The 50 Most Overhyped Prospects in NBA History

Drake OzSenior Writer IIOctober 27, 2010

The 50 Most Overhyped Prospects in NBA History

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    The 50 Most Overhyped Prospects in NBA History is a hard list to compile.

    There's been a boatload of players in this league who never lived up to all the hype that they'd been getting since they could first dunk a basketball.

    There's even been some players who wound up with good overall careers—or still could—but all of the publicity, promotion and hoopla seems somewhat silly when you look back on it all.

    In some cases, it really isn't fair though.

    Just because a guy can dominate high school basketball doesn't mean he's going to finish his career as one of the greatest players in NBA history.

    But that's what many NBA fans have come to expect in today's game. If you're good in tenth grade and you struggle as a 22-year-old in the NBA, you're considered a failure by most and a bust by many.

    So what players are the most overhyped in the history of the league?

    Let's take a look at the top 50.

50. Danny Manning

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    When you win multiple national player of the year awards in college and are considered one of the best college players of all-time, it's hard to do anything but disappoint in the NBA.

    That's sort of what happened to Danny Manning, who had a decent NBA career—averaging 14 points per game—but didn't really have that stellar career in the NBA that most people expected.

    The two-time All-American did finish his 15-year career as a two-time All-Star though.

49. Michael Dickerson

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    Michael Dickerson was a part of the 1997 NCAA championship team at Arizona. He came into the league after being selected with the 14th overall pick in 1998.

    He had a good season in 1999-2000 when he averaged more than 18 points per game, but he was out of the league by 2003.

    Like LFO, he was a one-hit wonder.

48. Martell Webster

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    Before Hasheem Thabeet broke the record, Martell Webster was the highest draft pick (sixth overall by Portland) to ever be sent to the D-League during his rookie year.

    He was a McDonald's All-American in high school and was one of the last players to jump straight to the NBA. But he hasn't done much of note so far in the NBA.

    The good thing for Webster is that he's only 23, so we could see his career turn around at some point.

47. Trajan Langdon

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    Trajan Langdon made a name for himself while attending Duke, where he set the school record for most career three-point field goals before that record was broken by J.J. Redick.

    The highlight of his NBA career was becoming the first Alaskan to play in the NBA.

    Sarah Palin must be proud.

46. Benoit Benjamin

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    Benoit Benjamin started the trend of the Clippers having bad luck in the NBA draft.

    In 1985, the 7'0" center was selected third overall out of Creighton. And he actually is the Clippers' franchise leader in blocked shots and blocked shots per game.

    But he only played for the team for six seasons, and he never really lived up to the expectations that come with being the third overall pick.

45. Eddy Curry

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    In a head-scratching move, the Bulls drafted Eddy Curry in 2001 with the fourth overall pick and paired him with fellow rookie Tyson Chandler.

    Curry actually led the league in field-goal percentage the next season, but he hasn't done anything to warrant being taken in the top five.

    These days, he's nothing more than an expiring contract that the Knicks will probably ship out of New York at some point this season.

44. Sebastian Telfair

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    Sebastian Telfair was selected straight out of high school by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 13th overall pick in 2004.

    It's obviously impossible to predict how Telfair would have turned out had he went to Louisville instead of jumping straight to the NBA. But he's never lived up to any of the hype he had as a high school prospect.

    He's bounced around the league with several different teams, and he's had a lot of trouble off the court as well.

43. Danny Ferry

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    Danny Ferry was the original Eli Manning, finagling his way out of Los Angeles and into the Italian League because he didn't want to play for the Clippers.

    Well, Ferry was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers after a successful year in Italy, but he never lived up to the expectations the team expected of the former collegiate national player of the year.

    He proved to be nothing more than an average player, finishing his career with only two seasons in which he scored in double figures.

42. Glenn Robinson

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    Glenn Robinson was selected with the first overall pick in the 1994 draft and he had a very good NBA career.

    Robinson will never be considered a bust, but the guy had way more hype than people like Jason Kidd and Grant Hill ever did.

    You were good, Glenn. But I'm not so sure you should have been the consensus No. 1 pick over those guys I mentioned.

41. Shawn Bradley

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    Just because someone is 7'4" tall, it doesn't mean they're going to make it in the NBA.

    Exhibit A: Shawn Bradley.

    His size was unparalleled in the league, but he looked like a human beanpole out there on the court.

    Maybe if he hit the buffet line a couple times, his career would have turned out differently.

