As far as Top 5 lists go, this one was easy, and hard. The easy part: there were so many to choose from. The hard part: narrowing it down to the Top 5.
The NBA, like all other sports leagues, has had it wins and losses when it comes to first round draft picks. The difference is that NBA first round picks have a bigger immediate impact on a team’s fortunes than any other sport.
Which brings up a thought…why do we, as fans, always call for the firing of a manager, head coach or general manager and never ask for the head of a scout?
Think on that one for a while. I’m sure Steph Curry has.
So here is the Top 5 biggest NBA first round draft pick busts. I am sure you can add many more and possibly substitute some. Let me know at @tonyschiavone24. My apologies to haters of Darko Milicic and Michael Olowokandi. They came close, but did not make the list.
5.) Marvin Williams: Drafted by Atlanta 2005, Round 1/Pick 2
Williams has been, at times, a serviceable NBA player. This past year, with the Charlotte Hornets, he averaged 11.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while playing an average of 28.9 minute per game. When he was with the Hawks, he averaged mostly double figures in points per game.
However, the reason Williams is on our list is that the Hawks went with the National Champion Tar Heels’ “sixth man” and passed over Chris Paul, one of the best point guards in the game. And the Hawks needed a point guard. D’OH!
4.) Chris Washburn: Drafted by Golden State 1986, Round 1/Pick 3
Despite his checkered past (he was arrested for stealing a stereo in college), the Warriors took a chance on the 6’ 11” center. He only played two seasons with Golden State and the Hawks,because his career was plagued with drug and knee problems. He reportedly still lives in North Carolina and was arrested as late as 2014.
3.) Greg Oden: Drafted by Portland 2007, Round 1/Pick 1
The Trail Blazers have a reputation for missing on the first round picks (see Sam Bowie, next up), but there was some potential in the big 7” 0” center from Ohio State. However, a bad right knee caused him to miss the entire 2007-08 season. Two seasons later, he had left knee problems. He played in 105 NBA games averaging 8.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He played one season in China and, according to the Indianapolis Star, is now a student-manager with the Buckeyes and working to get his degree.
Good for him and good for the Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder. To their fortune, with the second pick, they took Kevin Durant, a rookie of the year, MVP, perennial All Star and one of the five best current players in the game.
2.) Sam Bowie: Drafted by Portland 1984, Round 1/Pick 2
I’ve always liked Sam Bowie. I saw the High School All American game at the Cap Center in Washington in 1979. He was outplayed by Ralph Sampson, but I always thought he could play.
But, oh, those injuries. He had three very good years at Kentucky, but a stress fracture in his left leg slowed him down. The injury resurfaced again in his second season with the Trail Blazers, but he played 10 injury-plagued seasons in the NBA. He now lives in Lexington, Kentucky where he is loved and appreciated…and probably rich.
However, these words will forever be associated with the drafting of Bowie: “With the third pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls select Michael Jordan of the University of North Carolina.”
1.) Kwame Brown: Drafted by Washington 2001, Round 1/Pick 1
Amazing isn’t it? Michael Jordan, the best NBA player of all time, made maybe the biggest faux pas of the draft as the then president of the Washington Wizards.
Brown was out of Glynn Academy in Brunswick and was the first overall number one pick to come straight out of high school. He averaged 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in his rookie season. He played for seven different teams in the NBA in a career that lasted 12 years.
Hey, there are a lot of players who would love to have played 12 years in the NBA. But every time Kwame Brown’s name is mentioned as the number one pick in the NBA Draft, I always say: “What the hell?”