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Which Prospects at the 2020 NBA Draft Could End Up Being Huge Busts?

| November 16, 2020 6:16 am PDT
2020 NBA Draft Prospects That Could Be Busts

I hate to be a downer. I’m all about praising talent, looking at potential, and dreaming big. This is what the NBA Draft is all about, and it’s no different in 2020.

Heck, in a year with a global pandemic, maybe it should be about upside more than ever. Perhaps it already is.

But with great risk, there can also be an epic failure. There’s a possible reward at the end of the tunnel, but there could also be a devastating brick wall.

Some prospects get taken too early, they go to the wrong teams, they simply aren’t good enough, or there’s something intangible we can’t put our finger on that prevents them from realizing their full potential.

Who are those players going into the 2020 NBA Draft? It’s impossible to know, but I’ll take a crack at pointing out the top NBA Draft prospects for 2020 that could end up being busts.

LaMelo Ball – Point Guard

I am a huge fan of LaMelo Ball’s game. He’s my top overall prospect, and I have him going first in this year’s draft. If you plan on betting on the NBA Draft, that’s the first bet you start with.

But he could still be a bust. I mean, anyone can be a bust, but when you’re looking at the big superstar prospects, he could bust hard.

The main issue with Ball is going to be efficiency. The sample size is small, but in Australia, he connected on 37% of his shots from the field. He was even worse (25%) from long range.

Ball plays a free and loose style. He is a good athlete, he has terrific size, he has a nice handle, flashy passing, and an effortless offensive game. But he also can struggle with turnovers, timing, anticipation, consistency, and shot selection.

He could be a generational superstar, or he could be the next Michael Carter-Williams.

There are worse things to be, but if Ball goes first overall like I think he will, the expectation is he’ll be something special.

The talent is there, but Ball’s weaknesses could be magnified at the next level. Throw in his youth and the presence of an overbearing father in LaVar Ball, and this could be a nightmare pick.

James Wiseman – Center

I also really like James Wiseman. He’s big, athletic, a terror down low, can get easy buckets, and he can be extremely disruptive as a shot-blocker.

Once again, we have a tiny sample size to work with. He wrecked in three games at Memphis, posting a nasty stat line of 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, and three blocks per game. He had a five-block outing, a game with 28 points, two double-doubles, and shot 76.9% from the floor.

He did that all in just three games.

Wiseman was admittedly a bit more human against then 14th ranked Oregon, but the efficiency inside, the rebounding, the shot-blocking, and the second chance buckets all project well for the next level.

The question, though, is two-fold. What exactly are NBA teams getting, and can all of his other issues be addressed?

The biggest problem is Wiseman’s motor has been questioned, we can’t know for sure how his production would have leveled out over the course of a full season, and he also needs to answer questions about his strength and offensive upside.

Defensively, Wiseman still seems like a can’t-miss prospect. But if his ceiling is DeAndre Jordan, is he really worth going second overall?

Onyeka Okongwu – Center

The one thing Okongwu has on Wiseman is we have a much better idea as to who he is. Unfortunately, Okongwu’s floor may automatically be far lower.

Defensively, Okongwu is very enticing. He’s an elite shot-blocker, he’s long, he’s physical, and he’s a terrific athlete. 

The downside rests with his lack of ideal size, his lack of a true position, and his absent range. He is far from a finished product on offense, where he gets by with his explosiveness, offers little beyond the perimeter, and isn’t totally polished down low.

Okongwu is rolling with major upside and defensive ability you can’t teach, but there is zero guarantee he rounds out the way NBA GMs will hope on the offensive end. I imagine he’ll be a hit on defense, regardless, but he may not be worth a lottery pick if the scoring and shooting never show up.

Deni Avdija – Small Forward

I am a fan of Avdija’s silky smooth offensive game. He has great size, he’s incredibly versatile, and he can literally do it all offensively.

Avdija can create offense for himself and others, he can finish around the rim, he can score in a variety of ways, and he can consistently hit the outside shot. Offensively, he’s a gold mine.

The Luka Doncic comparisons are a bit premature, though.

There are two major issues with Avdija. First, will be the fit. Is he capable of carrying a team going forward? If not, will he be placed in the right system and with the right complementary players to allow him to succeed?

Beyond this are the obvious issues with his lack of length or elite athleticism. His offensive traits aren’t going away – and these same concerns were brought up about Luka Doncic – but what if he can’t create enough space to show off his positive attributes?

Tyrese Haliburton – Point Guard

I’m sure there are other high profile NBA prospects that could be considered potential busts, but I’ll stop the name-calling with Tyrese Haliburton.

There is actually a lot to like about his game. He has fantastic size and length for the point guard position, he’s a lights out shooter from long range, and he’s displayed strong playmaking ability.

By all accounts, Haliburton looks like a rock solid point guard prospect who can keep defenses honest, hit the timely outside shot, and even has the ability to play effective defense.

So, why the hate?

Haliburton just doesn’t feel like a star, is the thing. He also has a thin frame and has an awkward shot that may require extra work to get off at the next level. 

Will he be able to out-muscle defenders for easy buckets, or create the necessary space to hit outside shots? I have my doubts, while it will be interesting to see if he can carry an offense if asked to.


These are just a handful of the top 2020 NBA Draft prospects that could be busts. As noted, truly anyone can be a bust, and for so many reasons.

But these players range from possibly going first overall, to finding themselves taken somewhere inside the lottery.

When you’re taken that high in the draft, there is no room for error. You need to blossom into a superstar, and while the talent and potential is there for every one of these players, there is a dark path that could lead to things going horribly wrong.

Got a potential bust of your own? Hit us with it in the comments below.

As for the draft itself, you can make money betting on it this year. Hit our 2020 NBA Draft betting posts below for some extra advice.

Noah Davis
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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