40. Bryant Reeves

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    Here's an interesting little nugget about Bryant Reeves: After averaging 21.5 points per game and leading Oklahoma State to a Final Four appearance during his senior year, he became the Grizzlies' first-ever draft selection in 1995.

    Prior to the 1997-98 season, he signed a six-year, $61.8 million contract extension.

    I guess the NBA really is where amazing happens.

39. Tyler Hansbrough

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    Some guys are just good college basketball players and that's all they'll ever be.

    There's nothing wrong with that, but Tyler Hansbrough will never be an All-Star caliber player in the NBA.

    To think that Hansbrough was selected ahead of guys like Darren Collison and DeJuan Blair is mind-boggling.

    This isn't the National Hustling League.

38. Marcus Fizer

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    Marcus Fizer was recruited to play at Iowa State by Tim Floyd.

    In 2004, Fizer was drafted by the Bulls with the fourth overall pick, even though the team already had Elton Brand at the power-forward position.

    Guess who coached the Bulls at the time?

    Yep, Tim Floyd. 

37. Brandan Wright

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    After his freshman year at UNC, Brandan Wright jumped to the NBA in 2007 and was selected by the Charlotte Bobcats and traded to the Golden State Warriors.

    Has he done anything since then?

    Not really. Maybe he should have stayed at North Carolina for another year or two.

36. Dennis Hopson

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    Dennis Hopson is a prime example of a one-trick pony.

    He was selected with the third overall pick by the New Jersey Nets in 1987 based primarily on his ability as a scorer that he showed at Ohio State.

    But Hopson lacked the skills and the desire in pretty much every other aspect of the game and was out of the NBA by 1992.

35. Stromile Swift

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    I'm an LSU guy, so I remember watching Stromile Swift when he was a Tiger.

    The guy was a freak—much like Tyrus Thomas—who was drafted because of his incredible athleticism rather than his skills on the basketball court.

    But an athletic freak is about all he was.

    He didn't do much of anything in the NBA and he's currently playing in the Chinese Basketball Association

34. Kent Benson

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    Kent Benson is one of the main reasons that Larry Bird left Indiana University, which is reason enough to dislike him.

    But Benson also might be the original No. 1-overall bust, setting the table for future busts to disappoint fans across the country.

    Benson was taken first overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1977, but he averaged just 9.1 points in 680 career games.

33. Adonal Foyle

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    Adonal Foyle was selected with the eighth overall pick in 1997 out of Colgate University.

    But we're not talking about toothpaste here. This is the NBA. 

    And Foyle has been pretty dismal his entire career, failing to top more than 5.9 points or seven rebounds in a single season. 

32. Pervis Ellison

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    Pervis Ellison gave himself the nickname "Never Nervous Pervis."

    Maybe he should have been a little nervous about the prospects of a lengthy NBA career.

    Ellison shined for four years at Louisville and was eventually selected with the No. 1 overall pick in 1989 by the Sacramento Kings.

    But other than the 1990-91 season, he never did much of note and was even dubbed "Out of Service Pervis" by teammate Danny Ainge.

    That's a more fitting nickname.

31. Michael Olowakandi

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    Here's a list of five players selected behind the 1998 No. 1-overall pick Michael Olowakandi: Mike Bibby, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce.

    Needless to say, this was one of the dumbest draft decisions in NBA history.

    It's something that the Clippers are pretty well known for.

30. Christian Laettner

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    Has a game-winning shot ever propelled a player to the third-overall pick in the NBA draft?

    Yes, it has. Just ask Christian Laettner.

    Actually, his career numbers were halfway decent. But considering the two guys drafted just ahead of him—Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning—I'd say he was rated a bit too high.

29. Sean May

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    Someone has got to buy the University of North Carolina a history book.

    Note to Tar Heels: if you leave the school early, you're probably not going to have much success in the NBA.

    Sean May is clearly one of those guys who had no business jumping to the NBA.

    I mean, did anyone actually think he was worthy of a lottery pick?

28. Chris Washburn

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    Chris Washburn had a reputation as an overrated player even in high school. But that didn't stop the Golden State Warriors from selecting him with the third overall pick in 1986.

    Washburn's lack of effort in the classroom carried over to the basketball court, where he was known for his poor work ethic and lack of improvement once he reached the league.

    His personal issues were overlooked for his potential on the court. But he was banned from the league for life in 1989 after failing three drug tests in a one-year period.

    He apparently liked to sleep on the bench, too.

27. Melvin Ely

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    Was the Western Athletic Conference really so bad in 2001 and 2002 that Melvin Ely was named the conference player of the year in both seasons?

