[Moderated by Matt Jones]
The NBA Draft is now just two days away and Kentucky is once again going to have the biggest impact on NBA rosters. With all six players most certainly going to have their names called on Thursday night the 2012 draft Cats will face increased pressure of performing with the spot they are taken. In UK history several guys have been called in the first round and never lived up to that billing, for whatever reason their NBA days never matched their college performance. While you have no control over where you get picked you still must live with the consequences. Here are my picks for the top underachievers to once wear the Blue and White
Tony Delk – 16th pick 1996
Tony Delk had an incredible amateur career. He was Mr. Basketball in Tennessee, scored over 1800 points at UK, won a national championship, and was a consensus all-american. For some reason though his game just never translated to the NBA. Delk was taken with the 16th pick by the Hornets, averaged just 5.4 ppg his rookie year and the following year was dealt to the Warriors. Delk spent the rest of his NBA career as a journeyman, playing for 8 teams in the ten years he was in the pros. Delk would average 9.1 points per game for his and played for quite a while but it’s not a career I would consider worthy of the 16th pick.
Ron Mercer – 6th pick 1997
When Pitino left for the NBA his first pick as the new coach of the Celtics was his guard from the national runner-up Cats. Mercer seemed pretty worthy of the high selection as he had been a two time Mr. Basketball and averaged 18 ppg during his sophomore year. Perhaps Pitino should have heeded his own advice and waited on Mercer in the NBA draft as he would spend his eight year career on seven different teams. Mercer put up some pretty good numbers while in the pros but like Delk could not find a consistent team. When you are picked in the lottery you are expected to be a franchise player, Ron Mercer never became that.
Daniel Orton – 29th pick 2010
A lot of times teams draft on potential. The hope that a player can develop into something that can help the franchise in the long term. Such was the case with Daniel Orton who got picked up by the Magic to become a back-up for all-star Dwight Howard. The Magic gave Orton a guaranteed contract with the first round pick just one year after a trip to the Finals. The pick probably could have went to providing the Magic with a player who would get to see the floor. In two years Orton has only played 16 games with many of those coming after the Magic lost Howard to injury. Orlando decided not to pick up Orton’s third year and his NBA future is certainly in question. It will be a sad end for a kid that probably should have spent a little longer in school.
Luckily for us Cat fans UK hasn’t produced too many busts, in fact there have been many players to out play their draft positions. Tomorrow I will be taking a look at some of the guys who have outplayed their draft position. Hopefully the six Cats will earn a spot on that list after this Thursday. Follow me on twitter @ACassady_KSR
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