You’ve definitely heard of one-hit wonders in music, but have you ever heard the term applied to basketball? Rather than a singer or band who has one hit song before returning to obscurity, an NBA one-hit-wonder refers to a player who is only good for a short amount of time.
These players are still essential to the success of the team, but they don’t have the years-long career of NBA greats like Michael Jordan, Lebron James, or Kobe Bryant. Who are the biggest one-hit wonders in NBA history? Keep reading to find out.
Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks
During the 2011-2012 NBA season, Jeremy Lin shined. He averaged 14.6 points and over six assists per game. While his talent was admirable, he became a household name after fans latched onto his massive success.
Both during and after the season, Lin was plagued by reckless Linsanity fans. The hype surrounding his time with the Knicks gave fans a glimmer of hope that the Knicks might rise into one of the best NBA teams. It’s hard to find anyone before or since that has garnered quite as much aggressive attention as Jeremy Lin.
Oliver Miller, Toronto Raptors
Sometimes players have one admirable moment that sets them apart as one-hit wonders. Other times, players remain in that category because they just can’t improve enough to have a long career in the NBA. Oliver Miller is one of those players.
In the 1995-1996 season, Miller averaged 12.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game. The man had serious talent. Unfortunately, he couldn’t control his stomach. He gained weight that kept him from improving his game, forcing fans to question just how good he could have been with a little self-control.
Matthew Dellavedova, Cleveland Cavaliers
In the 2015 NBA Finals, Matthew Dellavedova was the main force that stopped Steph Curry. Unline other one-hit wonders, Dellavedova didn’t experience a surge in statistics, but he did annoy Curry enough to mess up his game in the most important tournament of the season.
Since those finals, no one has been able to stop Curry consistently, making Dellavedova’s accomplishment all the more impressive. Unfortunately, the physical defender has yet to live up his own legacy after that 2015 postseason.
Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers
When Michael Carter-Williams first joined the Philadelphia 76ers fresh out of Syracuse University, many people thought that he would be the next big thing. As a guard, his height, length, and incredible rebound ability made him a force to be reckoned with.
For a short time, Carter-Williams was a success. In the 2013-2014 season, Carter-Williams averaged 16.7 points, six rebounds, and six assists per game. After his rookie season, however, Carter-Williams never reached the level of his original statistics. His seasons haven’t been very productive and he has spent most of his time bouncing around the league.
Bryant Reeves, Vancouver Grizzlies
Also known as “Big Country,” Bryant Reeves was the first-ever draft pick for the Vancouver Grizzlies. He has known for his dedication to his team, a quality the Grizzlies still try to capture to this day. Unfortunately, Reeves didn’t live up to the high expectations of his career.
In the 1997-1998 season, Reeves averaged 16.3 points per game and 7.9 boards. As his career continued, however, his conditioning became a big concern. He was gradually given less and less playing time until he left the league altogether. concern.
Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic
Today, a three-point shot is perhaps the best thing a player can bring to the NBA. But back in the day, a well-balanced offense was the more common approach. The Orlando Magic relied heavily on this technique to take down their opponents, and Nelson showed that it could be a success.
During the 2008-2009 season, Nelson averaged 16.7 points and five assists per game. But the most stunning part of his offense was that he shot 45% from the three-point range. As other players on the team went downhill, however, Nelson wasn’t able to keep up his impressive stats.e.
Jerome James, New York Knicks
Before joining the Seattle SuperSonics in the 2004-2005 season, Jerome James never averaged more than six points per game. During that season, however, he averaged 12.5. The owner of the Knicks, James Dolan, jumped on his supposed talent and immediately awarded James a huge contract.
While playing for the Knicks, however, James never averaged more than three points per game. It’s safe to say that he wasn’t worth his five year, $30 million contract, and he never received another contract in the NBA after his time with the Knicks came to an end.
Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
Tyreke Evans came out of college right into the NBA while Memphis was one of the top teams in college basketball. Given his background, he was a highly sought-after prospect, and for good reason. In his rookie year, Evans averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.3 rebounds per game.
