NBA Draft Busts: Where are they Now?

Greg Haefner@@ghaefSenior Analyst IMarch 5, 2008

There have been plenty of players each year who come into the draft looking like can't-miss prospects.

Unfortunately, sometimes these players don't pan out quite like they were supposed to.

Let's have a look at the top draft busts from 1998-2004, shall we?

Note: It is too early to tell from the 2005 draft on.

For your amusement, I'll try to dig up scouting reports for these guys, if I can find them.


1998: Michael Olowakandi, C, Pacific - Drafted No. 1 overall by L.A. Clippers

Scouting Report: Never heard of the "Kandi Man?” You will, especially since he's likely to be one of the first three picks. If he can be summed up in a word, it's "upside."

Olowokandi has legit NBA-center size, and his childhood soccer background has endowed him with unusually good footwork—considering he's only been playing organized hoops for three years. Some may call his lack of experience a negative; what it really means is that he doesn't have bad habits other players pick up as preps. Under NBA tutelage, he will blossom. Plus, he's a smart kid; he recruited himself to Pacific.

Don't expect an All-Star right away, à là Tim Duncan—but as the old adage goes, "You can't teach size." Down the road, he'll be a powerful force in the pivot.

Breakdown: Well that certainly worked out. The "Kandi Man" played with LA until 2003, when he went to Minnesota. After three unsuccessful seasons there, he had a one-year stint with Boston during the '06-'07 season. He is currently a free agent.

1999: Jonathan Bender, F, Picayune H.S. - Drafted No. 5 overall by Toronto Raptors (Traded to Pacers for Antonio Davis)

Scouting Report: Bender Torched the McDonald's All-American game, dropping a staggering 31 points, which broke Jordan's record of, I believe, 30.

Overall this kid runs like a deer and his shooting range is very far for a high school center. Scores better in a up-tempo game, as he is not as polished offensively with his back to the basket.

Very quick springs in his legs which gives him the ability to jump many times in a short period of time, something which is very valuable for shot-blockers. Also possesses great timing on his blocks. Is capable of being good on put backs and dunks not an overpowering post player like Shaq.

Must gain some serious bulk, because at 210, you’re not going to be able to bang with the NBA’s power forwards and centers.

Will most likely be an NBA small forward, who will not do anything for about two years.

He's not Garnett, Bryant, McGrady, O’Neal, or for that matter Lewis.

Breakdown: Well, they got a few things right. He certainly wasn't Garnett, Bryant, McGrady, O'Neal, or Lewis. His game never translated to the NBA, and he was forced to retire after six seasons with the Pacers due to constant injuries.

2000: Marcus Fizer, F, Iowa State - Drafted No. 4 overall by Chicago Bulls

Scouting Report: Early entry candidate for the 2000 NBA Draft. Consensus First-Team All-America (the first in Iowa State history) by The Associated Press, the NABC, the USBWA, and The Sporting News.

Named to the Wooden All-America Team and was the Wooden Player of the Year runner-up to Cincinnati's Kenyon Martin. Ranks fourth in Iowa State history in free throws attempted (611); fifth in scoring (1,830 points), free throws made (429), and blocked shots (89); sixth in field goals made (690) and seventh in rebounds (716).

Breakdown: Fizer wrapped up some frequent-flier miles going back and forth between teams, overseas, D-League, and retirement.

Fizer played four years with Chicago, followed by a year with Milwaukee, followed by a D-League stint with the Austin Toros (affiliate of the Hornets) where he earned MVP honors in 2006. He then went overseas to play for Polaris World Murcia until 2007, and has not played since.

2001: Kwame Brown, C, Glynn Academy H.S. - Drafted No. 1 overall by Washington Wizards

Scouting Report:

  An early entry candidate for the 2001 NBA Draft.

  A member of the USA Today All-USA Basketball First Team.

  Also named to the Parade Magazine All-America High School Boys Basketball First Team.

