(Part 1 can be found here, or read the entire thing as one post here.)
DEADLY VENOM #4: THE PROBLEM CHILD
Tough to fathom in this era of Wonderlic tests and downright surgical background checks, but some mighty big flakes still manage to slip past some of these teams. Of course talent rules all, so sometimes the decision makers just have to roll the dice. Still, if you have a look through the history of the draft, most knuckleheads stay knuckleheads.
There is a difference, after all, between a young kid who needs to mature a bit and figure out the difference between a good shot and a bad one (Russell Westbrook, for example) and a guy catching murder charges or shooting himself in the leg in a strip club or whatever.
Poster Child: Eddie Griffin
Coming out of Seton Hall after his Freshman year, Griffin had all the potential and the world and Kevin Garnett-type skills. He also had a checkered personal history that included a vicious beating of a Seton Hall teammate in practice. Perhaps the most talented player in the 2001 Draft, Griffin managed to fall to the 7th pick, where the Nets grabbed him and promptly traded him to Houston.
Within two years, the Rockets had given up on him after repeated stints in Alcohol Rehab clinics, and in fact Griffin missed the entire 2004 Season in an attempt to get sober. The Wolves took a chance on him in 2005 and he was a solid, if somewhat less productive player in his three years there, save for a bizarre incident where Griffin reportedly crashed into another car while masturbating.
Three months after being released by Minnesota, Griffin was killed when he drove through a railroad warning and was struck by a moving train in what may or may not have been a suicide. He was 25 years old.
Other notable examples: Michael Beasley, Demarcus Cousins, Javaris Crittenton
Michael Beasley had enough talent to actually convince people that he was worth taking over Derrick Rose in the 2008 Draft. Since then, Rose has won Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player and made three All-star teams. Beasley has been busted for smoking weed in his hotel room at the 2008 NBA Rookie transition clinic, gone to rehab in 2009 for alleged drug problems and mushed a fan during a 2011 NYC Streetball game.
I ain’t lyin’. Look for yourself.
DeMarcus Cousins appears to be the next big head case, having already quit trying in a game after complaining that Tyreke Evans wasn’t giving him the ball and getting Paul Westphal fired for being being uncoachable. At only 21,one shudders to think what he’s truly capable of.
When the Lakers drafted Javaris Crittenton with the 19th pick in 2007, they saw a big point guard with open court instincts. By the time he got to Washington, he had developed an affection for guns and gambling, culminating in the infamous Wild West showdown with Gilbert Arenas that lead to both of them being suspended for the rest of the 2009 Season.
Now out of the league, Crittenton was arrested in August of 2011 and charged with murder in connection with the death of a 22 year old mother of four. Atlanta police claim the murder was in retaliation for a robbery in which Crittenton has the victim. Javaris is currently awaiting trial.
2012′s prime candidate for Deadly Venom #4: Andre Drummond or Austin Rivers
I tried, but I couldn’t pick just one.
Drummond by all accounts is a good kid, but seems to have the maturity level of a 16 year old and might not understand what he’s in for until he’s on his second or third team. Five years from now, some team might be getting a beast of a free-agent, but the team that’s drafting him better cross their fingers.
Austin Rivers would be the opposite side of this coin. By all accounts as arrogant and entitled as they come, he’s either going to be a helluva player or a cautionary tale about what happens to a guy who can’t accept the fact that he’s just not as good as he thought he was. The track record for these types is not very good, and the NBA is lousy with bench players who think they should be franchise players.
DEADLY VENOM #5: THE HUMPTY DUMPTY THEORY
Often lost in the shuffle when it comes to talking about the world of sports is one fundamental truth:
The human body wasn’t really built for this shit.
It’s not just Football or Gymnastics either. Fact is, some people just aren’t up to the task of putting their bodies through this kind of shit on a day-to-day basis, and alot of times these types are sending off red flags long before draft time. There are freak injuries like what happened to Shawn Livingston (watch this only if you have a strong stomach) or mystery illnesses like the one that befell DaJuan Wagner, and then there are guys whose bodies just break down, period.
Poster Child: Greg Oden
Not that this story needs to be re-told or anything, but Greg Oden’s enormous potential outweighed the obvious concerns about his durability. Fact is, Oden was the most sure-fire superstar big man prospect since Tim Duncan, and for all the revisionist history spouted about that draft, nobody but nobody was going to take Kevin Durant over him. The fact is, he dominated the College ranks despite playing his freshman season with a broken right wrist. Call it the Portland curse or just plain shitty luck, but Oden’s entire tenure in Portland hasn’t amounted to a hill of beans while Kevin Durant is considered a top three player in the league.
Them’s the breaks.
Other notable examples: Adam Morrison, Jonathan Bender
If you had a chance to take a 6’8 scoring machine who was drawing (unfair, I might add) Larry Bird comparisons with the third pick, it would be tough to say no. If said player happened to have type 1 diabetes, well, it becomes a tougher decision. That was the case with Adam Morrison, a talented player who suffered thru a lackluster rookie season, then blew out his left Knee prior to the start of his second year. Now 28, Morrison is struggling to find his way back to the NBA.
Bender was seen as an all-world talent but at 6’10 and approximately 120 pounds, there was some well-founded concern that his body not be able to handle the rigors of the Pro game. Still, there had been plenty of guys who were told to gain and weight and still went on to a great career. Reggie Miller comes to mind, for starters. In Bender’s case, he was picked 5th in the 1999 draft and showed enough promise to get a 4 year, 28 million dollar contract from the Pacers. Sadly, he only played more than 60 games once in his seven years in Indiana and ended up retiring at the tender age of 25. His 2010 comeback attempt with the Knicks lasted 25 games and now, at 29, he is permanently retired from the game.
2012′s prime candidate for Deadly Venom #5: John Henson
Ok, this is strictly a hunch, but his body scares me. You don’t see a whole lot of successful NBA players with that Phil Jackson/Vlad Guerrero/ Redd Foxx Posture. You just don’t. Maybe it’s the fact that he looks 30, or that he looks too much like Milton Reece from the White Shadow. Maybe it’s all of those things together. Point is, I just have this feeling he’s going to spend more time on the IR than he does on the court.