As Evans joined the NBA, however, the entire league started a gradual shift away from ball-dominant guards who couldn’t shoot. Evans had no skill with a three-point shot, which eliminated his ability to have subsequent seasons as successful as his rookie yea
Josh Howard, Dallas Mavericks
While playing for the Dallas Mavericks in the 2007-2008 season, Josh Howard averaged 19.9 points and seven rebounds per game. Unfortunately, that season was also the peak of Howard’s career.
Howard was honest about his affinity for marijuana and often candidly discussed the ins and outs of marijuana use in the NBA. His honesty led many people to question his work ethic. At the same time, Howard didn’t have the ability to play well consistently, which made him an all-around disappointment for the Mavericks.
Dana Barros, Philadelphia 76ers
Dana Barros was a true NBA powerhouse in the 1994-1995 season. He averaged 20.6 points and seven assists per game. He was also talented with his three-point shot, shooting over 46%. Unfortunately, his talent experienced a severe dip in the following season when he failed to average more than 13 points per game.
After his incredible season, Barros moved to the Boston Celtics and was featured on the NBA Jam video game. Sadly, his real-life scoring didn’t exactly align with the talent of his video game self.
Devin Harris, New Jersey Nets
In the 2008-2009 season, Devin Harris was the shining star on the New Jersey Nets. He averaged 21.3 points and 2.9 assists per game, earning himself an All-Star appearance.
Unfortunately, Harris was one good player on a bad team. Most of his success came from shooting a lot and making only a few baskets. His unstable talent was also overshadowed by the Nets record of 34-48 that year, proving that one good player isn’t enough to save the season.
Larry Hughes, Washington Wizards
While the Washington Wizards aren’t usually considered major players in the NBA, they did have a fantastic year during the 2004-2005 season. Players like Larry Hughes brought some power to the team, and fans thought they might have an opportunity to push themselves to glory in the NBA.
Hughes averaged 22 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 2.9 steals per game during the Wizards’ big season. Unfortunately, he couldn’t show off the same talent in subsequent years, and he eventually became a forgotten powerhouse in the NBA.
Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Kaman is rarely even thought about when discussing one-hit wonders because the Los Angeles Clippers were so bad during his impressive season. Terrible as the team was in 2009-2010, however, Kaman averaged 18.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocked shots per game.
Kaman’s impressive stats earned him an All-Star spot, but they weren’t enough to undo the poor playing of the entire team. In the following years, Kaman was unable to keep up with his original pace, but he did provide a bit of hope to Clippers’ fans during the 2009-2010 season.
Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks
Larry Sanders isn’t just a one-hit-wonder, he’s also a case of wasted potential. He truly could have been great, but he didn’t seem to have enough interest in becoming a true star in the NBA.
In the 2012-2013 season, Sanders averaged 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. He could truly do something special in his position, but injuries took him off the court. After his injuries, Sanders showed little desire to remain in the league, cutting what could have been an incredible career disappointingly short.
Ricky Davis, Cleveland Cavaliers
In 2002-2003, the Cleveland Cavaliers were a struggling team. Despite their poor performance over the course of the season, Ricky Davis was a bright spot on the team.
Davis averaged 20.6 points per game in his most impressive seasons, in large part because he shot the ball an average of 18.6 times per game. When Lebron James joined the team the next year, however, Davis could no longer play to his talents. His stats dropped and his status as the star of the Cavs completely disappeared.
Chris Gatling, Mavericks / Nets
In the 1996-1997 season, Gatling earned a place as an All-Star due to his impressive stats. He played for the Nets and averaged 19 points and eight rebounds per game.
Although Gatling stayed in the NBA for ten years, he never again reached the level of his most impressive season. Over the course of his entire career, he averaged only 10 points per game. When he failed to reach expectations in the season following his All-Star campaign, Gatling was traded from the Nets to the Milwaukie Bucks.
