Every decade seems to produce an NBA draft pick who becomes the poster child for failure. What Darko Milicic was to the 2000s, Michael Olowokandi was to the 1990s, Sam Bowie was to the 1980s, and LaRue Martin was to the 1970s. In previous posts, I explained why Bowie, Milicic, and Olowokandi shouldn’t be considered all-time busts even though I’ve ranked them as the worst three draft picks in NBA history. Similarly, Martin ranks as one of the all-time worst NBA draft picks (#9), but shouldn’t be considered a Top 10 Bust. Regardless, his underwhelming professional career as a #1 overall pick made him worthy of an Honorable Mention.
If you’re like I am, you probably have heard of the Ted Stepien Rule but know little about the man or the rationale for the rule. As an owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the early 1980s, Ted Stepien made numerous boneheaded trades. The one garnering the most attention involved giving up the draft pick which resulted in 1982 #1 overall selection James Worthy. In all, Stepien traded five early first-round picks from 1982-1986 without getting anyone of value in return. His seemingly irrational decisions decimated the team. In response, the NBA enacted a rule prohibiting any team from trading away first round picks in consecutive drafts. Ergo, the Ted Stepien Rule.
Synopsis: Dennis Hopson is often considered an all-time bust because he was drafted before two future Hall of Famers: Scottie Pippen and Reggie Miller. While that assessment might seem to be appropriate on the surface, the reality is much more complicated. As discussed in numerous posts already, a bad draft pick can be determined by looking at passed-over superstars, but a bust can’t. Even though I have ranked Hopson as the 8th all-time worst draft pick, I will use the following post to show why he isn’t a Top 10 Bust. As someone who scored over 3,600 career points, he has earned the Sam Bowie Exemption (i.e. too productive to be declared a Top 10 Bust), but there were other contributing factors that preclude him from even being an Honorable Mention.