NBA Draft Busts and Booms (Part 2, 2012-2016)

This is Part 2 of our Boom or Bust rundown of every draft the last 10 years. You can find Part 1 right here.

Right. By this point I think we have established that picking 4 booms and 4 busts out of every draft lottery works out pretty well. We’ve also established that David Kahn sucks, but fear not, he would go on to never draft in the lottery ever again, so I won’t mention him… well, maybe little.

As we go ever closer to the current NBA Draft in these articles, it will be harder and harder to make out who the booms and the busts are, because we won’t have as many seasons to judge the drafted players on. This will culminate tomorrow in my predictions for who the booms and busts will be in the 2017 NBA Draft.

The last draft in Part 1 was the one where the Sacramento Kings picked a bust (Jimmer Fredette) over a boom (Klay Thompson) and believe me, that is a trend that is going to continue, starting with:

The 2012 NBA draft, where the Kings drafted Thomas Robinson over Damian Lillard. I guess with their PG of the future in Jimmer Fredette (lol) from the last draft, the Kings could afford to not pick Damian Lillard and rather go for Thomas Robinson. Lillard with the Portland Trail Blazers has gone on to be on the All-Rookie First team, the All-NBA Third Team, All-NBA Second Team and 2 All-Star teams, while Robinson has been bounced around to an equal amount of actual NBA teams, 6 in total. Bust.

Barring injuries, there was no doubt that Anthony Davis was gonna be a boom and a bonafide star. Injuries have hampered him so far in his career, but unlike Greg Oden, it hasn’t derailed him from living up to the massive pre-draft hype he got, once again as the best big man prospect since Shaquille O’Neal.

The poor Charlotte Bobcats went through a season with the worst winning percentage in NBA history in hopes of tanking to get Davis, a surefire boom, only to drop to #2 and pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is actually a decent NBA player, but still a bust considering how high he went. At least the Bobcats finally got Dwight Howard last night, which would be great if it was actually the 2011 Howard back when the team was actually called Bobcats and not Hornets.

Bradley Beal at #3 was a better pick, even though he — much like Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist — has struggled with injuries so far in his career. Unlike #2 pick MKG however, Beal’s shot isn’t completely broken, it’s one of the best in the entire league.

Funnily enough, leading up to the draft, there was a lot of talk about who was the better prospect at SG, Beal or Jeremy Lamb. Well, Lamb ended up being a bust after not living up to the hype when he got traded to OKC in the much talked about James Harden trade, while Beal, who the Wizards declined to trade to OKC along with a first round pick for Harden, ended up being a boom. OKC bet on both horses, but got the wrong one.


Oh boy. This might be the worst #1 draft pick of all time. Anthony Bennett, a clear bust. The 2013 draft is also known as one of the worst drafts of all time, especially when just focusing on the 14 lottery picks. Giannis Antetokounmpo was picked at #15 and is a future MVP, so the draft wasn’t all that bad on a whole, especially with Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert picked late in the first round as well. But we are talking about the lottery, where there are still some booms and busts to find.

CJ McCollum is probably the best player and biggest boom out of these lottery picks and of course he was there for the taking when the Sacramento Kings picked the bust Ben McLemore at #7.

The Phoenix Suns similarly made a poor decision when drafting a likely bust Alex Len, over Nerlens Noel who fell down all the way to #6 after he was expected to go #1 in the draft.

Otto Porter struggled initially in his career, but in a month he might be a max-contract player in the NBA. Rookie seasons don’t always count for much. He’s not a superstar or even a star, but he is a great 3&D glue guy, who fills in all the gaps for the Washington Wizards, just like I predicted when I did my first boom and bust predictions on RealGM.

While I was right on Noel, Porter and McCollum being boom candidates, I was wrong on Trey Burke, who instead has proven to be a bust. I also didn’t foresee Steven Adams being a solid pick at #12 for the Thunder either, giving them at least some value from the Harden deal.

I had a hard time picking between Adams and Oladipo for my 4th boom for this draft, but ultimately, being picked 10 spots later, makes Adams the more obvious boom candidate, even though I’d love to validate my pre-draft love of Oladipo. Comparing him to Kawhi Leonard looks laughable now, seeing how Oladipo has been slightly disappointing for me, while Kawhi has surprisingly become the 2nd best player in the league in my eyes. But hey… back to the draft lottery pick booms and busts.

While 2013 was seen as a weak draft, the 2014 draft was supposed to be anything but. Looking at the top 3 picks it was justified, as Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid have all had moments where their star potential has been apparent for everyone to see.

Much like this years draft however, the top 8 was supposed to be made out of future All-Stars, but as we have come to know now, looking through the past NBA drafts that rarely happens. Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart and Julius Randle are at least productive NBA players and all of them could reach another level in the future.

Dante Exum better reach another level, because so far, he has to be seen as a bust. The poor guy was set-back a lot by a knee injury that put him out of his sophomore 15/16 NBA season. As a rookie he played in all 82 games however, and it was hard to find reasons to justify the huge amount of pre-draft hype he got, as a contender for the #1 pick.

