The Biggest Big Man Busts In NBA History

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalPop Culture Lead WriterDecember 23, 2010

The Biggest Big Man Busts In NBA History

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    There is an NBA adage that goes you can't teach tall. It is the single most important reason that big men going into the draft are so highly touted. But the crazy part is that these sure things turn out to be tremendous busts, more often than not.

    As the giants of the NBA fail to stay healthy with a huge frame, they falter and peter out of the league. These following big men were supposed to be the next big thing. They turned out to be forgettable experiments for their respective teams.

    Whether it be due to injury, talent or malaise, these selected picks washed out of the NBA much too quickly. Here are the biggest big man busts In NBA history.

20. Greg Oden

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    Greg Oden is out for the season. We have heard those words uttered many times before. This season was yet another example of injuries derailiing the career of a promising young man. 

    Oden is low on the list because he can still make something of his career. He is still extremely young and can still make an impact. But as of right now, he has to be considered a bust. The Blazers fell under the spell of Oden's height and took him ahead of Kevin Durant. Now Durant is a top-five player in the league and Oden is in street clothes. 

19. Jonathan Bender

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    Just because you take a guy out of college, it does not mean he will translate into an All-Star, or even a starter for that matter. NBA general managers were always on the look out for the next LeBron James or Kobe Bryant. 

    That is why the slender center was taken fifth overall right out of high school. Despite some fantastic one-off games here and there, Bender has failed to produce even a modicum of consistency. He played 25 games last season for the Knicks. 

18. Kent Benson

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    Kent Benson had such a great collegiate career that he was rewarded with the first overall selection in 1977. The Bucks center had a very average career. 

    This is illustrated by the fact that he is most well known for the punch he took from legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The hit came just a couple of minutes into Benson's first game. Kareem socked him for an errant elbow, breaking his hand and Benson's jaw. 

17. Stromile Swift

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    If you are picking second, you want some value for your pick. While Stromile did have some highlight type dunks and boasted some great athletic ability, he was a middle of the road NBA player at best. 

    The only reason he is so low on the list is that the 2000 NBA draft was one of the worst in history. The only All-Stars in the first round were Jamaal Magloire and Kenyon Martin. 

16. Marcus Fizer

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    The lean power forward was selected by the Chicago Bulls fourth overall in the 2000 draft. The man never averaged higher than 12.3 points a game. He bumped around the league for a few seasons before leaving to the Israeli Super League. 

    There is nothing super about this tale of mediocrity. Fizer never became the potent scorer or low-post player he was touted as by then coach Tim Floyd. 

15. Ed O'Bannon

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    Ed O'Bannon was one of the reasons that the UCLA Bruins won the national title in 1995. The New Jersey Nets were so enthralled with that fact that they chose O'Bannon with their ninth selection. O'Bannon would only play two seasons before leaving the NBA. 

    O'Bannon suffered, as many big men do, with knee problems. This made him too slow to keep up with smaller players and he was too small to match up with bigger power forwards. 

14. Joe Barry Carroll

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    Joe Barry Carroll was not that horrible of a player. He actually had some decent years to start his NBA career. The biggest knock on him was his lack of passion for the sport. 

    It also did not help his cause that the Warriors traded away Robert Parrish and the draft selection used to pick Kevin McHale to get him. A few decent years is hardly a fair swap. 

13. Shawn Bradley

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    The 76ers could not wait to get their hands on Shawn Bradley. If having a tall player was good, then having a skyscraper was phenomenal. But as we have learned through our great travel through NBA busts, big men injure easily, especially the monstrously built ones.

    What is amazing is that Bradley lasted as long as he did. He played from 1993 to 2005 with persistent knee issues. Bradley was by no means a horrible player. He just never lived up to the hype imposed upon him by his stature. He was a great shot blocker, but was ironically soft on defense. Thicker forwards and centers had their way with him. 

12. Nikoloz Tskitishvili

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    The Nuggets apparently never even saw Nikoloz Tskitishvili play. They drafted the Georgian player and traded him to the Warriors after only 12 games. 

    Tskitishvili bounced around the NBA for a while until it was certain that he was not the talent that would normally be taken with a lottery pick. Tskitishvili had a career average of 3.9 points per game before returning to play in Europe. 

