8 NBA Players That Will Never Reach Their Potential
In every NBA draft, there are players with significant potential who just never reach it.
For some players, it's due to injuries. Other players aren't given the opportunity to develop their game early on. Some athletes just don't have the mental stamina that it takes to be an NBA player.
Whatever the reason, it's always unfortunate when you see a player and know he can do better. Here are eight such players.
Michael Beasley was the second overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft by the Miami Heat. During the offseason of 2010, Beasley was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for two second-round picks.
Beasley is one of the most confounding players in the NBA right now.
He has all of the offensive talent in the world and the ability to play defense, but mentally, he just can't put it together.
If he could be more consistent, then he could potentially be a Carmelo Anthony-like scorer in this league.
But he doesn't put it together. And unfortunately, he likely never will. So much for the Rose versus Beasley argument.
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Darko Milicic was the second overall pick of the 2003 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons.
Players picked after him include Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Darko has played for the Pistons, Magic, Grizzlies, Knicks and Timberwolves.
Darko is one of the worst draft picks of the last decade, but is it really his fault?
He was thrust into the lineup of the eventual world champions, and there weren't exactly minutes available to him. When Rasheed Wallace was acquired, that silenced any thought that Darko would get playing time in a loaded frontcourt.
Would any other draft pick have succeeded in Detroit? I would argue no.
LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony: those are guys who want or need the ball. Perhaps the only player who I could see fitting in would have been Chris Bosh, but that's based on the Pistons not acquiring Rasheed Wallace.
Darko was put into a bad situation for any player and lost his confidence when things didn't work out. He will not reach anywhere near his sky-high potential, but I would argue it's not his fault.
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John Wall was the top overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards. He came second in the Rookie of the Year race last season after only All-Star Blake Griffin.
So why is he on this list?
Even out of high school, Wall was being compared to a faster Derrick Rose. Those are some lofty standards.
Two years into the league, he is not even close to where Rose was in his second year. He's scoring much less, his field-goal percentage is significantly lower, and he's turning the ball over.
The only thing that Wall has on Rose is assists, and that's just because of the role each player played on their respective team.
I'm not saying that Wall is going to be a bust; he's already proven that he isn't.
However, for a player who came out of college with expectations of being the best point guard ever, he is disappointing and will continue to disappoint until he can win.
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Stephen Curry was the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors.
He came to Golden State after a storied college career at Davidson, including a Cinderella tournament run his sophomore year.
Curry has exceeded my expectations in the NBA thus far, actually turning himself into a point guard for this Warriors team instead of the shooting guard that I expected coming out of college.
He is still primarily a scorer, but he is much better at setting up his teammates now.
But I think he could do better. A lot of it is because of his fragile ankles this season, but he just hasn't improved the way that you'd want him to.
It's still early, but I have trouble seeing Curry develop the passing and defensive skills I know he's capable of.
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Javale McGee was selected 18th overall by the Washington Wizards in the 2008 NBA draft. After playing three years with the Wiz, he was traded to the Denver Nuggets for Nene.
McGee is a player who just has SO much talent. He has legitimate height and incredible length to go along with his freakish athleticism.
What his game lacks is any sort of refinement. Most of McGee's points come off of shots within two feet of the basket.
The defensive end can also turn out to be a problem for McGee.
Even though he is near the league's leaders in blocks, he is still a very mediocre man-to-man defender. He is also just too skinny to be playing center on a consistent basis.
I don't see him developing any of his talents, so he will not live up to his potential.
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Hasheem Thabeet was the second overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by the Memphis Grizzlies.
Notable players picked soon after him include Thunder guard James Harden, Kings guard Tyreke Evans, Wolves guard Ricky Rubio and Warriors guard Stephen Curry.
Many people may disagree with this pick, saying that Thabeet doesn't really have potential that he won't reach. I would tend to disagree.
At this moment, Thabeet is in the running for tallest player in the NBA. We saw in his time at UConn that he is not just a stiff; he does have the athleticism and speed to be a dominant shot-blocker.
Why he isn't one baffles me.
When you watch him play, he just lacks confidence on the court to do anything. If he were to get into the weight room and be more confident in his game, then Thabeet could truly be a dangerous defensive stopper.
However, since I have no faith in that happening, he joins this list.
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Tyrus Thomas was drafted fourth overall in the 2006 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers and was subsequently traded to the Chicago Bulls for LaMarcus Aldridge.
If there is one thing that is certain in this world, it's that the Trail Blazers won this trade.
Thomas was starting to become a solid contributor in Charlotte before his game fell off a cliff this season, but even what he was producing is disappointing.
When you watch Thomas play, you see a player who has so much athleticism, length and lift—effectively, the three things you look for in a basketball player.
What you don't see in Thomas is common sense.
He has not improved his game significantly since he has entered the league. He can get blocks and steals defensively, but he just has no idea how to guard players man to man.
He has somewhat developed a mid-range jump shot, but he seems to forget that most of the time, he is more athletic than anyone on the court.
Especially since he has regressed since last season, I have a hard time seeing Thomas take control of his limitless athletic ability.
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Russell Westbrook was the fourth overall pick of the 2008 NBA draft and the first-ever draft pick of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Many criticized this pick, saying that Westbrook was not really a point guard and that he would have no role at the next level.
Without a doubt, Westbrook proved the critics wrong. So why is he on this list?
Russ has a decision to make: Does he care more about winning, or does he care more about his own personal numbers?
At this moment, he appears to have chosen his stats. Westbrook is averaging a career-high 24.0 points per game on 47.1 percent shooting, which are great numbers.
However, the telling number is that his assists are down to merely 5.4 assists per game, the lowest since his rookie year.
Even though the Thunder have managed to win during the regular season, I have questions about them being able to pull it off in the playoffs, Especially if they were able to advance to the Finals against the Heat or Bulls.
If Westbrook gets caught in a power struggle offensively with Kevin Durant, then the Thunder have no chance. And that looks very likely to happen.
Until Westbrook can use his incredible physical gifts to truly set up his teammates, he won't be living up to his potential.