The NBA has its fair share of players who were hyped too much even if they haven’t logged in a minute of regular season floor time and there are also some players who started their careers with a bang but regressed badly after a few years in the league.
We can’t generally call them a bust as that word is a bit harsh. To put it mildly, they were not worth the money given to them after a promising start to their young careers.
We gather the top 10 list of players who were either hyped up too much due to a strong start in their career and we’ll also look at players who were contributing significantly in the league but fell from grace because of injuries and lack of improvement.
Once regarded as the next LeBron James, the 26-year-old has struggled with a myriad of injuries during the past couple of seasons in his career. Simmons was an instant hit with the Sixers, even becoming an All-Star in just his second year and a couple more times after.
But after his abysmal performance against the Atlanta Hawks during the 2021 playoffs, everything went south from there on. He sat the entire 2021-2022 season, claiming that he had a back injury. He was traded to the Brooklyn Nets and there was hope that he’ll regain his all-star form, but his style of play never returned. Although he’s just 26, there is little faith among teams that he’ll regain his previous dominance. Don’t be surprised if he’ll be out of the league before 30.
Ball struggled immensely during his first couple of years in the league but found his stride when he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans.
After his stint with the Pelicans, he was a prized signing for the Chicago Bulls in 2021. During the start of the year, there were talks about him making an all-star team but sadly, injuries got in the way. He hasn’t played for over a season and a half and is expected to miss the upcoming season as well. The Bulls are projecting that he will have a premature end to his career due to a suspicious injury.
Oladipo blossomed into an all-star during his time with Indiana but like the ones who were above him in this list, a plethora of devastating injuries got in the way. While he has shown some glimpses of his fine play after the injuries, he never regained his all-star form consistently ever again.
Already at 30 years old with an extensive knee injury history, there is little to no hope for Oladipo. He could still carve out a role as a veteran mentor for younger players, but venturing towards a music career when it’s all said and done wouldn’t be a bad idea for him either.
Griffin was the reason for the Clippers’ emergence as a contender in the early 2010s. Who could forget all his ridiculous highlight dunks early in his career? But as we’ve all learned right now, too much athleticism won’t do you wonder the longer you stay in the league.
While he had a renaissance season in Detroit in 2019, everything went downhill from there. Dunking was once his main draw, but he could barely do it due to bad knees and injuries. He now spends most of his time at the end of the bench for the Celtics, mentoring young players while sporting a weird mustache. It may be time for Blake to venture into stand-up comedy as he’s got potential there.
Rubio was once considered as the second coming of Pistol Pete and there was promise during the start of his career but unfortunately, he fell into the injury bug. While he came back and improved his shooting numbers as a journeyman veteran, he is already on the wrong side of his 30s and it might be time for him to head back to Europe where they don’t do an 82-game grind every season.
He could still contribute, but it might be time to let his body rest and avoid the endless pounding of an NBA season.
It came as a shock for every NBA fan that Exum will be playing in the league again after a two-year absence. He was often injured in the NBA and never lived up to his potential. A couple of seasons in Europe was his ticket to a roster spot with the Mavericks but everybody is still skeptical of the recent signing.
The Australian native is still young at 27, but his previous tenure in the league was entirely forgetful. If he wasn’t a former lottery pick, he would never have gotten this chance again.
Green is the perfect example that previous accolades will get you far in the league even if you have nothing left in the tank. Sure, he was great in San Antonio and for the Toronto Raptors, but he won’t give you twenty any given night.
Plus, at 35 years old, it’s baffling that teams are still willing to give him a roster spot when he’s clearly a liability on the court in today’s game. He is closer to Haslem than Dillon Brooks in terms of career trajectory.
There was a time when Rivers was a highly anticipated prospect and everybody expected him to carve out a HOF-worthy career when it’s all said and done.
Well, it’s been 10 years and it feels like his career never took off since he left Duke. While he has carved out a nice career as a 7th man off the bench for all the teams he has played with, it’s hard to watch a once-promising prospect falter badly in the pros.
Where do we begin? Ntilikina showed promise early in his career, especially on the defensive end. Still, it’s baffling that he couldn’t develop a consistent jump shot with all the available resources nowadays for each team he has played.
Still relatively young at 24, he could still develop as a Shaun Livingston type of player but a string of DNPs in recent years really doused the flame on his game. Ntilikina’s game is best suited for Europe, not in the NBA.
This will come out as a surprise, but to put it mildly, his play is deemed overrated by most pundits of the game. While he brings value to contenders he has played for, Tucker is not worthy of the significant minutes he plays every single night.
He is a below-average scorer, and rebounder but a somewhat decent defender. But already at 37, he is a massive liability on offense. Teams could just offer a vacant roster spot to somebody younger who can also do the same nightly intangibles as Tucker. He could realistically earn money in the sneaker business when he decides to hang up those rare Air Jordans.
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