DimeMag

The 20 Biggest Wastes Of Talent In The NBA

Every name in this list had the potential to be stars in the NBA but have yet to — or will never — reach it. The list includes players drafted high that were expected to develop into quality professionals and have failed to do so. Most of these players have showed signs of success at times but have not lived up to expectations so far in their career, whether it’s injuries that are the culprits, or perhaps a messy attitude. Some are also young players that were expected to come in and perform right away in the NBA but have not come close those expectations.

*** *** ***

20. Eric GordonGuard, New Orleans Pelicans
The highly recruited shooting guard made his name by winning Indiana’s Mr. Basketball as a senior in high school in 2007. In his only season with the Hoosiers, Gordon averaged more than 20 points per game and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and was selected seventh overall in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. In his first season, Gordon averaged 16 ppg and was the third leading scorer among rookies. He was named to the All-Rookie Second Team and was seen as a rising star in the NBA. The reason Gordon is on this list is because of his inability to stay healthy. Gordon has never played a full 82 games and only played 51 games from 2011 to 2013. If Gordon can stay healthy, he has the ability to be a dominant scorer in the NBA and prove his awesome 2010-11 season was no joke.

19. Tyreke EvansGuard, New Orleans Pelicans
The phenom averaged 32 points per game in high school before joining John Calipari at Memphis. In his only season at Memphis, Evans averaged 17 ppg, along with five rebounds and three assists. The Sacramento Kings selected Evans fourth overall in the 2009 Draft and he won Rookie of the Year while throwing up almost unprecedented 20-5-5 numbers. Since that season, though, Evans productivity has decreased each season and he has not been the superstar he showed he had the potential to be his rookie season. Evans was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans this offseason and is averaging 12.8 points per game, a career-low.

18. Ricky RubioPoint Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves
Ricky Rubio is an interesting name. He’s had some success in the NBA but was thought to be a superstar by this time in his career. As a young superstar in Spain, Rubio was known for his great defensive quickness. After signing with Minnesota and coming over to play in the NBA in 2011, Rubio has yet to play more than 57 games in a season. His inability to shoot the ball has caused his struggles scoring the ball. Rubio has the talent to succeed in the league but has been mediocre so far as a pro… at least compared to what was once expected of him.

17. Jeff GreenForward, Boston Celtics
Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert went on a tenacious NCAA Tournament run at Georgetown in 2007 that resulted in the Hoyas’ first Final Four since 1989. Green was Big East Rookie of the Year in 2005 as a freshman and John Thompson III once said Green was the smartest player he ever coached.

Green was a 6-9 mismatch in college. He could handle the ball and slash to the basket, while threatening defenses with a good stroke from the outside. Green also led the Hoyas to a Big East Championship in ’07, scoring 21 points in the final to defeat Pittsburgh after scoring 30 the night before against Notre Dame in the semifinal.

The Seattle Supersonics thought they found a solid piece to build around in 2007 when they took Green fifth overall, and in just his second year, Green had the best season of his career, averaging 16.5 points and 6.6 rebounds a game. It was the only season Green played all 82 games.

After a couple of losing seasons in Oklahoma City, Green was traded to the Boston Celtics but was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm that caused him to miss the 2011-2012 season and has since struggled to develop into the player people thought he could become in the NBA. Yes, Green played decently last year and has averaged 15 and five so far this season. Boston hopes Green can continue to progress into what scouts thought he would be. Green is on this list because he was expected to be a better all-around player at this point in his career, too often floating around and not asserting himself. He’s one of the few players in the NBA with such an incredible combination of size, skills, power and athleticism.

16. Anthony RandolphForward, Denver Nuggets
Anthony Randolph was taken 14th overall in the 2008 Draft by the Golden State Warriors, a few picks before JaVale McGee was drafted. In Randolph’s only season with the LSU Tigers, he averaged 15.6 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and posted nine double-doubles and averaged over 20 points in the last nine games of his freshman season. He was selected to the First Team All-Freshman Team and was seen as a versatile talent.

