nets. While he was in the NBA, he averaged 5.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. He was considered a bust as he didn't have the size or the quickness. The players that  could have been drafted instead include Kurt Thomas, Brent Barry and Michael Finley. Ed O'Bannon is now working on an anti trust class action lawsuit against the NCAA.

19 Rafael Araujo

via nba.com

Rafael Araujo was a center who in 2004 was drafted 8th overall by the Toronto Raptors.   He averaged 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in his three seasons. He was considered a bust because he couldn't play to the standards of the NBA. The players that could have been drafted instead  include Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson and Josh Smith Rafael Araujo is currently playing overseas for the Brazilian team Pinheiros.

18 Joe Alexander

via basket4us.com

Joe Alexander was a small forward who in 2008 was drafted 8th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks.  He averaged 4.2 points and 1.9 rebounds in his two seasons. He was considered a bust because he lacked the skill set to be an NBA ready player. The players that  could have been picked instead include Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez and Serge Ibaka. Joe Alexander is currently playing overseas in Israel for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Misses like this kept the Bucks near the NBA basement for a long time.

17 Kent Benson

via nbcsports.com

Kent Benson was a center who in 1977 was drafted 1st overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged 9.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in his 11 seasons. He was considered a bust because he had a great college career and the Bucks were hoping he would have the same success on their team. Unfortunately Kent Benson didn't live up to the potential of being the 1st pick. The players that could have been picked instead include Otis Birdsong, Marques Johnson and Walter Davis.

16 Dennis Hopson

via elevenwarriors.com

Dennis Hopson was a shooting guard and a small forward who in 1987 was drafted 3rd overall by the New Jersey Nets. He averaged 10.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game in his five seasons. He was considered a bust because he was supposed to be the next Michael Jordan and couldn't deliver as an NBA player. The players that could have been picked instead include Scottie Pippen, Kevin Johnson and Horace Grant. Dennis Hopson is now coaching at a high school in Michigan.

15 Jay Williams

via nydailynews.com

Jay Williams was a point guard who in 2002 was drafted 2nd overall by the Chicago Bulls. He played only one season for the Bulls. He averaged 9.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per game in his one season. He was considered a bust because after a horrific motorcycle crash in 2003, Williams would not be able to regain the ability to play at an elite level of basketball again. He would try to come back again but his attempt ultimately failed. The players that could have been picked instead include Nene Hilario, Amar'e Stoudemire and Caron Butler.  Jason Williams is a college basketball analyst for ESPN.

14 Robert Traylor

via nydailynews.com

Robert Traylor was a center who in 1998 was drafted 6th overall by the Dallas Mavericks.  He averaged 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game in his seven seasons. He was considered a bust because the guy that he was traded for in Dirk Nowitzki became one of the league's best players. Robert Traylor never came close to that while in the NBA. The players that could have been picked instead include Jason Williams, Paul Pierce and Rashard Lewis.  Robert Traylor died from a heart attack on May 11th 2011.

13 LaRue Martin

via complex.com

LaRue Martin was a center who in 1972 was drafted 1st overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. He averaged 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in his four seasons. He was considered a bust because he was picked ahead of two Hall of Famers Bob McAdoo and Julius Erving. He also did not live up to the potential of the 1st pick and is seen as one of the worst 1st overall picks in NBA history. The players  could have been picked instead include Paul Westphal and Jim Rice.  LaRue Martin is now an executive at UPS.

12 Chris Washburn

via nydailynews.com

Chris Washburn was a center who in 1986 was drafted 3rd overall by the Golden State Warriors. He played three seasons for the Warriors and the Atlanta Hawks. He averaged 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in his three seasons in the league. He was considered a bust because he had problems with drugs. The NBA banned him from life in 1989 due to failing three drug tests in three years. The players that could have been picked instead include Arvydas Sabonis, Mark Price and Dennis Rodman.  Chris Washburn was in the news recently as he was arrested for obtaining property under false pretense.

11 Pervis Ellison

Donald Miralle /Allsport

Pervis Ellison was a center and a power forward who in 1989 was drafted 1st overall by the Sacramento Kings. He averaged 9.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in his 11 seasons. He was considered a bust because of injuries and although he did have some success personally, he never was able to live up to being the 1st pick overall. The players that could have been picked instead include Sean Elliott, Glen Rice and Tim Hardaway.  Pervis Ellison is now coaching at a high school in New Jersey.

10 Nikoloz Tskitishvili

via nydailynews.com

Nikoloz Tskitishvili was a power forward and a small forward who in 2002 was drafted 5th overall by the Denver Nuggets. He averaged 2.9 points and 1.8 rebounds per game in his six seasons. He was considered a bust because he lacked the true skill of being a credible NBA player, let alone a top 5 pick. The players that could have been picked instead include Nene Hilario, Amar'e Stoudemire and Caron Butler. Nikoloz Tskitishvili is currently playing overseas in Lebanon for Champville.

