From the bounce of the ball, the smell of the hardwood, and the squeak of the shoes to the swish of the net, and the adrenaline rushes, basketball is a sport that is hard not to love. The exhilaration after a game-winning three, the depression after the season ends in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, and the sheer anticipation for the next ball to be tossed up by the man dressed in stripes, standing between two trees, observed by thousands, makes it an exciting sport. This is what the best basketball players feel. Basketball is in their blood. They live to play and play to live.
Unfortunately, it does not seem that every professional basketball player fits this mold. Many players that have been tabbed to be “the next big thing” or a “star” do not turn out to be anything even resembling a good player. While this does not happen all too often, it definitely occurs enough to form a sizable list of players who turned out to be awful after turning pro. While maybe it is a bit harsh to talk about the worst players to ever play in the league because any person who is able to even earn a chance to play at the highest possible level in the world deserves some kudos, it is necessary. This specific list will also include where these terrible players are now because it is important to see what happens to the players who are unable to make something of their amazing opportunity to play in the National Basketball Association.
20. Zan Tabak
Maybe it is unfair to put Tabak on this list because of the fairly successful career he had overseas and his unfortunate injuries that hindered his NBA career, but it is undeniable that even when he was able to play, he was piss-poor. In his six NBA seasons, Tabak only managed to average five points per game, 3.6 rebounds per game, and 0.7 assists per game. The statistic there that should really stand out, even though they are all very bad anyway, is the rebounds per game. Zan Tabak is seven feet tall, yet he struggled to rebound in the NBA. While today there are tons of seven footers in the league, Tabak played in the 1990s and early-2000s. There were not nearly as many gigantic players then like there are now.
Even though Zan Tabak could not make it as a successful NBA player, he has recently found success as a head coach overseas. He is currently the coach for Baloncesto Sevilla (Spain). Just this past season though, Tabak won the Israeli Cup with Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv.
19. Anthony Bennett
Maybe this one is a little bit premature, but at this point it would appear that Anthony Bennett is headed towards being considered for the biggest bust in league history. Being selected first overall in 2013 by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Bennett played in 52 games, starting none, and averaged a measly 4.2 points per game. Looking at Bennett today, he is now on his 4th team in his 4th NBA season and has yet to play in more than 57 games in a season or average more than 5.3 points per game. He is young and we have seen careers turn around, but unfortunately for Bennett, the NBA just does not seem to be the league for him.
Today, Bennett plays for the Brooklyn Nets. He did not get any playing time until the 3rd game of the season and is currently averaging 5.3 points per game over an average of 9.3 minutes per game.
18. Adam Morrison
A former 3rd overall pick by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006, Adam Morrison was supposed to be a star in the NBA. He had great success in college and had the size and athleticism of a perennial all-star. Unfortunately for Morrison, the NBA just did not work for him. He lasted all of four years in the NBA, playing his first two for the Bobcats and his second two for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was able to average a solid 11.8 points per game in his rookie season, playing almost 30 minutes a game. After his rookie season though, Morrison’s production dropped off a cliff. In his other three years in the NBA, he averaged 4.5, 1.3, and 2.4 points per game respectively. In his entire NBA career, he played a total of 161 regular season games (two playoff games). It goes without saying that any player who was a Player of the Year in college and who was drafted 3rd overall in the draft should be much much better than Morrison ever was.
Adam Morrison currently resides in Spokane, Washington with his three children and girlfriend. He is unemployed, but has saved enough from his short career to live comfortably. He enjoys playing golf with his friends every once in awhile. Morrison is not too upset about being a draft bust because he understands that he was still able to make enough for his family to live very comfortably and has the opportunity to watch his children grow.
17. Mark “Mad Dog” Madsen
Despite playing in 453 games (70 starts) over nine seasons, Madsen was never able to average four points per game. His dreadful career statistics are 2.2 points per game, 2.6 rebounds per game, and 0.4 assists per game. It is quite baffling that a player who participated in so many games was unable to even average four points per game over one season. Sure, Madsen won two NBA championships, but he did not play any role. The only good Madsen brought to the NBA was his entertaining dance moves.
