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Patrick O'Bryant: Honorable Mention (NBA) | TOP 10 BUSTS

Patrick O’Bryant: Honorable Mention (NBA)

Synopsis: 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.


Patrick O’Bryant came out of Bradley University as a 7-footer with a reputation for having the ability to score, rebound and block shots. Of note, he finished the 2005-06 college season averaging 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks per game.

Season G FG% FT% Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
2004-05 27 55.7% 70.1% 10.0 7.4 0.6 0.9 2.8
2005-06 25 55.2% 67.6% 13.4 8.3 0.8 0.9 2.9
Career 52 55.4% 68.7% 11.6 7.8 0.7 0.9 2.8

For those of you unfamiliar with the Bradley Braves, they play in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). No help? Okay, they play in the same conference as Wichita State, Creighton, and Northern Iowa. Despite being a mid-major conference, the MVC has proven its strength with “bracket-killing” teams. Of note, Bradley filled that role in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.

As an at-large team with a #13 seed, Bradley barely made the 2006 field. The Braves busted quite a few brackets by upsetting #4 seed Kansas (77-73) and #5 seed Pittsburgh (72-66). Eventually, they lost to #1 seed Memphis (80-64) in the Sweet Sixteen, but the damage had been done. O’Bryant played well in those three games, but really stepped up with his 28-point performance against Pitt. With success on the national stage, O’Bryant’s draft stock improved tremendously.

Considered a raw talent, O’Bryant became a projected lottery pick because of his performance in the tournament. Of course, his size and ability to play in the low post played a role in that assessment. After all, you can teach “size.” Based on this projection, O’Bryant decided to forego his last two years of college eligibility. In retrospect, he probably wishes he hadn’t.

Patrick O'Bryant against Pitt
Dunking against Pitt in the ’06 NCAA Tournament

In a post for the San Jose Mercury News, Tim Kawakami wrote about the tough road faced by O’Bryant after being drafted. In particular, he commented that head coaching change from Mike Montgomery to Don Nelson hurt the player’s chances to succeed. When referencing the change, Kawakami wrote:

Nelson banishes O’Bryant to the bench and then to the D-League and then to the bench and then back to the D-League, again and again, almost as a ritual public spanking.

Well, probably exactly as a ritual public spanking. That’s what Nellie does to tall, raw draftees who can’t shoot threes and that he had no hand in drafting.

Nellie did this to [O’Bryant] on purpose. It’s the Nellie coaching style, and O’Bryant, being O’Bryant, with O’Bryant’s known skill set (tall, lanky, no three-point shot) was never going to play for Nelson as a rookie. Never.

O’Bryant was the only 2006 lottery pick to go to the D-league, so he was trashed up and down almost immediately, and you could understand why. A bust! A horrendous pick!

As indicated by Kawakami, O’Bryant spent significant time in the NBA’s development league as a rookie. His per game averages for rebounds and blocks during the 2006-07 season ranked second and third, respectively. Overall, he put up respectable numbers.

      Shooting % Per Game Averages
Season Team Games FG FT Min Reb Assists Steals Blocks Points
2006-07 Bakersfield Jam 25 51.5% 79.2% 29.8 9.6 1.4 0.6 2.9 12.0
2007-08 Bakersfield Jam 8 56.9% 82.6% 36.1 10.0 2.1 0.9 3.5 16.9
2010-11 Reno Bighorns 31 50.4% 73.8% 21.9 7.3 1.3 0.8 1.8 10.0
2011-12 Reno Bighorns 4 61.3% 37.5% 23.3 6.0 0.8 0.3 1.0 10.3
Career   68 52.4% 75.6% 26.6 8.1 1.4 0.7 2.4 11.6

Despite his success in the D-League, O’Bryant didn’t offer the same production while in the NBA. Then again, he never got the same amount of time on the court. 

      Shooting % Per Game Averages
Season Team Games FG FT Minutes Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Points
2006-07 GSW 16 31.1% 64.7% 7.4 1.3 0.6 0.4 0.5 1.9
2007-08 GSW 24 55.2% 60.0% 4.1 1.2 0.2 0.2 0.4 1.5
2008-09 BOS/TOR 39 53.6% 55.0% 6.5 1.7 0.3 0.2 0.5 2.6
2009-10 TOR 11 53.3% 50.0% 4.6 1.0 0.1 0.2 0.4 1.7
Career   90 49.4% 58.3% 5.8 1.4 0.3 0.2 0.4 2.1

Due to the higher level of competition, most players tend to be approximately 60% as productive in the NBA as in the D-League. O’Bryant showed a similar drop off during his rookie season. However, he didn’t experience any such drop off in year two. Regardless, Coach Nelson didn’t change his attitude towards giving O’Bryant much time on the court.

Assuming 12 minutes of playing time, O’Bryant likely could have contributed approximately four points, three rebounds, and one block per game. While not worthy of a #9 overall pick, those numbers deserve a spot on an NBA roster. With half of that time on the court, he delivered half of those numbers. As such, he became a bust.

In retrospect, O’Bryant may be just another example of an underdeveloped player who should have stayed in college. Instead, he prematurely made a jump to the NBA after experiencing some short-term success. O’Bryant made over $7 million in his NBA career so it’s hard for anyone to argue with his decision. Then again, imagine how much more he could have made with a more solid foundation.