Making the right choice in the NBA Draft is tricky and there are many ways things can go wrong.
Due to the nature of the draft, teams are picking from young talent that could fizzle out before they ever have an impact on the court.
No matter how promising college players are, nothing is guaranteed.
In fact, the NBA Draft is filled with guys who should have been huge stars and major talents but ended up being footnotes.
Due to injuries, pressure, bad attitudes, or just bad luck, some of the biggest number one picks in the draft ended up being duds.
3. Anthony Bennett
Back in 2013, the Cleveland Cavaliers secured the number one pick in the NBA Draft.
They went with UNLV player Anthony Bennett.
Bennett showed some skills in college and there were glimpses of him being downright great.
He was a scorer at every level and seemed like he could be a versatile, two-way player for Cleveland.
Some say that he didn’t have the fire in his belly to play in the big leagues – even Cavaliers vice president of basketball operations David Griffin told The Athletic “as soon as it was hard, he was out.”
Sure enough, he played horribly.
In his first – and only – season in Cleveland, Bennett produced 4.2 points and three rebounds a game.
He was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves the next year, where he did only marginally better.
After that, it was to the Toronto Raptors and then the Brooklyn Nets before leaving the league after 151 games played.
Bennett is probably the worst number one draft pick of all time and his selection is made even worse when you realize that Cleveland could have chosen Giannis Antetokounmpo instead.
2. Markelle Fultz
But injuries plagued the young man and he was quickly benched during his first season because of shoulder problems.
For a while, Fultz was like the Bigfoot of the NBA: talked about in rumors and speculation, everyone wondering if he’d ever be seen again.
Sure enough, he did return to the 76ers in March of his first year and started to show promise – he even became the youngest player in NBA history at the time to record a triple-double (he is now the third-youngest to do so).
Youngest player with a triple-double:
19y, 84d — Josh Giddey
19y, 140d — LaMelo Ball
19y, 317d — Markelle Fultz
19y, 327d — Luka Doncic
They are the only 19 year-olds with a triple-double in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/bEtooFkNnq
— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 3, 2022
The following season was rough for Fultz, who got passed over as starting shooting guard for Jimmy Butler.
Yet again, his shoulder injury emerged and Fultz only played 19 games that season.
During that second absence from the game, Fultz was traded to the Orlando Magic, where he still plays.
He currently averages 12.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 5.4 assists a game but injuries still bother him and he simply doesn’t play as much as people expected.
1. Zion Williamson
Some would say it’s not fair to consider Zion Williamson an NBA Draft bust but you have to be honest: looking at his career so far, Williamson hasn’t delivered.
Of course, this isn’t entirely his fault – the former Duke power forward has had more injuries than anyone deserves and they have sidelined him again and again.
When he has played, Williamson has literally been breaking records and doing incredible work.
But New Orleans expected to be playoff contenders by now, all because of Williamson.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that his body is just not withstanding the stress and pressure of the NBA.
There is still plenty of time to turn it around but the signs coming from Williamson’s camp are not promising.
Most recently, it was reported that he is now rehabilitating away from the team because of a foot injury.
Zion Williamson will be stepping away from the Pelicans training facility to continue his lengthy rehab. Will we see Zion play this year? 🤕 pic.twitter.com/VRhF4SgH4Q
— theScore (@theScore) January 5, 2022
We just don’t know when we will see Williamson play again.
Nothing would be better than to see Williamson re-enter the league and have a long, amazing career.
But would you bet on him doing that?