Whether you’re a fan of social media or not, you can’t deny some of its benefits in today’s world. First, it provides a platform for people’s voices to be amplified, which could be for better or worse. Suddenly you can tweet something, it gets reposted by a relevant outlet, and sportswriters like myself dig into the subject.
Which makes us think, how can an entire draft class from 13 years ago be down to two players? Minded, George and Hayward were elite players at one point. They have made notable contributions to each franchise they served and are still considered stars in the league today. But what happened to the rest?
A group of 60 players who entered the NBA one faithful night are dying out not long after. This batch included names that exploded in the league before fading into obscurity. So let’s see what happened to the aces of this forgotten cohort.
John Wall, first choice, University of Kentucky
Being the first pick in any draft carries a lot of weight. We’ve seen some live up to expectations, while others crumbled under the pressure. John Wall was one of those who succeeded, at least for a while.
After his entry, Wall became the face of the Washington Wizards. With him and Bradley Beal at the helm, the nation’s capital was rewarded with a team that was at least competitive.
A five-time All-Star and Slam Dunk champion with All-NBA Third Team, All-Defensive Second Team and All-Rookie First Team selections, Wall was well-decorated before being plagued by injuries. Despite leading the Wizards to four playoff appearances and becoming the franchise’s fourth all-time leading scorer, Wall left DC in 2020 as a shell of himself.
Stints with the Houston Rockets and LA Clippers showed that while the vehicle was still running, the engine wasn’t performing quite as well. The Clippers traded Wall back to Houston in February. Three days later, he was waived, going from the first pick to having no receivers.
DeMarcus Cousins, fifth pick, University of Kentucky
The 2010 NBA Draft was a great time to be a Wildcat. While Wall embodied the first pick, his Kentucky teammate DeMarcus Cousins came close as the fifth. After averaging 14.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in his rookie season, Cousins became an anchor for the Sacramento Kings for the next seven years.
At his peak, he was arguably one of the best big men of this generation. Unfortunately, like Wall, he was a talented star who fell away due to injuries. In 2017, he went to New Orleans to team up with Anthony Davis, and that was the start of a series of short stays and unfortunate events for Boogie. From 2018 to 2022, Cousins suited up for five NBA teams. Four of them happened in the latter two.
Kentucky must have tied Wall and Cousins at the hip. They reunited in Houston in December 2020, but two months later, Cousins was waived by the Rockets, a feeling Wall would experience years later. Yikes.
Cousins now plays for Mets de Guaynabo in Puerto Rico’s Baloncesto Superior Nacional.
Hassan Whiteside, 33rd pick, Marshall University
Hassan Whiteside was picked off by Sacramento about halfway through the evening. The only stat he recorded in a Kings jersey was two fouls in two minutes in his rookie season opener. This was followed by a series of shuffles between teams in the NBA G League, NBL China and the Lebanese Basketball League.
The basketball gods must have sprinkled knee injury dust on this draft class, as all three players mentioned have suffered them throughout their careers. But Whiteside’s adventures in development and overseas leagues planted a chip on his shoulder. In 2014, he signed with the Miami Heat and looked as promising as ever.
Whiteside spent five years in Florida as the Heat searched for their identity after LeBron James. He earned an All-NBA Second-Team selection in 2016, led the league in blocks that year and rebounds the following year. A hip injury relegated him to a role player before re-entering the team routine. He led the league in blocks again in 2020 with Portland and had a redemption run with the Kings the following season. Think about his swan song in the NBA. In 2023, Whiteside joined Cousins in Puerto Rico, playing for the Piratas de Quebradillas.
Lance Stephenson, 40th pick, University of Cincinnati
You may know him for his real-life blooper, but there’s no denying how solid a player Lance Stephenson was in the NBA. His antics may have defined him, but he was mostly a reliable role player. In his fourth year with the Pacers, he averaged 14.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. match.
His first four seasons in the league with Indiana were the early highlight of his career. But after switching teams in the NBA seven more times in the four years that followed, Stephenson opted out and found his way to China in 2019.
However, Stephenson clicked the undo button sooner than expected. In 2021, he made pit stops with the Grand Rapids Gold and Atlanta Hawks before a farewell run with the Pacers. In 2023, Stephenson embarked on a journey to—you guessed it—Puerto Rico, where he plays for Leones de Ponce.
So they got hurt, got waived and moved to Puerto Rico. But what about everyone else?
If you look at the entire list of drafts from 2010 you realize there was never much depth to it. Aside from the players that I mentioned in this article, some names would barely ring a bell. Most of them didn’t do well enough to leave a dent in the league, let alone scratch the surface. If the best players from this class are struggling to stay in the NBA, it comes as no surprise that others disappeared much faster.
The accident in the 2010 class is unprecedented. Who would want Wall, a decade later, to be hoping for a recall while Cousins, Whiteside and Stephenson are enjoying tropical hoops? Paul and Hayward are the last of a dying breed, and they too are fading from their stardom.
- Published on 19/07/2023 at 22:27
- Last updated on 19/07/2023 at 23:39