10 Most Disappointing Players in the NBA

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2011

10 Most Disappointing Players in the NBA

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    The NBA is a hotbed for superstar talent, but it is also latent with more than its fair share of disappointments.

    For every LeBron James who met or exceeded expectations, there are more Darko Milicics who never amounted to anything or reached only a fraction of their potential.

    Whether or not these players folded under the pressures of the NBA, were drafted too high thus bolstering their ceiling or simply generated unwarranted hype is debatable. What is certain though, is the league boasts an array of busts and near-busts.

    And it is some of these very disappointments that have come back to haunt the players union at the lockout negotiating table.

Jordan Hill of Houston Rockets

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    What truly makes Jordan Hill one of the biggest disappointments in the NBA? The fact that he was drafted before players who have since gone on to much greater accolades than he.

    Hill was drafted eighth overall by New York in the 2009 draft, ahead of Jrue Holiday, DeMar DeRozan, Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson and Darren Collison. Heck, the Knicks even took Toney Douglas after Hill, and, last time I checked, Douglas was still on the team and actually getting some burn.

    Since coming into the league, Hill has put up a career average of 5.5 points and four rebounds per game. His greatest attribute coming in was considered his rebounding, making an average of four a joke.

    Compared to many of those drafted after him, Hill's production is embarrassing, especially considering that players like Holiday, Lawson, DeRozan and Collison seem to be just getting started.

    Hill, on the other hand, seems to be warming up to the notion of going cold his whole career. He may only be two years in—there's plenty of time to turn things around—but he hasn't given any indication that he is capable of much else.

    Knicks fans, even though he is Houston's disappointment now, are still kicking themselves.

Gilbert Arenas of Orlando Magic

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    Although he exceeded expectations after being drafted in the second round of the 2001 NBA draft, Gilbert Arenas is still one of the NBA's biggest disappointments.

    Not only has Arenas failed to live up to his six-year, $111 million contract, which many saw as a mistake back when he inked it in 2008, but this past season was the first time in three years that he appeared in more than 35 games.

    Additionally, he has proven to be a locker room cancer—unless anyone feels he was justified in bringing a firearm into a basketball arena—as well as a bit of an eccentric, blaming others for his playing woes.

    Arenas, 29, averaged a mere 10.8 points and 3.9 assists per game last season. This level of production came from a guy who put up 28.4 points and six assists per game only a few years ago.

    Up until recently, there were those holding out hope that Arenas could rise above the controversy that was plaguing him and regain his status as one of the league's premier point guards.

    That hope is all but gone, as the closest Arenas will ever come to fitting that criteria will be the paychecks he cashes.

Kwame Brown

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    After a decade in the NBA, to call the first-ever high schooler to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick in a draft a disappointment is an understatement.

    Coming into the league, Brown was coveted for his athleticism, shot-blocking and developing offensive game. While his athleticism has been somewhat evident, only once in his 10-year career has he averaged 10 or more points per game, and only twice has he averaged over one blocked shot per game.

    The Washington Wizards' selection of Brown was met by some criticism, but not so much that you would have thought Brown would have wound up a non-entity on the basketball court. He is an unrestricted free agent, and while it is likely his 6'11", 270-pound stature will earn him another contract, it is unlikely he will ever amount to anything.

    Brown's potential was thought to be through the roof, but as it turns out, he only would have lived up to expectations had he been drafted in the second round.

    Brown most likely entered the NBA far too early; he could have benefited tremendously from even a year of college ball under his belt. 

    And knowing that is a disappointment in itself.

DeSagana Diop of Charlotte Bobcats

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    Coming into the NBA, it was known DeSagana Diop wasn't adept at scoring, but his incredible wingspan, terrific shot-blocking and rebounding skills and his extensive mobility for someone his size warranted the Cleveland Cavaliers selecting him eighth overall in the 2001 NBA Draft.

    As it turns out, the very abilities that earned him such praise seemed to disappear the moment he entered the league.

    On his career, Diop is a 2.5 rebound and 0.9 block per game center. I'm ignoring his 1.3 points per game average, because he wasn't coveted even slightly for his scoring, although surely most expected an athletic seven-footer to put up much more than that. 

    Diop has been the benefactor of multiple unwarranted contracts. He is set to earn over $14 million the next two seasons for the sheer fact that he is so tall.

    He entered the league with such promise, yet he turned out to be a tease in the worst way. 

    Diop is definitely one of the players who fell through the cracks of the previous CBA, and is almost certainly one of the disappointments that the league may be currently pointing to at the negotiating table. 

Sebastian Telfair

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    Sebastian Telfair serves as another quintessential example of a player who made the jump to the NBA way too early.

    In 2004, coming out of Lincoln High School, the flashy ball-handler and scorer was drafted 13th overall, an accomplishment that will likely go down as the greatest of his career.

    There were concerns about Telfair's selfishness and inexperience, but those were viewed as minor roadblocks to a successful career. It turned out they were much more than that.

    In seven seasons with the NBA, Telfair has never cracked an averaged of 10 points or six assists per game. His jump shot has not improved and he has not increased his range by any means. This has led the 26-year-old to bounce from team to team up until now.

    It is likely this nomadic trend will continue, as Telfair is an unrestricted free agent and it is unlikely he will return to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    No one ever expected Telfair to win an MVP award, but there were strong hopes he would put up production similar to Stephon Marbury, prior to his mental and physical breakdown. 

    As it turns out though, the only bit of Marbury that Telfair boasted was in his attitude, and that's not exactly a hot commodity.

