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July 6, 2009
Monday Tip: Who will be the biggest lottery bust?
We're more than a week past the NBA draft, when pro teams decided – or at least tried to decide – the best fit for their organizations.
The winners and losers have been declared, the first-round snubs have been identified … and we continue our analysis of the draft today.
We asked basketball writers Jason King and Steve Megargee for their opinion on which lottery pick will turn out to be the biggest bust.
King went with a big man, and Megargee went with a guard. Their answers might surprise you.
Other than Blake Griffin, Earl Clark has the talent and tools to be as big a star as anyone in the 2009 NBA draft. But something tells me he'll struggle to reach his potential.
Even though he averaged 14.2 points and 8.7 rebounds as a junior at Louisville last season, Clark never blossomed into the dominant player he should've been for the Cardinals.
At 6 feet 9 and 225 pounds, Clark has the skill set of an all-star caliber player. He can handle the ball, he shoots well from outside – including 3-point range – and, defensively, he has the ability to slide his feet and stay in front of his man.
Clark, though, never seemed to play with much fire. He appeared passive at times and didn't show much improvement from his sophomore to junior year.
Clark struggled against physical teams such as Connecticut, West Virginia and Pittsburgh. He averaged 8.3 points and shot a combined 9-for-35 from the field against those three schools last season. He was also particularly bad in games that Louisville lost.
Again, Clark has the potential and upside to be an NBA star. The question is whether he'll approach his career with the intensity needed to take his game to the next level.
STEVE MEGARGEE'S ANSWER: FORMER ARIZONA COMMIT BRANDON JENNINGS
You could make a decent argument that Brandon Jennings' professional experience in Europe might make him more NBA-ready than the other point guards taken in the lottery, but his struggles with Lottomatica Roma also should have served as a warning to teams across the league.
I figured Jennings' lack of success in Italy – he averaged just 5.5 points and 17 minutes in 27 Italian League games – would cause his draft stock to slide. Jennings instead went to the Milwaukee Bucks with the 10th overall pick.
While I thought Jennings would have represented a decent gamble for teams searching for a point guard in the latter part of the first round such as the Philadelphia 76ers or Atlanta Hawks, it represented quite a gamble to use the No. 10 selection on someone who already didn't perform particularly well in a professional league that isn't as good as the NBA.
Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.