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3 Busts of the 2015 Draft

2015 was a transition time for the NBA, and not many people made the transition nicely. Those people are called busts.

Photo By: Elsa (Getty Images North America)

The 2015 draft was an interesting draft for the NBA. There were some March Madness stars that were up for selection, including Jahlil Okafor, Frank Kaminsky, and Justise Winslow. The number one pick went to freshman star out of Kentucky, Karl-Anthony Towns. There were many teams that needed a rebuild to jumpstart their franchise, but unfortunately, this wasn't the draft for them.

1. Jahlil Okafor, PHI

Coming into the 2015 draft, Okafor was widely regarded as the best prospect in college basketball. He was a number 1 recruit coming out of high school, then he finished 2nd in the Wooden award race. He was eventually selected 3rd by the 76ers, a team that had begun "The Process". However, Jahlil's rookie season started off rough for the 76ers. They started 0-18 and Okafor had a multitude of off-the-court problems. But with that being said, Okafor actually had a solid individual season. He ended up averaging 17.5 PPG in 54 games played. But in March, Okafor suffered a small meniscus tear and was ruled out for the rest of the season. He ended up 5th in Rookie of the Year voting and got award All-Rookie 1st Team honors.

His sophomore year is when it went downhill. Okafor had a big loss in scoring production due to a minutes restriction by the Sixers' management. He played well enough in limited minutes but suffered another knee injury which put him out for the season again. Okafor was unhappy with the team's management of his injury and requested a trade or buyout. He was eventually traded to the Nets for Trevor Booker in 2017. Both with the Sixers and Nets, Okafor struggled mightily. He averaged just 6.4 PPG and was an unrestricted FA at the end of the year. He then signed with the Pelicans on a two-year deal and got limited minutes. After his stint with New Orleans, Okafor bounced around the NBA as he struggled to see the court. He now plays in the G-League's Mexico expansion team.

Okafor's main problem was injuries. He was never able to stay healthy during his time in Philadelphia. Then when he moved on, he never embraced the role he was given. He was also never able to change with the times. He was a shorter, physical center who couldn't shoot the ball outside of 5 feet. That made him nearly unplayable along with his lack of mobility due to injury.

2. Mario Hezonja, ORL

Before the draft, Hezonja was listed as one of the more intriguing international prospects. During his time at Barcelona, Hezonja showed flashes of excellence to transition to the modern way of NBA basketball. He could shoot the ball a little, drive it, played solid defense. He was long and could handle the ball. He was the perfect prospect for an NBA General Manager. So the Magic took him 5th overall. He struggled in his first two years with Orlando. He couldn't really shoot the ball and struggled with efficiency on both ends of the ball. It got so bad for Hezonja that the Magic just gave up on him. They declined his 4th-year option, and Hezonja signed with the Knicks. His biggest moment of his time with New York was blocking King James, something that ignited a year-long rivalry between the 2019 Knicks and LeBron.

Hezonja just never got off on the right foot. He struggled in basically every aspect of the modern game. The Magic also kind of gave up on him, as Frank Vogel diminished his minutes during his tenure with Orlando. Hezonja was never able to get significant touches for the Magic or Knicks or Trail Blazers. As a player who commands the ball on the offensive side, Mario never successfully made the transition to role player. It's an adapt-or-die league, and Hezonja didn't adapt. Now, he's playing in Spain.

3. Frank Kaminsky, CHA

Before he became the face of memes and NBA Twitter, Frank the Tank was a March Madness legend. He was the College Player of the Year in 2015, a consensus 1st Team All-American, and won the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar award. This prompted the Hornets to take him 9th overall in 2015. In his rookie season, Kaminsky disappointed but was serviceable. He averaged 7.5 PPG and 4.1 RPG in 81 games for the struggling Hornets. Then in his sophomore year, Kaminsky had similar results in an increase in minutes. However, he lost his spot in the rotation midway through his 3rd year and didn't really regain that spot. He then signed with the Suns to attempt a revitalization of his career, but that didn't really work out either.

Well, what went wrong with the college legend? He just never really fit the Hornets. James Borrego's style of play didn't match up with Kaminsky's. Borrego loved to run quicker guys who had defensive versatility, and Kaminsky didn't have any of that. Plus, he was an older draft prospect that didn't really have as much time to develop as a younger draftee would. As an experienced college player, you have a shorter timeline than everyone else, because you're supposed to be "NBA-ready". I don't necessarily agree with this line of thinking, but that's kind of how the league has worked. Unfortunately for Frank, it just never worked out.

Other "Busts": Willie Caulie-Stein (SAC), Emmanuel Mudiay (DEN), Stanley Johnson (DET), Justise Winslow (MIA), and Sam Dekker (HOU).


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