NBA Blueprint: Draft Well and Get to the Finals

NBA Blueprint: Draft Well and Get to the Finals

Former Georgetown forward Jeff Green played an instrumental role in the Celtics' championship, and he's not even on the team. (SI.com)

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By Matthew Gordan
matthewgordan@gmail.com

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The NBA Draft is a crap shoot. There have been so many "busts" in the Draft Lottery, which started in 1985 when Patrick Ewing was selected #1 overall by the Knicks. Below is a list of the top 50 lottery busts of all-time. Determining who is and who isn't a bust, and the level of bustness (probably not a real word), is a science. The three main factors in determining this list were statistics, amount of time in the NBA, and what pick the player was selected at. For example, a #1 pick is held to a much higher standard than a #10 pick. A player who averaged 15 points a game but only played two seasons in the NBA is more of a bust than a player who averaged eight points per game but played 13 seasons in the NBA.

Certain players were left off of this list because they died or had a career-ending or career-changing accident during their career. Those players include Len Bias, Bobby Hurley, DerMarr Johnson, Jay Williams and Eddie Griffin. It is difficult to consider a player a bust who was only drafted a few years ago, but some recently drafted players have already clinched their spot in NBA Draft bust history.

From doing the research and creating this list, there are a few interesting observations. Certain teams that have been not so good in the lottery era made multiple appearances on this list. The more successful NBA teams over the last 20 years did not appear as much on this list, mostly because those teams haven't had many lottery picks. Also, the 2000 NBA Draft has to be the worst draft of all-time. Almost half (six of 13) of the lottery picks from that draft made the list, and a couple other guys almost made it.

Surprisingly, only two foreign players and four high school players are lottery busts, all of which have been in the last nine years. The Mavs and Cavs lead all NBA teams with six all-time lottery busts. Louisville and Duke share the distinction of being the colleges with the most lottery busts, each with three.

Without further adieu, here are the top 50 NBA Draft Lottery busts of all-time.....


50.
1995 #11 Bucks: Gary Trent, Ohio
Trent was one of many great college players in the 1995 NBA Draft who did not end up being good NBA players. After being traded for Shawn Respert on draft day, Trent played nine seasons with the Blazers, Raptors, Mavs, and Timberwolves, and averaged 8.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. His best season was in 1998-99 with the Mavs, when he averaged about 16 points and eight rebounds per game, but he played just 89 games in three injury-plagued seasons in Dallas.

49.
1994 #11 Sonics: Carlos Rogers, Tennessee State
The Sonics took a risk by selecting a standout player from a small conference college and it didn't pay off. Rogers played eight seasons with the Warriors, Raptors, Blazers, Rockets and Pacers, and averaged just over seven points and four rebounds per game.

48.
1989 #9 Bullets: Tom Hammonds, Georgia Tech
Hammonds played 12 years in the NBA with the Bullets, Nuggets and Timberwolves, but he averaged seven or more points per game just once is his career. Hammonds averaged about five points and three rebounds per game for his career, and that's hardly worthy of being the #9 pick in the draft.

47.
1996 #12 Cavs: Vitaly Potapenko, Wright State
Potapenko had a fairly long career of 11 years in the NBA. He played for the Cavs, Celtics, Sonics and Kings, and averaged 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. It seemed the Potapenko was always kept on a roster for his size (6-foot-10, 280 pounds).

46.
1996 #9 Mavs: Samaki Walker, Louisville
Walker played 10 seasons with the Mavs, Spurs, Lakers, Heat, Wizards and Pacers, and averaged about five points and five rebounds per game. His shining moments came when he won a pair of championships with the Lakers in 2002 and 2003.

45.
1995 #12 Mavs: Cherokee Parks, Duke
The big man from Duke ran into some trouble in the NBA, on and off the court. He averaged about four points and four rebounds per game in 10 seasons with the Mavs, Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Wizards, Clippers, Spurs and Warriors.

44.
1997 #8 Warriors: Adonal Foyle, Colgate
One of many big men busts drafted by the Warriors, Foyle played on the Warriors for 10 seasons before playing for the Magic this season. He has averaged about four points and five rebounds per game for his career. Foyle's best season was in 2000-01 when he averaged 5.9 points and seven rebounds per game for Golden State.

43.
1996 #11 Warriors: Todd Fuller, NC State
One of many lottery picks drafted because of their size, Fuller lasted just five seasons in the NBA with the Warriors, Jazz, Hornets and Heat. He finished his career with an average of 3.7 points and three rebounds per game.

42.
1989 #5 Hornets: J.R. Reid, North Carolina
Reid had a long 11-year career with six different teams but never validated a top-5 pick. He averaged more than 11 points per game in his first three seasons, but never averaged double-digit points after that. He finished his career averaging 8.5 points and five rebounds per game with the Hornets, Spurs, Knicks, Lakers, Bucks and Cavs, and he perfected the flattop haircut.

41.
1997 #4 Grizzlies: Antonio Daniels, Bowling Green
Daniels currently plays for the Wizards, but he has never justified being selected with the #4 pick in the draft. Previous to playing in Washington, Daniels played for the Grizzlies, Spurs, Blazers and Sonics. He averaged double-digit points per game just once, and has averaged eight points per game for his career.

40.
1997 #5 Nuggets: Tony Battie, Texas Tech
Battie played 10 years in the NBA with the Nuggets, Celtics, Cavs and Magic, and averaged 6.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. He was always a decent role player, but definitely not worthy of a top-5 pick.

39.
1990 #6 Timberwolves: Felton Spencer, Louisville
Spencer was what fans like to call a "big stiff." The 7-footer came into the league with big expectations, but his numbers came up small. He never averaged double-digit points or rebounds in any of 12 NBA seasons with the Wolves, Jazz, Warriors, Spurs and Knicks, and finished with a career average of about five points and five rebounds per game.

38.
1994 #9 Celtics: Eric Montross, North Carolina
Eric Montross was one of those guys who was drafted high just because he was a 7-footer who had a decent college career, but unfortunately he was never an effective center in the NBA. Montross played eight seasons with the Celtics, Mavs, Nets, Sixers, Pistons and Raptors, and averaged less than five points and five rebounds per game.

37.
1989 #8 Mavs: Randy White, Louisiana Tech
White played just five years in the NBA and averaged just 7.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. That's not exactly what's expected out of a lottery pick.

36.
1988 #7 Suns: Tim Perry, Temple
The former Temple Owl played eight seasons in the NBA for the Suns and 76ers, but averaged just 6.8 points and four rebounds per game. He averaged more than nine points per game only once.

35.
1991 #6 Mavs: Doug Smith, Missouri
In six seasons with the Mavs and Celtics, Smith averaged eight points and 4.2 rebounds per game. The big man never became a solid player and didn't last too long before his career ended.

34.
1989 #6 Bulls: Stacey King, Oklahoma
King was one of many centers drafted by Jerry Krause who did not meet expectations. He did win three NBA championships with the Bulls, but he averaged just over six points and three rebounds per game in eight seasons.


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