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.
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.
At the conclusion of his junior season at West Virginia, Joe Alexander led the Mountaineers to better-than-expected finishes in both the Big East and NCAA tournaments. Peaking at the right time, he went from relative obscurity to a lottery pick in a matter or weeks. As the 8th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2008 Draft, Alexander fulfilled his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA. Unfortunately, his dream was short-lived because he was out of the league after scoring fewer than 300 points in 67 games. In retrospect, he likely peaked too soon because his professional career might have been much different with another year to develop in college. Due to his inability to play in the NBA, Alexander has been selected as the #7 NBA Draft Bust.
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.