In his rookie year, Randolph didn’t see much time due to his immaturity. After getting more minutes in the last 12 games of his rookie year, Randolph began to show his potential, averaging 13.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in that stretch. In the summer league that followed the season, Randolph dominated and scouts began to think he had star talent. Then in 2010, Randolph was traded to the Knicks before being traded to Minnesota in the same season. Randolph was then released after two unsuccessful seasons where he started only eight games and had very little impact. He was signed by the Nuggets in 2012 and has played well off the bench when given minutes, averaging 5.4 ppg and 3.1 rpg. Randolph has yet to develop the potential he showed in the summer league following his rookie year.

15. Ekpe UdohForward, Milwaukee Bucks
Known for his shotblocking ability out of college, Udoh has yet to develop in the NBA. He was drafted sixth overall in 2010 by Golden State and hasn’t been effective in the league. Udoh has averaged 4.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in his four-year NBA career. Udoh has the talent to be an effective low post defender, but might see his career slowly come to end if he doesn’t start logging quality minutes.

14. Earl ClarkForward, Cleveland Cavaliers
Earl Clark probably entered the NBA Draft earlier then he should of coming out of Louisville. He was drafted 14th overall by Phoenix in 2009 but was sent to the D-League in his rookie season. He was traded to Orlando in 2010 but struggled to see minutes. Clark has struggled to do anything in his NBA career. He never averaged more than four points per game in his seasons with Orlando and Phoenix and never averaged more than two rebounds.

Clark got a third chance last year with the Lakers and showed that maybe he has some of the talent scouts thought he did coming out of college. He showed flashes at times, averaging 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, and played 23 minutes a game, the most in his career.

The Lakers let Clark go in the offseason and Clark joined the Cleveland Cavaliers where he’s been a colossal disappointment after beginning the year as a starter. Now, he’s seeing only 13 minutes a game in January.

13. Thomas RobinsonForward, Portland Trail Blazers
Robinson flourished into a star by his junior year at Kansas, averaging 17 and 11 per game that season while leading the Jayhawks to the National Championship Game before falling to Anthony Davis and the Kentucky Wildcats. Robinson won Big 12 Player of the Year and was a First Team All-American. The Sacramento Kings selected him fifth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft but he’s been traded twice already in his short career. Robinson has had a tough time finding his groove in the NBA and is hardly even a serviceable role player at this point.

12. Wesley JohnsonForward, Los Angeles Lakers
In Johnson’s freshman season at Iowa State, he was named to the All-Big 12 Rookie Team and earned honorable mention Freshman All-America honors. He transferred to Syracuse in 2009 and won Big East Player of the Year while averaging 16 points and eight rebounds. Johnson was selected fourth overall in 2010 by Minnesota where he averaged only 9.0 points and 6.0 points per game in his first two seasons, despite starting 127 games.

After being traded to Phoenix in 2012, Johnson was signed by the Lakers this season and is currently averaging 8.5 points per game. Johnson is only 26, and has had some solid defensive moments for L.A. this year, but he’s been nothing better than a role player in the NBA.

11. Austin Rivers Point Guard, New Orleans Pelicans
The No. 1 recruit and the son of Doc Rivers walked onto the campus at Duke University with high expectations. Rivers was one of the most highly recruited players in a long time coming out of Winter Park H.S. is Florida. Only playing one season at Duke, Rivers showed flashes of promise but also showed he needed to improve his game in many areas while he averaged 15 points per game his freshman season and was named the ACC Rookie of the Year and was also rewarded First Team All-ACC.

Rivers chose not to return to Duke for his sophomore season to play for coach Mike Krzyzewski. In his rookie season with New Orleans, the 10th overall selection averaged six points per game and was ranked 281st out of 300 in ESPN’s 2013 NBA Player Rankings. Rivers has averaged five points per game this season so far for the Pelicans.

10. J.R. SmithGuard, New York Knicks
Where to begin with this character? Smith is on this list because he has played fantastic at times in the league. Last year, for example, as the sixth man for the Knicks, he averaged 18.1 points, resulting in him winning the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. However, Smith should average those numbers every year with the talent he has at his arsenal.