Noah Vonleh is the other clear bust out of the pre-draft top 8, even though he was picked at #9. Nik Stauskas jumped into the top 8 after Kings owner Vivek Ranadive fell in love with him… That spells out disaster, because the Kings have sucked at drafting and it turns out picking another SG after you had chosen Ben McLemore the year before doesn’t help anyone. Well, except for the 76ers who have gained an awful lot from that Stauskas selection, which probably deserves an article of it’s own. For the 76ers, “Nik Rocks!”

Now onto the 2015 Draft, which proved to be the downfall of Philadelphia 76ers GM and internet darling Sam Hinkie. The at the time much maligned GM was reportedly forced to pick Jahlil Okafor over the player he really wanted, Kristaps Porzingis. Okafor was seen as a sure thing, while Porzingis was a project and after years of picking players the Philly faithful had to wait for to blossom or even get healthy, Hinkie had to pick a guy who looked dominant in college and would be ready to play right away for once.

Unfortunately, Okafor struggled right away and is now looking like a bust, while Porzingis proved all of his doubters wrong, including the Knicks fans in the crowd that night who booed and showed their displeasure for the pick, with seemingly so many better candidates to choose from like Mario Hezonja or Emmanuel Mudiay.

Well, it turns out both Hezonja and Mudiay are likely busts as well, along with Stanley Johnson who was confusingly picked at #8 over the more highly valued Justise Winslow (Boston Celtics famously offered 4 1st round picks to Charlotte at #9 to get Winslow), who might prove to be a boom once he overcomes the injury issues that have plagued him early in his career.

The real value came late in the lottery, namely in Phoenix Suns selection Devin Booker and the soon to be best Indiana Pacer, Myles Turner. While it has only been 2 seasons, they both look like certified boom picks, right at the tail end of the lottery.

Karl-Anthony Towns ended up being a no-brainer at #1 and he has even exceeded the pre-draft hype. When the Timberewolves first got the #1 selection, they were considering Okafor, but with David Kahn finally fired the year before, the Timberwolves picked another boom after acquiring Zach LaVine and trading for Andrew Wiggins the year before.

Now this is where it gets controversial… This is even harder to figure out than the 2017 Draft.

These players have only played their rookie season so far, and considering that none of the finalists for this years Rookie of The Year award got drafted in the lottery, it’s even harder to gauge who will end up as busts and who will become boom picks.

Take Brandon Ingram for example. I like his talent and I was close to pegging him down as a boom, but after re-considering his talent and with recent events in mind, it made me change my mind. Ingram actually closed out the season pretty well, started to shoot a bit better and has looked capable on defence with his long and slight frame, but just like his now former teammate D’Angelo Russell, I don’t think he is in a place to succeed.

With rumblings of Paul George and LeBron James playing for the Lakers in a year, it’s hard to see Ingram get the playing time and experience he needs to fulfill his potential. He has a lot to improve upon, including filling out his body, and working on his shot. It’s especially his shooting that worries me. Ingram was compared to Kevin Durant, but while Durant is one of the greatest shooters of all time and shot 87% from the FT line in his rookie year, Ingram shot 62% from the line, to go along with 29% from the NBA 3.

Marquese Chriss also showed signs of being a boom contender in his rookie year, but I’m sticking to my pre-draft hunch of him being a bust. While he is a potential dream PF of the future who is athletic, can stretch the floor and block shots, something about him rubs me the wrong way and I just don’t think he has it in him to realize his true potential.

Maybe it was the lack of character he showed in college, much like his fellow Washington alum Markelle Fultz got criticism for or it might be because he has shown a lack of BBIQ which got him dubbed the worst starter in the NBA by gambling aficionado Haralabos Voulagaris in tweets that have later been deleted. He might be regretting how he doubted Chriss, just like I might have to do in the future.

Another reason why I think Chriss might bust, is that I still think his teammate and fellow 2016 NBA lottery draftee Dragan Bender will be a boom. He is even more of a project, but his length coupled with good foot speed and potentially dangerous shooting and passing skills makes him very intriguing in my eyes. They might both end up busting or they might both end up booming, or I may be totally wrong on both and Chriss ends up being the much better player. It truly is a crapshoot and coincidences often end up deciding draft outcomes.

Which is what seemed to have happened with Buddy Hield, another personal favorite of mine who I have pegged as a boom. He benefited greatly from going to the Kings in the DeMarcus Cousins trade and saw his numbers sky-rocket at the end of the season. After the disappointment of Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas, third time might be the charm for the Kings on the SG position and all they had to do was not drafting the prospect this time.

I was sold on Ben Simmons before the draft and everything I’ve heard afterwards has sold me even more. Now that he is going to be coupled with Markelle Fultz in this draft, I’m even more certain that Simmons will be a star in this league. I was also sold on Kris Dunn and while many others would label him a bust after a lackluster rookie season, I still see something in him that I think at the very least makes him a starter in this league. It might just be homerism as a Timberwolves fan, but he has shown flashes of being a great talent still. Jakob Poeltl and Denzel Valentine however, had poor rookie seasons and I thought both of those players would be quite NBA ready, they might never be.

That’s it for the draft lottery retrospective rundown. The 2016 Draft section can almost be seen as a preview for tomorrow’s boom or bust prediction for the 2017 lottery picks, as I am more uncertain about the 2016 rookies after seeing them play, than I am of the 2017 draftees even before they step on a NBA floor. 4 booms and 4 busts from the 2017 Draft, coming up tomorrow.

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