Being selected in the NBA draft as one of the lottery picks can be a blessing or a curse. As one of the top picks in the annual draft, a player has a good opportunity to shine with the team that drafted him.

However, being one of the top picks can also carry a heavy load of expectations that may negatively impact a player’s tenure in the NBA. In fact, despite being picked highly in the draft, some of these players have found themselves out of the league.

While being out of the NBA is the end of the road for some basketball players, that isn’t always the case. Although they never lived up to the expectations of an NBA lottery pick, a handful of them are still talented enough to dominate the professional leagues overseas. For this piece, let’s take a look at 10 NBA Draft busts that shined overseas.

Derrick Williams

NBA Draft: Round 1, 2nd overall pick (2011)

Drafted as the second-overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Williams had a stellar college career in Arizona which saw him play an instrumental role in defeating defending national champion Duke in the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, that never translated into the NBA.

After helping the Cavaliers make an NBA Finals appearance in 2017, Williams found himself signing with the Tianjin Gold Lions of the CBA. In China, he posted averages of 20.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. His stint with the Lions earned him a ticket back into the NBA where he played for the Los Angeles Lakers.

However, after Williams’ contract expired, he would eventually take his talents to Europe. He played for five different teams in five years and averaged 11.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. He was released by Panathinaikos after the 2022-23 season and remains a free agent.

Thomas Robinson

NBA Draft: Round 1, 5th overall pick (2012)

The Kings selected Thomas Robinson over the likes of All-Stars Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, Khris Middleton and Draymond Green. Although Robinson was a solid player in college, his size and lack of shooting didn’t help him at all.

After being released by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017, Robinson found himself playing overseas. He played for teams in Russia, China, Turkey, Puerto Rico and, most recently, he played for Real Esteli in Nicaragua. He averaged 17.6 points and 10.4 rebounds in eight games in the 2022-23 season.

Joe Alexander

NBA Draft: Round 1, 8th overall pick (2008)

Coming out of college, Joe Alexander was extremely athletic. However, that also hurt him as injuries derailed his NBA career. After 67 games in the league, Alexander found himself out of the NBA.

But despite the NBA exile, Alexander has found a new lease of life in terms of basketball in Israel. Alexander has won the Israeli Cup thrice. He was also named Israeli League Round 28 MVP. Most recently, he played eight games for Maccabi Haifa in the 2022-23 season, averaging 4.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.

Jimmer Fredette

NBA Draft: Round 1, 10th overall pick (2011)

As a lethal shooter out of BYU, NBA fans were excited to see Jimmer Fredette shoot the lights out. The Bucks selected him with the 10th overall pick and traded him to the Kings. Unfortunately, Fredette never became the scorer he was in college, averaging only 6.0 points per outing in the NBA.

Although Fredette never shined in the NBA, he tore it up in China. Playing for the Shanghai Sharks in the CBA, Fredette averaged 37.6 points per game as an import, including a 75-point explosion. During that 2018 year, Fredette was also named the CBA International MVP.

Jonny Flynn

NBA Draft: Round 1, 6th overall pick (2009)

The Timberwolves initially thought that Jonny Flynn was better than the likes of Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan, and Jrue Holiday. Unfortunately, they found out otherwise the hard way. Although Flynn had a respectable rookie season, injuries piled up, which hampered his game entirely.

Although his NBA stint was short-lived, Flynn played like a first-round pick in Australia’s NBL in the 2012-13 season. In 28 games, Flynn electrified fans, averaging 17.3 points, 5.9 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game. He was also named NBL All-Star and made the All-NBL team.

Ike Diogu

NBA Draft: Round 1, 9th overall pick (2005)

The Golden State Warriors are the golden standard of the NBA after building up on draft picks Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. However, they made a misstep in 2005 by drafting Ike Diogu. Diogu would barely make an impact in the NBA, averaging only 6.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

After his NBA stint, Diogu would go on to star as an import for several professional leagues around the world. He won a championship in Puerto Rico and had memorable campaigns for a handful of teams in China, Mexico, and Egypt.

Yi Jianlian

NBA Draft: Round 1, 6th overall pick (2007)

After Yao Ming starred in the NBA, Yi Jianlian was penciled to be the next big thing out of Asia. Unfortunately, Yi was nowhere near as productive as Yao’s Hall of Fame-worthy performance in the NBA.

After bouncing around the league, Yi would return home to China and star for the Guangdong Southern Tigers. Since then, he has won three CBA titles, three Finals MVPs, and five league MVPs.

Jan Vesely

NBA Draft: Round 1, 6th overall pick (2011)

Despite a solid professional career in Europe, Vesely struggled to find his niche in the NBA. Because of this, it wouldn’t be long before he fell out of the Washington Wizards’ rotation. And after a brief stint with the Nuggets, Vesely’s NBA career was already over.

Vesely returned home to Europe and played for Fenerbahce of the Euroleague. Vesely emerged as a Euroleague champion in 2017 and took home league MVP honors in 2019.

Hasheem Thabeet

NBA Draft: Round 1, 2nd overall pick (2009)

While Hasheem Thabeet possessed an imposing frame and size, you can count him as one of the guys who failed to translate their stellar college career into the NBA. The second overall pick only averaged 2.2 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.

Although Thabeet never found his footing in the NBA, he dominated the competition in Taiwan. Playing for the Hsinchu JKO Lioneers in the P. League+, Thabeet averaged 18.2 points, 14.3 rebounds, and 3.26 blocks per game to lead the league in blocks and rebounds. He was also named the Defensive Player of the Year.

Most recently in the 2022-23 season, Thabeet averaged 14.6 points and 11.8 rebounds in 10 games for the TB Herobears.

Anthony Bennett

NBA Draft: Round 1, 1st overall pick (2013)

Anthony Bennett is arguably the biggest bust in recent memory. Drafted over the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert, Bennett never shined in the NBA. He only averaged 4.4 points per game and stayed in the league for four seasons.

With Bennett forced to play overseas, like Thabeet, he also found a home in Taiwan. Bennett dominated the P. League+, averaging 25.2 points and 14.1 rebounds per outing for the Kaohsiung Steelers. In the first two games of the 2023-24 season, Bennett averaged 21.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.