The NBA's 10 Worst No. 1 Overall Picks in the Lottery Era
When the ping balls in the NBA’s draft lottery bounce your way, life is supposed to be good, but that's not always the case.
If you're in the lottery, you're a bad basketball team, or you were the previous year (exception to the rule: 2007-08 Golden State Warriors who went 48-24). What makes bad worse? When the precious reward for total failure, the top pick, doesn’t become the savior of the franchise—Lebron, Shaq, A.I.—and the reality sets in you’ll be paying many millions to an underachieving, petulant adolescent for years to come.
It’s like giving money to Bernie Madoff.
Or hoping to retire off the proceeds from selling your David Robinson rookie cards.
You want lobster, but the basketball gods give you fish sticks.
On Thursday, for the third time in the Lottery Era, the Los Angeles Clippers select first in the NBA Draft. They know all about the fish sticks.
The Magic went first three times scoring Shaq, Chris Webber (traded for Penny Hardaway), and Dwight Howard. No banners in Orlando, but not bad.
Suffice to say, not all no. 1 overall picks are created equal.
Is Blake Griffin destined one day for this list? He plays a position where he’ll be battling guys like Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire, and Pau Gasol just to name a few. The Big 12 is good, but what lies ahead is just a teeny bit better.
BTW, the four guys who didn’t make either the 10 Best or 10 Worst list:
Chris Webber--Career averages: 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds--1994 ROY
Kenyon Martin--Career averages: 14.1 points, 7.1 rebounds
Elton Brand--Career averages: 20 points, 10.1 rebounds
Glenn Robinson--Career averages: 20.7 points, 6.1 rebounds--Member of 2005 Champion San Antonio Spurs
And now...The NBA's Ten Worst No. 1 Overall Picks In The Lottery Era
The first pick in the 1991 draft had a decent career, but nothing close to the kind of production and success you hope for out of the top pick. Participated in the Slam Dunk competition his rookie year--the blindfolded Cedric Ceballos won--which always seemed odd. Had success in Charlotte because of Zo. Had success in New York because of Ewing.
Career Averages: 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds
If given a trip back in time and a do-over, Charlotte would take: Dikembe Mutombo and team him with Zo to form the best big-man tandem--better than Sampson/Olajuwon--in NBA history.
1990's first pick had some good years, but never seemed like a guy who could put a team on his shoulders and carry them with any consistency. Maybe had something to do with questionable dedication to his game, weight gain, and issues with alcohol.
Career Averages: 16.5 points, 9.3 rebounds
If given a trip back in time and a do-over, New Jersey would take: Gary Payton
Sam Bowie 2.0?
The guy who has looked old since the 7th grade went first in 2007, and promptly got hurt. Maybe it's not fair to put him on the list yet, but Oden doesn't look like he'll ever be anything more than a serviceable big man. The team played better last year when Joel Pryzbilla was on the floor.
Career Averages: 8.9 points, 7 rebounds
If given a trip back in time and a do-over, Portland would take: Kevin Durant
If this guy walked up to you, would you even know it's Andrea Bargnani?
The 2006 no. 1 overall selection isn't horrible and made strides in his three NBA seasons, but how effective can he be without Chris Bosh or that type of post player beside him? Strictly a complimentary player. Not what you hope for out of the top pick.
Career Averages: 12.4 points, 4.3 rebounds
If they could have a do-over, Toronto would take: Brandon Roy
This was to be the pick that ended the "curse of Chris Webber" for the G.S. Warriors. It didn't happen. The curse would last another decade. Maybe at some point, it should have been changed to "the curse of Joe Smith."
Career Averages: 11.6 points, 6.7 rebounds
If given a trip back in time and a do-over, Golden State would take: the first of the era to make the high school jump, Kevin Garnett.
From the Cleveland Plain Dealer: Joe Smith is currently working on a solo rap album under the pseudonym "Joe Beast". Included on the soon-to-be released album were tracks titled "Murda Kapital" and "I Does This".
Do you think this venture will be more successful than his hoops career?
Billy Paultz 2.0?
The first pick in 2005 out of Utah ("Frank, the story is Utah"), and the only Australian ever taken first.
Career Averages: 11.9 points, 8.7 rebounds
If given a trip back in time and a do-over, Milwaukee would take: Chris Paul or Deron Williams
This transaction succinctly sums up the career of the top pick from the 1988 draft:
Traded by Orlando Magic with Dale Ellis to Milwaukee Bucks for Chris Gatling and Armon Gilliam on August 19, 1999
Career Averages: 14 points, 5.2 rebounds
If given a trip back in time and a do-over, L.A. would take: Mitch Richmond
"Never Nervous" was hampered by injuries throughout his career, and 1989's overall no. 1 pick is still best known for beating Coach K and Duke for the 1986 National Championship.
Was there a "curse of Pervis Ellison" before the Maloofs got involved with the Kings?
Career Averages: 9.5 points, 6.5 rebounds
If given a trip back in time and a do-over, Sacramento would take: Tim Hardaway
1998's top pick out of basketball powerhouse Pacific. There will always be "projects" drafted based on potential, but you're not supposed to do it with the first pick.
Career Averages: 8.3 points, 6.8 rebounds
Only went to the playoffs once in 9 NBA seasons.
If given a trip back in time and a do-over, L.A. would take: Dirk Nowitzki or Paul Pierce or Vince Carter or Antawn Jamison or Mike Bibby or Rashard Lewis or anyone else from that draft.
Many will argue "the Candy-man" should be first on this list, but he was drafted by the Clippers. That's like being set up for failure.
Good luck Blake Griffin.
That's right, Kwame Brown tops the list of The NBA's Worst No. 1 Overall Picks In The Lottery Era
Proves Michael Jordan, the greatest player ever, isn't necessarily the greatest evaluator of talent (then again, almost everyone had Brown first on their draft board).
Played alongside both his Airness in Washington and Kobe in L.A., but it never seemed to matter. You wonder if history might be different if Jordan was more nurturing (not that he's capable) with young Kwame? Probably not.
Career Averages: 7 points, 5.6 rebounds
If given a trip back in time and a do-over, Washington would take: Pau Gasol
Tune into Patrick Mauro’s Sports Overnight America Weekend (http://www.sportsbyline.com/bios/mauro.htm) on the radio Saturday and Sunday nights from 10:06 p.m. to 1 a.m. PDT
You can call the show at (800) 878-PLAY (7529)
Follow him @ twitter.com/radiopat