Getting number 1 in the NBA draft is the greatest achievement for a college player entering the NBA. It proves that they are the best players in college and have the most chance of gaining fame in the NBA. It also depends on the needs of the players who draw the team.
We’ve seen some incredible talent go to number 1 in LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Hakeem Olajuwon, but we’ve also seen some disastrous number 1 picks. The player that comes to everyone’s mind is Kwame Brown, the man who has been stealing all the headlines with his criticism of all his haters lately. But is Kwame Brown the worst number 1 ever? It’s time to rank the No. 1 worst picks ever.
Career stats: 8.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.2 BPG
It is not Oden’s fault that he suffered late career injuries at such a young age. But he should never have been preferred to Kevin Durant (who ended up in second place), even if tall men were worth much more back then.
Durant became one of the top scorers in NBA history, while Oden only played 82 games with Portland in 2 seasons, while missing the entire first year of his career with the team. Oden should have been an All-Star, but he never got a chance to prove it, which makes him an Honorable Mention.
10. Joe Smith
Career stats: 10.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Joe Smith wasn’t a prototype talent in terms of talent, but he certainly didn’t deserve to be # 1 in draft ahead of Kevin Garnett, Jerry Stackhouse, or Rasheed Wallace. Joe Smith made it onto the all-rookie team in 1995 averaging 15.3 PPG and 8.7 RPG, but he couldn’t become the star he was in college.
Smith averaged 26.2 MPG over the course of his career, which is not enough for a # 1 overall pick, and he even played for 12 different teams over 16 seasons. Smith was also implicated in one of the biggest front office mistakes in history, which forced the Minnesota Timberwolves to give over 3 first-round picks and pay a $ 3.5 million fine.
9. Pervis Ellison
Career stats: 9.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.6 BPG
Pervis Ellison had promising moments when he averaged 20.0 PPG and 17.4 PPG, respectively, in his third and fourth seasons, but injuries prevented him from becoming the star he was supposed to become. Ellison managed to play over 65 games three times in his career, with only one season surpassing 70 games.
After Ellison’s fourth season, he never got an average double-digit score again. A 6’9 “center, it was already too small so an injured body rendered it ineffective. People like Glen Rice, Shawn Kemp and Tim Hardaway were all available but weren’t taken before Ellison.
8. Kent Benson
Career stats: 9.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Kent Benson didn’t live up to his potential as a professional, and that’s nicely put. Benson looked like a talented center in college as he was 6’10 “tall and had a formidable presence, but he only got over 10.0 PPG four times in 11 seasons in the league. He finished in the middle of his third season at Milwaukee Bucks traded (the team that designed it) and had a 7 year relationship with Detroit.
Benson didn’t do much to Detroit either, averaging 9.6 PPG and 6.1 RPG over his 7 years with the franchise. If a player is known primarily for being slapped in the face (thanks to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) rather than for his talent as a number 1 pick, he should be in the top 10 on this list.
7. Bill McGill
Career stats: 10.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.1 APG
The most frustrating part of the Chicago Zephyrs decision was to miss John Havlicek, who finished 7th in the 1962 draft. McGill only lasted 3 seasons in the NBA before playing in the NABL, another professional league. McGill later returned to the ABA for 2 more seasons but did not move the needle for any of his teams. In his 5 seasons with the NBA and ABA, he played for a whopping 8 different teams.
McGill was clearly the wrong choice, despite being widely ranked as a top 3 pick due to his scoring at the University of Utah. But one can only imagine if Havlicek was drafted instead, as the legend of the Boston Celtics formed 13 All-Star teams and 11 All-NBA teams over the course of his career.
6. Michael Olowokandi
Career stats: 8.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.5 SPG, 1.4 BPG
To this day, nobody knows what the Clippers thought when they took Olowokandi over against Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce and Mike Bibby. Each of these players became stars in the league, but the Clippers designed an average 7-foot center out of Lagos, Nigeria.
Olowokandi had an impressive 9 years in the league, but he was certainly not a Hakeem Olajuwon. Olowokandi averaged double-digit points only twice in his career, and that was because he averaged 35 MPG over that time span. Olowokandi didn’t do much other than clog the trail for his team and his sheer size was the only reason he had an NBA job for so long.
5. Kwame Brown
Career stats: 6.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Kwame Brown wasn’t a very good NBA player despite having spent 12 seasons in the NBA. Brown always found a team because his sheer size and presence in color was always useful when needed. But otherwise, Brown wasn’t a talented player. He only lasted 4 seasons with the Washington Wizards and was known to be destroyed by Michael Jordan.
If that didn’t help, Brown played for the next 2 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, where Kobe Bryant was there to end the 7’0-inch center’s confidence. Brown struggled to handle the ball and never hit an average of more than 7.4 inches RPG Quite simply, Brown was a broke, even if the player disproves that claim on social media these days.
4. LaRue Martin
Career stats: 5.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0.5 BPG
The Trail Blazers made their biggest mistake in 1972 when they designed 6’9 “power forward LaRue Martin over Julius Erving and Bob McAdoo. Martin had bad career numbers, but his career was actually more disappointing. Martin averaged 12.9 in his first season MPG only with a reasonably decent third season in which he played 16.9 MPG and averaged 7.0 PPG.
Martin should never have been voted that high, let alone in front of two Hall of Fame superstars in Erving and McAdoo. LaRue Martin retired from the NBA at the age of 26 and is the third worst No. 1 draft pick after three other players.
3. Anthony Bennett
Career stats: 4.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Anthony Bennett is the third worst number 1 in NBA history for never being more than a bench warmer in the league. Bennett never started a game in his rookie season, a surprising fact for a # 1 pick, and averaged just 4.2 PPG in 52 games. Bennett barely held out his rookie season at Cleveland, as he was traded to Minnesota, Toronto and Brooklyn over the next 3 seasons.
With only 4 starts on his name and lazy career numbers, Bennett is one of the three worst No. 1 picks of all time, and it’s nowhere near that. He never had the talent to get that high drafted and the Cavaliers made the most surprising move of 2013 by bringing power forward with the coveted number 1 against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert.
2. Andy Tonkovich
Career stats: 2.6 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 0.6 APG
Named No. 1 in 1948, Tonkovich was a 6’1 “Guard who was only inducted in the second draft in professional basketball history. Even so, Tonkovich was a bust. He only lasted an average of one season in the league with his Professional team 2.6 PPG and never makes an impression as a professional.
Tonkovich should never have taken over Dolph Schayes, the Hall of Famer and one of the most influential paint players in NBA history. Schayes averaged 18.5 PPG and 12.1 RPG over the course of his career, including 12 all-star appearances, so it doesn’t make sense why not a 6’8 “tall man was drafted – 1 overall.
1. Mark the worker
Career stats: 4.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 0.6 APG
Mark Workman only lasted two seasons in the league before quitting his NBA job. Workman was drafted back in the 1952 draft so few, if any, remember his rookie season, but it was very lazy. Workman averaged 2.2 PPG in 5.8 MPG for his original team before being traded 5 games in his rookie season.
He didn’t do much better in the remaining 60 games of his season, setting up 5.3 PPG in just 16.7 MPG. Workman had one more season in the league, but he only played 14 games before finding his way out of the league. Mark Workman is the worst number 1 ever in terms of sheer production and impact on the court.