There are no sure things when it comes to a basketball player moving from college (or once upon a time, high school) to the pro ranks. The speed of the game and the level of competition may just prove to be too much. The same goes for the demands that the pursuit of excellence can put on a player’s shoulders after they get that first payday. They want to keep climbing, but do they want to put in the work? And then, of course, there are the times where bad luck happens and a bright career is snuffed out. The basketball Gods, like they can in all facets of life, can be cruel.
Regardless of the path, though, these players wear the “bust” label, assuring them an unwanted NBA legacy. At least they got there, even though what happened next qualifies as sad in comparison to some of the players that entered the league with less hype. Here now is a list of the 25 biggest NBA draft busts of all-time.
25. Pervis Ellison
Pervis Ellison’s career trajectory resembled the flight pattern of an overly optimistic chicken – occasionally surprising moments that look like something is going to happen, only to be followed by an immediate crash. As a matter of fact, his downward spiral was so drastic at times that his own teammates changed his nickname from “Never Nervous” to “Out of Service” after he caught the injury bug early and missed half of his rookie season.
Out of fairness, the No. 1 overall pick from 1989 did perform very well when he was healthy, averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds in the 1991-92 season, which got him Most Improved Player. But think about that. A No. 1 player should never be playing so poorly that they’re even eligible for the NBA’s most bittersweet award in the first place. The perennial Louisville star center had a career plagued with injuries and eventually had to call it quits 9 games into the 2000-01 season.