Bobby Simmons, Los Angeles Clippers
When Elton Brand played for the Clippers, Bobby Simmons was another bright spot on the successful team. In the 2004-2005 season, he averaged 16.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. That same year, Simmons was given the title of the most improved player.
Unfortunately, Simmons was plagued by injuries for the rest of his career. By the age of 25, he was no longer the player of the 2004-2005 season. Though he will always be remembered as a great basketball player in the history of the Clippers, his 2004-2005 season was the one standout moment of his career.
Jamaal Magloire, New Orleans Hornets
In the 2003-2004 season, Jamaal Magloire averaged a double-double with 13.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per season for the New Orleans Hornets. HIs impressive game earned him an All-Star selection, but it was also one of the last times he averaged double digits in his career. He only made double digits in scoring once more.
Magloire’s decline was in large part due his to many injuries. He did play fro Miami at the end of his career, which is an impressive accomplishment for any player.
Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
After averaging 19.1 points per game in the 2011-2012 season for the Bucks, most people thought Brandon Jennings was the next big thing for the NBA. Fans were even hopeful that he would take Derrick Rose’s position as a powerful point guard after his decline.
Unfortunately, Jennings didn’t have the team mentality of Rose. He was a volume shooter, but his position valued unselfishness and efficiency. Jennings excelled at neither, so he never reached the top tier of players in the NBA.
Terrence Ross, Raptors / Magic
While Terrence Ross had some flashes of serious talent, he was never a consistent player. Before his one incredible season, Ross pulled out a 51-point performance while playing with the Toronto Raptors. Unfortunately, scoring like that was far from the norm.
In the 2018-2019 season, however, Ross showed real brilliance. He averaged 15.1 points and 12.7 shots per game, a career-high. After that, Ross never averaged more than 12.5 points per game, though he continued to be a valuable player in the NBA.
Theo Ratliff, Philadelphia 76ers
Theo Ratliff played alongside Allen Iverson, which quickly became his claim to fame. But Ratliff had a few moments of brilliance himself. In the 2000-2001 season, Ratliff averaged 12.4 points per game, the highest in his career.
However, his average of 3.7 blocked shots per game was the more impressive number. It was this stat that earned him a place in the All-Star game that game. Although Ratliff continued to be an impressive shot blocker during his career, his popularity waned as his scoring average declined.
Mike James, Toronto Raptors
During his first six seasons in the league, Mike James was unable to score more than 12 points per game. That disappointing average made the 2005-2006 season all the more shocking. During that season, James averaged 20.3 points per game on 46.9% shooting.
Unfortunately, after that impressive run, James returned to anonymity. His stats went down once again, and most people forgot about his one notable year.
Aaron Brooks, Houston Rockets
During his third season in the league, Aaron Brooks established himself as a force to be reckoned with. He averaged 19.6 points per game during the 2009-2010 year, though his high scoring was just an anomaly.
After that season, Brooks never scored more than 12 points per game again. However, he stayed in the league as a useful reserve player with an impressive three-point shot. He didn’t earn the adoration of fans, but he still managed to show that he was a valuable part of the team.
Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers
Although Roy Hibbert earned two All-Star recognitions during the course of his career, his 2011-2012 season was by far the most impressive. He averaged 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and two blocked shots per game.
After that impressive run, people thought that Hibbert could help to take down Lebron James and the Miami Heat in the postseason. Sadly, they were wrong. He did cause the Heat some trouble, but not enough to topple their empire.
Mo Williams, Cleveland Cavaliers
While Mo Williams had a fairly steady career in comparison to some one hit wonders, he really took his game to the next level during the 2008-2009 postseason. At that time, he averaged 16.3 points per game.
Playing alongside Lebron James, Willaims was thought to be a major asset to the team. While he certainly had his moments, he never put up those types of numbers again.
Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers
In the 2011-2012 season, Andrew Bynum showed some serious promise. That year, he put up 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game for the Lakers. The impressive stats earned him an All-Star appearance.
