Every NBA player entering the league dreams of becoming the next big superstar for their franchise. It takes a great deal of talent to even be considered for the NBA Draft. Most players in each draft class dominated the competition in high school and had extremely strong college careers to get a chance. Of the talented names entering each draft, there are some players that stand out above and beyond the others. There are players that receive a lot of hype when entering the league. Instead of just chasing their dreams, they are introduced to the NBA with the basketball world expecting them to be superstars. Pundits, scouts, fans and teams have all been proven wrong when it comes to evaluating talent poorly.
We will look at some of the would-be superstars that never had the career most expected from them. A few of these names did flirt with reaching the superstar tier, but it was short lived before they found their way outside of the league. The players here could have had memorable legacies in the NBA that we still talk about. They instead barely are remembered by NBA fans due to not being capable of what the expectations were for their careers. Each player had a fall that ruined their NBA track records and made them become forgettable players in the history of the league. Find out just what happened to these formerly relevant names entering the league. These are twenty would-be superstars that flopped out of the NBA.
20 Greg Oden
The Portland Trail Blazers will always regret drafting Greg Oden over Kevin Durant in the 2007 NBA Draft. Oden’s size as the most hyped center entering the league since Shaquille O’Neal saw Portland believe in his potential to impact the game more than Durant.
This decision obviously looks horrible today as Durant is already an all-time great while Oden is a forgotten man. Injury issues saw Oden’s career fall apart before it even started. There is a great chance Oden would still be a top center in the league today if he had better luck with his health. Instead, he is remembered as a bust and is long removed from the NBA.
19 Deron Williams
The career of Deron Williams fell from potential legendary point guard to a player most fans will never talk about again. Williams had a great run with the Utah Jazz leading them to the playoffs throughout his best seasons as a top tier point guard. Most pundits believed he was right there with Chris Paul as the top player at the position.
Williams saw a big step in his career when being traded to the Nets franchise when moving to Brooklyn. They had a chance to make an impact with Williams as the face of the franchise. Instead, he regressed and dealt with injury issues. Williams would continue to get worse until fallen out of the league in 2017 with zero interest from teams wanting to take a chance on him.
18 Steve Francis
Steve Francis was expected to become the next major superstar for the Houston Rockets following the end of the Hakeem Olajuwon era. The career of Francis had a great start as he would start in two All-Star games as a member of the Rockets. Unfortunately, a trade to the Orlando Magic for Tracy McGrady slowed down his progress.
Francis still played well for a few seasons before personal issues and injuries started to cause a drastic decline. Most fans today barely remember Francis due to how badly he flopped towards the end of his run before being snubbed from the league. Francis had a great chance to become a superstar but never lived up to his potential.
17 Darius Miles
The Los Angeles Clippers expected Darius Miles to lead them into the future when drafting him with the third pick in the 2000 NBA Draft. Miles came to the league out of high school with a world of potential. Not only did he have the ability, but Miles played an exciting style and had charisma that added to the charm.
One memorable aspect of his career featured Hollywood casting him in a few movies roles during his early NBA career due to believing in his hype. Miles unfortunately never could become the superstar everyone expected due to injuries and mediocre play each leading to him being forced out of the league.
16 Ben Gordon
The successful college basketball career of Ben Gordon saw him enter the NBA with a world of hype. Many fans expected him to become the next great guard for the Chicago Bulls. Gordon did have a solid first five seasons winning Sixth Man of the Year in his rookie season and averaging as much as 20 points per game in his best year.
The career of Gordon started to decline when he made the move to the Detroit Pistons. Gordon leaving Chicago turned out to end all the momentum created. The NBA run of Gordon went from rising star to forgettable role player to losing his spot in the league with few fans realizing.
15 Andrea Bargnani
Andrea Bargnani was among the most hyped international players joining the NBA when the Toronto Raptors selected him with the first overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. The combination of Bargnani and Chris Bosh was expected to bring Toronto into true playoff contention for the first time in their history.