So where is Madsen today? Mark Madsen is right back where he started in Los Angeles. He is currently an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, serving under Luke Walton. He has been in this position since 2013. After his career in the NBA concluded, Madsen went back to school at Stanford University in 2010. In 2012, he did enough to earn an M.B.A.
16. Michael Ruffin
Michael Ruffin is the definition of bad. With a total of 942 fouls in his career, Ruffin was able to rack up a greater number of fouls than total points (716). Somehow Ruffin was seen as enough of a contributor to last nine years in the NBA, but it is mind-boggling how. He was unable to average over an assist per game (0.6) or more than four rebounds per game (3.9) while playing the forward/center position for his entire career. After taking everything into account, I am unable to understand why Ruffin was provided so many chances in the NBA. He was an under-50% shooter from the free throw line, he shot 40% from the field as a forward/center, and he fouled people at an unfathomable clip.
Today, Ruffin is teaching the game of basketball as a coach in Phoenix, Arizona. He also currently works for the Professional Association known as ASQ. If his coaching ability is anything like his playing ability, then he will not be a coach for very long.
15. Rafael Araujo
Rafael Araujo was just terrible. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Araujo played three seasons in the NBA. Two of the those seasons were for the Toronto Raptors and one was for the Utah Jazz. His best season was his rookie year, when he was drafted 8th overall and managed to only score 3.3 points per game in about 13 minutes per game (started 41/59 games). After so much hype coming out of college, Rafael Araujo is effectively a draft bust and was just an overall terrible player.
Currently, Araujo resides in Brazil, where he recently retired from professional basketball. He is not working and he has not been in the news since being waived for the final time by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
14. Mengke Bateer
Mengke Bateer entered the NBA in 2002. The lure of the international unknown was well underway in the NBA when he made his way to the United States. Some of the players from overseas were able to make in the tough National Basketball Association, while others did not – Bateer is cemented into the latter category. Watching Bateer drag his huge frame up and down the court for three seasons split among the Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs, and Toronto Raptors was awful. He might just be the least productive player with a championship ring, averaging less points per game (0.8) than fouls per game (1.2) in the 2002-03 San Antonio Spurs’ championship winning year.
After the NBA was not too kind to Bateer, he ventured back to China where he found a fairly successful career. He retired at 40 years old in 2014 and is currently working as an actor in China. If anyone is interested, he has a movie being released in 2017 called Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons 2.
13. Oliver Miller
The Arkansas Razorbacks star, Oliver Miller, entered the NBA as the 22nd overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft (he was selected by the Phoenix Suns). Miller started his career well, averaging over 12 points and seven rebounds per game, but began to struggle when he put on a lot of weight. At one point in his career, Miller was reported to have weighed 375 pounds. Miller can be compared to George Costanza from Seinfeld — stocky, slow, and terrible at his job.
After leaving the NBA, Miller attempted being a Harlem Globetrotter, but he was unable to succeed. He was released by the team for showing “no appreciation for what it takes mentally and physically to be a Harlem Globetrotter.” After trying his luck with the Harlem Globetrotters, Miller went on to play in multiple countries before ending his career in 2010.
Currently, Miller resides in a Maryland prison. He was convicted for assault and for possessing a handgun. Miller is set to be released sometime in 2017.
12. Elliot Williams
Elliot Williams is your everyday, boring NBA player. Yes, he was a first-round pick, but he is a guy that no one remembers. Many people probably do not even know that he was last in the league this year! He was waived by the Golden State Warriors early on. This 27-year-old bounced around the league, finding short stints with the Portland Trail Blazers, Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz, New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, and Golden State Warriors. In 109 games in the NBA, Williams has averaged 4.9 points per game. His best season was with the “tanking” Philadelphia 76ers, where he still only averaged six points per game.
