Considering the overwhelming lack of parity in the NBA, team executives suffer an immense amount of pressure to draft well, which is no small task, because the NBA Draft may very well have the smallest margin of error of any draft in professional sports. With only two rounds to work with, as opposed to seven in the NFL and NHL, or an ungodly 40 in the MLB, and basically any pick outside the top three rounds being considered a gamble or a long term project, building a great team through the draft is an almost Herculean undertaking, especially when a team’s front office is incompetent (*Cough* Sacramento *Cough*). That’s not to say it’s impossible, though. The Golden State Warriors acquired their championship winning core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green in the draft, and the Oklahoma City Thunder drafted Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden in back-to-back-to-back drafts (Which famously turned out SUPER WELL!).
For every out of left field draft steal, like Jimmy Butler (30th overall), Nikola Jokic (41st overall), and Isaiah Thomas (60th overall), there are a dozen players who were supposed to be franchise-saving stars that never lived up to the lofty aspirations their teams had for them. Without further ado, this list is dedicated to the most infamous first round busts playing in the NBA today. While they may not be all bad and they’re all still in the league, in one capacity or another, they definitely fell short of their draft stocks or, in some cases, the promise they showed early in their careers. Also, a quick note: as bad as players like Andrea Bargnani and Adam Morrison were, they’re no longer in the NBA, so they don’t qualify for this list. RULES!
The first few entries on this list are dedicated to young players that have so far been busts, but theoretically have a chance of turn their careers around. First up is Mario Hezonja, a.k.a. Super Mario, a.k.a. The Beast. Drafted 5th overall in 2015 by the Orlando Magic, ahead of Frank Kaminsky, Myles Turner, and Devin Booker, Hezonja was supposed to be a once in a lifetime player, a dazzling, versatile, aggressively European wunderkind. Instead, he’s been immensely disappointing, averaging only 5.5 points on a dreadful 40.1% shooting, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 142 games. To be fair, he’s only played 16.3 minutes per game, but his production in that limited time doesn’t inspire much optimism, especially this season, as he’s declined in almost every major statistical category.