Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving Irving, Karl-Anthony Towns, Luke Doncic are all superstars in the NBA and all were drafted in the top 5 over the last decade.
This list includes 12 players who are not only not superstars, but are currently no type of stars. Most of these guys have exhausted their potential and are simply role players or out of the NBA for good. The list includes players drafted in the top 5 since 2010.
Jahlil Okafor (2015 #3 to 76ers) – Okafor has ultimately had a nice career and is still going. But he’s worth noting because Karl Anthony-Towns (1), D’angelo Russell (2) and Kristaps Porzingis (4) have all made previous All Star teams and have all been paid the max.
Kris Dunn (2016 #5 to Wolves) – Many people were surprised when the Celtics passed on Dunn to draft Jaylen Brown third. Dunn spent one year in Minnesota before being traded to Chicago as part of the package for Jimmy Butler. Dunn is a point guard that averages just 4.2 assists per game over his career. He hasn’t played more than 52 games since his 2016-17 rookie season.
10. Markelle Fultz (2017 #1 to 76ers)
Career stats: 12.1 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.4 rpg
97 games (33 with 76ers, 64 with Magic), 74 starts (15 with 76ers, 59 with Magic)
Immediately, a caveat is needed here that Fultz still has a ton of potential and could legitimately still be a future All Star. But his spot on this list is warranted given that he was the #1 pick, in a draft that included 3 All Stars in the lottery (Jayson Tatum #3, Donovan Mitchell #13, Bam Adebayo #14).
What hurts even more was the #1 pick belonged to the Celtics (via Nets) and Philly opted to move up from 3 to 1 to get Fultz. The move cost them the #14 pick in 2019 (Romeo Langford).
In one and a half seasons in Philly, Fultz played just 33 games, including 14 as a rookie. He was traded last spring to the Magic for Jonathan Simmons and draft picks. He did not play in Orlando last season, but in 2019-20 has averaged just over 12 ppg and has seen his shooting percentage rise from 41.4% to 47.3%.
9. Dante Exum (2014 #5 to Jazz)
Career stats: 5.7 ppg, 2.1 apg
239 games (215 with Jazz, 24 with Cavs), 69 starts (68 with Jazz, 1 with Cavs)
2.1 assists per game is an awfully low number for a guy drafted #5 as a point guard. Exum never lived up to the hype with the Jazz and injuries played a role. After playing 82 games as a rookie, Exum played 66, 14, 42 in the three years that followed and has played 35 this season for both the Jazz and Cavs.
What’s troubling about this pick is that immediately after Exum, the Celtics drafted Marcus Smart. Smart, also a combo point guard/shooting guard, is one of the best defenders in the NBA.
8. Jabari Parker (2014 #2 to Bucks)
Career stats: 15 ppg, 5.8 rpg
280 games (183 with Bucks, 39 with Bulls, 32 with Hawks, 25 with Wizards, 1 with Kings), 190 starts (150 with Bucks, 17 with Bulls, 23 with Wizards),
Picked second overall in 2014 by the Bucks, Parker is not a bad player but has had a rough career. He spent 4 seasons in Milwaukee playing 25, 76, 51, 31 games, respectively. Injuries completely derailed, what could have been a career with multiple All Star appearances.
Now, he seems poised to never be more than a complimentary role player (which is fine! but not fine for a #2 pick). Since becoming a free agent after the 2018 season, Parker has played for the Bulls, Wizards, Hawks, and now Kings.
7. Alex Len (2013 #5 to Suns)
Career stats: 8.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.0 bpg
461 games (335 with Suns, 117 with Hawks, 9 with Kings), 180 starts (140 with Suns, 40 with Hawks)
If nothing else, Len was reliable. In 6 seasons, he has exceed 70 games three times and played 69 games twice and has played an average of just under 20 minutes per game.
From 2013-2018, Len made just 6 three pointers, before hitting 74 (out of 204) last season. Give him credit, he is trying and understands what he needs to do to develop and grow his game.
6. Mario Hezonja (2015 #5 to Magic)
Career stats: 7.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg
324 games (219 with Magic, 58 with Knicks, 47 with Blazers), 69 starts (41 with Magic, 24 with Knicks, 4 with Blazers)
In three years in Orlando the Magic won 35, 29, 25 games. In one year with the Knicks, they won an NBA-low (and franchise worst) 17 games. In 2019-20, the Blazers are outside the top 8 after making the playoffs 6 straight years.
Of course, most of this isn’t Hezonja’s fault. Can’t blame him for the Magic’s struggles or the Knicks or Blazers. But you can blame him for never reaching his full potential. A fifth overall pick should be talented enough to elevate a team and make the guys around him better. Every team he’s been on has been worse. Again, pure coincidence, but still interesting.
