6 nba players that died before their peak

Len Bias

The greatest what if in basketball history and someone we blog about often. Could have been a top 10 player all-time and lead the Celtics to multiple championships. Could he have been better than Michael Jordan as some people were saying back in 1986? We will never know. Bias died of a cocaine overdose less than 48 hours after being drafted by the Boston Celtics. We will never know just how many MVPs and Final’s MVPs he could have stacked in his career.

Hank Gathers

Just how good could Hank Gathers been? Gathers was destined for greatness in the NBA and most likely would have an NBA-All Star and could have been as good as NBA-All First Team. Gathers had multiple offensive weapons and was a beast on the boards. Some scouts even had Gathers as the number one pick of the 1990 NBA draft, ahead of Syracuse forward Derrick Coleman. Gathers was pretty much automatic within 15 feet. Many have compared his game to former high scoring forward Bernard King, but better on the boards.

Drazen Petrovic

The greatest shooter of all-time before Stephen Curry and Ray Allen came around. Petrovic would have thrived in today’s NBA given the amount of three-pointers shot in today’s game. Petrovic was not only an outside sniper, but a great all-around defender as well. Petrovic was getting better and better each year in the league, and definitely could have been one of the top players in the game had he not died in a car crash in 1993.

Reggie Lewis

One of the often-forgotten players in NBA history. Reggie Lewis was assigned the task of taking the torch after Boston Celtics greats Larry Bird and Kevin McHale retired. Lewis, with the help of the right teammates and the right coach could have made the Celtics into championship contenders in the 1990s. Could a Reggie Lewis-led team could have beaten the 90s Bulls? Unknown. But Reggie Lewis did give Michael Jordan difficulty at times when they matched up.

Terrance Clarke

Boston native and former Kentucky forward Terrance Clarke declared for the 2021, hoping to be picked up by the Boston Celtics. Clarke was projected to be a first round pick, with some scouts predicting he was a lottery pick, while others felt he was a mid-to late first rounder. Either way, regardless of where Terrance Clarke would have been drafted in 2021, he had a bright future ahead of him. Clarke was destined to be a solid NBA player due to his athleticism and defensive strengths.

Benji Wilson

Often described as “Magic Johnson with a jump shot”. Benji had the complete offensive game: could score in the paint, score off the dribble and had great passing skills as well. Had Benji not been killed in 1984, Benji would have most likely played for DePaul University and led them to a Final Four or two. Benji would have most likely gone pro in either 1987 or 1988 and would have been a top-15 pick, being available to be picked by his hometown Chicago Bulls. Just imagine if Michael Jordan had Benji Williams as a teammate.

Fab Melo

We put this one in as a bonus. Not everyone agrees that Melo had the potential to be a great NBA player. Some fans even think that Melo is one of the biggest first round draft busts of all-time. We believe that Melo really never got a real shot in the NBA. Melo was extremely athletic and was dominant playing defense in the paint. Had Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics been patient with Melo, they could have had a strong rim protector down the road. Unfortunately, his offensive skills were lacking and many felt that his defensive strengths did not outweigh his offensive liabilities. The Celtics traded him, then the Memphis Grizzlies cut him and then the Dallas Mavericks gave him a quick shot before cutting him. He was out of the NBA in just two years. No team really took a long term approach with him. After returning to his home country of Brazil, Melo was found in his home dead after a heart attack. He was only 27.

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