Everyone remembers the great draft picks in history, the promising young talents that truly lived up to the intense and quite often overwhelming expectations of the NBA, players like Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant., Shaquille O’Neal, Larry Bird... the list goes on. These are the players that truly left an unforgettable mark on the basketball court. Players that will be spoken out for decades and even centuries to come.
There are some players, however, that failed to make their mark, players that for whatever reason that were caught off guard by the unforgiving nature of the world’s most competitive and demanding professional basketball league, the NBA. Some players can’t deal with the pressure, others get swallowed up by a lifestyle with plenty of fame and money, and some just simply aren’t as good as expected. Here are some of the worst draft first picks in history.
Anthony Bennet, Cleveland Cavaliers, 2013 Draft
Despite not being the top seed, Bennet ended up being first pick in 2013. It turned out to be a disastrous decision. His rookie season set the tone for rest of his career in the NBA: he averaged an extremely underwhelming 4.2 points and three rebounds per game.The power forward, who coincidentally was the first Canadian to be first pick in NBA draft history, went on to play just 151 games in four years in the NBA.
In the 2016-2017 season, his contract was terminated after having played just 19 games for the Brooklyn Nets. He was forced to go and play in Europe for Fenerbache after finding himself without a team. He didn’t last long in Europe either… he’s currently playing in Taiwan for the Kaohsiung Steelers.
Kwame Brown, Washinton Wizardsm, 2001 Draft
Kwame Brown is considered by many as one of the worst draft first picks in history. He was first pick in 2002 by the the Washington Wizards.There was a lot of hype surrounding Brown, most notably because a certain Michael Jordan wanted him in his team. He spent a couple of difficult seaons in Washington, made even more challenging by what turned out to be a difficult relationship with Jordan, who is said to have “bullied” him and made his life hell
In 2005, he was traded to the LA Lakers and failed to show any signs of quality. The rest of his career was shared between 6 more clubs as he failed to really establish himself anywhere.
Michael Olowokandi , Los Angeles Clippers, 1998 Draft
Olowokando turned out to be a major flop, and the decision of Clippers is made even worse given the fact they had the chance to sign Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, or Antawn Jamison ahead of him. The first three now all form part of the Hall of Fame. A truly incomprehensible decision. Olowokandi averaged 8.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 0.7 assists in the 500 games he played in the NBA. Very poor stats.
Sam Bowie, Portland Trail Blazers, 1984
Bowie is no where near the worst player on this list but he has to be included because of the players he was picked ahead of. Believe it or not, the Blazers chose Bowie instead of the greatest player to grace the NBA, Michael Jordan, as well as Charles Barkley and John Stockton. All three, of course, are now Hall of Famers. The centre averaged 10.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks per game over his career which was was admittedly plauged by injury. What could have been for the Blazers…
As the 2021-2022 NBA closed out with the Golden State Warrior’s outstanding victory over the Boston Celtics in the finals, the league has started its preparations for next season with the NBA draft being the first major event of the 2022-2023 campaign. As it’s the case in all drafts, this year there is no shortage of talent. Players like Jabari Smith, Jaden Ivey, Paolo Bachero, Chet Holmgren and Shaedon Sharpe, to name a few, will hope to follow in the footsteps of the NBA greats both past and present. It remains to be seen whether they’ll deliver. After all, the NBA waits for no one.