It never happened as Bargnani failed to live up to his expectations. While he did average decent points per game numbers, he failed to contribute in any other aspect. Horrible defensive and an inability to mesh with his teammates saw him out of Toronto within a few years. Bargnani lost his role in the NBA after failing in stints with the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets.
14 Sebastian Telfair
Many of the all-time great NBA players made the jump from high school to college when there were no rules in place to force a college run. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett didn’t need college to make the transition to the NBA, but that isn’t the case for everyone.
Sebastian Telfair received a world of hype during his time at Lincoln High School. The coverage for Telfair was not as big as LeBron, but it was close. Telfair unfortunately was not ready for the NBA and was too small to make up for the inexperience. He never averaged double digits per game during his NBA career and was forced out of the league due to no one wanting him.
13 Eddy Curry
Talented big men entering the NBA used to have the most hype. Guys like Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan dominating the early 2000s saw every team wanting to have their own center or power forward to leas them into contention. Eddy Curry developed a nickname of ‘Baby Shaq’ when the Chicago Bulls drafted him believing he could be their next superstar.
The talent of Curry could not be fulfilled in the NBA as he disappointed his first few seasons in New York. A move to the New York Knicks featured him numbers improve, but most pundits believed it was Curry using his situation on a horrible team to pad his stats. Curry could not last in the league and is now a forgotten would-be superstar.
12 Kwame Brown
One historic story about an NBA bust that will always be remembered is the career of Kwame Brown. The center was drafted out of high school by the Washington Wizards when Michael Jordan picked him with the first overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft.
Brown instantly looked like a bust and never proved to be a difference maker in his career. It is shocking that he did have a decently long career of being a bench player, but Brown still has time end faster than he expected. The career of Brown has him playing in the Big 3 league today hoping to return to the NBA despite being highly unlikely.
11 O.J. Mayo
The outstanding season of O. J. Mayo in college at USC allowed him to develop the reputation of a future NBA superstar. Mayo entered the league as the third overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft with the Memphis Grizzlies hoping he would be their face of the franchise.
The first few seasons saw Mayo put up decent scoring numbers but lack in every other aspect of the league. It wasn’t long until he was viewed as a role player. Mayo still couldn’t down a roster spot in the less celebrated role and found his way out of the NBA by 2016.
10 Stephon Marbury
Stephon Marbury should have been a superstar in the league, but many issues prevented it from happening. The career of Marbury should still get some love for the great numbers he put up with the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets and Phoenix Suns.
Marbury averaged 20+ points per game 7 times in his career and was consistently in the top tier for most assists per game. Attitude issues and a playing style criticized for not leading to wins hurt his reputation. Marbury never lived up to his true potential as a superstar and started to fall apart towards the end of his run. While Marbury did rebound for a great run in China, NBA fans remind him for flopping out of the league.
9 Andrew Bynum
Andrew Bynum entered the NBA with a world of hype when joining the Los Angeles Lakers. Following the first season without Shaquille O’Neal in the Kobe Bryant era, Bynum was drafted with the tenth overall pick to be Shaq’s unofficial replacement as the big man playing alongside Kobe.
The career of Bynum did impress Lakers fans for a few seasons as he helped contribute to two NBA Championships and an All-Star appearance. Bynum would get traded from the Lakers in a multi-team deal to land Dwight Howard. Things would never be the same for Bynum as injuries ruined his career before he became a true superstar.
8 Josh Howard
The Dallas Mavericks become relevant in the early 2000s when the trio of Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash and Michael Finley made them a borderline contender. Nowitzki was the only one that would last and lead the Mavericks to the 2011 NBA Championship. However, there were quite a few talented players to become successful in the time frame.
