Adam Morrison was the third overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. The former Gonzaga star led the nation in scoring prior to entering the draft. His smooth stroke and signature mustache started his NBA journey with hype and high expectations. While he would retire as a two-time NBA champion, Morrison’s short, unproductive career makes him one of the biggest draft busts in recent history.
NBA Draft Busts: Adam Morrison
Morrison had a great career at Gonzaga. He started strong with an impressive freshman campaign. The young forward averaged 11.4 points per game and was named to the WCC All-Freshman Team. In his sophomore year, Morrison again led the Bulldogs to the WCC regular-season title. He averaged 19 points per game and made the All-WCC First Team.
Morrison’s junior season at Gonzaga was one of the best in school history. Morrison was the NCAA’s leading scorer that year, averaging 28.1 points per game. He scored at least 30 points in 13 games that season, reaching the 40 point mark in five of those outings. Morrison was named the Co-Player of the year with Duke’s J.J. Redick.
The high-scoring wingman would gain the public’s attention again in the NCAA Tournament. Leading his team to the Sweet Sixteen, Morrison scored 24 points in a heartbreaking loss to UCLA. The Zags blew a 17 point lead and turned the ball over three times in the final seconds. Gonzaga’s epic meltdown caused the WCC Player of the Year to collapse on the court, crying at the realization of a lost championship dream. Analysts and writers would debate this show of emotion, but it ultimately had no negative impact on his draft stock.
The Curse of the Charlotte Bobcats
The Charlotte Bobcats made several questionable draft decisions in their short time in the NBA. Selecting Morrison with the third pick in 2006 is high on that list. Morrison was the first player drafted by the new Manager of Basketball Operations, Michael Jordan. The Co-Player of the Year was a big name in the college game, being the cover athlete for NCAA March Madness 2007. The big stats and name recognition convinced Jordan and company to take Morrison over four future All-Stars.
His rookie season began well but Morrison would lose his starting job before the year was over. He averaged 11.8 points and 2.9 rebounds, good enough to be named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. Morrison was unable to build on any momentum in his sophomore season, tearing his ACL in a preseason game.
Life in Los Angeles
After missing the entire 2007-08 season, Morrison would be traded in 2009 to the Los Angeles Lakers. This Lakers team was deep and there wasn’t much room for Morrison in the rotation. He averaged less than eight minutes per game and played in only 39 games in his season and a half with them. Morrison earned two championship rings on the Lakers bench but Los Angeles would cut him after the 2009-10 season. He averaged 2.2 points per game as a Laker.
Morrison continued to try out for NBA teams from 2010-2012 before retiring from the game.
NBA Draft Busts: Looking Back at the Bust
The 2006 NBA draft class is one of the weakest draft classes of the last two decades. The lack of star power does little to water down the bust of taking Morrison third overall. The Bobcats got a year and a half of nine points per game instead of drafting future All-Stars like Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, or Brandon Roy. Even long-term role players like Rudy Gay, PJ Tucker, and Redick would have brought more value. It’s quite possible that things could have played out differently if Morrison hadn’t torn his ACL. Considering that Paul Milsap was selected 47th overall in this same draft, it is easy to see that Charlotte could have done better.
Morrison worked for Mark Few as an assistant at Gonzaga from 2013-15. He has been an assistant coach for Mead high school since 2017.
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