Derrick Coleman was once considered the pride of Detroit…I think. Coleman was a high school legend in the D but then took his college game east to Syracuse where he was a total monster. He averaged a double-double in each of his final three college seasons including an 18/12 line as a senior. All of that hype just continued to build up towards the NBA Draft has he was considered the consensus number one pick.
The New Jersey Nets sat with the top pick and did not deviate from the plan, selecting Coleman #1. Coleman immediately drew rave reviews. He was a “can’t miss” prospect. He was compared to everyone from Elgin Baylor to Karl Malone to Charles Barkley. He was a force in the post whose outside shot extended out beyond the three point line. He was Danny Ferry with game.
Coleman retired with decent career numbers, averaging 16/9 for his career. However, he fell short of almost every expectation and is seen as a posterboy for unrealized potential and laziness. The same things have been said about Rasheed Wallace. Like Wallace, Coleman could dominate down low, but found it easy to hoist jumpers away from the basket.
Coleman had his best years in New Jersey but wore out his welcome there due to his bad attitude, laziness, an alcohol problem and injuries. He could have been so much more. He went on to have some good seasons with the Hornets and the 76ers before ending his career with a five-game stint in Detroit with his hometown Pistons.
His honors as a pro inlcude an All Star game and Rookie of the Year trophy. He retired from the NBA during the 2004-05 season having made close to $100M as a pro.