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.
Due to the tragic death of #2 overall pick Len Bias from a cocaine overdose, the 1986 NBA Draft always will be remembered more for what might have been versus what was. Adding to that sentiment, #3 pick Chris Washburn, #6 pick William Bedford, and #7 pick Roy Tarpley all had their NBA careers negatively affected by drugs and alcohol. Whereas Washburn and Bedford were bust-worthy because they never produced respectable numbers (e.g. fewer than five points and three rebounds per game), Tarpley averaged a double-double over his 280-game career. With production of 13 points and 10 rebounds per game, Tarpley wasn’t a traditional bust. Instead, he was a “drug bust” who failed to live up to his tremendous potential after receiving not one but two lifetime suspensions.
After finishing the 2005-06 season as the nation’s leading scorer with an average of 28 points per game (ppg), Adam Morrison was named 1st Team All-American and won both the Naismith and Wooden awards as college basketball’s most outstanding player. In addition, he had a good showing in the 2006 NCAA Tournament by leading the #3 seed Zags to the Sweet Sixteen before the team fell short in a near-upset over the #2 seed and eventual runner up UCLA Bruins. Selected by the Charlotte Bobcats as the 3rd overall pick in the 2006 Draft, Morrison had a decent rookie season with a scoring average of 12 ppg. However, he never averaged more than four ppg for a season throughout the remainder of his NBA career. Out of the league with only 1,200 points in 161 career games, Morrison earned the spot as the #2 NBA Draft Bust.
With respect to NBA Draft picks, Hasheem Thabeet is unique. In particular, he’s the only player to be named a Top 10 Bust as well as a Bottom 10 Pick. As mentioned in numerous other posts, there seems to be a disconnect between a player who should be considered a bust (i.e he underperformed on an absolute basis) and one who generally is considered a bust (i.e. he underperformed relative one or more other players). Despite being the 2nd overall pick in the 2009 Draft, Thabeet was completely unproductive with career totals of 483 points, 585 rebounds and 27 assists in 224 games. Furthermore, he was taken ahead of likely Hall of Famers James Harden and Steph Curry. As a result, Thabeet selection as a bust can be supported on an absolute and a relative basis.
Question: Who is Ed O’Bannon?
1. A car salesman in Henderson, Nevada.
2. The lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the NCAA regarding its failure to compensate former college athletes for the commercial use of their images.
3. A former consensus 1st Team All-American college basketball player who was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player after leading UCLA to the 1995 National Championship.
4. An NBA bust who recorded only 634 points, 316 rebounds, and 102 assists in 128 career games despite being selected by the New Jersey Nets with the 9th overall pick in the 1995 Draft.
Answer: All of the above. Just to be clear, the four statements apply to the same person, not four different people named Ed O’Bannon.
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.
While playing for Loyola Marymount during the 1989-90 season, Bo Kimble led the NCAA in scoring with an average of over 35 points per game. For as memorable as that stat might seem, he is remembered mostly for shooting free throws with his off-hand as a tribute to former teammate Hank Gathers. If you like heart-warming stories, you should read my last post which highlights Kimble’s college achievements as well as LMU’s magical run to the 1990 Elite Eight. If you think fairy tales are overrated, keep reading because Kimble proved to be an overrated college basketball player with a disappointing NBA career. With such a significant discrepancy between his college and professional careers, Kimble has been named the #6 NBA Draft Bust.