Unfortunately, injuries then took Bynum out of the game. He dealt with some knee issues while simultaneously clashing with the organizations behind his team, which had a huge impact on his career. He was later labeled uncoachable and left the NBA for good, ending an amazing career before it truly began.
Michael Adams, Washington Bullets
In the NBA, the ability to average a double-double in points and assists is a special talent. Michael Adams checked that box. In the 1990-1991 season, Adams averaged 26.5 points and 10.5 assists per game. His incredible stats made him sixth in the entire league for scoring that year.
Unfortunately, Adams never got back to that high level of talent. When he eventually left the Nuggets, he was unable to find a team that would accommodate his waning skills, ending his career in the NBA for good.
Antoine Carr, Sacramento Kings
In the 1989-1990 season, the Sacramento Kings acquired Antione Carr through a trade with Atlanta. The team expected a lot from him that year, and he delivered. In the 1990-1991 season, he averaged more than 20 points per game.
Unfortunately, Carr’s incredible season was a one-off. He never came close to that kind of scoring average again and was soon traded from the Kings and sent to a different team.
Darius Miles, Trailblazers
Darius Miles’ impressive talent was apparent from his days playing high school basketball. He was a top high school prospect and was drafted in 2003 by the Los Angeles Clippers as their third overall pick. With his size and ball-handling skills, it seemed obvious that he would be a success.
Unfortunately, Miles was never a consistent player. He had a great season in 2005-2006 when he averaged 14 points and four rebounds per game for the Trailblazers. After that season, he dealt with a range of injuries that forced him to retire from the league by the age of 27.
Rodrigue Beaubois, Dallas Marvericks
At the start of his rookie season in 2009-2010, Rodrigue Beaubois only played an average of 12.5 minutes in 56 games. While his chances for success seemed low, his scoring averaged jumped up to 13.4 points at 46% from three during March of that year. In a game against the Golden State Warriors, Beaubois scored a stunning 40 points.
After that impressive game, however, Beaubois talent dipped immensely. Over the next 134 games, he averaged only 4.8 points. He played for four more seasons, but was then cut from the league completely.
Bismack Biyombo, Toronto Raptors
As a player, Bismack Byombo is anything but impressive. His career averages are 6.2 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 5.1 points per game. Despite those dismal numbers, he manages to pull out a much better game in the postseason.
While playing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, Biyombo averaged 11.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, and two blocks per game. For that impressive performance, Biyombo earned a five-year, $70 million contract with Orlando Magic. Unfortunately, his game has returned to its previous history of less-than-impressive stats.
Willie Burton, Philadelphia 76ers
On December 13, 1994, Willie Burton became a legend in the NBA. In a game against his former team, Miami Heat, Burton scored a stunning 53 points. Before that night, Burton averaged only seven points per game.
After his incredible game against the Heat, Burton didn’t have another night like that again. In fact, he only played in 40 more NBA games and averaged just 4.5 points per game, making his memorable performance against the Heat all the more incredible.
Dan Dickau, New Orleans Hornets
While playing with the Gonzaga Bulldogs, Dan Dickau averaged 20.1 points and 5.4 assists per game. When he was drafted in the NBA, however, he couldn’t keep up the numbers that got him into the league in the first place. In his first two years, he averaged just 3 points per game.
When Dickau was traded to the New Orleans Hornets, things started to look up. That year, he averaged 13.2 points and 5.2 assists per game. Unfortunately, he couldn’t keep it up. He played in 136 more games, where he averaged just 4.3 points.
Richard Dumas, Phoenix Suns
During the 1992-1993 season, Richard Dumas averaged 15.8 points per game for the Phoenix Suns as a rookie. His success was all the more impressive considering he played on a team that also featured Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle, and Kevin Johnson. As the fourth leading scorer of the season, it seemed that Duman was going to be a big name in the NBA.
After his rookie season ended, however, Dumas faced issues with substance abuse that got him suspended from the league. He only played 54 more games after the 1992-1993 season and averaged just six points per game.
Jaren Jackson, San Antonio Spurs
Jaren Jackson played in the NBA for over a decade, but his stats weren’t exactly impressive. He averaged just 5.5 points per game, which made him a valuable player, but not a star.
