When you say “Michael Jordan” and “basketball” in the same sentence, it usually ends up being a good thing. However, if you throw the words “talent evaluator” into that same sentence, it’s a different story. Earlier in the summer, the Jordan-led Charlotte Bobcats acquired former #1 overall pick and well-established bust, Kwame Brown which officially reunited the two (Why? I’m still trying to figure that out). Now we find out that the Washington Wizards (ironically enough, the team that drafted Brown) have just cut former #3 overall pick Adam Morrison. Both were hand picked and drafted by Jordan. With this recent news regarding Morrison, it begs the question: who is the bigger Jordan draft bust?
In fairness to Mike, a player of his caliber should never be a coach or talent evaluator because they assume that everyone is as good as they were. They can’t understand why it isn’t easy for every player to fight their way out of being trapped baseline by Charles Oakley and John Starks, find a crease to the basket, and dunk of Patrick Ewing. Nor can they understand what it’s like not to be able to better than everyone else on the floor with them. His greatness inadvertently skews his own perception of reality. I guess it’s not even his fault, but we still must hold him accountable.
While Jordan was in the front office, Kwame Brown was taken #1 overall by the Washington Wizards in the 2001 NBA Draft as the first high school player ever taken with the first pick. That meant that from day one, Kwame had alot to prove. Not only because he made history being the first high school player taken, but because he was hand picked by His Airness. That’s a lot of pressure on a guy who wasn’t even 20 years old yet.
In high school, Kwame was productive. He was the high school player of the year as a senior and left Glynn Academy as the all-time leading rebounder, shot blocker and second in scoring. He was also a McDonald’s All-American so naturally he had scouts salavating over him.
In the 2001 Draft, Kwame was taken over the likes of Pau Gasol, Jason Richardson, Shane Battier, Joe Johnson, Tony Parker and Gilbert Arenas. That’s pretty impressive. Or unimpressive, depending on how you’re looking at it. In his 10 years in the league, Kwame has career averages of 6.7ppg and 5.4rgp. To say that he’s a role player would be paying him the ultimate compliment.
Adam Morrison had a very good college career and became the darling of the NCAA in his junior year, which would end up being his last. That year he was regarded as one of the best players in the land along with Duke’s J.J. Redick. As a junior, Morrison was a finalist for both the Naismith and Wooden Awards and won the 2006 Chevrolet Player of the Year Award.
In his final season in Spokane, Washington, Morrison led the 29-4 Bulldogs to a solid NCAA tournament run. Who could forget the game between 3 seed Gonzaga and 2 seed UCLA? The Bruins would hold on for the 73 – 71 win much to the dismay of Morrison. That led to one of most memorable pictures in recent memory of the NCAA tournament. Shocked by the loss, the disappointed Morrison sat near halfcourt with his head buriedbeneath his arms crying, while the Bruins rejoiced. You love to see that type of emotion in college sports, but that was the last image we have of Morrison at Gonzaga.
With Jordan in the front office, the Charlotte Bobcats selected Morrison #3 overall in the 2006 NBA Draft. Adam was taken over Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay, J.J. Redick, Rajon Rondo and Jordan Farmar. In his five year career, he has career averages of 8.6ppg and 2.2 rpg. Similar to Kwame, he should aspire to become a role player.
Jordan obviously had high hopes for both of these guys, but neither panned out. If I had to pick, however, I’d say that Morrison is the bigger bust even despite the fact that Kwame was the first high school player taken #1 overall. I pick Morrison because Jordan actually had three years of college ball to witness Morrison play while all he saw of Kwame was high school. There’s always a guy in high school who dominates the opposition so it’s much more likely to make a mistake drafting a guy out of high school than it is a decorated college junior. A common drafting mistake is assuming that just because a guy was productive in high school or college, means that will translate to the NBA, and Jordan clearly made that fatal flaw. That assumption isn’t always true and here you have exhibit A and exhibit B.
If you’re looking for your everyday, predictable basketball talk, then go somewhere else, because Kevin Burke of The Kevin Burke Project brings provocative, thought provoking content about basketball as only he can. Kevin also hosts The Hoop Doctors weekly podcast show, which you can subscribe to for free on iTunes. Follow Kevin on Twitter and Facebook