Over the past two to three decades, professional sports pundits have used the term bust to describe players who failed to live up to pre-draft expectations. For instance, Sports Illustrated labeled Tim Couch one of the biggest busts of all time because he “threw for a miserable 11,571 yards, 64 touchdowns and 67 interceptions in five injury-plagued seasons”. However, it is unfair to label Couch a bust when the Cleveland Browns didn’t put him in the best position to succeed. Tim played for the University of Kentucky in college who implemented an offensive system centered around the shotgun formation. For example, he lined up about five yards behind the center with one or two running backs beside him and a two to four wide receiver set. Once the ball is snapped, Couch looked to get rid of the ball immediately to a receiver running a screen, curl, in and out route or to the flats. However, there were some instances where Tim was under center to hand the ball off to the running backs.
Unfortunately, when Tim Couch arrived in Cleveland, the Browns coaching staff led by Butch Davis told him to take the majority of his snaps from under center. This is because most NFL organizations want their quarterback to learn how to play in a pro-style offense. A pro-style offense requires that the quarterback take a substantial amount of the snaps directly from under center. The change in the offensive system led to the downward spiral in Tim Couch’s career because he never developed the ability to sense when a defender was coming from the blind side. For instance, every time Couch dropped back to pass from under center; he was constantly moving his feet because he always thought a defender was nearby. As a result, a lot of Tim’s passes were inaccurate because he was scared to plant his feet which would have helped with the velocity and accuracy of his throws. However on the occasion when he was in shotgun formation, Couch would often plant his feet and deliver a firm throw because he was in his comfort zone. According to pro-football-reference, Tim Couch only completed 58.27 percent of his passes from under center. On the other hand, he completed 62.54 percent of his passes from shotgun formation. Therefore, if the Cleveland Browns would have implemented a system similar to Kentucky, Tim Couch would’ve been more successful and avoided the bust label.
Unfortunately, the term bust has transitioned into NBA discussions as sports pundits have called Lonzo Ball a bust after one season. Stephen A. Smith of ESPN called Lonzo a bust because he wasn’t aggressive enough and could not shoot the ball from a distance. However, it is unfair to label Ball a bust when the Los Angeles Lakers haven’t put him in the best position to succeed. Throughout his basketball career, Lonzo Ball has been described as a player who possesses excellent court vision and passing ability. According to DraftExpress, “Ball showed he has the vision, timing, accuracy, and overall foundation to eventually make every read necessary at the NBA level… and locate shooters”. Due to this, he needs to be on a team where he would be the primary ball handler; and is allowed to analyze the defense to determine what is the right pass. For instance, the traditional pick and roll offense would be an ideal system for him because he can bring the ball up to the three-point line and ask for a screen. Once the pick was set Ball can pay attention to his defender to determine the next course of action, for instance, if the defender went under the screen, Ball can go over it and take the wide open shot. On the other hand, if the defender went over the screen, Ball can go over it as well and drive towards the basket where he can score or pass the ball to the player next to him or to the perimeter depending on whether he was double teamed or not.
However, it is unlikely that Lonzo Ball will not reach his full potential as an NBA player while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.This is because the Lakers have implemented an offensive system that is centered around ball movement. For instance, the point guard will bring the ball up to the three-point line and passes it to another player. Once this happens, the second player will give it to a third player and the third player will call for a screen. Once the pick was set, the third player can pay attention to his defender to determine the next course of action, for instance, if the defender went under the screen, the third player can go over it and take the open shot. On the other hand, if the defender went over the screen, the third player can go over it as well and drive towards the basket where he can score or pass the ball to the player next to him or to the perimeter depending on whether he was double teamed or not.
But, there are occasions when the Los Angeles Lakers send a big man in the low block to post up. For instance, the point guard will bring the ball up to the three-point line and passes it to a big man in the low post area. Once that happens, the big man will attempt to back down the defender with one of his shoulders to get within comfortable range to shoot a jump hook. Another example of this is when the point guard will bring the ball up to the three-point line and passes it to another perimeter player. The second perimeter will either dump the ball into the post or give it to a third perimeter player, and he will throw it into the low to mid-block to start the process of attempting to get a jump hook. As a result of this, Lonzo will primarily be in a spot-up shooter role which diminishes the impact he can have on games by passing the basketball.
In conclusion, the term bust shouldn’t be used in sports because the success of a player is dependent on whether NFL/NBA coaches are willing to analyze a player’s skill set. If they do, the coaches must take the information gathered and design a system meant to emphasize the strengths of the player. On the other hand, if they don’t, the player will be set up to fail.