We are just over a week away from the 2018 NBA Draft. All 30 teams in the NBA will enter the night bright-eyed and hopeful, praying to themselves that they have landed the league’s next great superstar. Naturally, though, the process presents great risk. For every Lebron James and Anthony Davis selected first overall, there’s been a Kwame Brown and Michael Olowokandi.
Selecting a monumental bust is always a potential risk when one makes a pick, especially at the top of the draft. The names of the cursed disappointments are almost as iconic as those who have gone on to great success in the league in their infamy.
Join us in reviewing the very most infamous of the recent NBA Draft busts.
We begin with a college super-star who never translated his NCAA success to the pros.
10. Adam Morrison, 2006
Morrison was a sizable star at Gonzaga, particularly during his junior year in 2005-2006. During that season, he averaged 28 points on almost 50 percent shooting, garnering various player of the year awards. As one could imagine, there was a lot of hype for Morrison as he entered the NBA. He was selected No. 3 overall in 2006 Draft by the Charlotte Bobcats and promptly produced little of note.
Morrison’s most notable NBA achievement was winning the 2009 and 2010 championship for the Los Angeles Lakers despite spending little time on the court.
9. Jay Williams, 2002
As with some other players on this list, a nasty career-ending injury, rather than lack of competent NBA skill, derailed Williams career. After a highly decorated career at Duke, Williams was drafted No. 2 overall in the 2002 Draft by the Chicago Bulls. His stats were the Bulls, while not especially eye-popping, were solid, as he averaged 9.5 points and almost 5 assists.
Unfortunately, Williams was involved in a motorcycle accident the summer after that first season from which he would never recover (enough to play in the NBA again). Williams can now be found as an NBA and NCAA Basketball analyst on ESPN.
8. Hasheem Thabeet, 2009
View this post on Instagram
Hasheem Thabeet was a beast at UCONN. He was selected second overall in 2009 by the Memphis Grizzlies after his junior year. Things didn’t work out for him in the NBA, but he was a fun force to watch on the defensive end! #hasheemthabeet #uconnhuskies #uconn #memphisgrizzlies #nba #ncaa #collegebasketball #defense #blocks
Thabeet, as should be apparent with every player on this list, was a star in college. He played three years for Jim Calhoun at UCONN and garnered a reputation as an elite defensive rim protector. He averaged 4.2 blocks per game during his college career. He was so dominant defensively during his final season that he was named Big East Player of the Year.
Thabeet was selected No. 2 overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. He was unable to find much success in the pro’s as he was not near polished enough offensively to find a consistent role.
7. Jimmer Fredette, 2011
Fans who watched Jimmer bomb threes all over the court at BYU believed they were watching the next Stephen Curry. Fredette was a scoring machine in college, averaging almost 30 points a game during his senior year. After a disappointing exit to Florida in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Fredette entered the Draft, where he would be selected No. 10 overall by the Sacramento Kings.
Fredette’s skills never really translated to the NBA. He was not good enough nor could play off the ball with any proficiency. Fredette has since bounced around the league and Europe looking for a stable home for his exciting game.
6. Jonny Flynn, 2009
View this post on Instagram
#TBT Jonny Flynn after being picked #6 overall back in 2009, right before Steph Curry… Man I hope one day u come back to the @NBA … What will the Timberwolves do with the #1 pick today? Comment! #JonnyFlynn #Twolves #TwolvesNation #Timberwolves #TimberwolvesNation #DraftDay #NBA #NBADraft #NBANews #11 #likeforlike #likeforfollow #Follow4Follow #instagood
Sadly, Flynn is most known for being selected one spot ahead of Stephen Curry during the 2009 NBA Draft. After a successful career as a point guard at Syracuse, Flynn played just three years in the NBA, derailed by a hip injury suffered after his rookie year.
After attempting to stay afloat in Europe, Flynn retired from Basketball entirely in 2014. A sad story of a player selected in the same year as Curry, James Harden, DeMar Derozan and Blake Griffin.
5. Joe Alexander, 2008
Alexander, who’s success during the 2008 NCAA Tournament with West Virginia capulted him to the lottery of that year’s draft, never even played a full seasons worth of games in the NBA. Furthermore, he never even started a game, pushed aside by second-round pick Luc Mbah a Moute, who is still in the league on the Houston Rockets.
Alexander would befall a hamstring injury not long before season 2 and never got to prove himself worthy of a starting spot in the NBA.
4. Anthony Bennett, 2013
Any of the next four players, including Bennett, have an argument to be No. 1 on this list. Bennett was selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2013 draft, a colossal mistake by a team that had in the same century drafted LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
Bennett’s numbers since entering the league are difficult to look at. He has never shot better than 42 percent from the field or more than 5.2 points per game. During two seasons, his shooting percentage was well below 40 percent (one year it was 29 percent!), absolutely unacceptable for a big man who looks to shoot spot ups.
Bennett is still hoping to make a mark on the league at 25 years old, but to this point, he has been a tremendous bust.
3. Kwame Brown, 2001
Brown was selected No. 1 overall in 2001 straight out of high school by the Washington Wizards. At the time, he was considered GM Michael Jordan’s big coup. Brown struggled to produce, only averaging more than 10 points per game once during his 12 year NBA Career. He also never averaged more than 10 recounds, a remarkable feat for a bruising big man who was supposed to dominate the paint.
Though Brown lasted a long time in the league, he was never able to reach anywhere near his potential.
2. Darko Milicic, 2003
View this post on Instagram
What if the Pistons didn't take Darko Millicic and took a Wade, Bosh, or Anthony? Or what if the Darko wasn't a bust and became a good player would the pistons have had more championships? #nba #basketball #ball #basket #detroit #pistons #detroitpistons #darkomilicic #darko #millic #bust #darkoistrash
The man best remembered for being selected one pick after LeBron James. The Detroit Pistons drafted Milicic No. 2 overall in 2003, enamored by his promise as a stretch the floor bigman who could put the ball on the floor, not unlike what Kristaps Porzingis has become this decade.
Unfortunately, the Pistons were never quite able to make Milicic work. He barely played on the Detroit teams that won and reached NBA finals and Conference Finals.
By the start of this decade, he was an unfortunate after-thought and warning for over-zealous teams.
1. Greg Oden, 2007
The hype going into and coming out of college for Oden was huge. Oden drew comparisons to Bill Russell, David Robinson and Patrick Ewing… and when he was on the floor, he wasn’t bad. Oden played especially well in the 2007 NCAA national championship game against Florida for Ohio State, where he would put up 25 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks in a losing effort. He would be selected one spot ahead of now NBA legend Kevin Durant and would proceed to have a short-lived NBA career ruled by persistent knee injuries.
In a seven year career, Oden only played just over one hundred games, which amounts to just a season and a half worth of games.