Drafted straight out of high school, the former 2004 McDonald’s All-American has had a roller coaster NBA career. Smith had a decent rookie year, finishing second in the dunk contest, but struggled in his second season alongside playmaker Chris Paul. He was traded to Denver in 2006 where he had an up-and-down career. Smith played well at times, shot 39 percent from three-point range in 2007 but failed to hit one three-pointer in the playoffs. In 2007, Smith was involved in an off-court incident that resulted in being suspended three games. In 2008, Smith was added to the Team USA Basketball select team to help prepare the Olympic team. In 2009-10, Smith impressed, averaging 15.4 points, 3.0 boards and 2.4 assists a game.

Smith has talent and has played great at times in the league but he is a waste because Smith can be a top 25 player in the NBA if he wasn’t so immature. He can be arrogant and selfish. Smith has showed his lack of focus on winning this season when he was benched and fined for untying an opponent’s shoe not once, but twice, during a foul shot.

In his contract year last year, Smith was phenomenal and a big reason for the Knicks success. This year, Smith is shooting less than 37 percent from the field and is only averaging 11.9 points per game. At age 28, if Smith can mature and put winning before his HUGE ego, he can take his talents to an elite level. However, it’s probably too late for him.

9. JaVale McGeeCenter, Denver Nuggets
Javele McGee was the 18th overall selection by the Washington Wizards in the 2008 NBA Draft, coming out of Nevada. In his sophomore year at Nevada, McGee averaged 14.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while also shooting 53 percent from the field and 33 percent from long range. McGee showed that he had the athletic ability to not only play in the post, but to extend the floor and play outside to space defenses. Known for his athletic ability, McGee entered the dunk contest in 2011, where the 7-footer finished second behind Blake Griffin.

After a tough start his first two seasons in Washington, McGee had his best season, playing 79 games and averaging 10 points and eight boards a night. But last year with the Nuggets, McGee took a step back, playing less minutes and not having a big impact while on the floor. This season, McGee has been out since November and is not expected back until early March. For McGee it’s not about his talent and athleticism because he definitely has both. But he needs to continue developing and adjusting his game so that he can be consistent when on the floor. It’s time for McGee to take the next step.

8. Marvin Williams Forward, Utah Jazz
Williams was one of the centerpieces of the 2004-05 National Champion North Carolina Tar Heels, averaging 11 points and six rebounds in his freshman season. Williams was one of the best sixth men in the country and was named Honorable Mention to the All-ACC team. Some might forget the hype this cat had during his senior year of high school and during his one year in college — Atlanta drafted Williams second overall in 2005, ahead of both Chris Paul and Deron Williams. He was named to the 2005-06 All-NBA Rookie Second Team, but Williams has averaged 10.9 points and 5.1 rebounds over his career, proving that he never developed into the superstar Atlanta hoped he could become.

7. Derrick WilliamsForward, Sacramento Kings
After an incredible sophomore season at Arizona, Derrick Williams owned many awards heading into the 2011 NBA Draft. Minnesota selected the 6-8 forward second overall in hopes that he could be the missing piece to help Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love lead the Timberwolves back to the playoffs. Unfortunately, Williams wasn’t quite productive with Minnesota, averaging 8.8, 12 and 4.9 points per game in his two and one abbreviated seasons with the T-Wolves. Williams was traded to Sacramento this season and has still only averaged 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game for the Kings. Williams has the talent but has yet to put it all together to show he has what it takes to be a quality starter in the NBA.

6. Andrea BargnaniCenter, New York Knicks
The former No. 1 overall selection by the Toronto Raptors in 2006 was selected to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2007. With high expectations after averaging 11.6 points per game in his rookie season, the Italian import struggled to take the next step. Bargnani, who stands at 7-0, has never averaged more than six rebounds in a season in his whole career. Bargnani had his best season in 2010-2011, averaging 21.4, but saw his game completely fall off during his final years in Toronto and is now considered nothing but an offensive role player. Top overall selections are supposed to be a little more productive than that.

5. Tyrus ThomasPower Forward, Charlotte Bobcats
Thomas stormed onto the scene in 2006 during a dominating redshirt freshman season at LSU. Thomas was named SEC Freshman of the Year, averaging 12.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.0 blocks, and caught the eyes of NBA scouts with impressive performances in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Thomas earned the Atlanta Regional’s MVP after leading LSU to the Final Four, and was later selected fourth overall in the 2006 NBA Draft before getting traded to the Chicago Bulls for LaMarcus Aldridge. Known for his great athletic ability and shotblocking prowess, Thomas never flourished into the player people thought he could be, in part because he reportedly had an awful attitude and was continuously getting hurt. He never averaged more than 1.9 blocks per game and averaged double-digit points only three times in his eight-season career. Currently, Thomas is out of the NBA but we’re going to cheat a little and throw him on this list anyway after a shaky year with Charlotte in 2013.

