Going No. 1 in the NBA Draft is the greatest achievement for a college player coming into the NBA. It proves that they are the best player in college and have the most chance at stardom in the NBA. It also depends on the needs of the team drafting players.
We have seen some incredible talent go No. 1 in LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Hakeem Olajuwon but we have also seen some disastrous No. 1 picks. The player that comes to everyone's mind is Kwame Brown, the man who is stealing all the headlines recently with his criticism of all his haters. But is Kwame Brown the worst No. 1 pick ever? It is time to rank the worst No. 1 picks of all time.
Career Statistics: 8.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.2 BPG
It is not Oden's fault that he suffered career-ending injuries at such a young age. But he should have never been chosen over Kevin Durant (who went No. 2), even if big men were far more valued back then.
Durant has gone on to become one of the best scorers in NBA history while Oden only played 82 games over 2 seasons with Portland while missing the entire first year of his career with the team. Oden should've been an All-Star but he never had a chance to prove it, which makes him an honorable mention.
10. Joe Smith
Career Statistics: 10.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Joe Smith wasn't a prototypical bust in terms of talent, but he certainly didn't deserve to be the No. 1 pick in the draft over Kevin Garnett, Jerry Stackhouse, or Rasheed Wallace. Joe Smith made the All-Rookie Team in 1995 by averaging 15.3 PPG and 8.7 RPG, but he failed to become the star he was in college.
Smith averaged 26.2 MPG over his career which isn't enough for a No. 1 overall pick, and he even played for 12 different teams over 16 seasons. Smith was also involved in one of the biggest front-office blunders in history that forced the Minnesota Timberwolves to fork over 3 first-round picks and pay a $3.5 million fine.
9. Pervis Ellison
Career Statistics: 9.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.6 BPG
Pervis Ellison had promising moments as he averaged 20.0 PPG and 17.4 PPG in his third and fourth season respectively, but injuries kept him from becoming the star he was expected to become. Ellison managed to play over 65 games three separate times in his career, with only one season eclipsing 70 games.
After Ellison's fourth season, he never averaged double-digit scoring again. A 6'9" center, he was already undersized so an injured body rendered him ineffective. The likes of Glen Rice, Shawn Kemp, and Tim Hardaway were all available but were not taken ahead of Ellison.
8. Kent Benson
Career Statistics: 9.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Kent Benson did not live up to his potential as a professional and that is putting it kindly. Benson looked like a talented center in college as he stood 6'10" and had an impactful presence, but he only averaged over 10.0 PPG 4 times over 11 seasons in the league. He was traded midway into his third season with the Milwaukee Bucks (the team that drafted him) and had a 7-year span with Detroit.
Benson did not do much with Detroit either, as he averaged 9.6 PPG and 6.1 RPG over his 7 years with the franchise. When a player is mainly known for getting punched in the face (thanks to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) rather than his talent as a No. 1 pick, he belongs in the top-10 of this list.
7. Bill McGill
Career Statistics: 10.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.1 APG
The most frustrating part of the choice made by the Chicago Zephyrs was passing up on John Havlicek who went 7th in the 1962 Draft. McGill only lasted 3 seasons in the NBA before playing in the NABL, another professional league. McGill later returned for 2 more seasons in the ABA but did not move the needle for any of his teams. In his 5 seasons with the NBA and ABA, he played for a whopping 8 different teams.
McGill was clearly the wrong choice even if he was widely ranked as a top-3 pick due to his scoring success with the University of Utah. But only one can imagine if Havlicek was drafted instead, as the Boston Celtics legend made 13 All-Star Teams and made 11 All-NBA Teams over his career.
6. Michael Olowokandi
Career Statistics: 8.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.5 SPG, 1.4 BPG
Until this day, no one knows what the Clippers were thinking when they took Olowokandi over Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, and Mike Bibby. Each of these players became stars in the league but the Clippers drafted an average 7-foot center out of Lagos, Nigeria.
Olowokandi impressively played 9 years in the league, but he was certainly no Hakeem Olajuwon. Olowokandi averaged double-digit points only twice in his career and that was because he played an average of 35 MPG over that span. Olowokandi didn't do much except clog the lane for his team and his sheer size was the only reason he held an NBA job for that long.
5. Kwame Brown
Career Statistics: 6.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Kwame Brown wasn't a very good NBA player although he lasted 12 seasons in the NBA. Brown was always able to find a team because his sheer size and presence in the paint was always useful when needed. But other than that, Brown wasn't a talented player. He only lasted 4 seasons with the Washington Wizards and famously had his confidence destroyed by Michael Jordan.
If that didn't help, Brown played the next 2 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers where Kobe Bryant was there to finish off any bit of confidence the 7'0" center had left. Brown struggled to handle the ball and never averaged over 7.4 RPG. Quite simply, Brown was a bust even if the player refutes that claim on social media nowadays.
4. LaRue Martin
Career Statistics: 5.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0.5 BPG
The Trail Blazers made their biggest blunder in 1972 when they drafted 6'9" power forward LaRue Martin over Julius Erving and Bob McAdoo. Martin had poor career numbers but his career was actually more disappointing. Martin only averaged 12.9 MPG in his first season while only having a semi-decent third season where he played 16.9 MPG and averaged 7.0 PPG.
Martin should have never been selected this high, let alone ahead of two Hall of Fame superstars in Erving and McAdoo. LaRue Martin retired from the NBA at age 26 and he is the third-worst No. 1 draft pick behind three other players.
3. Anthony Bennett
Career Statistics: 4.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Anthony Bennett is the third-worst No. 1 pick in NBA history because he was never more than a benchwarmer in the league. Bennett never started a game in his rookie season, a surprising fact for a No. 1 pick, and only averaged 4.2 PPG in 52 games. Bennett barely lasted his rookie season with Cleveland, as he was traded to Minnesota, Toronto, and Brooklyn over the next 3 seasons.
With only 4 starts to his name and putrid career numbers, Bennett is one of the three worst No. 1 picks ever and it isn't close. He never had the talent to get drafted that high and the Cavaliers made the most surprising move of 2013 by taking the power forward with the coveted No. 1 pick over the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert.
2. Andy Tonkovich
Career Statistics: 2.6 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 0.6 APG
Drafted No. 1 in 1948, Tonkovich was a 6'1" guard who was taken in only the second draft in professional basketball history. Despite that, Tonkovich was a bust. He only lasted one season in the league with his pro team, averaging 2.6 PPG and never making an impact as a professional.
Tonkovich should never have been taken over Dolph Schayes, who is a Hall of Famer and one of the most impactful paint players in NBA history. Schayes averaged 18.5 PPG and 12.1 RPG over his career, including 12 All-Star appearances, so it doesn't make sense why a 6'8" big man wasn't drafted. 1 overall.
1. Mark Workman
Career Statistics: 4.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 0.6 APG
Mark Workman lasted only two seasons in the league before he was out of an NBA job. Workman was drafted all the way back in the 1952 Draft so very few, if anyone, remembers his rookie season but it was very putrid. Workman averaged 2.2 PPG in 5.8 MPG for his original team before he was traded 5 games into his rookie season.
He didn't do much better for the remaining 60 games of his season as he put up 5.3 PPG in only 16.7 MPG. Workman had one more season in the league but he only played 14 games before finding his way out of the league. Mark Workman is the worst No. 1 pick of all time in terms of pure on-court production and impact.