While the list of highly touted basketball players who’ve failed to make the transition from college, or even high school, to the NBA is quite significant, some NBA draft selections are more notable “busts” than others.
Whether it be due to injury, drugs, or simply the all too common case of scouts missing the mark, here are three notable examples of NBA players whose brightest moments came on draft night.
As is often the case with many draft flops, the notable players taken after the individual in question only adds to the “mystique” of the draft pick gone sour. The 1972 draft selection of LaRue Martin is the ideal example of such a catastrophe. Selected by Portland with the first pick of the draft, the Trail Blazers passed on Julius Erving and Bob McAdoo to acquire Martin’s services. As history now records, both Erving and McAdoo became NBA Hall of Fame icons, while Martin averaged 5.3 points per contest in a brief four-year career. Although the term “draft bust” wasn’t common in 1972, Martin could very well be the biggest disappointment in NBA history.
Selected by the Golden State Warriors with the third pick of the 1986 NBA Draft, Chris Washburn, while talented, chose drugs over basketball. Failing a total of three drug tests over the course of three years, Washburn was banned from the NBA in 1989. Playing the remainder of his career in various semi-pro development leagues, Washburn retired in 1994.
By his own admission, Greg Oden is a bust. Selected by the Portland Trail Blazers with the first pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, Oden, in many ways, is a lot like the aforementioned LaRue Martin. Plagued by various knee issues almost immediately, Oden has spent more time rehabbing his injuries than playing professional basketball. Currently a member of the Miami Heat, Oden has played in just over 100 games in his NBA career and no more than 70 games in any single season. In respect to the history vault, Kevin Durant, arguably the best player in the NBA today, was taken with the second selection of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Seattle SuperSonics, now the franchise known as the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Larue Martin – The top pick of the ’72 draft has overcome his descent into hoops infamy
N.B.A. Bans Washburn
Washburn traveled long road to recovery
Greg Oden: ‘I know I’m one of the biggest busts in NBA history’