In The NBA Draft, "Potential" Usually Equals Bust

Brett HowerContributor IJune 27, 2009

As I was watching the NBA draft on Wednesday, I noticed one guy slip farther in the draft then I expected. No, it wasn't Jrue Holliday, Ricky Rubio, or DeJuan Blair.

It was Ty Lawson.

He was taken with the 18th pick by Minnesota, then traded to the Nuggets. His being taken that low was very shocking to me. I'm a UNC fan, and therfore have watched Ty Lawson for three years. I paid attention this year in particular. Ty won the Bob Cousy award as the Nation's best point guard, played through a jammed toe against Duke, and led the Tar Heels to a championship.

If you watched the NCAA tournament this year, you may be pondering his draft position as well. The point guards taken before him were Ricky Rubio, Tyreke Evans, Jonny Flynn, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, and Jrue Holliday.

Based on last season, the only guy who's better than Ty Lawson would be Stephen Curry, but Ty would have put up similar numbers had he played at Davidson.

So why were all these guys drafted before Ty Lawson? 

One word: potential.

Besides Curry and possibly Flynn, all these guys were drafted based on potential. Drafting guys on potential is great if it works out. Tracy McGrady was drafted on potential. He worked out. Here's a list of guys who were drafted on potential but didn't pan out:

Shawn Bradley, Sam Bowie, DaJuan Wagner, Eddie Griffin, Rafeal Araujo, Kwame Brown, Jonathan Bender,  Nickoloz Tskitishvili, Robert Traylor, Micheal Olawakandi, DeSanga Diop, and Darko Millicic.

All of these guys were thought to be franchise-savers. None of them were. All of these guys were drafted ahead of guys who turned out to be alot better than them. But because they had "potential", they wooed NBA GM's into drafting them.

Looking at some of the guys from this draft, I'm not sure they're all hyped up to be.

Sure, Rubio was a starter on the Spainish runner-up team at the Olympics. He's flashy and apparentley a brilliant passer. People are even comparing him to Pete Maravich. But he's 18 years old. Kwame Brown was around that age when he entered the draft, and look what happened to him. If a guy is too young, their lack of maturity takes away from their ability.

Jrue Holliday was considered the best guard of his class, yet only averaged 8.5 ppg and 3.7 apg.

Brandon Jennings, who made news for foregoing college to go to Italy, averaged only 7.6 ppg and 1.5 apg in Italy. Analysts have made excuses for him, saying he was only 19 and playing against seasoned 30 year olds. Won't he be doing that in the NBA?

All in all, the history proves that potential more times than not work out negativley for franchises. I just wish a GM's would realize this and take guys who are something, not guys who could be something.