The recent announcement of Markelle Fultz’s Thoracic Outlet Syndrome adds to the confusion of the career of the once surefire number one overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. This could not have been a more disastrous start to his NBA career. So far in his career, he has played in a grand total of 33 games, and even when he has managed to get on the court, the results have not been great: he has averaged 7.7 points per game on a 41.4 field goal percentage, 3.4 rebounds per game, and 3.4 assists per game. These lackluster stats, persistent injury problems, questionable shooting form, and apparent psychological problems have led to people questioning whether he can recover from these problems and if his career is already over. All of this begs the question – is Markelle Fults the biggest bust of all time?
To determine if he is, in fact, the biggest bust we will compare him to other famous legendary busts and use the following criteria:
- Games played – high draft picks must, at the minimum, get on the court and play in NBA games.
- Output – high draft picks should produce results on the court. We will look at points, assists, rebounds, and effective field goal percentage.
- Team Result – high draft picks should contribute to their team and make them better. We will look at win shares and Value Over Replacement Player(VORP). We will also compare the wins each team had before and after the player was drafted.
We will look at Markelle Fultz and compare him to, in my opinion, the biggest busts of all time, Anthony Bennett, Greg Oden, and Kwame Brown, through the criteria we established above.
1. Markelle Fultz
In Fultz’s first two seasons, he has played in only 33 games. When on the court, he has produced 7.7 points per game on a 42.1 field goal percentage, 3.4 rebounds per game, and 3.4 assists per game. His VORP is -0.2, suggesting that he is clearly not helping the 76ers.
2. Anthony Bennett
With four different teams in four seasons, Bennett has played 151 games, however, the results are bad. He averaged 4.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 0.5 assists, and he had a 42 effective field goal percentage. He had a terrible -1.7 VORP.
3. Greg Oden
In three seasons with the Trail Blazers and the Heat, Oden played 105 games. He averaged 8.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 0.5 assists, and had a 57.4 effective field goal percentage. He had a positive VORP of 1.6.
4. Kwame Brown
In a long career that spanned multiple decades on seven different teams, he somehow managed to play in 607 games. He had career averages of 6.6 points on a 49.2 effective field goal percentage, 5.5 rebounds, and 0.9 assists. He had a career VORP of -0.4.
So looking at each of these players, we can see that Fultz has played by far the least amount of games. His total VORP is comparable to Kwame Brown’s. His basic stats are comparable to Greg Oden’s. Looking at this analysis, we can conclude that Fultz’s basic stats or VORP are not nearly as bad as Anthony Bennett’s, so for now he is safe from being considered the greatest bust of all time. However, Fultz has played in only 33 games and will need to play in more. But, he is young and still has time to change the narrative of his career.