My Top 10 Basketball Busts of Last 15 years


Since there seems to be no relevant news regarding Sessions or anything Bucks and the most exciting “sports” items this time of year are pre-season NFL, and the release of Madden on Friday, I figure now is as good a time as any to give my top ten Basketball busts of the last 15 years.

 I state Basketball, because I have included some college busts to go along with some NBA busts.  When the ESPN hype machine is in full force, we as fans hear about these players coming out of high school, and there are ridiculous expectations placed on them.  They got the scholarship and the notoriety, now comes some questions about what happened.  Dickie V will praise players before they ever hit national tv, then cries for them when the media or fans are tough on them.  You can’t have it both ways.

Without further ado, my top 10.

10.  Ronald Curry

When you get labeled the HS player of the year in football and basketball, you get a big target.  He has had a productive NFL career at WR, which nearly removes him off the list entirely.  He never had much of an impact at North Carolina as was expected with his billing coming in as a basketball player.  Who knows what could have been if he had stayed with his original committment and attended Virginia and played football and basketball for his home state team.

9. Greg Paulus 

Paulus received national acclaim as both a high school quarterback and basketball star.  He never lived up to his billing on the basketball court at Duke.  Coming in there were comparisons to Bobby Hurley, fair or unfair, he never delivered on those promises.  By the end of his senior year he wasn’t even a starter.  When watching his final game in the tourney against Villanova, I almost felt sorry for him as he was overmatched by the tough Nova guards, and it didn’t really seem like he was taken seriously by his teammates when he tried to rally them.  He will have a chance to play football for a year at Syracuse, maybe he can deliver on some of his HS accolades.

8.  Felipe Lopez

Do you remember Lopez? He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as the top freshmen in the country. In his four years at St. John’s he averaged 17.6 PPG, 6 rebounds and 2.5 assists. As a senior he led the Red Storm to the NCAA Tournament..  Vitale drooled about him on an almost nightly basis during college basketball telecasts when Lopez was a senior in high school.  He was labeled a can’t miss future NBA star.  He was to turn St. Johns back into a national title contender.  Lopez was selected by the San Antonio Spurs with the 24th pick in the 1998 NBA Draft and was out of the league by 2002.  The expectations were just too unrealistic.

7.  Kwame Brown

Kwame has stayed in the league, although never spectacular.  He has not delivered on the promise that comes with the 1st overrall pick, but he has been able to remain in the league.

6.  Nicholas Tskitivili

Tskitishvili is an example of why it is such a risk to draft Europeans in the top five. He never accomplished anything in four seasons with the Nuggets, Warriors, Timberwolves and Suns. Tskitishvili averaged less than three points per game for his career, and will be forever be known as one of the biggest busts in NBA Draft history.  He got all the scouts exciting by being a 7footer who could shoot and wow in the pre-draft workouts, that was his ceiling.

5.  Dajuan Wagner
Although a bit undersized (6-foot-2) to play the shooting guard position in the NBA, it appeared that Wagner had the talent to be a star. After once scoring 100 points in a high school game and then dominating in his one season at the University Memphis, Wagner player just three seasons with the Cavs. He attempted a comeback with the Warriors in 2006, but was cut after just one game. Wagner averaged more than 13 points per game as a rookie, but finished his career averaging about nine points per game.  He came late into the game as a undersized scoring guard following the likes of Iverson, Marbury, and Stevie Franchise, who knows what would have happened if he had been 5 years earlier.

 4.   Darko Milicic, Serbia
Milicic, now a member of the Knicks, has been in the league for five years and is only 22 years old, but he has already clinched his spot on this list.   Darko makes his way on this list for what other players have done that were picked after him.  As the #2 pick, Darko was selected ahead of such players as Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.  Milicic, who averages 5.5 points and four rebounds per game for his career, is still in the league, which may be the only reason he isn’t higher on the list.

3.  Darius Miles, East Saint Louis HS
Miles was an exciting young player with incredible dunks when he came into the league. He never became what he could have become, and averaged just over 10 points and five rebounds per game in six seasons with the Clippers, Cavs and Blazers. He was forced to retire this season due to a career-ending injury. Miles played his last NBA game at the age of 24.

2.  Jonathan Bender, Picayune Memorial HS

The 6-foot-11 long, athletic forward had worlds of potential coming out of high school. He averaged just 7.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in the best statistical year of his career. He finished his injury plagued seven-year career with the Pacers averaging just 5.6 points per game, before retiring at the age of 25.  There are some rumblings of a comeback, so maybe he can get some redemption.

1.   Clippers: Michael Olowokandi, Pacific
Olowokandi will forever be known as one of the worst #1 picks of all-time. He played nine years in the NBA with the Clippers, Timberwolves and Celtics, and averaged about eight points and seven rebounds per game. He had size (7-feet, 269 pounds), but that’s about it.  

 

That is my last of the top busts of the past 15 years.  The only player I would consider removing may be Curry due to his ability to remain in the NFL, but his basketball career never lived up.

Tags: Darius Miles Darko Milicic

  • wundy

    When I saw the title of this article the first name I thought of was Lopez. What about Sam Bowie? Rashard Griffith?
    Sam Okey? I know the last two were more local.
    Can most of the duke players after Grant hill and before Luol Deng be on this list? I know you only got room for ten.

  • wundy

    I just actually looked at the duke players and the NBA and feel bad about that last statement, Brand, Boozer, Battier are much better NBA players then some of the earlier Duke players like Laettner, Ferry and Hurley.

  • Justin Malaise

    Bowie was over 20 years ago, that is why he didn’t make it. Rashard Griffith became more of a bust in our mind’s because of our Badger ties. I think his NBA potential was in his head more than anywhere else. I think there were always questions regarding his ability and work ethic. The guys in the list were labeled can’t miss or superstars.

    I do believe Griffith was drafted.

    You also have to throw in Maggette, and now even Dontay Jones as Duke players that are at least effective in the NBA. Coach K’s recruiting at the end of the 90s brought in a type of player that he did not have before nor in the last few years. Legitimate NBA talent.