Opinion: The Three Biggest NBA Draft Busts in the Past Decade

There are no guarantees when it comes to drafting an NBA player.

Players that fall to the final spots can end up being MVP candidates and players with the highest potential sometimes end up becoming dead weight on the roster. NBA drafts over the past decade have seen a fair amount of busts but there are a few that stand out above the rest.

Thomas Robinson: 5th overall pick to the Sacramento Kings in 2012

Unlike some of the recent draft busts, Thomas Robinson has managed to remain in the NBA since he was drafted – but that doesn’t mean that he’s been a productive player. Robinson has played with six different teams already in the six years since his draft night but has not managed to stick around long term and has also not managed to average more than nine points per game. In 2012, Robinson was supposed to be a key building piece for the Kings but instead he struggled to make an impact on either side of the floor. Robinson’s best season to date was with the Philadelphia 76ers, where he contributed 8.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. His most recent season, with the Los Angeles Lakers, was closer to his usual averages at 5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Some of the players that were still available when Robinson was drafted in 2012 include Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes and Andre Drummond.

Hasheem Thabeet: 2nd overall pick to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2009

Hasheem Thabeet is one of the most infamous draft busts, mainly because of how promising he was as a college player and because of the high-quality players that were taken after him. If the Grizzlies could go back in time, they would surely choose seventh pick Steph Curry or third pick James Harden instead of Thabeet. At the time, Thabeet was a basketball sensation. The Tanzania-born Thabeet didn’t start playing basketball until high school, which made his collegiate dominance even more remarkable. Whether his NBA troubles were due to poor Grizzlies player development or something more personal to Thabeet isn’t clear, but it is clear that his skills didn’t translate. Thabeet averaged just 3.1 points per game in his first season with the Grizzlies and by the time he played his final NBA season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Thabeet was down to just over one point a game.

Anthony Bennett, 1st overall pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013

Not only is Anthony Bennett the biggest draft bust in the past decade, he may be the biggest bust in NBA history. In 2013, the Cavaliers were just starting to get success with their rebuilding process; their previous draft choice, Kyrie Irving, was living up to potential and the team finally looked like it could get out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Instead, the Cavaliers ended up with an unmotivated bench player that would be completely out of the league three years later. The 2013 draft class wasn’t as strong as the years prior but Bennett was a reach for the Cavaliers even then. They passed on Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert to choose Bennett, who’s career-high per game average is 5.2 points.

As the most recent draft picks get closer to their first NBA season, there is bound to be at least one player that doesn’t live up to the potential.


Featured Image via: Flickr/Jeremy

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