Generally speaking, players bust for particular reasons. Sam Bowie would have been a terrific NBA center, but he kept getting hurt. Same, I believe, with Greg Oden. Tony Mandarich was a giant at Michigan State, but he also happened to be hopped up on steroids and artificially enhanced cow-horse membrane injections (or something of the sort). Pearl Washington was fat and lazy. Ryan Leaf was a headcase. JaMarcus Russell refused to study opposing defenses. Alexandre Daigle never showed a genuine love for hockey.
In Anthony Bennett, however, we have something fresh and unique.
Simply put, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft just isn’t very good.
It’s weird, right? How can a No. 1 pick not be very good? How can he lack talent, especially when he put up big numbers at UNLV and had scouts flocking to his workouts? How could so many people miss on a man being paid so much money?
Answer: I don’t know.
What I do know is, yesterday afternoon, Bennett cleared waivers, and will be singing with the Toronto Raptors for $947,276. The team will certainly say all the right things: Fresh start, terrific attitude, a Canadian kid coming home. Apparently Bennett played very well in recent action for his country’s national team, which isn’t a bad sign. But now, three years into his career, it’s pretty clear Bennett is little more than a marginal NBA player; a seventh … eighth … ninth man who may well wind up finishing his days in Europe or Spain or France.
Is he the biggest bust in NBA Draft history? No, but only because—compared to the spectacular ways past disappointments flamed out—Bennett’s mediocre demise is dull and uninteresting.
But is he the worst player ever to be picked first?
Yes. He is.