Josh Howard emerged as the second option behind Dirk for a few seasons. One All-Star appearance and a career high of 20 points per game in his best season featured him standing out. Howard always had superb talent and this run had Dallas fans excited. Unfortunately, he fell off faster than expected and failed to last as a true star in the league.
7 Andray Blatche
Andray Blatche was supposed to become the next superstar center for the Washington Wizards. The team bought into the hype thanks to one impressive season averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds per game. Blatche cashed in on one year of promise with a huge contract to become part of the team’s long-term future.
Washington instantly regretted it as Blatche regressed while developing a reputation for being too lazy to improve. Following the end of his Wizards run, Blatche spent two seasons with the Brooklyn Nets coming off the bench. It was the final chapter of his NBA career as Blatche would move to China to continue his basketball career there.
6 T.J. Ford
The legendary 2003 NBA Draft featured future Hall of Famers like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh enter the league. However, there were quite a few other players in the draft class with huge hype. Many pundits believed T.J. Ford deserved to go in the top five as a future superstar point guard.
Ford had an outstanding run in college as the best player for Texas. Injury issues and overall lackluster play prevented Ford from making an impact for the Milwaukee Bucks. He had a couple of impressive seasons with the Indiana Pacers, but more injuries stunted his progression. Ford would be forced out of the league by 2012.
5 Emeka Okafor
Emeka Okafor was expected to become a superstar when entering the NBA following a great college run for UCONN. The Charlotte Bobcats selected Okafor with the second overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, but many pundits questioned the Orlando Magic for taking Dwight Howard over him at the time.
Okafor showed his skills right away with double double averages in his first five seasons. However, the expectations for him to get to the next level as a star would never be fulfilled. Okafor started to regress and fell off the radar. The career of Okafor would see a five-year absence before returning last season as a bench player. It seems likely that he won’t get another chance next season.
4 Pervis Ellison
The career of Pervis Ellison is most remembered today for being referenced in a Jay-Z song listing busts in the NBA. Ellison was supposed to become a superstar when entering the league as the first overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft.
Injuries hurt Ellison his rookie season and would follow him throughout his career. Ellison did average as much as 20 points per game in his best season, but it would be a blip rather than a trend. The career of Ellison went downhill as injuries piled up and he turned into a bust. Ellison’s potential would never be fulfilled as he is not remembered fondly today.
3 Tyrus Thomas
Many pundits believed Tyrus Thomas was the next big superstar when entering the NBA. Thomas saw his stock rise dramatically thanks to a great college run leading LSU to an upset victory over a stacked Duke squad in March Madness. It elevated Thomas from another talented rookie to a top five pick landing with the Chicago Bulls.
Unfortunately, Thomas would become one of the many flops to play for the Bulls in the decade. Despite having the athletic ability and size, Thomas failed to become a standout player in the NBA. The entire run of his stint in the league featured him serving as a role player until his career ended in irrelevance.
2 Nate Robinson
It is easy to forget the hype that Nate Robinson had entering the NBA. The New York Knicks landed him as a first-round draft pick that fell way lower than he hoped due to most teams not believing in his size. Robinson was superb in college and high school thanks to his unbelievable athleticism.
The NBA career of Robinson featured a lot of fun moments like winning the Slam Dunk Contest, having high-scoring games in Madison Square Garden and leading the Chicago Bulls to an improbable playoff series win when Derrick Rose was injured. Robinson unfortunately just couldn’t get to the level he desired as a superstar and found his way out of the league before he expected it.
1 Jonathan Bender
The Indiana Pacers believed they found a gamechanger for the franchise when drafting Jonathan Bender out of high school in 1999. Bender had the size and athleticism to become an effective big man for the Pacers that lacked a missing piece from becoming title contenders.
While Indiana did make the NBA Finals in the following season, Bender did not play a major role for them. In fact, Bender only played more than 59 games in a single season once during his career. His career-high average in a single season saw him put up just 7.4 points per game. Bender turned into a bust and was out of the league with few fans even realizing it.