Scouting reports aren’t always accurate, that’s something we all know and that won’t come as a surprise. More often than not, scouts and General Managers tend to overhype players, while agents do whatever they can to make the most cash out of his clients.
As a matter of fact, trusting their gut and instincts has paid off quite better for GMs at times than actual scouting reports, that really look into projections but tend to overlook intangibles and other stuff that could make players thrive in this league.
So, over the course of history, some players have been major busts after being quite overhyped in scouting reports, while others end up proving scouts wrong by dominating since day one. Today, I will talk about some of the worst scouting reports ever. I will not rank them, because it is very difficult to rank that kind of mistakes.
According to scouts, Emmanuel Mudiay was supposed to be a “true pass-first point guard” that could excel in the pick and roll and “see the entire court” and an “unselfish player that gets his teammates involved. In reality, Mudiay averages roughly 5.9 assists per 36 mins. Also, he was supposed to be “a great finisher at the rim”, yet he’s a career 38% shooter.
Coming out of UCLA, scouts thought Westbrook “may or may not prove to be worthy of a starting spot at either backcourt spot”. Also, he wasn’t worthy of being the 4th overall pick because he wasn’t a “solid playmaker” to be a point guard, nor a “good scorer” to be a shooting guard. Up to this day, he’s a 2-time Scoring Champion, led the league in dimes once, has made it to 7 All-Stars, won 1 MVP and averages 23.0 ppg.
According to scouts, Jonny Flynn was a “natural talent” that “knew when to score and when to lead as a playmaker” and was the “safest choice at point guard in his Draft”, ahead of Ricky Rubio and Stephen Curry. Nonetheless, Flynn was only a part of the league for 3 seasons, roughly averaged 3.9 assists a game to go along with 2.3 turnovers, and shot 40% from the floor.
Devin Booker had a “lack of an explosive first step”, an “average ball handler” and a player that struggled to score on half-court drives or get to the foul line. Now, at age 22, Booker has proved them wrong by scoring a 70 piece against the Celtics, while currently averaging 24.2 points a game in 44% from the floor to go along with 7.2 dimes per contest. He was a major steal at 13th.
According to scouts, Trey Burke was a “reminiscence of Damian Lillard” and a point guard with “a better grip on passing in the pick and roll than Kemba Walker”. While Burke has shown quite a scoring potential, he’s mightily struggled to become a consistent player in the league, averaging 11.0 points and 3.7 assists per game on 40% shooting throughout his career.
Butler was taken with the last pick of the 1st round of his Draft, as scouts thought he “wasn’t a stand-out athlete” and weren’t sure about “his ability to create his own offense or become a good isolation player”. Now, Butler is one of the best players creating off-the-dribble and a top-tier two-way player in this league, averaging 20.9 points per game on 48.% from the floor.
When the Bucks took Giannis, NBA insiders said he was “two years away” from being able to play in the league, because he “lacked explosiveness” and had “no mid-range game at all”. Also, he had a “large basement” and was compared to Nicolas Batum. Now, he’s an MVP candidate averaging 26.8 points, 13.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks per game on 57% from the floor, a 2-time All-Star and Most Improved Player of the Year.
Isaiah Thomas was pretty much overlooked by every single scout in the NBA, as he barely made it to the league mostly out of luck. According to scouts, he would “struggle to score inside” due to his lack of size. Even so, Thomas averages 18.9 points per game on 43% shooting from inside the paint and even made it to a couple All-Star games before falling down with an injury.
According to scouts, Pau’s younger brother “lacked the explosiveness to even be a decent shot blocker in the NBA” and he was “going to struggle to guard top athletes.” Also, the Spaniard was supposed to be “a poor help defender” and an “offensively slow player.” Still, he’s a former Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 18.5 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.0 dimes a game.
According to scouts, Stephen Curry “didn’t have as much upside as Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, Brandon Jennings, Jeff Teague or Patty Mills because they were all more athletic than him.” As a matter of fact, Rubio and Flynn actually went ahead of him in the Draft. Now, he’s a 3 time NBA Champion, 2 time MVP, Scoring Champion, led the league in steals and is unanimously considered the greatest shooter in the history of the game.
Draymond Green was a late 2nd round pick in his Draft, as scouts didn’t think he had the potential to become the versatile defender he is. He was considered “a tweener, unexplosive, lacked agility and elusiveness”. Also, he was going to “struggle to guard quicker guards on the perimeter”, but somehow he’s now a 3 time NBA Champion and a former Defensive Player of the Year.
Nikola Jokic was supposed to struggle to adapt in the league because of his terrible defense. While that part of the scouting report is true, they were way off in other aspects of his game like his “lack of foot speed”, his “lack of back to the basket moves” and his “limited upside”. Now, he’s averaging 16.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 7.1 dimes per game on 46% shooting and 32% from three.
Michael Beasley was considered the best power forward of his class. His offensive talent was off the chart, and up to this day, he’s still a walking bucket. Nonetheless, he’s considered to be a huge disappointment considering the high expectations around him, as he was “a majestic player evolving off the ground”, according to Draft Express’ Rick Ditto, something that obviously never happened. As of today, he’s averaging 3.6 points for the Lakers.
Manu Ginobili was considered the best player outside of the NBA in 1999, but that wasn’t enough for scouts to think he was worthy of a high Draft pick. Despite his clear upside and talent, the Argentinian slipped all the way to the 58th pick of the Draft. Now, he’s a 2-time All-Star, 4 time NBA Champion, former Sixth Man of the Year and a cornerstone of the Spurs’ culture.
