NBA Draft 2013: Projected Lottery Picks with Highest Bust Potential

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIJune 21, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09:  Alex Len #25 (R) of Maryland runs back up court past Archie Goodwin #10 of the Kentucky Wildcats during the Barclays Center Classic at the Barclays Center on November 9, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images)
Jason Szenes/Getty Images

The term bust is thrown around freely as it pertains to past and future NBA draft selections, but what makes a prospect a bust?

A player with high expectations based on talent or draft position who fails to produce near the standards set for him is a bust.

The lack of production isn't always the player's fault, however. There are circumstances beyond a player's control that can adversely affect them.

Some prospects fail because of injury; some fall short due to a lack of professionalism or preparedness. Some even disappoint because they never find their niche in a rotation or fall out of favor with a coach.

No matter the reason, a lack of production from a high draft pick makes that prospect a bust.

Fans and general managers must be careful not to label a player a bust too soon. In the NBA, many players are drafted based on potential. There is an understanding with younger, more raw prospects that it will take two-to-three years to see them reach their potential

At some point though, a player gets to a point where they have hit their ceiling. If that ceiling is too low, welcome to Bust City.

Here is a short list of players projected to be selected in the 2013 NBA draft lottery who have the highest bust potential.


Steven Adams, Center, Pittsburgh

Why He'll Be a Lottery Pick

Adams is a hard-working, athletic seven-footer with tremendous upside because of the aforementioned qualities.

The belief that big men see their stocks climb the closer we get to the draft is true; Adams will be a prime example of this. has him slated to go 10th in their most recent mock draft to the Portland Trail Blazers.


Why He Could Be a Bust

As athletic and hard working as the 19-year-old from New Zealand is, his basketball IQ is perhaps the lowest of any player in the first round. He's only played organized basketball for six years.

The learning curve was quite steep for him as a freshman at Pittsburgh, hence his less-than stellar numbers: 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

One can only imagine it'll take Adams some time to find himself in the NBA.

Will teams have the patience to wait on him to develop before shuffling him to a different city based on his potential?

He's a likable kid with great work ethic who is easy to root for. But it is hard not to recognize the bust potential.


Alex Len, Center, Maryland

Why He'll Be a Lottery Pick

Len is not only a shoo-in as a lottery pick, a recent report from Sheridan Hoops' Joe Kotoch indicates that the Cleveland Cavaliers are leaning towards taking the former Terrapins' big man with the draft's top selection.

He has legit size at 7'1" with above-average athleticism for the position.

He's also displayed a little bit of a shooting touch out to 17 feet. With that combination of size and skill potential, it is easy to see why he'd be highly regarded.


Why He Could Be a Bust

Despite the fact that Len couldn't work out for NBA teams due to an ankle injury, per Robert Anderson of the Associated Press, Len showed the tendency to disappear in games on the collegiate level.

He had a season-high 23 points in the opener against Nerlens Noel and Kentucky, but Len only managed 20 points one other time for the rest of the season. In addition to that, he had 10 games where he had single-figure points and rebounds.

While he has potential, a big man with a foot or ankle injury this early in his career is a risky pick in the lottery. When you consider the fact that he wasn't dominant in college and could potentially be the top selection, it is hard to imagine him ever living up to the expectations of a No. 1 pick.


Nerlens Noel, Center/Power Forward, Kentucky

Why He'll Be a Lottery Pick

Noel has already proven he can be a defensive force and prolific rebounder. In 24 games as a freshman he averaged 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocked shots and 2.1 steals per game.

Excellence in those categories in college usually translates to the pro level. If Noel is healthy in the NBA, he will at least make his mark as an elite defender.


Why He Could Be a Bust

The major concern for Noel is his health. A torn ACL isn't the death wish it once was, but as I mentioned in the Len section, big men with leg, foot or ankle issues are scary for teams.

Teams will see visions of Greg Oden and Sam Bowie when they consider tabbing Noel, but because of his proven skill set and upside, they will take the risk. As unfair as it may seem, Noel's bust potential is solely tied to his health.


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