Rating NBA Draft Prospects’ Bust Potential

Kwame Brown. Darko Milicic. Adam Morrison. What do these guys all have in common? Well, besides the fact that two of them were drafted by Michael Jordan. They’re some of the biggest busts in NBA history, of course! Sometimes it’s easy to spot a potential bust, but other times they come completely out of left field. Take Adam Morrison for example. No disrespect to the WCC, but he was not exactly facing stiff competition. He dominated the NCAA his junior year, putting up over 28 points per game, but came up very small in the tournament. And then tried to spin that in a positive light. All of the comparisons to Larry Bird were based solely on Morrison being a far from athletic, white jump shooter. In retrospect, it’s absurd that Morrison was the #5 pick in the draft, just another one of MJ’s brilliant personnel decisions over the years. Hindsight is 20/20, but the Morrison pick should’ve been more obvious. He was a one tool player. He was a scorer, but he was used to touching the ball every possession and being the go-to-guy, a role he would clearly never have in the pros. Morrison couldn’t handle the ball, couldn’t rebound, couldn’t play ANY defense, and didn’t come close to making his teammates better.

Was it really a surprise that this guy was a bust?
Was it really a surprise that this guy was a bust?

And yet what makes the Morrison case so frightening was that he wasn’t even drafted on that dreaded word that gets GMs fired: potential. More often than not, GMs will salivate over super athletic players who’ve yet to completely translate their athleticism onto the court. In other words, they’ve underachieved and often look like they’ve never played Basketball before, yet teams still believe it’s just a matter of time before these guys figure it out. This is not to knock athleticism as a guiding principle of drafting players, but sometimes actual college production and talent are overlooked at the expense of athleticism. How do you know you’re dealing with one of these guys? Well, there’s a few key phrases are sure-fire signs. If you hear phrases like “he has an NBA body,” “he hasn’t figured it out yet,” “he’s a tweener,” or “he needs to improve his motor” then stop whatever you’re doing, cover your eyes, and run. Sometimes these guys pan out, but more often than not, their potential is nothing but a pipe dream.

Marvin Williams had no business being a top 3 pick, but his ideal athletic 6'9 frame was too enticing for scouts to ignore.
Marvin Williams had no business being a top 3 pick, but his ideal athletic 6’9 frame was too enticing for scouts to ignore.

 

This year’s draft has been called perhaps the worst ever. There are no obvious franchise players or even future perennial all-stars like most years. Most scouts though believe there are many rotation guys in this draft and that the 30th pick may not be much different from the 3rd pick. Let’s take a look at the some of the players projected to go in the first round to see who some of the safest picks are, as well as the most likely busts. We will evaluate each player’s bust potential on a scale from 0-10, with 10 being a definite bust.

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