4. Hasheem ThabeetCenter, Oklahoma City Thunder
Thabeet joined the Connecticut Huskies in 2006 after coming over from Tanzania. Knowing very little English, Thabeet was seen as a player that needed a few years of college to develop his game. In his first season, Thabeet was named to the All-Big East Rookie Team and by the time he was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year in his sophomore season, Thabeet had caught some serious attention from NBA scouts. Thabeet was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year again his senior season and was also named co-Big East Player of the Year in his junior season. He averaged 13 points and 11 rebounds per game.

He was selected second overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2009 and was sent to the D-League in the middle of his rookie season, which was — and still is — unprecedented for a player drafted that high. Thabeet has been traded from Memphis to Houston to Portland and now has finally found a roster spot with the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he’s settled in as a 12th man now that rookie Steven Adams has taken his spot. Thabeet still has yet to even match the numbers from his first season: 3.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in 13 minutes a night.

3. Greg OdenCenter, Miami Heat
The 7-0 center was selected No. 1 overall ahead of Kevin Durant in 2007 by the Portland Trail Blazers. The former Ohio State center averaged 15 points and nine rebounds per game while leading the Buckeyes to the National Championship Game in his only year at the collegiate level, backing up the hype that had people calling him the best center prospect since Shaquille O’Neal when he was just a teenager. The problem for Greg Oden is that he is never healthy.

Oden missed his rookie season and only played 61 games in 2008-09. Since that season, Oden only played in 21 games before being signed by the Miami Heat this season. Oden will be known as one of the biggest busts in NBA history, especially due to the success of Kevin Durant. It’s sad because at one point, Oden was really, really good. He was the best player in a celebrated high school class. He dominated at the collegiate level. And early in his second season with the Blazers, he was averaging 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game in less than 24 minutes a night. In his final healthy game that year, which may turn out to be the final “healthy” game of his career, Oden grabbed 20 rebounds and blocked four shots versus Miami, all in just 30 minutes. What could have been…

2. Michael BeasleyForward, Miami Heat
The former second overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft has had a roller coaster ride of a career so far. Beasley was a sensational prospect before landing at Kansas State, where he averaged 26 points per game. After some early success in Miami, he was traded to Minnesota to clear cap space for LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Beasley has all the talent in the world but his off-the-court issues with marijuana have left him in trouble with the law. Teams see him as a liability and question his love for basketball. Beasley played for Minnesota for two seasons before moving to Phoenix last year. The Miami Heat re-signed their former draft pick this season in hopes of turning around the talented 25-year-old’s career, and he’s at least played efficiently this year. The only problem? Everyone thought he’d be a star.

1. Andrew Bynum, Center, Free Agent
We’re cheating a little bit with this one, but considering he played earlier this year, Andrew Bynum finishes off this list for the simple fact that he has top 10 NBA talent and yet is a cancer to a basketball team. Bynum has enough talent to compete with Dwight Howard as the best center in the NBA, like he did a few years past. The problem for Bynum is more than just his terrible knees. I personally believe Andrew Bynum just doesn’t love basketball.

Bynum is lazy and has a bad attitude. He is a selfish player and basically robbed the Philadelphia 76ers last season when he was paid $16 million and didn’t play in a single game. Bynum has had surgery on his knees countless times and has only played a full 82 games once in his career. Last year, after reports indicated he would make his debut after the All-Star break, Bynum’s knees got even worse and before Cleveland released him this year, he was openly talking of retiring.

Bynum, who is now a free agent, will most likely get another shot in the league. But should he? Bynum doesn’t bring much to an NBA team anymore. The 10th selection in the 2005 NBA Draft can’t play defense, has trouble rebounding the ball and can barely get up and down the floor. It is safe to say Andrew Bynum is the biggest waste of talent we’ve seen in the past few years.

What do you think?

Follow Dan on Twitter at @D_Ingham5.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.

×