NBA Draft Busts: The Biggest Flops in NBA History

NBA Draft Busts: The Biggest Flops in NBA History

The biggest NBA draft busts in history were selected before legends like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal.

Some of them are being set aside due to underachievements and injuries. While others became career journeymen, never making a good name in professional basketball.

Let’s see which ones, if any, you remember playing in the NBA.

Top 10 Biggest NBA Draft Busts of All Time

Sam Bowie

photo source: espn
  • Part of the 1984 draft (Round: 1 / Pick: 2 Overall)
  • Born: March 17, 1961
  • Teams: Portland Trail Blazers, New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Points per game: 10.9

Sam Bowie has got to be one of the biggest NBA busts of all time. The Portland Trail Blazers drafted him ahead of Michael Jordan.

Even if the former basketball collegiate and Olympic great star had lived up to expectations, he might have been the biggest bust in NBA history.

Anthony Bennett

photo source: bleacherreport
  • Part of the 2013 draft (Round: 1 / Pick: 1 Overall)
  • Born: March 14, 1993
  • Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors, Raptors 905, Brooklyn Nets, Long Island Nets, Fenerbahçe, Northern Arizona Suns, Maine Red Claws, Agua Caliente Clippers, Hapoel Jerusalem, Kaohsiung Steelers
  • Points per game: 4.4

Basketball players from the NBA are the backbone of every team they join outside North America.

This is also the case of Anthony Bennet, who was a major draft bust for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

However, he still managed to make a very nice living out of this sport. He played in Europe, Israel, and now in the Taiwanese Men’s National Basketball League.

Related: Hottest NBA players

Greg Oden

photo source: chron
  • Part of the 2007 draft (Round: 1 / Pick: 1st Overall)
  • Born: January 22, 1988
  • Teams: Portland Trail Blazers, Miami Heat, Jiangsu Dragons
  • Points per game: 8.0

Greg Oden was off to a promising career when the Portland Trail Blazers drafted him as their 1st pick. It was considered the team’s main accomplishment in 2007. 

But Greg Oden failed to live up to the expectations, given several injuries.

Hasheem Thabeet

photo source: fanbuzz
  • Part of the 2009 draft (Round: 1 / Pick: 2 Overall)
  • Born: February 16 1987
  • Teams: Memphis Grizzlies, Dakota Wizards, Houston Rockets, Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Grand Rapids Drive, Yokohama B-Corsairs, Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Hsinchu JKO Lioneers
  • Points per game: 2.2

Out of the top NBA busts of all time, the “Tanzanian sensation” has become one of the most memorable. 

He was part of the 2009 draft, and shortly after the Memphis Grizzlies chose him, he began his downward spiral.

It led to him joining the NBA bust players list you are now reading.

Related: Who has the biggest hand size in the NBA?

LaRue Martin

photo source: sportcasting
  • Part of the 1972 draft (Round: 1 / Pick: 1st Overall)
  • Born: March 30, 1950
  • Teams: Portland Trail Blazers
  • Points per game: 5.3

LaRue was considered the next legendary basketball player of his generation. He was given the many free throws he successfully landed in his college days, playing the Centre position

Once he made it to the big leagues, he no longer performed the same way, being cut after only 4 years in the NBA.

Darko Miličić

photo source: cbssports
  • Part of the 2003 draft (Round: 1 / Pick: 2 Overall)
  • Born: June 20, 1985
  • Teams: Hemofarm, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, I Came to Play
  • Points per game: 6.0

Darko Miličić played centre for the Detroit Pistons and was one of the worst NBA draft busts in recent history.

NBA draft busts are usually considered a wasted opportunity for a team. Instead of another player who could have proven himself on the basketball court, they chose a player who never lived up to the hype.

Related: Top 10 NBA coaches

Michael Olowakandi

photo source: sportcasting
  • Part of the 1998 draft (Round: 1 / Pick: 1 Overall)
  • Born: April 3, 1975
  • Teams: Kinder Bologna, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics
  • Points per game: 8.3

Michael Olowakandi didn’t join the NBA from college basketball.

Instead, he was drafted from the Euroleague by the Los Angeles Clippers. Unfortunately, it has proven to be an utterly uninspired move on the team’s management side.

He scored 4,135 points throughout his NBA career and retired from basketball after playing for the Boston Celtics

Kwame Brown

photo source: bulletsforever
  • Part of the 2001 draft (Round: 1 / Pick: 1st Overall)
  • Born: March 10, 1982
  • Teams: Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Bobcats, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Points per game: 6.6

Kwame Brown managed to play ball for some of the best teams in the NBA. But he still went down as one of the biggest draft busts to have ever stepped inside the basketball court.

With such an impressive resume of teams, Kwame Brown was expected to achieve a lot more throughout his career. 

Adam Morrison

photo source: fanbuzz
  • Part of the 2006 draft (Round: 1 / Pick: 3rd Overall)
  • Born: July 19, 1984
  • Teams: Charlotte Bobcats, Los Angeles Lakers, Red Star Belgrade, Beşiktaş
  • Points per game: 7.5

One of the biggest NBA busts of all time has got to be Adam Morrison.

Not only did he play for only two teams before going over to the Euroleague, but he also retired from basketball pretty early.

Being one of the NBA’s biggest draft busts didn’t end his love of basketball.

Now, Adam Morrison is an assistant coach for Mead HS, in a role that seems to suit him better.

Related: Best Young NBA players

 Shawn Bradley

photo source: bostonglobe
  • Part of the 1993 draft (Round: 1 / Pick: 2 Overall)
  • Born: March 22, 1972
  • Teams: Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks
  • Points per game: 8.1

Some basketball players, as is the case with Shawn Bradley, would have probably done a better job as a trainer or a referee.

All that will be remembered about Shawn Bradley is that he was one of the tallest players to have ever played in the NBA, standing at 7 ft 6 in (2.29 m).


Being a prime junior or teen athlete does not guarantee that you’ll make it once you’ve reached the big leagues. 

So, the biggest NBA draft busts can prove that talent also requires hard work, dedication, and a little luck to make it big.
Remember that a promising start does not always lead to an equally impressive career.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *