NBA’s 40 Biggest Draft Busts: Where Are They Now?
Adam Morrison (No. 3 Overall, 2006)
They may be widely known for being “busts,” yet life still goes on for many high NBA draft picks who didn’t realize their potential. Take a look at the current whereabouts of 40 of the most infamous selections in NBA draft history.
After an all-world career at Gonzaga, Michael Jordan rolled the dice on the floppy-haired, iconoclast star forward with the third pick of the 2006 draft ahead of players like Rajon Rondo. Big mistake. Morrison lasted just four seasons in the league, although he did pick up two rings as a bench warmer for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Morrison has returned to Spokane and is now a student assistant at Gonzaga.
Camera don’t lie: Gonzaga coach Mark Few is short, especially compared to Adam Morrison, now a student assistant. pic.twitter.com/h049arX8mY
— Bernie Wilson (@berniewilson) March 20, 2014
Shawn Bradley (No. 2, 1993)
The 76ers traded Bradley to the Nets midway through his third season, after which he was a role player for the rest of his playing days.
Bradley is back in his home state of Utah, working as a cattle rancher while raising six children with his wife, Annette. In 2010, he ran a losing Republican campaign for the 44th District seat in the Utah House of Representatives.
— Meet the Mormons (@MeetTheMormons) October 11, 2014
Harold Miner (No. 12, 1992)
Arguably no player was more tormented by being the next Michael Jordan than “Baby Jordan.” Miner certainly had the hops befitting the heir to “His Airness,” winning both the 1993 and 1995 NBA Slam Dunk Contests. But chronic knee injuries forced him to walk away from the game at age 25.
For the next 15 years, he purposely stayed in anonymity while starting a family in Las Vegas with his wife, Pamela. It’s only been recently that Miner’s made peace with his career, even returning to his alma mater in November 2011 to watch the Trojans retire his No. 23.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 5, 2014
Sam Bowie (No. 2, 1984)
It’s often forgotten that Bowie was a 1985 First Team NBA All-Rookie performer with the Portland Trail Blazers and spent 11 seasons in the league. Rather, his basketball-playing legacy is largely defined by being the player drafted immediately before Michael Jordan.
After the conclusion of his playing career, Bowie returned to Lexington, KY, where locals still fondly recall his college days at Kentucky. He has forged a successful second career as an owner and trainer of race horses.
Darko Milicic (No. 2, 2003)
Infamously picked one spot behind LeBron James and ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, Milicic never averaged over 8.8 PPG in a season during his 12-year NBA career.
Milicic has since taken up a kickboxing career and made his debut in the sport on December 18, 2014 in Novi Sad, Serbia; he lost in the second round.
— Sportando (@sportando) December 16, 2014
Bryant Reeves (No. 6, 1995)
Known as “Big Country” from his playing days at Oklahoma State, Reeves lasted just six years in the NBA with the Vancouver Grizzlies due to chronic back pain.
He is now back in his hometown of Gans, OK, where he owns a cattle ranch. That’s about as “Big Country” as it gets.
Bryant Reeves pic.twitter.com/ND2U8TbrKV
— Pistols In Paradise® (@Road2ParadiseAZ) October 14, 2014
Michael Olowokandi (No. 1, 1998)
A largely disappointing first-round draft class in 1998 was best symbolized by the not-so-sweet career for “The Candy Man.” The 7-footer from the University of the Pacific became another link in a long chain of disappointments for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Now living in anonymity in Dallas, Olowokandi’s longest-lasting contribution to the NBA is perhaps his ex-fiancée, Suzie Ketcham, who has been a cast member of VH1’s “Basketball Wives” since its 2010 inception.
Greg Oden (No. 1, 2007)
A dominant, all-everything season at Ohio State had many thinking that Oden could be the next Bill Russell. Much to the horror of the Blazers and their fans, however, he was Sam Bowie 2.0.
Three separate season-ending knee injuries limited Oden to a total of 82 NBA games in his first five seasons. After a comeback attempt with the Miami Heat in the 2013-14 season in which he averaged just 2.9 PPG, it appears Oden’s basketball days are officially over.
Marcus Fizer (No. 4, 2000)
Though undersized by NBA power forward standards at 6-foot-8, Fizer put up decent numbers in his first three seasons (11.1 PPG and 5.1 RPG). Unfortunately, he never averaged more than 26 MPG in any of his four seasons in Chicago and injuries derailed his career.
Fizer then bounced around the NBA, D-League and multiple countries overseas. He’s since found peace as a born-again Christian and ordained minister in his native Louisiana.
Kwame Brown (No. 1, 2001)
After originally committing to Florida, Brown became the first high school player to be drafted No. 1 overall and was Michael Jordan’s first big blunder as an NBA executive. Brown did last in the NBA until 2013 but only averaged double figures in scoring once (2003-04) in that span.
Despite his lackluster career, Brown certainly isn’t slumming it in retirement. At the end of 2014, his home in Los Angeles was on the market for over $4 million.
