What separates the great players from one hit wonders is sustained excellence. Almost any player in the NBA can score 20 points on any given night, however, it is much more difficult to do so on a sustained basis. What makes evaluating players even harder is when players produce like superstars for an entire season, only to drop off the next year when they either score a huge contract or just because the previous year was a complete fluke.
Some players have a way of tantalizing general managers around the league with their youth, length, and random scoring outbursts, but that doesn’t always mean that they will translate into superstars. As of right now, Hassan Whiteside is making general managers throughout the league kick themselves for passing him over the past few years. Now that Whiteside is back in the NBA after being exiled to China and Lebanon, he is making teams pay with his effortless scoring, rebounding, and blocking. Whiteside has already had a 20-20 game and a triple double, which included 12 blocks. Thus far into Whiteside’s brief career as the starting center of the Miami Heat, he looks like one of the best centers in the NBA.
The bigger question, of course, is whether or not Whiteside’s production will last beyond this season. Inevitably, Whiteside will most likely get paid by a team for an astronomical amount that is based far more on risk than certainty, however, if Whiteside is the real deal, Whiteside has the potential of making any playoff team a contender. Yet, the verdict is still out on him.
The following is a list of players that thrived for a season or two, but the verdict showed them to be more of a one hit wonder than the Real McCoy.
*All stats taken from Basketball-Reference.com
20. Jonny Flynn
The number six pick in the 2009 draft had a pretty good rookie year after a very successful college career in Syracuse. During his rookie season, Flynn averaged 13.5 points per game, 2.4 rebounds per game, and 4.4 assists per game. However, his second season in the league he experienced a sophomore slump like no other. During his second season, Flynn only averaged 5.3 points per game, 1.5 rebounds per game, and 3.4 assists per game. And just like that, before you even blinked, Flynn was out of the league in three years.
19. John Starks
It’s extremely difficult to call John Starks a one-hit wonder since he is so beloved by fans everywhere even until this day. However, if you look at his numbers he really only had 1-2 good seasons during his 14-year career. His first decent season was in 1993-94, his fourth season, where he averaged 17.5 points per game and 5.9 assists per game. During his fifth season, he averaged 19.0 points per game and 5.9 assists per game, but when all was said and done his career averages were 12.5 points per game and 3.6 assists per game.
18. Keon Clark
The 13th pick in the 1998 draft averaged 11.3 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, and 1.5 blocks per game during his third full year in the league. With those types of numbers, Clark was clearly an interior defender that any team would have wanted. And to his credit, the shot blocking numbers were there throughout his entire career, but it was his lack of offense and his frail frame that prevented him from becoming affective on the block on offense and rebounding. After that solid year, Clark lasted only two more years in the league.
17. Bryant Reeves
Big Country was selected with the sixth pick in the 1995 draft. During Summer League, the big fella toyed with Tim Duncan and the excitement of the Reeves playing in the NBA was only building his rookie year. During his second year, Reeves averaged 16.2 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game. In his third year, he matched those numbers, averaging 16.3 points per game and 7.9 rebounds. Then, he fell off a cliff and was out of the league three years later.
16. Josh Howard
Josh Howard had a couple of years in Dallas where he was nearly a 20 points scorer, however, those numbers quickly dropped after his chronic knee problems since he was somewhat bow legged. After his knee injuries, Howard was never really the same type of player ever again. He was an All Star once, but the injury bug bit him too hard early on in his career. After those few solid seasons, he played on three different teams and never averaged more than 8.7 points per game.
15. Richard Dumas
Dumas was selected with the 46th pick in the 1991 draft, so he was never supposed to last in the NBA. However, Dumas found a home in Phoenix as a 23-year-old rookie where he averaged 15.8 points per game and 4.6 assists per game. Dumas helped the Suns destroy the Spurs in the playoffs as well, so it appeared as though he was not afraid of the big stage. Unfortunately, substance abuse problems cut Dumas’s career off prematurely and only lasted three short seasons in the league.
14. Lee Nailon
The 43rd pick in the 1999 draft played for five different teams his first three seasons in the league. Nailon seemed to always be a piece to simply make contracts work out for other players. However, in the 2004-2005 season, Nailon found a home in New Orleans where he averaged 14.2 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game, and 1.6 assists per game. However, after that successful year, he ended up being moved again to the Philadelphia Sixers, and after that year, he was out of the NBA. If Nailon was able to stay on one team for longer than 2-3 years, you have to wonder whether or not he could have been more successful than just a one-hit wonder.
13. Oliver Miller
The big man was selected with the 22nd pick in the 1992 draft. At 6-9, Miller was undersized as a center, but he weighed 280 pounds, which allowed him to box out in the paint. During his fourth season, he averaged 12.9 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, and 1.9 blocks per game and was an intricate piece of the Raptors roster. However, Miller battled weight issues and struggled getting up and down the floor, which made him a liability on defense. He lasted until 2000, before going to playing Poland and the CBA, before returning for one lackluster season with the Timberwolves.
