When the team with the number one pick in the draft, like the Cavs this time, are looking into trading the pick, you know there isn’t a great deal of talent in the 2011 NBA Draft pool. It usually means that there’s a very good chance the number one pick will be labeled as a bust in a short time. Will he be bad as these guys?
Greg Oden, 2007
It’s not only about the numbers – Averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in 82 games since being picked number one in the 2007 NBA draft – four years ago!! It’s about what could have been if the Blazers would have picked Kevin Durant, who went second to the Supersonics and has since led the league in scoring twice and his Oklahoma City Thunder seem on the verge of becoming a title challenging team.
Oden has already missed two entire seasons due to the surgery on his knees – His “would-be” rookie year in 2007-2008 and the entire 2010-2011 season. When he returns to basketball, if he’ll return, if we’ll have a season to start with in about four months, it’ll be two years since his last basketball game. The Blazers have a good team, fun to watch, but injury riddled, with Oden or without. It could have been much much different.
Kwame Brown, 2001
Probably the worst move Michael Jordan’s ever done basketball-related. The 6’11 out of high school told the Wizards -“if you’ll draft me, you’ll never regret it.” His best season was in 2003-2004, averaging 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds. The decline into sub-mediocrity and ever being called an all-time draft bust great came very quickly. Brown still has a place in this league – big men seem to always do, and he is able to contribute a bit – 7.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game with the Bobcats (Jordan again), but way way below even the minimal expectations from a number one pick. 2001 Was a good draft, and I’m guessing Pau Gasol or Zach Randolph would have been much better picks in the paint for the Wizards.
Michael Olowokandi, 1998
All big men, all busts it seems. Michael Olowokandi bolted to Italy because of the NBA lockout but returned to play in the shortened season. I intially believed that he was more the case of slow development and would eventually make a decent center for the Clippers or any other team. It looked like he was finally finding himself in thel eague during his fourth season, averaging over 11 points and 9 rebounds. 2002-2003 Started even better, 12.3 points and 9.1 rebounds, until a hernia and knee injury changed the course of his career forever.
He played four more season in the NBA but never reached 7 points per game with the Timberwolves and the Celtics before retiring in the 2006-2007 season. Other picks that would have been better – Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Vince Carter.
Pervis Ellison, 1989
Another Center. Actually, during the 80’s, those centers panned out pretty well – Olajuwon, Robinson, Ewing. Ellison is was legendary during his college days. Problem is? He was too small to play Center in the NBA, and the injuries were on him like a plague during his rookie season. He had a brief successful spell with the Washington Bullets, averaging 20 points per game in 1991-1992, but the injuries came back to haunt him and quickly derail his career.
Joe Smith, 1995
Hey, at least he’s been around for over 15 years in the NBA, that has to count for something. Someone always finds a use in Joe Smith who gladly takes his experience to any bidder – 12 NBA teams have enjoyed his services, and Smith has usually given them solid bench scoring and rebounding with the numbers obviously declining as he’s gotten older. Still, He lasted only two seasons with the Warriors who picked him and never really lived up to expectations with any teams during his younger years.