Today, Williams is out of work. It is unfortunate, but he really did not show any sort of playing ability in the NBA and apparently, he did not do enough in his time overseas to warrant another look.
11. Chris Singleton
Chris Singleton had a short-lived career that could bore you to sleep. He was drafted by the Washington Wizards out of Florida State and went on to average 4.6 points per game in his rookie season in 22 minutes per game. His career average was 4.1 points per game on 37% shooting. After being waived by the Wizards at the end of the 2014 season, he was signed by the Indiana Pacers, but was subsequently waived not too long after signing.
Where is Chris Singleton today? Singleton finds himself in Greece playing for Panathinaikos. This is his first year with the team. Hopefully Singleton will find more success playing overseas than he did domestically because he was dreadful. Perhaps it’ll prove to be a good opportunity for Singleton to break out.
10. Demetris Nichols
The horrifying career of Demetris Nichols thankfully only lasted four years. He was drafted in 2007 by the Portland Trail Blazers. He never played for the team that drafted him as he was traded to the New York Knicks, who then waived him. Nichols was eventually signed by the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he averaged 0.7 points per game in a total of three games. He ended up playing a total of 18 games over his four year NBA career, starting none. Nichols was unable to even average two points per game (1.2) and was quickly gone from the NBA.
Today, Demetris Nichols is overseas playing professional basketball. He has not really had a lot of success there either though as he has bounced around all over the world. Panathinaikos is his current stop, but based on his track record, it definitely will not be his last team.
9. Javaris Crittenton
Javaris Crittenton was selected in the first-round of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers out of Georgia Tech. He only played 22 games in year one for the Lakers, at which point they moved on from him. Crittenton then spent two years with the Memphis Grizzlies before finishing his NBA career with the Washington Wizards. He averaged 5.3 points per game in total of 113 games in the National Basketball Association. Javoris Crittenton is probably most famous for his locker room altercation with Gilbert Arenas in Washington that involved guns and got the two of them suspended for the rest of that season.
Today, Crittenton is serving time in prison. He is serving a 23 year sentence for voluntary manslaughter with a weapon and aggravated assault with a firearm. He has about 21 years to go on his sentence.
8. Nikoloz Tskitishvili
Nikoloz Tskitishvili was drafted 5th overall in 2002 by the Denver Nuggets out of Italy. He might possibly be the worst pick out of the Draft Lottery ever. There were reports made that the Denver Nuggets had never actually seen Tskitishvili play before drafting him, which is crazy. In the NBA, he only averaged 2.9 points per game over four seasons. He was almost able to make it back to the NBA in 2015, when he was signed by the Los Angeles Clippers, but he was waived before the season began.
Currently, Tskitishvili plays in the Iranian Basketball Super League for Chemidor Tehran. Still, he has played for more than 10 teams in his 18 year career, so this may be just another short-lived stint.
7. Chris Jent
It may be unfair to even include Chris Jent on this list because he was not drafted and only ended up playing in six regular season games (11 playoff games), but he did play in the NBA so inclusion is necessary. Jent scored 37 career points and played three games for the Houston Rockets and three games for the New York Knicks. There is not much more out there on Jent. He played in the National Basketball Association for six games, which pretty much says it all.
While Chris Jent was unable to find any success on the court, he has seemingly found at least some success off of it. He is currently an assistant coach for the Ohio State Buckeyes and has had assistant coaching stints with the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings, and was the head coach for the Orlando Magic in 2005 (interim).
6. Keith Closs
It is almost automatic, (especially back in the 80s), for a 7-foot-3-inch person to get an opportunity to play in the NBA if they want it. Keith Closs seems to be one of those people because while he was okay in college, he was very bad in the NBA. He could not score and could not rebound. All Keith Closs was good for was an occasional block and an occasional DUI. Closs struggled with alcoholism throughout the course of his career that led to many altercations with teammates and coaches. At this point, he may be best known for a video of him being beaten up by a large group of people.
