The 1986 NBA Draft always will be best remembered for the players who failed to live up to their potential due to problems with drugs. In particular, #2 pick Len Bias died from a drug overdose before ever playing a game in the NBA while #7 pick Roy Tarpley received not one but two lifetime bans after being named 1st Team All-Rookie and Sixth Man of the Year within his first two seasons in the league. As a #3 pick who failed to produce, Chris Washburn has received his fair share of notoriety, but #6 pick William Bedford seems to be a footnote relative to the other drug-related busts from that draft. After averaging 13 points and seven rebounds per game in college, Bedford averaged only four points and two rebounds per game in the NBA. As such, he has earned a Top 10 Bust – Honorable Mention and a separate post dedicated just to him.
Due to the tragic death of #2 overall pick Len Bias from a cocaine overdose, the 1986 NBA Draft always will be remembered more for what might have been versus what was. Adding to that sentiment, #3 pick Chris Washburn, #6 pick William Bedford, and #7 pick Roy Tarpley all had their NBA careers negatively affected by drugs and alcohol. Whereas Washburn and Bedford were bust-worthy because they never produced respectable numbers (e.g. fewer than five points and three rebounds per game), Tarpley averaged a double-double over his 280-game career. With production of 13 points and 10 rebounds per game, Tarpley wasn’t a traditional bust. Instead, he was a “drug bust” who failed to live up to his tremendous potential after receiving not one but two lifetime suspensions.
If you’re like I am, you probably have heard of the Ted Stepien Rule but know little about the man or the rationale for the rule. As an owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1980s, Stepien made numerous boneheaded trades. In all, the incompetent owner traded away five early first-round picks from the 1982-86 drafts (used to select James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Derek Harper, Roy Tarpley, and Detlef Schrempf) without getting anyone of value in return. His seemingly irrational decisions decimated the team. In response, the NBA enacted a rule prohibiting any team from trading away first round picks in consecutive drafts. Ergo, the Ted Stepien Rule.