— Neal J. Leitereg (@NJLeitereg) December 15, 2014
Ed O’Bannon (No. 9, 1995)
Hampered by balky knees, O’Bannon lasted just two seasons in the NBA — after which he embarked on a journeyman foreign career that took him to five different countries.
Now working at Findlay Toyota in Henderson, NV, O’Bannon’s greatest contribution to sports came off the court: He was the lead plaintiff in a landmark lawsuit against the NCAA over player likeness.
Sean May (No. 13, 2005)
Charlotte tabbed the home-state star as its first-round pick in 2005. What they couldn’t have foreseen, however, was the effect that injuries would have on May’s NBA career; he had micro fracture surgery on his right knee in October of 2007 and played in just a total of 119 NBA games.
Out of the NBA since 2010, May was playing in France as of the end of 2014.
Chris Washburn (No. 3, 1986)
Washburn failed three separate drug tests in three years, leading to a lifelong NBA ban in June of 1989. He struggled with cocaine addiction throughout the 1990s, only getting motivated to come clean after his father’s death in 2000.
Washburn is now back in his hometown of Hickory, NC, where he owns and operates an eponymous wings restaurant. His son, Julian, transferred from UTEP to TCU in 2014 to play basketball for the Horned Frogs.
Darius Miles (No. 3, 2000)
Originally headed to St. John’s, Miles ended up being just another wasted draft pick by the Los Angeles Clippers. Just when it appeared Miles was figuring out his game with the Portland Trail Blazers, microfracture surgery on his knee effectively crushed his NBA career.
Out of the league since 2009, Miles last made news in 2011 when he was arrested at Lambert–St. Louis International Airport with a loaded gun. Whoops.
— GrandPOOBear (@GrandPOOBear) December 3, 2014
Dajuan Wagner (No. 6, 2002)
Nationally known since he scored 100 points in a high school game, “injury-plagued” isn’t strong enough to describe Wagner’s NBA career.
Wagner last played in 2008 for Poland’s Prokom Trefl Sopot, after which he returned to his native Camden, NJ.
Trajan Langdon (No. 11, 1999)
Injuries and an inability to create his own shot limited the “Alaskan Assassin” to just three seasons with the Cavaliers.
Langdon’s best years were with Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow (2005–2011), with whom he captured two Euroleague championships. Retired as a player since the end of the 2011 season, Langdon makes his home in Arlington, VA, where he works as a San Antonio Spurs scout.
Stromile Swift (No. 2, 2000)
The player hailed as the next great LSU-produced big man fell very well short of expectations. Swift peaked in his second season with the Grizzlies, before a swift descent (pun intended) into obscurity that ended with a season-long stint in China, in 2009–2010.
Swift hit rock bottom when he plead guilty to charges of stalking a Shreveport woman in 2011, for which he received a suspended sentence of six months in jail.
Robert Traylor (No. 6, 1998)
“Tractor” Traylor never played a game for the team that drafted him, the Dallas Mavericks. He was sent to Milwaukee in exchange for Pat Garrity and a then-unknown German prospect named Dirk Nowitzki.
Sadly, Traylor died in May of 2011 of a heart attack at age 34 while playing in Puerto Rico.
Eddie Griffin (No. 7, 2001)
Known for his hot temper at Seton Hall, Griffin was selected by the nearby New Jersey Nets on his potential that was never realized during his time in the NBA.
Months after being released by the Timberwolves in 2007, Griffin tragically died at the age of 25 in Houston after driving his SUV into a moving train with more than three times the legal alcohol limit in his body.
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) June 20, 2014
Nikoloz Tskitishvili (No. 5, 2002)
Another European big man that fooled NBA executives into thinking he was the next Dirk Nowitzki, Tskitishvili averaged a measly 2.9 PPG over six NBA seasons.
After fizzling out in the league, Tskitishvili headed back to Europe. At the end of 2014, he was playing in Lebanon.
Nikoloz Tskitishvili wore a suit that actually fit, probably the worst possible way to prep for an NBA career pic.twitter.com/IWmtuevjwW
— adam figman (@afigman) June 26, 2014
Luke Jackson (No. 10, 2004)
Injuries limited Jackson to only 46 games in his two seasons with the Cavaliers. From 2006–2011, he bounced around the NBA, D-League and overseas before hanging it up.
Basketball is still Jackson’s life, however. The former Oregon Duck returned to Eugene, OR, as the men’s basketball coach at NAIA Northwest Christian University.
Jay Williams (No. 2, 2002)
The question “What if?” will always hang over Jay Williams after his career was destroyed due to a motorcycle accident in June of 2003 that ripped up his leg following his rookie year. He never played in an NBA game again.
Williams has found a second career as a college basketball analyst for ESPN.
— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) November 18, 2014
Shelden Williams (No. 5, 2006)
Williams became a journeyman in the NBA with stints for the Hawks, Kings, Timberwolves, Celtics, Nuggets, Knicks and Nets. At the end of 2014, Williams was playing in China.
Despite his lackluster NBA career, Williams has scored in one instance: He’s married to arguably the best women’s basketball player alive, Candace Parker.
Mike Sweetney (No. 9, 2003)
Sweetney was badly undersized to play power forward in the NBA. Compounding his struggles at the pro level was a losing battle to keep his weight down.
Returning to the game in 2009, Sweetney has since played in the D-League, China, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela. At the end of 2014, Sweetney was playing in Puerto Rico and working as a basketball trainer in the Washington, D.C, area.
Robert Swift (No. 12, 2004)
Drafted straight out of high school, Swift became better known for his assortment of tattoos than anything he did on the court, averaging just 4.3 PPG in four NBA seasons.
Last playing professionally in Japan in 2011, Swift made the news in October of 2014 when police seized drugs, guns and a grenade launcher from the Kirkland, WA, home he was living in.
Happy 29th to former Sonic/Thunder center Robert Swift. Hope you get… well… get it together, man. pic.twitter.com/rQE2oTZ0ke
— Triangle Offense (@Tri_Offense) December 3, 2014
LaRue Martin (No. 1, 1972)
The predecessor to Sam Bowie and Greg Oden in “Blazers Big Man Bust” lore, the Loyola star lasted just four seasons in the NBA and averaged a paltry 5.3 PPG.
Returning to Chicago, he’s worked in UPS’ corporate offices for decades — currently as the community services manager of the Illinois district.
Rafael Araújo (No. 8, 2004)
The 2004 Co-Mountain West Player of the Year at BYU never took to the NBA game, lasting just three seasons in the league.
He’s picked things up again since returning to his native Brazil in 2009, even making the internet rounds after shattering a backboard on a dunk in January of 2011.
Joe Alexander (No. 8, 2008)
As it turns out, “Workout Wonders” exist in the NBA draft as well. A freak in the weight room, Alexander averaged just 3.5 PPG as a rookie - commencing a career which so far has seen him bounce around the NBA, D-League and overseas.
At the end of 2014, Alexander was playing for the NBDL’s Santa Cruz Warriors.
Jonathan Bender (No. 5, 1999)
Originally headed to Mississippi State, Bender was a 6-foot-11 freak of nature drafted straight out of high school whose NBA career was ruined by constant knee injuries. He played in 60 games in a single season just once in his 8-year career.
In 2013, Bender’s business came out with the JB Intensive Trainer, a resistance-training device to strengthen knees. He lives in Houston.
— NBA.com (@NBAcom) November 15, 2014
Patrick O’Bryant (No. 9, 2006)
O’Bryant had the ignominy of being the first lottery pick ever sent down to the D-League, less than two months into his rookie season.
The former Bradley star was out of the league by 2010 and playing in Taiwan as of the end of 2014.
Dennis Hopson (No. 3, 1987)
Hopson never became the lethal NBA scorer he was supposed to be, spending five years in the league and another nine overseas (in five different countries).
He entered the college coaching ranks in 2007 as an assistant under former Villanova head coach Rollie Massamino at Northwood (FL) University. From 2009-14, Hopson was an assistant at Bowling Green.
Kent Benson (No. 1, 1977)
Benson forged a decent, 11-year NBA career, averaging 9.1 PPG and 5.7 PPG. But “solid yet unspectacular” is not what you want out the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
Since concluding his playing career in 1989 with a stint in Italy, Benson has returned to Bloomington, where he’s an independent representative for Lightyear Network Solutions, Weddell Communications and Timber Buyer.
Danny Ferry (No. 2, 1989)
Ferry did his part trying to avoid the fate that befell so many players drafted by the Clippers, spending his rookie season starring in Italy rather than toiling away in LA. Traded to Cleveland in 1989, Ferry averaged just 7.0 PPG in the pros compared to 22.6 as a senior in Durham.
After ending his playing career by winning an NBA championship with the Spurs in 2003, Ferry transitioned into life as a NBA front office executive. He is currently the Atlanta Hawks’ general manager.
Jon Koncak (No. 5, 1985)
The center from SMU did last over a decade in the NBA, which is an accomplishment in itself. But he never averaged double-digits in a single season and spent most of the time coming of the bench. Oh, and he was drafted ahead of Chris Mullin, Detlef Schrempf, Charles Oakley and Karl Malone.
Koncak now lives in Jackson Hole, WY, and is president of the oil & energy company, Hawks Rest LLC.
— Jonathan Roth (@Jro_Chicago) December 16, 2014
Pervis Ellison (No. 1, 1990)
When Ellison got to the NBA, “Never Nervous Pervis” became “Out of Service Pervis” — so nicknamed by Danny Ainge due to his constant struggles with injuries.
He’s now the boys’ basketball coach at Life Center Academy in Burlington, NJ.