Going into the 2016 NBA Draft, most experts predicted that Ben Simmons would be the #1 overall pick. During his “one-and-done” season at LSU, Simmons averaged 19 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals per game. Given that production, the young phenom justified the hype which began while he still played in high school. Considered by some to be a “can’t-miss” prospect, Simmons regularly has drawn comparisons to LeBron James. Clearly, Simmons has a long way to go to match the best player on the planet. Sorry Steph, but the King still holds the crown. As of now, Simmons has a blank canvas upon which to paint his career. The odds are greater that Simmons will be a Not Top 10 Bust (i.e. an all-time great) than a Top 10 Bust (i.e. an all-time failure). Yet, I’m still not completely sold on him.
While researching potential Top 10 Busts Keith Edmonson and Russell Cross, I learned an interesting sports trivia fact. Specifically, only three college basketball coaches have taken two different schools to the Final Four within four years. First, Gene Barlow took Memphis in 1973 and UCLA in 1976. Second, Lee Rose took UNC-Charlotte in 1977 and Purdue in 1980. Third, Roy Williams took Kansas in 2003 and North Carolina in 2005. Of note, North Carolina (18), UCLA (17) and Kansas (14) have been to 49 Final Fours between them. In contrast, UNC-Charlotte and Purdue have combined to reach only three (i.e. one without Rose). As such, Rose’s achievement should be viewed as the most impressive. Overlooked on every elite coaching list, Lee Rose may deserve special recognition.
Taken with the 9th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, Patrick O’Bryant finished his career with fewer than 200 points and 150 rebounds. Based on a total 0f 0.5 career win shares, he ranks in the bottom 3% of all 6th-10th overall picks since 1970. As such, the former Bradley Brave failed on an absolute and relative basis. Worthy of being labeled an all-time bust, O’Bryant escapes the Hall of Shame given that Adam Morrison went earlier in the same draft. Without the same cachet, O’Bryant must settle for an Honorable Mention. Somehow, I’m sure he’ll manage.
Since starting this site one year ago, I have analyzed the production of all NBA players drafted over the last 40+ years. Based on my research, I’m ready to offer my evaluation of players taken in the 2015 NBA Draft. Specifically, I have identified potential Top 10 Busts from this year’s draft. As of now, my early favorites include Mario Hezonja, Kristaps Porzingis, and Willie Cauley-Stein.
On the surface, the 1986 Draft looks fairly typical with three Hall-of-Fame members (i.e. Dennis Rodman, Arvydas Sabonis, and Drazen Petrovic) and three additional All Stars (i.e. Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, and Jeff Hornacek); however, things are not always as they appear. Instead of being remembered for any of these players, that draft is associated most often with players on the opposite end of the spectrum. In particular, four of the top seven draft picks had their careers end prematurely because of problems with drugs. I have highlighted the sad stories of Len Bias (#2), William Bedford (#6), and Roy Tarpley (#7) in previous posts, but this one is reserved for Chris Washburn (#3), who is the NBA’s #1 Drug (err, Draft) Bust.
While most memories tend to be vague and fade over time, certain moments become cemented in our minds forever. Most of us can vividly recount our first kiss, our 21st birthday, and the birth of a child. Unlike those personal memories, others have a broader reach. In particular, we each can say, “I remember exactly where I was when I heard about ______.” Depending on your age, you can fill in the blank with President Kennedy’s assassination, the Challenger explosion, or the 9/11 terrorist attacks. With respect to the world of sports, the sentiment applies to the USA Hockey Team’s victory over the USSR in the 1980 Olympics. This post explores why the death of Len Bias also seems to be one of those unforgettable moments.
The 1986 NBA Draft always will be best remembered for the players who failed to live up to their potential due to problems with drugs. In particular, #2 pick Len Bias died from a drug overdose before ever playing a game in the NBA while #7 pick Roy Tarpley received not one but two lifetime bans after being named 1st Team All-Rookie and Sixth Man of the Year within his first two seasons in the league. As a #3 pick who failed to produce, Chris Washburn has received his fair share of notoriety, but #6 pick William Bedford seems to be a footnote relative to the other drug-related busts from that draft. After averaging 13 points and seven rebounds per game in college, Bedford averaged only four points and two rebounds per game in the NBA. As such, he has earned a Top 10 Bust – Honorable Mention and a separate post dedicated just to him.