WHO YA GOT?
Synopsis: In the 1996 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors selected Todd Fuller with the 11th overall pick. Despite being a lottery selection, Fuller didn’t live up to expectations. Of note, he finished his NBA career with 835 points and 674 rebounds. Even worse, the Warriors selected him over future Hall-of-Famers Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. As such, Fuller should be remembered as one of the all-time worst draft picks. Still, the former 1st Team All-ACC honoree shouldn’t be considered a Top 10 Bust. In particular, he just wasn’t drafted high enough to warrant the “honor.”
TODD FULLER: T10B HONORABLE MENTION (NBA)
Despite having a noteworthy college career at NC State, Todd Fuller failed to deliver as an NBA player. Still, he continues to be a memorable draft pick. Specifically, he went before future All-Stars Peja Stojakovic and Jermaine O’Neal. More noteworthy, he went before future Hall-of-Famers Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash as well. Based on this fact alone, I consider Fuller the 5th worst draft pick in NBA history. Regardless, I still don’t consider him worthy of being declared a Top 10 Bust.
As the following table shows, Fuller deserved to be drafted as a lottery pick in the 1996 NBA Draft.
TODD FULLER – CAREER STATS AT NC STATE
|Shooting %||Per Game Averages|
Fuller steadily improved each season and finished his senior year as a 20 & 10 player. In recognition of this production, he earned 1st Team All-ACC status. As a 6’11” center who could shoot well and defend, he deserved to be a top overall draft pick. Furthermore, Fuller seemed to have the body to play down low.
Despite Fuller’s success in college, he didn’t live up to expectations while playing for four different teams during his 5-year NBA career. He didn’t deserve to be around that long given his lackluster production. Then again, his size and prior success apparently earned him 2nd, 3rd and 4th looks.
TODD FULLER – NBA CAREER STATS
|Shooting %||Per Game Averages|
Fuller averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game as a senior in college. However, he only averaged four points and three rebounds per game primarily coming off the bench during his NBA career. As an undersized big man, he just couldn’t compete at the next level.
GOOD LUCK TODD
In absolute and relative terms, Fuller had a unproductive NBA career.
1996 NBA DRAFT: NOTABLE PLAYERS
|Draft Pick||Team||Player||Position||Games||Points||Rebounds||Assists||PPG||RPG||APG||Win Shares|
TODD FULLER: WORTHY #11 PICK?
No excuses need to be made for Fuller’s lack of production. However, it deserves mention that three other centers went with top 10 overall picks. In comparison, only one center (Bryant Reeves) went in the top 10 one year earlier, and only two centers (Tony Battie and Adonal Foyle) went that high in the next draft. Assuming Fuller fell to a 16th-20th pick (as typical for the 4th center in a draft), his NBA career would have come and gone without much fanfare.
Perhaps, Golden State took Fuller because of need instead of talent. If the front offices of Portland or Detroit drafted players based on talent instead of need, they might have avoided the two biggest all-time NBA Draft blunders. Specifically, Portland took Sam Bowie instead of Michael Jordan in 1984, and Detroit took Darko Milicic instead of Carmelo Anthony in 2003. Coming directly from high school to the NBA, Kobe understandably fell outside of the top five. Still, at least six other teams (besides the Warriors) made a big mistake.
TOP THREE NBA DRAFTS
Based on its four likely Hall of Famers (#1 Allen Iverson, #5 Ray Allen, #13 Kobe Bryant, and #15 Steve Nash), the 1996 Draft deserves consideration as one of the best three drafts in NBA history. So far, only the 1984 Draft has four actual Hall of Famers (#1 Hakeem Olajuwon, #3 Michael Jordan, #5 Charles Barkley, and #16 John Stockton). The 2003 Draft also deserves consideration as an elite draft because of its four potential Hall of Famers (#1 LeBron James, #3 Carmelo Anthony, #4 Chris Bosh, #5 Dwyane Wade).
As a quick aside, the following table shows my ranking of these three draft classes.
|Draft Ranking||Best Player||2nd Best Player||3rd Best Player||4th Best Player|
|#1 – 1984||Michael Jordan||Hakeem Olajuwon||Charles Barkley||John Stockton|
|#2 – 1996||Kobe Bryant||Allen Iverson||Steve Nash||Ray Allen|
|#3 – 2003||LeBron James||Dwyane Wade||Carmelo Anthony||Chris Bosh|
Ultimately, the 2003 Draft class should eclipse the 1996 Draft class (assuming LeBron gets at least one more title), but not the 1984 Draft class (unless Melo also wins a championship).
[Within three months of this post, LeBron led the Cavs to the 2016 NBA Championship. Based on my previous comment, his draft now eclipses the 1996 Draft to move into the 2nd best of all-time. By leading a Cleveland team to the city’s first professional sports title in over 50 years, “The King” earns bonus points. As of now, the top four players from the 2003 Draft have won eight rings. That total equals the total from the top four players from the 1984 Draft. Regardless, there’s still a gap. At least, LeBron et al still have time on their side.]
Taken outside of the first ten overall picks, Fuller “earned” an exemption from being declared a Top 10 Bust. For support of my rationale, click on the following link regarding the The Acie Law. Regardless, Fuller disappointed enough to earn a T10B Honorable Mention.
While the circumstances aren’t ideal, Fuller won’t be forgotten any time soon. Overall, he was a great college player and high draft pick who couldn’t cut it in the NBA. Well, at least he got there.