Worst of the Best, From Worst to Best: A Four-Part Series
– Jamar Brown
I don’t know if I would consider myself a talented man. I’ve rarely picked up naturally to anything, and the things that I have are pretty useless. I learned the tuba pretty quickly, but in the grand scheme of things, who really gives a fuck? My most useless talent is probably knowing every single #1 overall pick in the NBA this Century (2000-2019). One of my talents that is relevant to my life is sports writing.
With all that being said, Idecided to combine the last two aforementioned talents to make the former relevant. This was all a roundabout way of saying that I’ll be ranking the #1 overall picks in the NBA this century from worst to first. The criteria I decided to make my list is public perception, NBA career as a whole (so far for most picks) and probably just a LITTLE personal bias. Let’s get to it.
#20. Greg Oden, 2007 (Portland Trailblazers)
Notable Stats: 105 games played, 8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.2 bpg, Founder of the “My knees are made of glass, please help” fan club
Let me start by saying, this guy is a personal hero of mine. I mean, I thought I had bad knees, but this guy? He hit the lottery. I’ve dislocated both of my kneecaps twice each and yet I’ve never had to get microsurgery three times before the age of 22 (eight more months for me, so let’s not count our chickens yet). This poor guy not only has the knees of a 29 -year-old Zion Williamson, he was also the poor bastard picked before one of the three greatest scorers to ever pick up a basketball, Kevin Durant (for context, Melo and Kobe (love you Mamba) are the other two).
How do you go from being the league’s next great big man to being considered the greatest bust in NBA history? How do you go from being the national runner up to Florida to only playing a total of 105 career games in the league? I couldn’t tell you, but Greg Oden can. His most valuable time playing the sport was playing in The Basketball Tournament with a bunch of washed Ohio State Alumni and losing to perennial Chinese League MVP (probably) and everyone’s favorite Mormon to be name dropped by Lil Wayne (seriously, look it up) Jimmer Fredette. Aside from his brief stint with Portland, he also played for the Heat where he then decided it would be wise to beat his then ex-girlfriend.
Not only does he suck at squatting to pick up a nickel on the side of the road, he also sucks as just being a decent human being. Now, you can find him sitting at the end of the Buckeyes bench looking old as shit being a 32-year-old student assistant. He’s expected to graduate from THE Ohio State University this Spring.
#19. Anthony Bennett, 2013 (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Notable Stats: 151 games played, 4.4 ppg (NBA), 3.1 rbg, 1 silver medel, 1 EuroLeague title, VP of the Personal Fat Guy Hero club
Here we are. Canada’s favorite son. It really took everything in my power to have him here instead of 20, but I don’t really think it was his fault. For one, the injury to Nerlens Noel through the entire draft for a loop. Shabazz Muhammed drastically underperformed his freshman year at UCLA and just when people decided that Marcus Smart was probably the best player in the country and the clear #1 overall pick, he decides to return to Oklahoma State and go 6th overall to the Celtics the next year because anywhere is better than Cleveland.
Back to Bennett, he was never the most touted prospect out of high school (7th best recruit in the country) and he went to UNLV of all places. He was also 6’8, 250 pounds and couldn’t jump for shit. So why the hell was he the #1 overall pick again? At the time, there was never really a clear-cut top player available. Victor Oladipo and Otto Porter Jr. went 2nd and 3rd respectively. Oladipo is one of the better two-way guards in the league even though his first few years in Orlando were lackluster. Porter seems to have found a role in the dumpster fire that is the Bulls. In 2013 though, nobody was expecting anything special out of this class, so obviously is you wanted to make a splash, you go with the uber-efficient freshman of the year in the Mountain West Conference. Looking back on it seven years later, what the hell were the Cavs thinking? They could’ve definitely gone with Oladipo and paired him with Kyrie for what would’ve been one of the more young, exciting backcourts then.
They could’ve even paired him with Lehigh’s finest CJ McCullum who went 10th to Portland. They could’ve even dipped into the vast amount of European players in the draft and drafted either the Steifel Tower, Rudy Gobert (27th) or taken a chance on a skinny Greek kid who wanted to “be an NBA player” by the name of Giannis ImNotSpellingHisLastName (15th). None of those moves were smart at the time though. Nobody knew that Giannis would add 1,000 pounds and become the most feared player in the league today. Nobody knew Rudy would earn the coolest nickname ever. This is why I couldn’t bare to see Anthony “Fatty” Bennett as the worst player on my list. Plus, he has a EuroLeague title and has had a decent national team career with Canada and Canada is dope.
