Boom or Bust – Evaluating the NBA's top (and Bottom) Prospects

Editor’s Note:   Last Word on Sports is pleased to announce the launch of our new and improved, and greatly expanded, NBA coverage.  We have brought on two new and exciting writers in Jordan Leung, and Kaine Elmy.  This is Jordan’s first piece for the site, but he is not new to the world of NBA coverage running his own site prior to joining our team.   We are pleased to announce that Jordan will be bringing you his unique brand of basketball analysis and basketball humour here as well, beginning today.  We ask that you also stay tuned for Kaine’s first piece on our site, also out later today, and we hope you will enjoy the NBA coverage they will provide.  Now, on with the show!


With the rookie photo-shoot wrapped up a few days ago, and what should be the biggest trade of the offseason completed, we can almost say the NBA season is nearly here. For many of the league’s top players and veterans, they are concerned with how they can get better as individuals and as teams in order to compete for a title. Then there are other players – more concerned with earning a roster spot, or how they can prove their worth for a chance to play significant minutes in North America’s smallest major sports league.

Back in the 2005 NBA draft, the Houston Rockets drafted Illinois stud Luther Head with the 24th pick. In an injury riddled season for Houston, Head played the fifth most minutes of any rookie, as well as tying for the fifth highest in win shares in his rookie class. In his second NBA season, Head became a reliable sixth man on a 52 win Rocket team, averaging 10.9 points per game, making the sixth most three pointers in the NBA, while shooting the fourth best percentage among qualified players.

After two highly successful seasons as a late first-round pick, things got worse for Head. He never averaged more than 20 minutes a game again, and is now no longer on an NBA team.

From the same 2005 draft class, there are two of the NBA’s best point guards in Chris Paul and Deron Williams, there is last year’s laughing stock of the NBA, Raymond “Cheeseburgers” Felton, second round pick Monta Ellis is one of the game’s top scorers, and Andrew Bynum, the tenth pick of that draft earned the title as the second best center in the NBA.  We also have second pick Marvin Williams who has yet to prove that he was worth the second pick on draft night. Former dunk contest champion Gerald Green managed to find his way back in the league after a short stint in Europe. Lottery pick Fran Vasquez has yet to play a minute in the league, and another lottery pick Sean May hasn’t smelled an NBA floor since 2010.

The point is that after making the league, there is no way of telling where you will be in two, five, or ten years from now.

In this multi-part series, I will preview the top and bottom prospects (excluding rookies) of every NBA team, and I will analyze their strengths and weaknesses, why they are not better than they should be, what we should expect from them next season, as well as a prospect score out of 10. Please note that this prospect score is an overall aggregate that considers their potential, skill level, and other talents, while also taking into account a player’s realistic ceiling. For example, if I think John Wall will never improve in the NBA, I might give him a prospect score of 3 out of 10 because he is falling short of expectations, and not reaching his full potential. If I think Devin Ebanks has the potential to become a great role player in the NBA, I might give him a prospect score of 8 out of 10 because he is maximizing his potential and using the skills he has. This does not mean that I think Devin Ebanks is a better player than John Wall.  It is a formative assessment, not summative.  That is, I am not comparing players against each other, but rather analyzing them individually.

Check back tomorrow in my first edition of NBA Boom or Bust, where I will begin my analysis of the Southwest division starting with the 2011 NBA Champions, the Dallas Mavericks.