October 22, 2018

Mount Rushmore: NBA Draft Busts

Tonight is the NBA Draft, so I take a look back and anoint some of the NBA's all-time draft busts. There will be four busts for these four all-time "busts."

It is Thursday, June 21st, and tonight is the NBA Draft. “Experts” will try to grade every single pick as it happens. Let’s be honest, though. No one can predict the future, so it really is too early to “grade” draft picks on draft night. With previous draftees, we have the benefit of time and the ability to actually see them play real live NBA games. Their careers have provided rival fans with ample opportunities to point and laugh. It truly is an honor to be labeled a “bust” because you either have to suck so badly that you exit the NBA ranks so quietly that no one notices, or you leave in a blaze of glory, with it being inexplicable how you failed so epically.

I made a few rules to sculpt my Mount Rushmore (it’s my Mount Rushmore, sue me).

Rule #1

I was born in 1995, so I’m most familiar with the post-Jordan NBA. Therefore, the “bust” has to have been drafted after Michael Jordan decided to leave the Chicago Bulls for the Washington Wizards.

Rule #2

A “bust” is defined as someone who should have been at least solid, if not a superstar. The NBA Draft after the first five picks is a total crapshoot. Therefore, a certified “bust” has to have been drafted in the top 5.

Rule #3

It’s lazy to designate guys whose careers were derailed because of injuries as a “bust.” Although they certainly could qualify, guys like Greg Oden didn’t make the “Mount Rushmore of NBA Draft Busts.”

Hasheem Thabeet

Thabeet was drafted 2nd overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2009 NBA Draft, and he did not last long in Memphis. By his second professional season, he was the tallest and highest drafted player ever to be optioned to the NBA Developmental League, which would only be surpassed by our next honoree.

Thabeet “played” parts of 7 seasons in the NBA. I should say he had courtside seats in the NBA because he only appeared in 224 games and averaged about 10.5 minutes in those games. He did play an almost perfect 23 minutes for the Houston Rockets during the 2011-2012 season when he went 3-3 from the field over 5 games and recorded 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. Thabeet last appeared in the NBA for the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2013-2014 and is currently on the Yokohama B-Corsairs of the Japanese B.League.

Anthony Bennett

Bennett was chosen 1st overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2013 NBA Draft, and he was the first ever Canadian drafted with the top pick. It was assumed that Bennett was a potential lottery pick, but almost nobody believed that he would be the top prospect selected. In four NBA seasons, Bennett has appeared in 151 games and averaged 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds.

Bennett can’t be considered useful by anybody in the NBA on the court, but he was useful to the Cavs as part of a trade package to land Kevin Love, who has been a key member for the Cavs since LeBron James returned to Northern Ohio. Bennett last appeared in the NBA for the Brooklyn Nets during the 2016-2017 season and is currently a part of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA G-League.

Darko Miličić

Darko was the 2nd overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in the 2003 NBA Draft and joined a team poised to win an NBA title. The Pistons won the 2003-2004 NBA title, but Darko was a non-factor, appearing in only 42 total games and averaging less than 1.5 points on the season. His missed potential is amplified by the fact that he was drafted immediately after LeBron James and before future superstars like Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. Darko did ultimately last 10 seasons in the NBA, but in his final “season,” he told the Celtics that he was hanging it up in late November after playing only 5 minutes in one game off the bench.

Every team that he signed with after the Pistons wanted to believe that he really could reach the promise that he had once shown. That could explain why he received what might be the most laughable contract in the history of the NBA to that point at 4 years for $20 million. That was before a guy like Timofey Mozgov could ink a deal for 4 years and $64 million. Darko made a run at being a professional kickboxer, but now he spends his days farming in Serbia.

Adam Morrison

Morrison was selected 3rd overall by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2006 NBA Draft. I was tempted to give the entire top 5, minus LaMarcus Aldridge (#2 overall), the final spot on this Mount Rushmore, but Morrison really stuck out. He was such a fantastic college player and seemed destined to be an impact player in the NBA. He missed a season due to a torn ACL, but he did come back and was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers to sit and watch as Kobe Bryant willed his way to back-to-back NBA titles.

Morrison’s rookie year wasn’t all bad. He averaged 11.8 points, 2.1 assists, and 2.9 rebounds in just under 30 minutes per game. He missed the entire next season due to an ACL tear and played in two more seasons. He did win two NBA titles. Many NBA players would kill to have at least one of those rings, but I doubt many would trade careers with him. Morrison went from being compared to the next Larry Bird to rumors floating around that he was living in an apocalypse bunker. Morrison briefly played in Europe and tried to make a comeback to the NBA by playing Summer League for the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers.

Admittedly, Morrison and Miličić crack me up the most. They had very weird basketball careers and have had weird post-basketball careers, too. Here are a few more funny videos from those two.

 

 

 

David Graf 9 Articles
Staff Writer

David is an Arkansas native and made stops in California and Texas. He has settled in Laramie, Wyoming to finish his undergraduate degree in Journalism at the University of Wyoming. He believes that the Justin Verlander, Deshaun Watson, and James Harden trades are the heists of the 21st Century. You may state your case if you disagree with him on Twitter @mrdavidgraf

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