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.
With respect rankings on this site, I have tried to distinguish between absolute and relative failures. In my mind, the former describes a bust while the later describes a bad draft pick. Based on that distinction, Darko Milicic might be best described as a tweener. In retrospect, Milicic should have stayed longer in Europe prior to jumping into the NBA. However, thanks to an overzealous agent, excessive media hype, and a league willing to change its rules, he entered the draft as an underdeveloped 18-year-old. The following post explores Milicic’s disappointing career in terms of being a bust as well as a bad draft pick. As a tweener, Milicic doesn’t quite qualify as a Top 10 Bust. Yet, he still earned an Honorable Mention.
The two players in the featured image are Michael Olowokandi (the #1 overall draft pick in 1998) and Earl Boykins (an undrafted free agent in 1999). As a 7-footer, Olowokandi scored 4,135 points and made almost $38 million in his NBA career. Only 5’3″, Earl Boykins scored 5,791 points and made approximately $16.5 million in his NBA career. Based on these figures:
Olowokandi scored 49 points per inch of height and was paid almost $9,200 per point scored; and
Boykins scored 93 points per inch of height and was paid less than $2,900 per point scored.
Lessons learned: 1) Boykins was a better scorer inch-for-inch; 2) Boykins scored more points per dollar earned; and 3) NBA players get paid a lot of money. While this comparison might be amusing, it doesn’t form a legitimate basis to declare Olowokandi a bust. Instead, this post will evaluate Olowokandi’s career to determine whether or not such a claim is valid.