During the 1999 playoffs, however, Jackson had a moment. While playing against the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trailblazers, and New York Knicks, Jackson averaged 13.4 points and shot 42% from the three-point line. His improved playing helped the Spurs snag the title that year, though Jackson never played quite that well again.
Von Wafer, Houston Rockets
In his first three seasons in the NBA, Von Wafer did nothing remotely noteworthy. In 46 games, he averaged just 1.4 points per game. The 2008-2009 season, however, was a different story.
While playing for the Houston Rockets, Wafer averaged 9.7 points per game and shot 39% from the three-point line. Wafer was later credited with dragging the Houston Rockets out of their funk and bringing some remembrance of winning back to the team. Unfortunately, over the next 91 games of his career, Wafer went back to an average of 4.2 points per game.
Johnny Flynn, Minnesota Timberwolves
Johnny Flynn had a successful basketball career in college playing at Syracuse University. His strong reputation made him the number six pick in the 2009 draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his first year in the NBA, Flynn averaged 13.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game.
Unfortunately, Flynn went downhill in his second season. That year, he averaged just 5.3 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. Three years later, Flynn was out of the league for good.
John Starks, New York Knicks
John Starks is still a beloved basketball player to his day, but his popularity with the fans didn’t necessarily make him a good player. Throughout his 14 seasons in the NBA, Starks averaged 12.5 points and 3.6 assists per game.
However, Starks did have a couple of really good years. In the 1993-1994 season, Starks averaged 17.5 points and 5.9 assists per game. The next year, he beat those records with 19 points and 5.9 assists per game. Other than those seasons, however, Starks was simply an average player.
Keon Clark, Denver Nuggets
Keon Clark was the 13th pick in the 1998 draft, but he didn’t truly expose his full talent until his third year with the Denver Nuggets. At that time, he averaged 11.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game.
While his numbers should have made him an interior defender any team would want, Clark had a small frame and an upsetting lack of offense. He was unable to become truly effective as an interior defender and only stayed in the league for two more years after that impressive season.
Lee Nailon, New Orleans Hornets
Lee Nailon was the 43rd pick in the 1999 draft. During his first three seasons in the league, Nailon played for five different teams. It was obvious at that point that he was a player to be traded to make contracts work out for other, more desirable peers.
In the 2004-2005 season, however, Nailon shined on the New Orleans Hornets. He averaged 14.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. Unfortunately, he was moved again when the year was up and the following season he was out of the NBA altogether.
DaJuan Wagner, Cleveland Cavaliers
When he was younger, DaJaun Wagner was a force on the basketball court. In high school, he once scored 100 points in a game. He continued playing in college and was considered a true talent at the University of Memphis. In the 2002 draft, Wagner was the sixth pick.
While playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers during his rookie year, Wagner averaged 13.4 points and 2.8 assists per game. By his second year, however, Wagner was only putting up half the numbers of his first year. After that, he only lasted two more years in the league.
Bonzi Wells, Portland Trailblazers
In 1998, Bonzi Wells was the 11th pick in the draft for the Portland Trailblazers. While he played well, he had a truly outstanding year in the 2001-2002 season where he averaged 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. He was athletic and strong, so he could easily switch between a small forward and a power forward.
A few years later, Wells landed a big contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. Unfortunately, his playing went downhill. For the rest of his career, he bounced around between teams before leaving the league in 2008.
Billy Owens, Golden State Warriors
In the 1991 draft, Billy Owens was the third pick for the Sacramento Kings. However, he was later traded to the Golden State Warriors, where he averaged 16.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game.
After that impressive year, Owens’ numbers started on a steady decline. In his ten-year career, he played for six different teams, proving that he wasn’t impressive enough to be considered a valuable player.
Stromile Swift, Vancouver Grizzlies
Stromile Swift was practically made to be a basketball player. At nearly 7 feet tall, Swift was an obvious choice for the number two pick in the 2000 draft. Although Swift never had a good jump shot, he was incredibly athletic and more agile than most men on his team.