    Apparently so.

    But Ely's best season as a pro came in 2005-06 when he averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 points per game.

    What a lottery pick!

26. Bryce Drew

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    Hey Christian Laettner, you aren't the only one who rode the coattails of a game-winning shot in the NCAA tournament to the NBA—at least you had a solid career though.

    Bryce Drew, who rose to fame with his game-winning shot against Ole Miss in the 1998 tournament, was selected 16th overall in the 1998 draft by the Houston Rockets.

    Let's just say that one shot made the Rockets overlook guys like Al Harrington and Rashard Lewis in favor of Drew.

25. Jared Jeffries

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    Jared Jeffries was Indiana's Mr. Basketball in 2000, and he played for Indiana when they advanced to the NCAA title game against Maryland.

    Since then? Wait, I'm thinking...still thinking...still thinking.

    He averaged 6.8 points per game during the 2004-05 season with the Wizards. Does that count?

24. Shawn Respert

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    Much like Hansbrough, Michigan State guard Shawn Respert is another one of those guys who was just a good college player.

    He averaged more than 25 points per game and was the Big Ten Player of the Year during his senior season, but never got going in the NBA after being drafted in the first round in 1995.

    Respert scored a total of 851 points in 172 career games and was out of the league just five years after he got there.

23. Ike Diogu

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    Come NBA draft time, one of analysts' favorite phrases is "wingspan."

    Well, Ike Diogu was a 6'9" center/forward, but his wingspan measured at 7'4".

    Thanks to that wingspan, Diogu had a career high 3.9 rebounds per game in the 2008-09 season, but he currently is jobless.

    So much for those measurables.

22. Robert Traylor

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    Robert "Tractor" Traylor was selected by the Dallas Mavericks with the sixth overall pick in 1998 and traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Dirk Nowitzki.

    That about sums up why the Tractor was an overhyped prospect.

21. Darius Miles

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    Darius Miles was selected with the third overall pick in 2000, making him the highest player drafted directly from high school up to that point.

    He's been known to be a headcase his entire career, but one incident pretty much personifies the type of player he was.

    According to ESPN's Chad Ford and other reports, when Miles was with the Blazers during the 2004-05 season, his attitude got the best of him again and head coach Maurice Cheeks asked him to leave practice.

    Miles responded, "Make me."

    As Cheeks left to go talk to the team's general manager, Miles said, "That's right, run to your daddy."

    I wonder why he never reached his potential.

20. Patrick O'Bryant

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    Patrick O'Bryant was a mid-major star in college at Bradley who led his team to a surprising Sweet 16 run in 2006.

    He was selected with the ninth overall pick by the Warriors that same year and was one of those "project players."

    But Bradley hasn't done anything in the NBA and is proof positive that you don't select players in the lottery based simply on their play in the NCAA tournament.

19. Eric Montross

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    Eric Montross—much like Tyler Hansbrough—won a national championship at North Carolina and was a two-time All-American.

    But Montross never lived up to his stature as a top-10 pick in the 1994 NBA draft.

    Montross' game just didn't translate well to the NBA, and he finished his career averaging less than five points and five rebounds.

18. Bobby Hurley

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    When you're at the top, the only way to go is down.

    Bobby Hurley knows that pretty well.

    At Duke, he was a two-time national champion, a Final Four MVP, an All-American and the NCAA's all-time assists leader.

    But a life-threatening accident prevented him from doing much in the NBA, and he was out of the league just six years after his career started.

17. Ed O'Bannon

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    Oh boy, Ed O'Bannon was a big mistake for the New Jersey Nets organization.

    O'Bannon shined at UCLA , leading the Bruins to a national title during his senior year in 1995.

    But he was hobbled by a surgically-repaired knee that prevented him from being an effective power forward, and he wasn't quick enough to play guard.

    His NBA career was done by 1997.

16. Mateen Cleaves

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    Mateen Cleaves was two-time Big Ten Conference Player of the Year, a three-time All-American and a national champion at Michigan State.

    He was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 14th overall pick in the 2000 NBA draft.

    In four of his six NBA seasons, he averaged less than three points and two assists per game.

    Enough said.

15. Marvin Williams

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    Potential is the most overused word in the vocabulary of NBA scouts and executives.

    Chad Ford, I'm talking to you and about Marvin Williams.

    You single-handedly made this guy's draft status skyrocket. That was good for him, but not so good for the Hawks.

14. Michael Sweetney

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    Michael Sweetney was selected ninth overall by the New York Knicks in 2003 after a stellar career at Georgetown where he was a finalist for the Naismith College Player of the Year as a junior.

