When an NBA franchise drafts a player with the first overall pick in the draft, the expectation is that the player will be the star that turns their franchise around. And there have been instances when players have done that, with players like LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Tim Duncan, who helped transform their respective franchises.
But there are instances when first overall draft picks do not come good and end up becoming disappointments for their teams. There have been several disappointing first overall picks in the past, and some of them even missed a lot of games for their franchises within their first season.
But which players top the list? Let us take a look.
David Robinson - 82 Games Played
1st Overall Pick In The 1987 NBA Draft
David Robinson is perhaps the only player on this list who is on this list because of a technicality. Robinson was the first overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft. But Robinson was part of the Naval Academy, and he had to complete his period of service with them before he could join the NBA.
Thus, Robinson technically missed his first two seasons with the NBA, but those aren’t reflected in the record books, because he didn’t officially play for the Spurs till 1989. And in his first season with the San Antonio Spurs, he played 82 games, led them to what was then the best single-season turnaround in NBA history, and won the 1990 Rookie Of The Year.
Greg Oden - 82 Games Played
1st Overall Pick In The 2007 NBA Draft
Oden’s story is possibly the saddest on this entire list. Oden was the 1st overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, picked by the Portland Trail Blazers ahead of Kevin Durant. Oden entered the NBA Draft with an injury, and getting surgery on it meant that Oden had to spend the entirety of his first season on the sidelines, playing 0 games.
The next season, officially considered his rookie year, he played 61 games, an encouraging sign, but he did still miss a lot of games. He only played 21 games in the next season, after suffering another major injury. This injury ended up being more severe, as it meant that Oden didn’t play for the Trail Blazers ever again, suffering several setbacks, before spending a small stint in Miami 3 years after he didn’t play, and then retiring afterward.
Zion Williamson - 85 Games Played
1st Overall Pick In The 2019 NBA Draft
The only current NBA player on this list, Zion may have been the most hyped prospect on this list. Williamson was expected to be a superstar from the moment he entered the league, so much so that the Pelicans were ready to let Anthony Davis go because they knew they were getting Zion.
But since his arrival, Zion has struggled with injuries each season and missed a lot of time. He is yet to play this season, and pictures have surfaced of him looking out of shape, but they were quickly debunked. The frightening part is that Zion could miss even more games going forward.
Markelle Fultz - 105 Games Played
1st Overall Pick In The 2017 NBA Draft
Markelle Fultz struggled a lot during his first few seasons in the NB. Fultz was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, but only spent 2 years there, mostly due to injuries, and the way their other star draft picks had turned out. Fultz only played 33 games for the 76ers during his first 2 seasons with the franchise.
He was traded during the 2019-20 season to the Orlando Magic. And with the Magic, he played almost a full season, playing 72 out of the 73 games the Magic played during the stop-start season. Since then, he has struggled with injury issues again, as he tore his ACL in February of this year, and hasn’t played this season.
Anthony Bennett - 128 Games Played
1st Overall Pick In The 2013 NBA Draft
Anthony Bennett is unanimously considered the worst ever first overall pick in NBA Draft history. Bennett failed massively for the Cavaliers, never averaging more than 5.2 points per game. He was traded within his first season to the Timberwolves as part of the package to land Kevin Love.
Bennett only played in the NBA for 2 more seasons after his stint with the Timberwolves, for the Raptors and Nets respectively, before eventually losing his place in the league, never to make it back, and playing for a short stint in Europe before he eventually called time on his underwhelming career.
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