  Named to the McDonald's All-America Team.

  Named High School Player of the Year in the state of Georgia as a senior.

  Scored 1,539 career points.

  Originally intended to accept a scholarship offer from the University of Florida before changing his mind and opting for the NBA Draft.

Breakdown:  Despite his undeniable ability to play the game, Michael Jordan definitely cannot manage a team. Jordan picked Brown No. 1 overall and it turned out horribly.

Brown played with the Wizards until 2005, when he was traded to the Lakers for Caron Butler. He most recently was involved in a trade with Pao Gasol, and is currently backing up Darko Milicic, whose name you might see coming up very shortly...

2002: Jay Williams, G, Duke - Drafted No. 2 overall by Chicago Bulls

Scouting Report:

An early entry candidate for the 2002 NBA Draft.

The consensus National Collegiate Player of the Year. He won the Naismith and Wooden Awards and was named The Associated Press College Basketball Player of the Year.

Also named player of the year by ESPN the Magazine, and honored with the CBS/Chevrolet Player of the Year Award.

Named First Team All-America by AP as both a sophomore and a junior, earning unanimous recognition as a junior.

Named as an alternate on the 2002 USA Basketball Men’s World Championship Team.

Finished three-year career tied for sixth place on Duke’s all-time scoring list with 2,079 points.

Led Duke to 95-13 record in his 108 games played at Duke.

Helped Duke to 2001 NCAA National Championship.

Breakdown: Williams can't be labeled as a bust based on his abilities, but injuries cost him a promising career. In 2003, Williams was in a near-fatal motorcycle accident, which prevented him from playing basketball for the next three years.

Williams tried to make a comeback with the Toros, but was waived in 2006. The lone bright spot is that he recorded a triple-double in a win over New Jersey during the 2002-2003 season.

2003: Darko Milicic, F/C, Serbia Montenegro - Drafted No. 2 overall by Detroit Pistons

Scouting Report: A skilled and strong big man who is comfortable at any spot along the front line. His biggest challenge has been getting playing time in system that relies on veteran players to play the most important minutes.

Several scouting reports indicate he has three-point range, but he does not take this shot when playing for his team in regular-season play in order to comply with his coach’s wishes.

Breakdown: Darko never panned out as Detroit's next big post presence. He didn't work out for Orlando either, as they didn't re-sign him after last season. He is currently starting for the Memphis Grizzlies, fighting off even bigger bust Kwame Brown for the No. 1 center spot.

2004: Rafael Araujo, C, BYU - Drafted No. 8 overall by Toronto Raptors

Scouting Report: Named Mountain West Co-Player of the Year and earned Honorable Mention All-America honors from the Associated Press as a senior.

Registered 24 career double-doubles. Completed collegiate career at Brigham Young after playing first two seasons at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz.

Wide-bodied post player with great strength and surprising athletic ability. Never shies away from contact. Runs the floor well and can play with his back to the basket.  

Breakdown: Araujo started 75 games over his first two seasons in Toronto, before being traded to the Utah Jazz. Now, Araujo is averaging 8.9 minutes per game with Utah and hasn't started a single game.

Well, that's life. Some go down the path predicted, some don't. Unfortunately for these players, it's been a long, strange, and unsuccessful trip.


    Cavs' Tyronn Lue Taking Leave of Absence

    NBA logo

    Cavs' Tyronn Lue Taking Leave of Absence

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report

    LeBron Once Gained 7 Pounds in a Playoff Game

    NBA logo

    LeBron Once Gained 7 Pounds in a Playoff Game

    Timothy Rapp
    via Bleacher Report

    The Man Who Helped the Dubs Land KD

    NBA logo

    The Man Who Helped the Dubs Land KD

    Yaron Weitzman
    via Bleacher Report

    IT on a Possible C's Return: 'Anything Can Happen'

    NBA logo

    IT on a Possible C's Return: 'Anything Can Happen'

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report