At the conclusion of his junior season at West Virginia, Joe Alexander led the Mountaineers to better-than-expected finishes in both the Big East and NCAA tournaments. Peaking at the right time, he went from relative obscurity to a lottery pick in a matter or weeks. As the 8th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2008 Draft, Alexander fulfilled his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA. Unfortunately, his dream was short-lived because he was out of the league after scoring fewer than 300 points in 67 games. In retrospect, he likely peaked too soon because his professional career might have been much different with another year to develop in college. Due to his inability to play in the NBA, Alexander has been selected as the #7 NBA Draft Bust.
Sabermetics has taken over how baseball teams are constructed, how games are managed, and how players are evaluated. Whereas stats like HRs, RBIs and BA used to delineate players, MLB general managers now seem to be obsessed with stats like OBP, OPS, and WAR. I fully appreciate the importance of statistics when evaluating players, but I question the current over-reliance on them. In this post, I hope to discount the importance of wins above replacement (WAR) when evaluating greatness.
The two players in the featured image are Michael Olowokandi (the #1 overall draft pick in 1998) and Earl Boykins (an undrafted free agent in 1999). As a 7-footer, Olowokandi scored 4,135 points and made almost $38 million in his NBA career. Only 5’3″, Earl Boykins scored 5,791 points and made approximately $16.5 million in his NBA career. Based on these figures:
Olowokandi scored 49 points per inch of height and was paid almost $9,200 per point scored; and
Boykins scored 93 points per inch of height and was paid less than $2,900 per point scored.
Lessons learned: 1) Boykins was a better scorer inch-for-inch; 2) Boykins scored more points per dollar earned; and 3) NBA players get paid a lot of money. While this comparison might be amusing, it doesn’t form a legitimate basis to declare Olowokandi a bust. Instead, this post will evaluate Olowokandi’s career to determine whether or not such a claim is valid.