Top 5 NBA Draft Prospects: Who has the biggest bust potential?

Scoot Henderson, Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs
Scoot Henderson, Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs / Ethan Miller/GettyImages
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The San Antonio Spurs started the season pretty much a lock for a lottery pick, and now they’re playing their way to a bottom-four record and a 14% chance at the first overall pick. Even if the lottery isn’t friendly, chances are the Spurs will land a top-five pick, and in this top-heavy class, there’s potential in spots one through five. 

Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson are both generational talents who are the consensus first and second-overall picks, although Nick Smith Jr, Amen Thomson, and Cam Whitmore all round out a very solid top five full of potential franchise saviors who could quickly make a bad team a contender. 

Which draft prospects are at risk of being busts?

I believe that a player outside of the top five, a player can’t be considered a bust. Only a few are considered sure things in a draft class of 60 players. Jabari Smith Jr, drafted third overall this year, is on the bust radar due to his slow start. Killian Hayes has been playing quite well for Detroit recently, but even if he managed to play himself out of the league, he couldn’t be a bust because he was never considered a lock for a long-term role on an NBA team. 

A “bust” is hype divided by NBA success. If the success meets the hype as LeBron James did, then that’s all well and good, but if the success surpasses the hype, as we saw with Damian Lillard, that’s even better. The player can be considered a bust when the hype never even comes close to on-court success, as we’ve seen with Darko Milicic or James Wiseman

This means that a player with more hype needs to play better. Wembanyama has more attention than Nick Smith, so in order to avoid the “bust” label, Wembanyama needs to have a higher NBA ceiling than Smith when it’s all said and done. 

For the sake of this list, I will only consider players who are mentioned in the top five in mock drafts and will be ranking them on the potential to fizzle out and be a bust. That said, I’d be happy if the Spurs selected any of these guys, as their potential is just that great.