While the NBA did not work out for Closs, he was at least able to overcome his alcoholism. He claims to have been sober for a few years now and had been doing radio, but is now out of work.
5. Patrick O’Bryant
Patrick O’Bryant came out of college with a lot of hype. He was drafted 9th overall out of Bradley by the Golden State Warriors after leading Bradley to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Championships. After being drafted though, the hype immediately died because O’Bryant was just terrible. In his first season he only played in 16 games, starting none, and scoring 1.9 points per game. He went on to have a nice four-year career in which he averaged a lackluster 2.1 points per game in a total of 90 games. The most games he played in a season was 39. By the end of 2010, he was out of the league. He almost made a comeback, being signed by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2013, but was ultimately waived within a month.
Patrick O’Bryant is currently playing in the Super Basketball League for the Taiwan Beer (yes, that’s their actual name). This past year, he won his league’s Finals MVP as the Taiwan Beer took home the championship. It is nice to see that O’Bryant is having success overseas, but unfortunately, none of that success was had in the NBA.
4. Hasheem Thabeet
Hasheem Thabeet was selected 2nd overall by the Memphis Grizzlies out of the University of Connecticut. He played five years in the NBA and was never effective. As a rookie, he played in 68 games and was only able to average 3.2 points per game. His career average is 2.2 points per game. While Thabeet was a great college player, his game just never translated to the NBA. He had all the size at 7-foot-3-inches, but many said that he never had the drive or desire to be great.
After one season in the D-League in 2015-16, Hasheem Thabeet is currently out of work. Rumor has it that he has been working out privately with world-renowned trainer Frank Matrisciano to get his body into the absolute best shape. Others have said that he is also working on his game with a previous NBA executive, so we may see Hasheem Thabeet again, but for now, they are all just rumors.
3. Luther Wright
Luther Wright was drafted in the first round of the 1993 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz out of Seton Hall. That is really all there is to know about Wright. He played his rookie year and that was it. With the Jazz, he played 15 games and scored 1.3 points per game. Before leaving the league, Luther Wright entered into a mental institution, where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Luther Wright has finally gotten his life together and is working as a DJ. The name he goes by is Wright at the Rock, but many just call him the World’s Tallest DJ (he is 7-foot-2). Before leaving the Utah Jazz, Wright made a deal with the front office to be paid $153,000 per year for 25 years (he has about three years left).
2. Sun Yue
Sun Yue is very close to the worst NBA player ever. Yue was drafted out of China in the second round by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2007. Yue’s career ended up being even shorter than Luther Wright’s, as he only played in 10 NBA games. In his 10 games, Yue averaged 0.6 points per game, 0.2 assists per game, 0 rebounds per game, and 2.8 minutes per game. Any player who is only able to manage 28 minutes for their entire career (without being injured) is terrible.
Somehow Sun Yue is still playing professional basketball. He is currently in China, playing for the Beijing Ducks. While in China, Yue has won two CBA championships to go along with his very luckily earned NBA championship.
1. Greg Oden
We have finally made it to the end of the list, and the worst player in NBA history award goes to…Greg Oden. While Oden is technically an NBA Champion, he even acknowledges his place in basketball history. Just this week the former number one pick in the 2007 NBA Draft said that he would go down as the “biggest bust in NBA History”. At seven feet tall, the former Ohio State Buckeye’s legacy is even more lopsided, as you compare his career to the career of the number two pick in 2007; Kevin Durant. Unfortunately Oden was only able to play in 105 games during his seven-year career in the NBA, as injuries decimated his true potential on the hardwood.
Today Oden has rejoined his alma mater as a student manager for the Ohio State basketball team. His decision to go back to school to finish his degree aided in his hiring. There is a sliver lining to Oden’s career, as the now retired NBA player is willing to play if he is offered a contract overseas.
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