Andrea Bargnani and 5 Former No. 1 Picks Who Need a New Team
You can never be certain when you're drafting.
There's so little certainty and so much unpredictable results that are possible that makes it extremely difficult to draft the right player. You narrow it down to a key position you need, but it still doesn't allow you any reassurance that you're going to get the correct player. Not even teams with a lottery pick can rest as so many highly rated prospects have done little to nothing in their NBA careers.
Even the franchises with the No. 1 pick can't rest. You're going to most likely draft the top college player, but they don't always turn out to be the best NBA player. You'll find your Dwight Howards and Blake Griffins, but you'll also come across your Michael Olowokandis and Kwame Browns as well.
Most No. 1 picks pay off, however. Howard has taken the Orlando Magic to the finals, Griffin has helped to turn the Los Angeles Clippers around and Derrick Rose has the Chicago Bulls as a championship contender as a few examples.
Today, however, we speak of a few No. 1 picks who would be better suited on different teams.
Whether it's because they're ineffective, aren't worth the headache or just deserve better surroundings, we've found five former No. 1 picks and explain why they should be on a new team.
Greg Oden needs a new team just so he can earn a salary next year.
Yes, it's become that bad for the former Ohio State phenom. The 7' center who was selected with the first pick in the 2007 draft by the Portland Trail Blazers has dealt with injuries throughout his professional career. In fact, since he was drafted in 2007, Oden has played in a grand total of 82 games which is the equivalent to a full NBA regular season.
That's right. In five years, Oden played the equivalent of one season with 61 of those games being played in his healthiest year. He played 21 games the year before that and sat out the other three seasons due to various surgeries and injuries that simply couldn't heal in time for Oden to get back on the court.
As much patience and thought the Blazers put into helping him recover, they'd end up getting rid of him after yet another injury setback. Oden missed all of the 2010-11 season, but was slated to return around midway through the 2011-12 season. Alas, it never happened as Oden suffered another tremendous setback that would eventually lead to his release.
The Blazers kept him around for three reasons: pride, the chance to potentially have one of the NBA's top centers and, most importantly, to make up for went wrong in 1984 when they performed a similar feat. Instead of drafting Oden over MVP candidate Kevin Durant, they only drafted legendary draft bust Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan.
Portland didn't want Oden to become Sam Bowie and Kevin Durant to become Jordan, but it's happening. I'm not saying that Durant is going to be anything like Jordan. I'm saying that it's eerily similar how the Blazers could draft another injury-prone center over a superstar with unlimited potential.
Oden will become a free agent this offseason. Even with all of the injuries he's dealt with over his playing career, there's still plenty of reason to believe that he'll find a team to play with because of his size. Standing at 7', weighing in at 250 pounds and blocking two shots per in the short time he was healthy is going to be more than enough to warrant Oden far more than he deserves.
Andrea Bargnani doesn't get enough credit as a draft bust.
He's not terrible, but he's not worthy of being a No. 1 pick. He wasn't when he was drafted in 2006 and he certainly isn't today, especially after this past season where he only played in 31 games. Even when he averaged 21 points per last year, the first time in his career that he's done so, Bargnani still wasn't even close to being worthy of a No. 1 pick.
No. 1 picks are supposed to turn your franchise around within a few years. The Toronto Raptors have only gotten worse. When Chris Bosh left the team in the summer of 2010, it became apparent just how much of an influence Bargnani actually had on this team. Bosh left the team after a 40-42 2009-10 campaign. They were 22-60 the next year and have the same amount of wins this season.
The Raptors won 22 games last year and Bargnani was having a career season. Given that the rest of the roster isn't helping, but you'd still expect a player who was taken with the No. 1 pick only a few years prior could do better than leading his team to only 22 wins.
If Kobe Bryant could make the playoffs with Kwame Brown and Smush Parker, then Bargnani could lead a team with Jose Calderon and DeMar DeRozan to at least 30 wins.
Bargnani isn't the answer for the Raptors. He's a shooting guard in the body of a center and it's hurting the team because of their need for a player of his size to rebound and play aggressive under the boards. The Raptors are probably pleased to see 'Bargs' knock down a few threes and constantly stretching the floor, but I'm sure they'd much rather see the seven-footer grab some rebounds once in awhile.
Andrea is the worst rebounding center, I use that term loosely, in the league. He's averaged over six rebounds per only once in his career. The Raptors became so fed up with Bargnani at center that they just moved him over to power forward. Toronto didn't get a great sample size of how it worked, however, due to his injuries.
The Raptors need to start over and allow DeRozan to begin leading this team. They're getting Jonas Valanciunas, an athletic seven-footer who can grab boards, from overseas, and they'll most likely be receiving a top 10 pick in this year's draft. With guys like Andre Drummond, Jared Sullinger and Terrence Jones available, the Raptors may just be able to find the defensive authority they've been looking for.
This is getting embarrassing.
It was ridiculous before when Dwight Howard was changing his mind every other day when asked the question of where he wanted to play, but it's gotten even more insane now that Howard has reportedly decided to demand a trade when the season comes to an end. This is coming from the player who said that he'd stay another year and wouldn't become a free agent until next summer.