12. DaJuan Wagner
Wagner once scored 100 points in a game in high school and tore it up in college as well at the University of Memphis. This landed him in Cleveland with the sixth selection in the 2002 draft. During his rookie year, he averaged 13.4 points per game and 2.8 assists per game, which may not sound like a lot, but the learning curve for point guards is higher than any other position in the league. Unfortunately, by his second year, Wagner’s numbers were sliced in half and he only lasted two more years in the league after that.
11. Bonzi Wells
The 11th pick in the 1998 draft had one tremendous year in 2001-2002 where he averaged 17.0 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game, and 1.5 steals per game. Wells was athletic enough to play small forward, but strong enough to play power forward as well. However, after Wells landed a big contract in his fifth year, he became a shell of himself for the rest of his career. He would bounce around from the Blazers to the Grizzlies, Kings, Rockets, and Hornets before retiring in 2008.
10. Jerome James
The big man played out of his mind for one year in the playoffs and it was enough to land him a 5-year deal, worth $29 million with the New York Knicks (who else). During that one series for the SuperSonics, he averaged 12.5 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game, and 1.8 blocks per game. Back then big men were a necessity to compete for a championship, so James landed a big contract that he never really lived up to. In the season following that huge contract, he averaged 3 points per game and 2 rebounds per game, which is nowhere near elite.
9. Darius Miles
Darius Miles was selected with the third pick in the 2000 draft straight out of high school. At the time, most rookies out of high school rarely contributed right away, but Miles averaged 9.4 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game his rookie year and played over 25 minutes per game. However, Miles never developed a consistent jumper, so after he slowed down due to injuries, he was not able to transform his game and become a force in the NBA.
8. Billy Owens
Owens was selected with the third pick in the 1991 draft. During his second year, the combo forward averaged 16.5 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game, and 3.9 assists per game. However, Owens’s number would only go down year after year after his second year. In fact, after his ten-year career was over, Owens played for six different teams and became a NBA journey man.
7. Stromile Swift
Stro was selected with the number 2 pick in the 2000 draft. He was nearly 7-0 tall and could jump out of the gym. He never had a jump shot, but it didn’t really even matter because he was so athletic and could outrun most big men. During his second year, Stro averaged 11.8 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, and 1.7 blocks per game. But Stro never developed any post moves and eventually his athleticism slowed down which didn’t bode well for the rest of his career.
6. Bobby Simmons
Simmons was the 41st pick of the draft in 2001, so the fact that he played 11 seasons in the league says a lot about his work ethic. This work ethic is what propelled Simmons to win the Most Improved Player award in his fourth year in the league. In his 2004-2005, Simmons averaged 16.4 points per game, 5.9 rebounds per game, and 2.7 assists per game. However, his numbers would drop significantly after that, which led him to bounce around to three other teams, and eventually back to the Clippers where his career finally ended.
5. Derek Anderson
No, he’s not the one hit wonder from the Cleveland Browns. Anderson was the 13th pick in the 1997 draft was an offensive threat that kept every defense in the league honest. By his third year, he averaged 16.9 points per game, 4.0 rebounds per game, and 3.4 assists per game. After his rookie contract was over, Anderson signed a huge multi-year contract, but he never became the same type of offensive player that many thought that he would becom
4. Jamaal Magloire
The 19th pick in the 2000 draft had a 12-year career in the NBA. He only averaged 7.2 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game during his career, yet he was chosen as an All-Star in 2004 in his fourth year where he averaged a double double on the year (13.6 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per game). Therefore, many people thought that Magloire would become a formidable center for years to come. However, that season was nothing more than a fluke because he never duplicated these types of numbers ever again.
3. Mike James
Anyone that plays in the league for 12 years had had a very successful career. However, there was one year in particular, where Mike James let the NBA know that he wasn’t just a role player. In the 2005-2006 season, James averaged 20.3 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game, and 5.8 assists per game for the Toronto Raptors. These are All-Star type of numbers, but those numbers were chopped in half the following season, and then chopped in half again a year after that, which really demonstrated that James’s season in Toronto was more because of the lack of talent on the team, than his own talents.
2. Troy Hudson
T-Hud did well to make into league, after going undrafted during the 1997 Draft. He was scooped up by the Jazz and bounced around from the NBA and CBA. He had stints with the Clips and Magic before leaving sunny Orlando for freezing Minnesota, where Hudson averaged 14.2 points per game and 5.7 assists per game in his first year. It was his sixth year in the league and it looked like Hudson was just hitting his prime. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a fluke because the following year his numbers were literally cut in half.
1. Jeremy Lin
Remember Linsanity? Jeremy Lin is the only player on this list that is still active. When Lin was in New York, he looked like the second coming of Walt Frazier. He was even in Time Magazine as one of the Top 100 most influential people in the world. But after signing a big contract and going to Houston, Lin was relegated to the bench behind Patrick Beverly and became nothing short of a passing fad. Today, he is riding the pine in Los Angeles, as even on that weak team, he’s struggling to find time on the court.
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