Butch Lee had a storied college career while a member of the Marquette Warriors (since changed to Golden Eagles) in the mid to late 1970s. He not only was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament after leading his team to the 1977 Championship, but also won the 1978 AP College Player of the Year. In the last 50 years, the only college players with the same accomplishments were Jerry Lucas, Lew Alcindor, Bill Walton, David Thompson, Patrick Ewing, Christian Laettner, Shane Battier, and Anthony Davis. Unlike the other players, however, Lee had an abbreviated NBA career so his college achievements have been mostly forgotten. Whereas most entries on this site expose talented college players who are busts because they failed to succeed at the next level, this one is intended to highlight a talented college player who has been mostly forgotten because his professional career was cut short by a bum knee.
As described in my previous post, NBA Commissioner David Stern implemented a draft lottery in 1985 as a way to remove the implicit incentive teams had to lose games intentionally in order to improve their draft status. Clearly, Stern was a genius because the accusations of teams tanking have been removed from the game. Actually, not only have the accusations increased over the years, but also the league’s handling of the lottery system has led to conspiracy theories that the process is rigged (e.g. the bent envelope resulting in Patrick Ewing going to the Knicks). Whether fair or not, the NBA has a shoddy reputation regarding the integrity of its draft process. Perhaps more accurately, replace the “odd” from shoddy in the previous sentence with the cousin from the Adams Family (i.e. replace “odd” with “itt”). Either way, the NBA Draft seems to create enough controversy year after year for it to be considered a bust in its own right.
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.