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Eight Common Profiles of a Bust
by: David Mosley - Staff Writer
April 30, 2004
1. The Overrated College Star - He repeatedly carried his team to the NCAA tournament, he was selected to All-Conference and All-American teams, and he can't dribble with his left hand. WHAT? In every draft, there are a few college all-stars with all the accolades and awards who just can't make the transition from great college player to great NBA player. What is the problem here? Maybe it was the program and the amazing surrounding talent that enabled an average player to look much better than he really was. How many Duke players have we seen in recent years who were unbelievable in college but just average in the pros? Some players are just great college players and that's it. However, every June some general manager will cave into the pressure of drafting one of these guys based purely off of their college careers and not off of pure talent.
Recent Examples: Mateen Cleaves 14th pick in 2000, Trajan Langdon 11th pick in 1999, Ed O'Bannon 9th pick in 1995, Calbert Cheaney 6th pick in 1993, Mark Macon 8th pick in 1991
Possible fits in 2004: Jameer Nelson, Josh Childress, Luke Jackson

2. The Tweener - Whether it's the combo guard, the diminutive shooting guard, the slow small forward or the undersized power forwards and centers, the Tweeners can often cause NBA general managers headaches of enormous proportions. There is nothing like watching a 6'2 college shooting guard jack up 7 shots in 6 minutes while playing backup point guard, or watching a 6'6 college power forward get continuously dusted by a mediocre NBA small forward. The Tweener usually starts out as a lottery pick because he has been using his Charles Barkley height (add 2 inches) all through college. Once the scouts find out the Tweener's true height though, his stock can drop faster than Paris Hilton's underwear. That is until one naive team is convinced they can mold him into a different position. D'oh! That's when we have the makings of a bust. The only successful Tweeners are the ones who were allowed to play their natural positions, such as Allen Iverson, Charles Barkey, and Larry Johnson.
Recent Examples: Kirk Haston 16th pick in 2001, Keyon Dooling 10th pick in 2000, Shawn Respert 8th pick in 1995, Khalid Reeves 12th pick in 1994
Possible fits in 2004: Ben Gordon, Devin Harris, Kris Humphries

3. The Stiff - The Stiff is the butt of everyone's favorite jokes the big 7-foot stiffs. Every team has one on the end of the bench. They are usually nothing more than overpaid practice dummies with a goofy smile and a bad haircut. Fans always ask: what idiot wasted a lottery pick on that stiff on the bench? We all know that teams are always looking for a center. You can't teach heightright? Well, maybe so, but you can teach general managers to stop wasting good picks on fouls for Shaq. Stop the madness. Enough already!
Recent Examples: Chris Mihm 7th pick in 2000, Joel Przybilla 8th pick in 2000, Alek Redojevic 12th pick in 1999, Vitaly Potapenko 12th pick in 1996, Todd Fuller 12th pick in 1996
Possible fits in 2004: Pavel Podkolzine, Kosta Perovic, Andrew Bogut

4. The I Told You You're Not Ready Kids – Unfortunately, more and more young kids are being pushed into the NBA by greedy agents, greedy family members and/or dumb friends. Sometimes these kids are ready to make the jump, but often, they are not. Many of these kids often take 4 or 5 years before they start to produce in the NBA. The problem is that not all teams are willing to wait that long, and these kids end up getting traded from team to team, destroying their fragile egos. In some of the least favorable cases, kids are outright waived and must then rely on the cutthroat world of minor league ball to get back to the NBA. These players are now the toughest players for teams to evaluate because it's nearly impossible to project how a kid will react to the rigors of the NBA. Many times, these players can't even qualify as busts because by draft day, their stock has dropped so low that they end up getting drafted in the 2nd round, like Omar Cook, James Lang, Ousmane Cisse or even worse, undrafted like DeAngelo Collins.
Recent Examples: Sagana Diop 8th pick in 2001, Rodney White 9th pick in 2001, Jonathan Bender 5th pick in 2001, Leon Smith 29th pick in 1999
Possible fits in 2004: Sebastian Telfair, Ivan Chiriaev, JR Smith

5. The Workout Warriors - These are the guys that nobody pegged as a lottery pick or even a 1st rounder in April, but by June, they have miraculously worked their way up every team's draft board. It all starts with a good showing at one of the pre-draft workouts, followed by amazing individual workouts, highlighted by fast 40 yard dash times, unreal vertical leaps, and an amazing game of H-O-R-S-E versus the team's assistant coaching staff. Unfortunately, everyone overlooked actual game tape of the player or the fact that he hasn't averaged double digits since high school. Nope, all that matters is the fact that he dunked a ball 42 times in row or he dribbled through cones like a globetrotter. Of course, once the season starts, reality sets in and we all realize we've been duped.
Recent Examples: Kedrick Brown 11th pick in 2001, Steven Hunter 15th pick in 2001, Antonio Daniels 4th pick in 1997.
Possible fits in 2004: I'll let you know in June.

6. The Athlete - He's got a body that would make the Rock jealous, he can dunk over a refrigerator, and he outran a zebra on Man vs. Beast 6. Now, if we could only teach him to shoot and dribble The Athlete is always drafted on his potential and not on actual basketball talent. Usually, his scouting report reads, Great defender, quick feet, unbelievable first step, amazing leaping ability, needs to work on ball handling and shooting, low basketball IQ. I don't know about you, but I'll take smart guys who can shoot and dribble over the Athlete any day.
Recent Examples: Stromile Swift 2nd pick in 2000, Jerome Moiso 11th pick in 2000, Donnell Harvey 22nd in 2000, Corey Benjamin 28th pick in 1999, Tariq Abdul Wahad 11th pick in 1997
Possible fits in 2004: Josh Smith, JR Smith

7. The Knucklehead - The Knucklehead is the most frustrating of all the busts. They have the talent that makes scouts drool - the vertical, the jumper, the handles - but they also have more baggage than Bobby Brown. Sometimes it's a drug problem, sometimes it's the crowd they run with, sometimes it's selling stolen cell phones out of the truck of their car, and sometimes it's nothing more than pure laziness. Whatever the reason, it's enough to send a sane general manager to the top floor of the crazy ward.
Recent Examples: Eddie Griffin 7th pick in 2001, Joe Forte 21st pick in 2001, William Avery 14th pick in 1999, Tim Thomas 7th pick in 1997, and last but not least, Mr. Cell phone Isiah Rider 5th pick in 1993
Possible fits in 2004: Ivan Chiriaev, David Harrison

8. The Clones - Every time a revolutionary player comes along, general managers spend years trying to find the next so and so. Teams wasted pick after pick in the 80's and 90's looking for the next Michael Jordan. Every point guard over 6'6 is going to be the next Magic Johnson, every center over 300 pounds is nicknamed Baby Shaq, and now any 7-foot European player who has ever made a 3-pointer is the next Dirk Nowitzki. Over the next few years, you will see teams scouring Asia looking for the next Yao Ming and you will hear the phrase the next LeBron more times than you care to count. Of course, along the way, teams will find great players, but too often, they will discover that you can't duplicate revolutionary players.
Recent Examples: Countless European players from the last few drafts, Harold Miner (the next Jordan) 12th pick in 1992, George McCloud (the next Magic) 7th pick in 1989, Randy White (the next Karl Malone) 8th pick in 1989
Possible fits in 2004: Ha-Seung Jin, Tiago Splitter
 


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