This is a pathetic display of not only negotiating between outside sources and yourself, but also of a weak mental standing. Howard wanted to leave the Orlando Magic this entire team. He just didn't want to leave because he was afraid of the backlash that would occur from the Magic fanbase upon his departure.
He's been beloved his entire career and seems to be the type of player who would allow jeering to play a large negative part in his game.
Orlando fans should be satisfied by the time he leaves. Whether it's this summer or the next, they should be satisfied that they're losing a player who can't make up his mind, has turned your franchise into a mockery that's more suited to TMZ than ESPN and has yet to become the dominant center you expected him to become.
Twenty points per game for a player his size in this league? That's not nearly good enough when his biggest competition in the Eastern Conference is the likes of Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler. All of the great centers were averaging at least 25 points per and that was against competition much more intense than the type that Howard is matched up against today.
Try and imagine Howard attempting the same hook shot against guys like Hakeem Olajuwon or Patrick Ewing. It certainly wouldn't be as successful as it is today.
He's the best rebounder and post defender in the league and his presence alone makes opposite teams change their entire offensive outlook, but he's simply not worth all of this trouble. Don't cry for him when he leaves, Magic fans. He's doing you a favor by taking you out of the negative public eye that he has created.
It will hurt, of course. You're losing a franchise player and no matter what you get back in return, it won't be enough to fill in the void of a 6'11" behemoth whose shoulders alone could have recorded two blocks per game.
However, it's completely embarrassing what Howard has done to the Magic this year. There was not one moment of ease and that includes when Dwight stated that he'd spend another year with the team. He didn't sign a long-term extension; all he did was prolong the waiting period another year. He could be doing the same mentally exhausting decision throughout next year for all we know.
LeBron James' decision lasted an hour and he was booed in every stadium, besides his home, for a year. Dwight Howard's decision ruined the entire 2011-12 Magic campaign. Think that the jeers will be just as plentiful, or even nonexistent?
What happened to John Wall this past season wasn't fair.
His Washington Wizards were the only other atrocity in the NBA that distracted us from the nonsense going on in Orlando. It wasn't just the fact that they were an awful team that currently stands at 18-46, but it was also the numerous instances of immaturity and lack of basketball IQ that earned this several highlight's on ESPN in the worst ways.
Whether it was JaVale McGee's insane antics, Andray Blatche playing so horrifically that he was constantly booed by his own fans or Rashard Lewis making over $20 million to play in 28 games and shoot 24 percent from deep, the Wizards kept finding themselves as the laughingstock of the league.
To be perfectly honest, it seemed as if they loved the attention. If they didn't, wouldn't you think they would have tried to improve themselves? I suppose trading away McGee for Nene Hilario was a solid start, but there are still so many problems that exist in this franchise that they won't be able to start having winning seasons for at least three years.
And that's considering if they still have Wall on the team. Even with him, the Wizards still need a solid and mature supporting cast to surround him and Nene. Those two, as well as Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin, are the most valuable players on this roster and the Wizards franchise needs to do all it can to ensure that they can begin making playoff runs as soon as possible.
It's tough to see that happening, especially after witnessing what just happened last year. The team had a veteran coach in Flip Saunders and it barely took a month for the organization to let go of him after a poor start to the season. It probably wasn't his fault, but it was either him or the roster. Since one person is easier to let go than 15, Saunders was let go.
We know that Wall is an excellent player. He's the quickest player in the league, has an exuberant amount of athleticism for a player his size, can score inside and see the court well. Wall averaged eight assists per for the second time in his first two years in the NBA. We recognize the potential he has and that's why we want to see him on a team that's motivated to win and motivated to teach.
Elton Brand may finally be producing after three injury-plagued years, but you still cringe at the thought of the Philadelphia 76ers giving him $80 million to average 11 points and seven boards per on a borderline playoff team.
At $80 million, Brand should be the Elton Brand from his Los Angeles Clippers days. In his prime in the 2005-06 season, Brand not only led the Clippers to their first playoff appearance in a decade, but also averaged 25 points, 10 boards, three assists and nearly three blocks per. It's been downhill from there as Brand would average 20 points or more one time.
He then dealt with injuries that forced him to play in only eight games in the 2007-08 season and then only 29 in his first season with the Sixers. He'd return to play in 76 games the next season, but still appeared to be feeling the effects of the injury that previously took two years off his career. When finally healthy, Brand broke through to average 15 points and eight boards per.
He's regressed. You could chalk Brand averaging only 11 points and seven boards per to a number of possible reasons. The lockout has taken a hit on many veterans, 32 years old could be the beginning of the end of his career or possibly the fact that he's playing the fewest amount of minutes per in his career at only 29 minutes of action per night.
That may seem like the most logical explanation when you consider that Brand is still shooting 49 percent from the field.
However, Brand's time with the Sixers should come to an end upon the expiration date of his contract. The team already has Thaddeus Young coming off the bench and even though coach Doug Collins utilizes him as a spark off the bench, it could still pay off in dividends to implement one of the league's most underrated athletes in the starting lineup.
It certainly wouldn't hurt. This Sixers team isn't getting any better without making a significant move of some sort. Brand isn't the solution, either. He's a solid veteran who can still provide rebounding and post work, but he's not going to be the player to put this team over the top. The Sixers will continue to be a .500 team until they begin making significant moves.