At this point of the countdown, there’s a toss-up between two players from the 2004 NBA Draft who equally deserve recognition as a Top 10 Bust. The contenders are:
Rafael Araujo – a 6’11” center who averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior at BYU, but only three points and three rebounds per game with two different teams during his 139-game NBA career; and
Luke Jackson – a 2nd Team All-American in college who recorded over 1,900 points, 700 rebounds, and 400 assists at Oregon, but fewer than 260 points, 90 rebounds, and 60 assists with four different teams in the NBA.
Take either one and you won’t be wrong.
After decorated college basketball careers at Purdue in the early 1980s, both Keith Edmonson and Russell Cross were taken with top 10 overall picks in the NBA Draft. Specifically, Edmonson was the 10th pick in 1982 after earning All-American honors while Cross was the 6th pick in 1983 after being named First-Team All-Big Ten. Despite their pedigrees, the former Boilermakers had difficulty transitioning to the NBA. Of note, Edmonson scored 522 points in 87 career games while Cross scored 166 points in 45 career games. Given their lack of production as early first round picks, both are recognized as all-time busts. On the margin, Cross was worse because he was drafted before the most productive players from the 1983 Draft (i.e., Clyde Drexler, Derek Harper, and Dale Ellis) whereas Edmonson was drafted after the most productive players from the 1982 Draft (i.e. Dominique Wilkins, Terry Cummings, and James Worthy). As such, Edmonson received an Honorable Mention as a Top 10 Bust while Cross earned the #9 spot.
On the night of the 1998 Draft, Don Nelson pulled off one of the most lopsided trades in history. As GM of the Mavericks, Nelson traded Dallas’ 6th overall pick (Robert “Tractor” Traylor) to the Milwaukee Bucks for their 9th overall pick (Dirk Nowitzki) and 19th overall pick (Pat Garrity). In this post, I’ll evaluate the contention that Traylor should be considered an all-time bust simply because he was drafted ahead of and exchanged for a much better player (i.e. Nowitzki). For that reason alone, he was a bad draft pick (perhaps one of the worst picks), but he wasn’t unproductive enough to be called a Top 10 Bust. As an aside, Traylor died of an apparent heart attack in 2011 so I’ll be a less judgmental in this post than I have been in others.