    But Sweetney wasn't able to lay off the cheeseburgers his entire career and he was traded to the Bulls in 2005.

    He hasn't played in a regular-season game since 2006.

13. William Avery

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    William Avery was selected with the 14th overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves following a pretty good, albeit shortened, career at Duke.

    In three seasons with the Wolves, he averaged 2.7 points and 1.4 assists per game. 

    Needless to say, his career didn't last long. He was out of the NBA after three seasons.

    That's why you stay in school, William.

12. Adam Morrison

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    Someone really has to stop Michael Jordan from making any kind of decisions when it comes to the NBA draft.

    Adam Morrison looks like he belongs on an episode of To Catch a Predator with Chris Hansen, not on a basketball court with some of the most talented athletes in the world.

    And the guy cried after losing in the NCAA tournament at Gonzaga. There's no crying in sports.

11. Jonathan Bender

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    Jonathan Bender was selected by the Toronto Raptors with the fifth overall pick in 1999 straight out of high school.

    He was hailed for his size and athleticism as a high school star. The problem was that he forgot to bring both of those qualities to the NBA.

    He was out of the league for a four-year period before playing in 25 games with the Knicks last season. 

    In 2005, just six years after being drafted, he was already voted the 11th biggest bust in league history in a Sports Illustrated poll.

10. LaRue Martin

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    LaRue Martin is the perfect example of NBA scouts looking too much into someone's performance in a single game.

    Martin outplayed Bill Walton in a college game while at Loyola, and apparently impressed the Trail Blazers so much that they decided to draft him with the first overall pick in 1972, ahead of some guy named Julius Erving.

    Martin was done with the NBA by 1976 and finished his career averaging 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. 

    I wonder if Portland regrets that pick.

9. Greg Oden

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    The jury is still out on Greg Oden, but I don't even remotely believe anyone in Portland's organization who says the team still made the right decision by drafting Oden.

    Oden proved at Ohio State that he wasn't going to be a great offensive player—15.7 points per game as a Buckeye isn't blowing anyone away—and he's certainly never going to be Mr. Durable.

    Plus, isn't the dude already like 40 years old anyway?

8. Nikoloz Tskitishvili

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    I know what you're thinking: Who the hell is Nikoloz Tskitishvili?

    Exactly.

    Moving on...

7. Kwame Brown

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    The Kwame Brown selection still haunts Michael Jordan to this day.

    Brown had a stellar high school career in Georgia, but Jordan overlooked guys like Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, Richard Jefferson and a bunch of others to select Brown.

    Brown is widely considered one of the biggest busts in the history of the league.

    Look at the picture. Even Kwame Brown's embarrassed. 

6. Shelden Williams

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    When the Hawks chose Shelden Williams with the fifth overall pick in 2006, it was an ungodly stupid mistake.

    To think that the team passed up on guys like Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo has to make Hawks fans sick to their stomachs.

    I'm not completely hating on Williams though. He may suck, but hey, he still pulled Candace Parker.

    Let's hope their kid gets her basketball skills instead of his though.

5. Billy Owens

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    Billy Owens was selected third overall by the Sacramento Kings in 1991, but was traded to the Warriors that same year in exchange for guard Mitch Richmond.

    The trade is often considered as one of the most lopsided swaps in NBA history.

    Owens spent his entire career as a journeyman before retiring in 2001.

4. Sam Bowie

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    Seriously, what is wrong with the people in Portland?

    I get that the Blazers liked Sam Bowie because he had a solid career and the team needed a replacement for Bill Walton.

    But passing on Michael Jordan is pretty much unacceptable.

3. Ricky Rubio

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    Prior to being selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the fifth pick in the 2009 draft, Ricky Rubio was often compared to Pete Maravich.

    Seriously, Pistol Pete?

    The guy may be a flashy player, but anointing him as the "next Pistol Pete" is absolutely ridiculous.

    He's still just 20 years old, and everything he's accomplished has taken place in the Spanish ACB League.

2. Hasheem Thabeet

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    The term "project player" is basically a cover-up for teams who don't want to look dumb when that player winds up being terrible.

    Hasheem Thabeet was sent to the D-League in his first season after being chosen with the No. 2-overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies, for crying out loud.

    Why on earth does that team think he'll ever be anything more than an end-of-the-rotation player?

1. Darko Milicic

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    I think you all know the story by now.

    Darko Milicic was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the second overall pick in 2003, ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

    Wow. Just wow.