NBA Draft 2013: First-Round Picks with Highest Bust Potential

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2013

May 16, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Shabazz Muhammad is interviewed during the NBA Draft combine at Harrison Street Athletics Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NBA draft is less than a week away (Thursday, June 27), and with so many expectations put on the shoulders of the prospects expected to go in the first round, there are inevitably going to be players that don’t live up to the hype.

Those players are called busts and every team wants to avoid them.

There are several first-round picks that will fail to blossom into solid NBA players, and all of the following players have the highest bust potential in the 2013 draft class.


Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA

The upside for Shabazz Muhammad was shown at times during his freshman season at UCLA, but while he is a strong player that can take the ball to the rim with ease, there are some serious flaws in his game that must be addressed before he can attempt to dominate the NBA.

While Muhammad is listed as a small forward, he is undersized for the position (6’6”, 222 lbs) and would be better suited with his skill set to play a tweener role, moving from the 2 to the 3 when going with a bigger or smaller lineup.

The biggest flaw for Muhammad is his one-dimensional attack as a player. With the inability to create clean shots on a consistent basis off the dribble, the prospect reverts back to school-yard basketball and drives the lane.

For Muhammad to avoid being a bust in the NBA, he must work on finding a consistent tempo for his offensive game, work on his shot selection and develop a dangerous mid-range game or risk becoming just a role player.


Cody Zeller, C, Indiana

There is no denying how much talent Indiana center Cody Zeller showed in college, but when he takes the next step to the NBA, he will have to bulk up fast or risk being bullied by the bigger and stronger low post players in the big league.

Even at times during his college career, the seven-foot tall Zeller was manhandled by smaller centers and power forwards at both ends of the floor. While the Indiana prospect is athletic for a big man, he needs to get stronger and more tenacious around the rim.

The team that drafts Zeller will expect a player that rebounds, blocks shots and can add offensively around the rim. If the center doesn’t add considerable strength during the offseason, he won’t have a chance against the NBA-level competition.


Mason Plumlee, C, Duke

While Duke’s history of producing NBA talent isn’t great, the issues that center Mason Plumlee will deal with at the next level have nothing to do with where the big man played his college basketball.

Plumlee will not struggle at the next level because of a lack of effort—he's one of the hardest working and most athletic centers in this class—but because of his lack of physicality around the basket and his inability to add in the offensive end.

The Duke big man was an adequate rebounder and shot-blocker in college, but at 7'0", he should have dominated those categories against the smaller players in the ACC. In the NBA, Plumlee will be dominated in the low post and picked apart by stronger centers and power forwards.

Add in the fact that Duke didn't include the prospect in many of its offensive sets, and Plumlee has a very high bust potential.