Anthony Randolph of the Minnesota Timberwolves

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    After only three years in the NBA, it's safe to say that Anthony Randolph is one of the league's biggest disappointments.

    Randolph was drafted 14th overall in 2008 by the Golden State Warriors. Coming in, he was heralded for his scoring abilities, both from the inside and outside, his rebounding, ball-handling and confidence.

    It is doubtful many expected Randolph to be averaging 20 and 10 at this point in his career, but I'm sure they expected him to make a positive impact, or at the very least not a negative one.

    Randolph overstayed his welcome both with Golden State and the New York Knicks. He has now moved on to Minnesota, where the hope is he will be able to hone his skills. However, on a team that boasts a plethora of power forwards, it is unlikely he will ever shine too bright.

    While Randolph's offensive prowess, rebounding and ball-handling abilities have not been made evident, his confidence has been. Or is the word I'm looking for "arrogance"?

    Randolph has developed a reputation as lazy and entitled, incredibly unfavorable stereotypes, especially for a player who hasn't shown much talent on the basketball court.

    Will Randolph ever get his act together?

    Who knows, but for now he remains one of the most disappointing players in the entire league.

Andrew Bynum of Los Angeles Lakers

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    Despite being the centerpiece of any package the Los Angeles Lakers put together for Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum's six-year career has been a major disappointment.

    When the Lakers drafted him 10th overall in 2005, they believed they were drafting a seven-foot center that would rival Shaquille O'Neal's legacy. He could score, rebound, block shots and just defend in general.

    However, up until now, Bynum has been inconsistent at best. He has shown he will always block shots, but his scoring and rebounding have fluctuated over the years.

    For his career, Bynum has averaged 11.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and two blocks per game. These are solid numbers, but Los Angeles expected him to do more, perhaps be a 20 and 10 guy.

    Bynum has been unable to stay healthy, playing only one full season in six years. His work ethic is also questionable, but it mostly comes down to lack of confidence with him.

    One night, Bynum is unstoppable, but the next, he's nowhere to be found. So while he may be the Lakers' best chance at acquiring Howard, he is far from the dominant low-post presence most thought he would be.

    Calling Bynum a bust is an exaggeration, because, as previously noted, his numbers are solid. What makes him such a disappointment though, is that we know he is capable of much more.

    Will he ever tap into that unused potential? At this point, after six roller coaster years, such a breakthrough is anything but guaranteed. 

Darko Milicic of Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Disappointing is about the only thing Darko Milicic has done consistently over his eight-year career, failing season after season to live up to the hype that surrounded him nearly a decade ago.

    Milicic was drafted second overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 2003 draft. His shooting abilities, ball-handling skills, shot-blocking abilities and sheer size caught the eyes of many. At the NBA level though, his ability to block shots has been the only reason to keep him on the floor.

    For his career, Milicic has averaged 6.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. His 8.8 points per game last season was the highest of average of his career, and at seven feet tall, the most rebounds he ever put up was six per game back in the 2007-2008 campaign.

    Milicic has not only disappointed because he was drafted so high, but because anyone with his size should be doing so much more. He is soft on the glass, basically a non-factor on offense and doesn't run the floor all that well.

    What has all that earned him? Nearly $16 million over the next three years.

    Being a disappointment sure does pay well nowadays, doesn't it?

Eddy Curry

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    Kenyon Martin played his way to China, and thus out of reach of this list, but Eddy Curry wasn't so lucky.

    Believe it or not, there will be a team that is going to take a chance on the seven-foot, 295-pound Curry next season. There is going to be at least one team that believes he can make a difference.

    Curry, the fourth overall pick in the 2001 draft, has made a living off of teams believing he could make a difference, mostly the Knicks. In the early stages of his career, he showed promise, but also laziness, a quality that eventually triumphed over any promise he had.

    Over his nine-year career, Curry has never averaged 20 or more points per game for a full season, which isn't exactly impressive for someone who drew comparisons to Shaquille O'Neal early on.

    Since the 2007-2008 season, Curry has played in a total of 69 games. While in New York, he was unable to get in shape and was unwilling to adjust his game to fit the needs of the team and his waistline.

    To say that Curry could have benefited from going to college is slightly off. He had the size and talent to succeed in the league, but he lacked the will and work ethic. Those are intangibles you just can't teach.

    Maybe if they came with a cheeseburger and a side of fries Curry could have digested such attributes, but unfortunately, they don't.

    Any team that signs him is just furthering his reputation as one of the most disappointing players in the league, and perhaps of all time.

Greg Oden of Portland Trail Blazers

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    In 2007, the Portland Trail Blazers selected the seven-foot Greg Oden as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

    Oden was heralded for his all-around talent. He could block shots, rebound, run the floor and even score, though his low-post game needed some serious tweaking.

    Since being drafted though, Oden has played in only 82 games, averaging a combined 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks on those rare occasions he steps foot on the court. He may be a major disappointment, but his situation is slightly complicated.

    When Oden is on the court—a sight in itself—he has shown promise and a willingness to work. Those numbers he has put up have come in barely over 20 minutes of burn per game, so imagine what he could do in 30 or 35.

    If only he could stay healthy.

    Oden's knees have kept him off the court these past four years and prevented the Blazers from seeing if he is the franchise-leading player they deemed him to be. With three season-ending injuries under his belt, it is unlikely he will ever reach what was once an immensely high ceiling.

    Portland had big plans for Oden. They were going to develop his offensive game further and make him an unstoppable force on both ends of the court.

    Sadly, the only thing about Oden that has proved to be unstoppable is his susceptibility to injuries.


    You can follow Dan Favale on Twitter here @Dan_Favale.