#18. Kwame Brown, 2001 (Washington Wizards)
Notable Stats: dope last name, 607 games played, 6.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg (he is 7 feet tall)
This is another case of not why he was drafted 1st, but rather, why weren’t so many other players drafted before him. The next two picks were Tyson Chandler and Pau Gasol. Chandler has a DPOY and a championship ring (2011 with the Mavs). Gasol has two rings, a ROTY and is very likely a hall of famer. Shall I go on? “Iso” Joe Johnson went 10th to Boston (goodness gracious I love this team), Z Bo went 19th to Portland and Tony Parker went 28th. Need I say more?
Brown was a disappointment to the name as he just couldn’t get any momentum going. He was picked 1st overall and didn’t even make the All-rookie team. He “played” 12 years in the league and earned a reputation of being super immature and not living up to the hype of being the first player to come straight out of high school to be drafted 1st.
#17. Zion Williamson, 2019 (New Orleans Pelicans)
Notable Stats: Millions of YouTube views, sold out AAU game, Consensus National Player of the Year, Personal Fat Guy hero
In the immortal words of Aaron Rodgers, “Relax”. The only reason he’s this low is because of how green in the league he is. At the time of this article, he’s played all of three games and has one career win to his name. In these three games, he’s living up to the hype. Coming out of high school, he was mostly known for dunking on short, white kids in the bottom feeder state that is South Carolina. Once he enrolled at Duke and played his first game there, he’s shown he is much more than just a dunker. Yeah, he’s bigger than your NFL team’s best offensive lineman, but he brings a childlike energy to the game that only a man child like him could bring.
He’s shown the ability to knock down wide open threes when given the chance and he’s shown his shot blocking prowess at both the collegiate and pro levels. His biggest question mark going forward are his knees. Can they support the behemoth of a man jumping 46 inches in the air and then absorbing all 285 pounds (on a good day) of said man for 82 games a season for the next 15 years? Probably not. He will either need to A. Lose about 30 pounds or B. Change his playstyle up. My vote is on the former. The Pelicans need that explosiveness out of him to not only win games, but to sell tickets.
There’s a reason his debut got flexed to ESPN at 8 when it would’ve probably ended up on Foxsports Southwest at 6. He’s the real deal and I pray that he has a long, successful career. My ego as a Duke fan depends on it.
#16. Markelle Fultz, 2017 (Philadelphia 76ers)
Notable Stats: Youngest player with a triple double, dope dreads, master of One (1) singular dunk
This one hurts a lot. Personally, this kid deserves the world. I’m happy that he gets a fresh start in Disney World. Huge middle finger to the entire Sixer organization, starting with that sorry excuse of a coach Brett Brown (another disappointment to the name). I’ll get more into my hate of this team and city in another article. Right now, we’re talking about one significant piece of my hate. Fultz is a personal hero to me. He didn’t make the varsity team until his junior year and then, when the world finally saw him for the star that he was, decided to commit to Washington of all places.
The team didn’t see much success, but individually, there probably wasn’t a prospect as exciting as him (outside of the kid picked after him thanks to his dad) in college basketball. Washington was really, really bad his lone season in Seattle. They went 9-22. Even though the team was shitty, Fultz still managed to average the most points seen in the Pac-12 in 20 years. He was a legit scorer. So, what happened? Every promising player that passes through the damn halls of the Wells Fargo Arena that they have no intention of utilizing becomes cursed.
For Markelle, it was a shoulder injury that effected his shot. It was soon discovered that it was a nerve issue and it felt like Fultz was patient zero because I had never heard of it. I still 50% call bullshit and insist that Philly was just so infatuated by their glorified power forward Ben Simmons that they neglected a true rising star, but again, that’s a story for another time. While his time in Philly was a dumpster fire, the brightest spot was him becoming the youngest player to ever record a triple double. Now, he’s balling out in Orlando and stole the starting point guard spot from that ageless midget D.J Augustine (seriously, how old is he?).
In the next edition, I’ll discuss three picks you all forgot about and two guys who you might questions even if they’re still playing. Spoiler Alert, they are.