As a 19-year old from Georgia (the former Soviet Republic, not the state), Nikoloz Tskitishvili was drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the 5th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. With six foreign players taken in the first round that year, the NBA’s evolution into an international league had hit another gear. Relative to draft position, that group included three very productive players (Yao Ming at #1, Nene Hilario at #7, and Nenad Krstic at #24), two underproductive players (Bostjan Nachbar at #15 and Jiri Welsch at #16), and one unproductive player (Nikoloz Tskitishvili). Based on a combination of horrendous shooting and abysmal production, Tskitishvili earned the title of #8 NBA Draft Bust.
After impressive college careers, Purdue teammates Keith Edmonson and Russell Cross became top 10 overall draft picks. Unfortunately, neither player transitioned well to the next level. As the 1982 #10 overall pick, Edmonson accumulated 522 points, 127 rebounds and 56 assists during his two-year NBA career. In turn, Cross tallied 166 points, 82 rebounds and 22 assists after going 6th overall in the 1983 Draft. Both players clearly qualify as busts based on their measly production totals. As the earlier pick who went before Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler, Cross ranks higher an all-time bust. Whereas Edmonson received an T10B Honorable Mention while Cross earned the #9 spot.
Life couldn’t have been easy for James Earl Ray (the basketball player) growing up with that name in the South in the 1960s. After all, that name is associated most often with the assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr. While I won’t exploit that coincidence, I won’t ignore it either. After being named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, Ray was taken by the Denver Nuggets with the 5th overall pick in the 1980 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, he failed to live up to expectations and tallied only 334 points and 228 rebounds in 103 career games (i.e. 3.2 ppg and 2.2 rpg). As an underperforming high draft pick, James Ray begins the countdown of Top 10 NBA Draft Busts at #10 on the list.