During his second year playing for the Vancouver Grizzlies, Swift averaged 11.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. Unfortunately, he never developed the moves he needed to take his career to the next level. As his athleticism declined, so did his career in the NBA.
Derek Anderson, San Antonio Spurs
Derek Anderson was the 13th pick in the 1997 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. By his third season, Anderson had made his way to the San Antonio Spurs. During that 2000-2001 season, Anderson averaged 16.9 points, 4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game.
While Anderson went on to sign a huge contract a few years into his career, he never developed into the kind of offensive player he was supposed to be. His game was a bit of a letdown and he skated through the rest of his time in the NBA without doing anything truly noteworthy.
Troy Hudson, Minnesota Timberwolves
Although he wasn’t picked during the 1997 draft, Troy Hudson did make his way into the NBA. He started with the Jazz and then had stints with the Clippers and Magic before heading to Minnesota.
During his year playing for the Timberwolves, Hudson averaged 14.2 points and 5.7 assists per game. Although it was his sixth year in the league, it looked like he had finally found his stride. Unfortunately, his numbers in the next year were cut in half, ruining any confidence left in his ability to consistently play well.
Seth Curry, Dallas Mavericks
While Steph Curry is basically an NBA legend, his younger brother Seth failed to live up to his reputation. Seth bounced around the NBA for a while, but his three-point shooting got some serious attention during the 2016-2017 season.
While playing for the Mavericks, Curry averaged .425 from behind the arc, which made people who had originally written him off take another look. Unfortunately, Curry was injured shortly after, which forced him to sit out for the 2017-2018 season. It’s unclear whether he’ll find a way to shine in the league again, or if he’ll continue being a one-hit wonder.
Adam Morrison, Charlotte Bobcats
Adam Morrison was considered a major talent while playing for Gonzaga University, but no one could quite figure out why. He dominated the court in scoring, but he wasn’t particularly athletic. However, during his 2006 rookie year with the Charlotte Bobcats, Morrison’s array of floaters and post moves helped him to have one of the highest points-per-game for a rookie that year.
In 2007, Morrison tore his ACL and missed a whole season. After his return, he was traded to the Lakers and won two titles before retiring.
Ernie DiGregorio, Buffalo Braves
Years ago, Ernie DiGregorio was believed to be the next big thing in basketball. During his rookie season, he won Rookie of the Year. To this day, he still holds the record for most assists in a game by a rookie with a total of 25. Other players have tied the record, but they’ve been unable to break it.
After his rookie season, however, DiGregorio’s game was never the same. His numbers declined drastically and he never got more than 5 assists per game in the following years. After four years in the league, DiGregorio left after the 1977-1978 season.
Marvin Barnes, Philadelphia 76ers
Before there was the NBA, there was the ABA. That’s where Marvin Barnes played. For his first two years, Barnes was a strong player. But after making his mark on the league, Barnes fell into obscurity.
Barnes was reportedly plagued by drugs and legal problems that interfered with his game. He only stayed in the league for a few years and by the end of his career averaged just 3.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
Don MacLean, Washington Bullets
In college, Don MacLean was a nearly unbeatable player. He is, after all, the all-time scoring leader of the Pac-12 Conference and UCLA to this day. When college was finished, MacLean was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1992, but was immediately traded to the Washington Bullets.
While playing with the Bullets, MacLean earned the title of the Most Improved Player in 1994. He was later traded to the Denver Nuggets, where his numbers began a steady decline. He eventually left the league altogether and is now a color analyst on the UCLA Basketball Radio Network.
Don May, Buffalo Braves
Don May was a third-round draft pick for the New York Knicks. He stayed with the team for the NBA title in 1970, but played very little. Later, he was drafted by the Buffalo Braves during the expansion draft.
With his new team, May averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds, and two assists per game. Although he went on to play with Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Kansas City, he never recreated the high numbers of his one impressive season. In 1975, he retired from the league for good.