1. Adrian Dantley
Dantley was the sixth overall pick in 1976 by the Buffalo Braves, and he immediately averaged over 20 points per game. The 6’5 forward won Rookie of the Year in 1977 but was traded to the Pacers in the offseason. He lasted just 23 games in Indiana before being shipped to the Lakers with David Robisch in exchange for James Edwards, Earl Tatum, and cash.
His shot attempts decreased playing next to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but Dantley still averaged 17.3 points, 5.7 assists, 2.3 assists, and 1.1 steals in 29.6 minutes per game during his only full season with the Lakers. He was traded to the Utah Jazz for Spencer Haywood in 1979.
Dantley was an All-Star in six of the next seven years where he averaged 29.6 points per game, and lead the league in scoring twice. He was arguably the best scorer in the 1980s, and he blossomed just after leaving the Lakers.
LA had Jamaal Wilkes and Norm Nixon flanking Kareem. There were multiple mouths to feed, but Dantley was an elite scorer that never got the chance to shine on the Lakers. The Hall of Famer was at the start of his legendary career when he arrived in Los Angeles, and the Lakers just gave up on the talented forward before he reached his prime.
The Los Angeles Lakers have given up on a lot of players too soon. Who will be the next player on this list? It is something worth watching moving forward.