Darko Milicic is one of the biggest busts in the history of the game. He went 2nd overall right after LeBron James in 2003, as he was “one of a kind, the real deal, and a third ahead of Carmelo Anthony”, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford. Throughout his career, “the human victory cigar” roughly averaged 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per game on 46% from the floor.
Dwyane Wade - Gilbert Arenas
According to scouts, Dwyane Wade should ’ve been taken 11th or 12th overall in 2003. Also, they thought he was a “gamble” and should be drafted only if he was converted to a point guard. They said he could be a “future starter” who’s ceiling was Gilbert Arenas. Now, he’s a 3 time NBA Champion, a future Hall of Famer, the best player in Miami Heat history, a Scoring Champion, Finals MVP, 12-time All-Star and 3-time All-Defensive. Also, according to an unnamed Eastern Conference scout, he wasn’t even 6’3’’ and Marquette was lying about his height.
Kristaps Porzingis - Andrea Bargnani
When Kristaps Porzingis declared for the Draft, most NBA insiders didn’t even know who he was. Apparently, scouts didn’t have a clue either, as they thought he was “the new Bargnani”, and “not a good shooter” and “not strong enough to defend centers, being a shooting guard in the body of a big man”. Now, Porzingis is an All-Star in the making who averages 17.8 ppg on 43% shooting.
Tyson Chandler - Kevin Garnett
Considering Chandler’s defensive expertise and his skinny body and “ability to knock down shots”, everybody thought of him as the next Kevin Garnett, or at least, that’s what Byron Scott said about him. Needless to say, even though he wound up being a great defender and former Defensive Player of the Year, his offensive game never caught up, averaging roughly 8.5 points per game.
Kwame Brown - Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, Chris Webber
Kwame Brown will go down as one of the biggest busts in NBA history and one of the main reasons why Michael Jordan shouldn’t have a say when it comes to drafting talents. He was taken 1st overall because of his “physical abilities” and “skills like a shooting guard”, according to FoulShots.com’s Gene Huh. In reality, he averaged 6.6 points and 5.5 boards and his lack of mental strength made him one of the league’s laughing stocks.
Adam Morrison - Larry Bird
Adam Morrison is one of the biggest busts in NBA history, as he was compared to Larry Bird himself, but couldn’t even stay in the league for more than 4 seasons. Taken with the 3rd overall pick by Charlotte, scouts thought Morrison was “a special talent” and “like a coach on the floor” and an “effortless shooting stroke and vast offensive repertoire”. In reality, he averaged 7.5 points on 37% from the floor.
Kyrie Irving - Eric Maynor
Kyrie Irving didn’t have much chance to prove his potential at Duke, so there were a lot of question marks over his head. According to scouts, he was “unathletic” and a “pure point guard that struggled to score.” Needless to say, he winds up being an elite scorer and one of the best ball handlers in the history of the game, an NBA Champion that averages over 22.0 points per game. Even so, Draftexpress.com said he was “Worst case: Richa Man’s Eric Maynor”.
Alexey Shved - Penny Hardaway
Coming from overseas, Shved was supposed to be an explosive scorer and playmaker of the likes of Penny Hardaway, mostly because of his two-way expertise that kept turning heads in Russia, is an outstanding defender and facilitator. Needless to say, he wasn’t able to live up to the hype, averaging roughly 7.4 points and 2.5 dimes a game before going back to dominate in Europe.
Marcus Fizer - Charles Barkley
Fizer was taken as high as 4th in the Draft ahead of players like Michael Redd or Jamal Crawford, as he had impressed in the NCAA with his rebounding skills despite being a bit undersized, earning comparisons with NBA glory Charles Barkley. Well, while Chuck is a Hall of Famer, Fizer averaged 9.6 points and 4.6 rebounds and left the league after 6 years.
Eddy Curry - Shaquille O’Neal
While Eddy Curry still somehow got a bit of a productive NBA career, the comparisons with Shaquille O’Neal were just a bit too much. He was taken as high as 4th in 2001 as he was supposed to be the next dominant big man. In reality, he was just heavy and overweight, and his offensive skill set was limited, to say the least, averaging roughly 12.9 points per game throughout his career.
DeShawn Stevenson - Michael Jordan
According to scouts, DeShawn Stevenson was supposed to be “the next Michael Jordan”, a “very advanced shooter that could play both guard spots”.
According to NBADraft.net, this is what they saw in Stevenson before he declared for the draft:
Strengths: Special player. Extremly gifted athlete. Great ball handler. Very advanced shooter and scorer for his age. A showstopper. Can play the 1 or 2. Won the McDonald’s High School dunk contest. Super character. As NBA ready as any HS player in his class.
And this what they said after their comparison went viral:
[6/25/15 Edit: Scouting report and comparison to G.O.A.T. were written while Stevenson was in high school and assumed to be headed to Kansas. Lessen learned, never compare anyone to Michael Jordan. This was 2000, the site was just getting started. Go watch a tape of Stevenson in high school, he was incredible. One of the most spectacular 17 year old wings you could ever see. Not going to college had a catastrophic effect on him. It seems everyone enjoys dis-crediting our expertise by bringing up the year 2000 DeShawn Stevenson comparison to MJ. We never went back and changed his comparison after it was originally made. Apologies to MJ… Hey the “Sports Leader” compared Marshawn Brooks to Kobe Bryant just a few years ago.The other large NBA draft site compared Greg Paulus to John Stockton. Nobody wants to bring that up?]
Moreover, he was supposed to be a “special athlete”, but was a bit overweight through some stretches of his career. As for his Jordan comparisons, well, Stevenson averaged 7.2 points and 2.2 rebounds a game.