To make matters worse, 3 of the top 4 players have been All Stars (Karl-Anthony Towns, D’angelo Russell, Kristaps Porzingis. So the Magic got stuck with the leftover. Later in the lottery, Justice Winslow, Myles Turner, and Devin Booker were all drafted. Just a real unfortunate draw for the Magic.
5. Derrick Williams (2011 #2 to Timberwolves)
Career stats: 8.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg
428 games (155 with Wolves, 141 with Kings, 80 with Knicks, 25 with Cavs, 25 with Heat, 2 with Lakers), 112 starts (71 with Wolves, 21 with Kings, 9 with Knicks, 11 with Heat)
Williams hasn’t played in the NBA since March 2018, when he played 2 games on a 10-day contract with the Lakers.
This was a really good draft, which makes this pick hurt. The rest of the top 5 included Kyrie Irving (1), Enes Kanter (3), Tristan Thompson (4), and Jonas Valančiūnas (5). Plus, guards Kemba Walker (9) and Klay Thompson (11) were drafted near the end of the lottery and Kawhi Leonard was picked #15.
4. Thomas Robinson (2012 #5 to Kings)
Career stats: 4.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg
313 games (51 with Kings, 102 with Blazers, 71 with Nets, 48 with Lakers, 22 with 76ers, 19 with Rockets), 12 starts (7 with Nets, 4 with Blazers, 1 with Lakers)
I debated between Robinson and Williams for #4, but the truth is Williams did have some positive moments with the Wolves. Robinson had none with the Kings, lasting just 51 games before being traded halfway through his rookie season. Robinson averaged 4.8 ppg and 4.7 rpg during his short stay in Sacramento.
During his final season at Kansas, where he was a consensus First team All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year, T-Rob averaged 17.7 ppg and 11.9 rpg.
To show how little the Kings valued him, he was a throw-in in a 6 player trade in February 2013. Kings received Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas, and Cole Aldrich, while the Rockets got Robinson, Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt. Robinson played just 19 games in Houston, before being dealt to Portland for Kostas Papanikolaou and Marko Todorović. He did last two seasons in Portland before being traded to the Nuggets for Aaron Afflalo. He never played a game in Denver and was waived immediately.
Philly signed him and he played 22 games there, actually averaging career-highs of 8.8 ppg and 7.7 rpg in 18 mpg.
3. Dragan Bender (2016 #4 to Suns)
Career stats: 5.4 ppg , 3.9 rpg
187 games (171 with Suns, 9 with Warriors, 7 with Bucks), 67 starts (64 with Suns, 3 with Warriors)
Bender was labeled as the best international prospect in the 2016 draft. In 2020, he’s probably pretty close to going back to being an international player.
The top two picks were both All Stars in 2020 – Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram. Jaylen Brown is a rising star and the picks right after Bender were Buddy Heild at 6 and Jamal Murray at 7.
Bender spent three years with the Suns, after they declined the option on his contract sending him to free agency.
2. Josh Jackson (2017 #4 to Suns)
Career stats: 12.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.9 apg
174 games (156 with Suns, 18 with Grizzlies), 64 starts (all with Suns)
Jackson is the third different Suns player to make this list. Hard to believe they have the second longest playoff appearance drought in the NBA at 10 years.
Many teams reportedly coveted Jackson in 2017 and wanted to move up to draft him. It was considered a blessing that Jackson fell to the Suns at 4, after a pair of point guards (Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball) and Jayson Tatum went top three.
Among the players picked after Jackson are Jonathan Isaac (6) and Lauri Markkanen (7) and later in the lottery, 2020 All Stars Donovan Mitchell (13) and Bam Adebayo (14).
1. Anthony Bennett (2013 #1 to Cavs)
Career stats: 4.4 ppg (39% FG, 26% 3PFG), 3.1 rpg
151 games (57 with Wolves, 52 Cavs, 23 Nets, 19 Raptors) and 4 career starts
Any list about draft busts or disappointments will forever begin with Anthony Bennett. Cleveland shockingly drafted Bennett #1, with options like Victor Oladipo and Nerlens Noel notably in the mix.
If not for a gruesome leg injury suffered towards the end of his lone college season, Noel likely would have gone first. Oladipo would have been a stronger option if the Cavs hadn’t drafted Kyrie Irving two years prior and Dion Waiters the year before.
The only notable highlight of his career was being part of the trade that sent Kevin Love to the Cavs, helping them winning their first NBA title in 2016. Bennett played just 52 games as a rookie in 2013-14, making zero real contribution.
To make matters worse, Bennett hasn’t played an NBA game since early January 2017 and it’s highly unlikely he ever will again. Meanwhile, the best player from that draft is Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is seeking his second consecutive MVP award in 2020.