9 Jonathan Bender

via sports.yahoo.com

Jonathan Bender was a small forward who in 1999 was drafted 5th overall by the Toronto Raptors. He was then traded to the Indiana Pacers for Antonio Davis. He averaged 5.5 points and 2.2 rebounds per game in his eight seasons. When the Pacers acquired Jonathan Bender they thought they were getting a great pro prospect. He was considered a bust because he showed flashes of being a great player but he never could put it together and injuries eventually derailed his career. The players that could have been picked instead include Wally Szczerbiak, Richard Hamilton and Shawn Marion. Jonathan Bender is now a businessman and an inventor who created the JB Intensive Trainer.

8 Hasheem Thabeet

via msongo.blogspot.com

Hasheem Thabeet is a center who in 2009 was drafted 2nd overall by the Memphis Grizzlies. He averaged 2.2 points and 2.7 rebounds per game in his five seasons. He is considered a bust because despite his size, he lacked the skill of being a good NBA center. The players that could have been picked instead include James Harden, Ricky Rubio and Stephen Curry. Hasheem Thabeet is currently playing in the NBA D-League for the Grand Rapids Drive.

7 Shawn Bradley

via philadelphia.cbslocal.com

Shawn Bradley was a center who in 1993 was drafted 3rd overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.  He averaged 8.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in his 14 seasons in the league. He is considered a bust because he was one of the tallest NBA players and had the size to dominate against other players but failed to do so over the course of his career. He was also a part of many on court altercations. The players that could have been picked instead  include Penny Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn and Vin Baker.  Shawn Bradley is now involved with a private school in Utah in some forms as a mentor, vice principal or coach.

6 Greg Oden

via miami.cbslocal.com

Greg Oden is a center who in 2007 was drafted 1st overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. He averaged 8.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in his three seasons. He is considered a bust because various injuries took him out in his career and he never once played a full 82 game season in the NBA. The players that could have been picked instead include Kevin Durant, Al Horford and Joakim Noah. Greg Oden was recently in the news as he was charged for battery for allegedly punching his ex-girlfriend in the face.

5 Adam Morrison

via salon.com

Adam Morrison is a small forward and a power forward who in 2006 was drafted 3rd overall by the Charlotte Bobcats. He averaged 7.5 points and 2.1 rebounds per game in his four seasons. He is considered a bust because Morrison had a great college career and didn't come close to that as an NBA player. He did however, win two championships with the Lakers during his time there. The players that could have been picked instead include Rudy Gay, J.J Redick and Rajon Rondo. Adam Morrison is now  a coach at Gonzaga University.

4 Sam Bowie

via pixgood.com

Sam Bowie is a center who in 1984 was drafted 2nd overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. He averaged 10.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in his 10 seasons. He is considered a bust because of injuries to his legs and to his feet and for being the guy that was drafted before one of the all time greats in Michael Jordan. Every Portland fan has it ingrained in their heads that the players who could have been picked instead include Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton. Sam Bowie is now the owner and trainer of racehorses in Kentucky.

3 Kwame Brown

via nj.com

Kwame Brown is a center and a power forward who in 2001 was drafted 1st overall by the Washington Wizards. He averaged 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in his 13 seasons. He is considered a bust because he never appeared to have the skill to be an NBA player once he turned pro, let alone ever be an NBA star. He is also one of the worst no.1 picks in NBA history. The players that could have been picked instead include Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol and Joe Johnson.

2 Darko Milicic

via detroit.cbslocal.com

Darko Milicic was a center and a power forward who in 2003 was drafted 2nd overall by the Detroit Pistons. He averaged 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in his 12 seasons. He is considered one of the biggest busts in NBA history because he never even panned out to be a good player, let alone the number 2 pick. He is also one of the most famous busts because he was picked ahead over three NBA stars in one of the strongest NBA Drafts in history. Other future stars available at the time included Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Darko Milicic is now pursuing a career in kickboxing.

1 Michael Olowokandi

AP Photo/Nick Ut

Michael Olowokandi was a center who in 1998 was drafted 1st overall by the Los Angeles Clippers. He averaged 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in his 10 seasons. He fell extremely short of his projection as a dominant NBA player and his career was often filled with injuries. Clippers fans still curse his name because he was drafted over the likes of Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce. Michael Olowokandi now lives in anonymity in Dallas.

Give TheSportster a Thumbs up!

Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?

Get Your Free Access Now!

More in NBA

Top 20 Draft Busts in NBA History