11. Pervis Ellison

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    Pervis Ellison is just another example of the toll a big man's body can take running up and down the floor. Ellison was selected as the first overall pick of the Kings in the 1989 draft. He only played in 48 games his rookie year. 

    He broke out his second year with a 20 point per game average. He even won Most Improved Player honors. But the rest of his career was sidetracked by constant knee problems. You may not be able to teach height, but you also cannot train healthy. 

10. LaRue Martin

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    The Blazers could have had Bob McAdoo or Julius Erving. Instead they chose to go with LaRue Martin. They remembered the man that outplayed Bill Walton in college and thought he would make a fine addition to the NBA.

    He wasn't. Martin never averaged more than seven points a game and retired four seasons after joining the club. 

9. Chris Washburn

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    Washburn was selected third overall in the 1986 draft. He played in a little over 70 games throughout two seasons. He suffered from knee issues, which led to pain medication use and later cocaine. 

    Washburn failed three drug tests and was banned for life from the NBA. Not bad for the third pick overall. The Warriors would have been better off taking Dennis Rodman that round. 

8. Robert Traylor

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    "Tractor" Traylor never met a meal he did not like. That fact may be the leading cause for his inability to make an impact in the NBA. His bust status was further boosted by the fact that the Bucks gave up Dirk Nowitzki to the Mavericks to get him. 

    Traylor played until the 2005 season when he failed at several physical examinations. You can see him in the Baloncesto Superior Nacional Puerto Rican League clogging up the lane with his huge stature. 

7. Benoit Benjamin

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    Benoit is one of the premiere examples of a horrible pick. He was drafted third overall in the 1985 draft. Not only did he fail to make a significant impact in the NBA, he was drafted over some legends. 

    The Clippers missed out on Chris Mullin, Detlef Shrempf and Joe Dumars. What they were left to deal with was a center that could neither guard sufficiently or score. I wonder if this has more to do with the Clippers being destined for ineptitude or Benjamin being talentless. Perhaps a smidgen of both, I presume. 

6. Frederic Weis

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    If you use a pick in the first round, you will want that player to do well in the NBA. That is not always the case. The draft is a gamble. But at the very least, you will want that player to at least sign with your team. 

    Wies was picked 15th overall by the Knicks and never signed with them, choosing instead to stay in Europe. Ron Artest was picked right after the French center. 

5. Kwame Brown

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    Where to begin? Michael Jordan was a great player but a terrific GM he is not. The man that made the Bulls champs took Kwame Brown with the Wizards' first pick. Brown has consistently proved that the pick was a waste. 

    The only thing he does well is defend. Other than that, he can't score. His undersized hands can't catch. And he can't pass. Essentially, he is a liability on the floor. But he does make millions of dollars, in case you weren't already in a bad mood. 

4. Michael Olowokandi

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    The Kandi Man was the number-one overall selection of the Los Angeles Clippers in 1998. If you have been following along, you know the rest of the story. 

    Olowokani played in less than nine seasons and had mediocre stats at best. His line included 8.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.39 blocked shots per game. The Clippers had their shot at taking the likes of Vince Carter or Dirk Nowitzki. But if history is any indicator, those players could have very well suffered from the apparent Clippers jinx. 

3. Kedrick Brown

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    Sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and draft with your gut. Other times you should ignore your gut at all costs. 

    The Celtics took Kedrick Brown with the 11th overall selection in the 2001 draft. That left other teams to wonder, who? Brown was a community college stand out that had no business being drafted anywhere in the first round. The Celtics must have loved the way he looked in a uniform. Brown flamed out in four seasons. 

2. Darko Milicic

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    Joe Dumars is a great general manger that manged to corral a team that won a championship. But no matter what success he has going forward, he will always be known for the tremendous blunder known as Darko Milicic. 

    Dumars passed on Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to draft the empty jersey known as Darko. Dumars was enthralled with his size and potential. Someone should have notified him that Darko is not that passionate about basketball. You can see Milicic underperform nightly with the Timberwolves. 

1. Sam Bowie

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    Do you draft for talent or for need? The question is moot when you fail to take Michael Jordan. That is exactly what the Blazers did when they chose Sam Bowie. Bowie was already injury-prone in college and the Blazers did their best to ignore that fact. 

    The result: the Bulls get the greatest player in the history of the game and the Blazers got a serviceable big man that had numerous injury setbacks. Yes, this was a huge bust. 

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