Part of the reason we all love the NBA Draft is that it can be such a crapshoot. Even with the no. 1 overall pick, there are no guarantees. Believe it or not, there have been players that were believed to be the best player available who ended up being complete busts. Not to rub it in the faces of the teams that made such terrible mistakes, but let’s revisit the worst no. 1 overall picks in NBA Draft history.
Greg Oden, Trail Blazers (2007)
It’s a little unfair to criticize the Trail Blazers for taking Oden, even knowing that he became a bust. Oden looked the part of an NBA center before spending a year at Ohio State, but that body soon began to breakdown in the NBA. Injuries limited Oden to 114 NBA games, including playoffs. It never worked for him and it must kill Portland to this day knowing that they could have drafted Kevin Durant instead.
Pervis Ellison, Kings (1989)
Speaking of injuries, Ellison was another top overall pick who was victimized by the injury bug. He looked like a sure thing coming out of Louisville, leading the Cardinals to a national championship. But he missed almost half of his rookie season because of injury and was rarely healthy after that. The Kings at least had the sense to trade Ellison after his rookie year. While he had a couple of good seasons, Ellison became a massive disappointment, largely because he couldn’t stay healthy.
Kwame Brown, Wizards (2001)
Michael Jordan had a hand in drafting Brown, but he was no Michael Jordan. The physical tools seemed to be there for Brown. But it never seemed to click for him, as he averaged over 10 points per game just once in 12 seasons. For what it’s worth, he stuck around for 12 seasons and became a semi-decent role player. However, that doesn’t cut it for a first-overall pick.
Michael Olowokandi, Clippers (1998)
The Clippers thought they had found the next great big man. However, there’s a big difference between dominating the Big West Conference at Pacific and making it on the NBA. Coming out, he was said to have “unlimited potential,” only to be later called “uncoachable” by Kareem Abdul-Jabar, who was an assistant with the Clippers during Olowokandi’s rookie season. To be fair, he had a couple of decent seasons with the Clippers. However, Olowokandi went downhill fast and injuries eventually ended his career after nine NBA seasons.
Anthony Bennett, Cavaliers (2013)
While he deserves credit for being the first Canadian drafted no. 1 overall, Bennett might be the worst of the worst among top picks. As soon as the Cavs drafted him, there were critics who ended up being right about him. It didn’t take Cleveland long to figure out that they didn’t want him, as Bennett ended up spending four NBA seasons with four different teams, earning just four starts in 151 games. He didn’t even play four full seasons before the NBA had enough. Bennett’s efforts in the G League didn’t give him another chance in the NBA, making him arguably the biggest bust in league history.