Ranking Every First Overall NBA Draft Selection Since 2000 From Worst To Best
The NBA Draft is arguably the most impactful selection process of any one involving the four major North American professional sports leagues. This year’s lottery will occur on Tuesday, May 16, and the draft itself will ensue 37 days later on Thursday, June 22, at a venue to be announced. With potential standouts like University of Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, University of Kansas small forward Josh Jackson, and UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball all declaring their eligibility, many scouts and analysts believe this draft will prove to be the most consequential one in years. Unfortunately for organizations in dire need of a transformative player, the draft is an absolute crapshoot and nobody is guaranteed for superstardom. For example, as has been discussed ad nauseam, the Portland Trail Blazers chose dominant University of Kentucky center Sam Bowie over University of North Carolina shooting guard Michael Jordan with the second pick in the 1984 draft. The 7-foot-1 Bowie was constantly shelved with chronic leg and foot injuries over the course of a disheartening 11-year career. In stark contrast to Bowie, Michael Jordan matured into a global icon and NBA Hall of Famer on the hardwood.
Per usual, the NBA’s top overall selections this century have been a mixture of spectacular competitors and utter busts. As the Cleveland Cavaliers can attest, for every LeBron James in 2003, there has been an Anthony Bennett in 2013. This list, much of which will be comprised of projections, will rank every top pick in the association’s 16 drafts this millennium from worst to best.
17. ANTHONY BENNETT
The Cleveland Cavaliers took power forward Anthony Bennett out of the University of Las Vegas, Nevada (UNLV), with the top choice in the 2013 draft. The 24-year-old Bennett, a Toronto native who became the first Canadian to be drafted number one overall, was an unmitigated disaster in Cleveland. Cavaliers general manager David Griffin quickly realized the organization’s mistake and shipped the 6-foot-8, 235-pound Bennett to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a three-team trade in August 2014. The former Rebel floundered in the City of Lakes and was waived by the Timberwolves in September 2015. Bennett somehow managed to gain employment with the Toronto Raptors in September 2015 and then with the Brooklyn Nets in July 2016. The unthreatening Rebel now works for Fenerbahce of the Turkish Basketball League.
16. GREG ODEN – 2007
Greg Oden is essentially this generation’s Sam Bowie. The 29-year-old Oden was chosen first by the Portland Trail Blazers out of the Ohio State University in 2007. Taken a selection ahead of future hall of famer Kevin Durant, the 7-foot, 275-pound Oden was the most hyped center to enter the association since Shaquille O’Neal arrived in 1992. Regrettably for Oden and the Trail Blazers, the powerhouse in the paint had unsteady legs and feet and he was unable to remain healthy for any duration. To compound his problems, Oden struggled with alcohol abuse and was involved in a domestic violence incident in August 2014. Oden attempted to make comebacks with the Miami Heat and the Jiangsu Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association. Oden ultimately realized that he was more spent than a 60-year-old prostitute and he formally announced his retirement in October 2016.
15. KWAME BROWN – 2001
The Washington Wizards chose Kwame Brown first overall out of Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Georgia, in 2001. The 35-year-old Brown, an extremely celebrated high school player, didn’t have the diligence or testicular fortitude to thrive on the professional level. Michael Jordan, who was responsible for drafting Brown, shamelessly bullied the 6-foot-11, 290-pound youngster and completely ravaged his confidence. Following four painful seasons in our nation’s capital, Brown was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in August 2005. The mammoth Georgian flopped in Tinseltown and was sent to the Memphis Grizzlies in February 2008. Already a journeyman, Brown subsequently played for the Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Bobcats, Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers. Jobless since November 2013, Brown is reportedly trying to find an employer to return to the game.
14. ANDREA BARGNANI – 2006
Italian power forward Andrea Bargnani, who never played basketball on the high school or college level, was picked by the Toronto Raptors with the first choice in the 2006 draft. A feeble specimen, the 31-year-old Bargnani impressed initially and was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2007. Regrettably for the wannabe Dirk Nowitzki, the 7-foot, 245-pound Bargnani quickly regressed and frustrated Raptors executives and fans with his soft and uninspiring efforts. Toronto’s hierarchy managed to fleece the aimless New York Knicks organization and they dispatched Bargnani to Gotham in July 2013. Predictably, the Roman failed in Manhattan with the Knicks and then as a member of the Nets in Brooklyn. Bargnani has competed for Saski Baskonia of the EuroLeague since October 2016.
13. ANDREW BOGUT – 2005
The Milwaukee Bucks chose Australian center Andrew Bogut first overall in 2005 out of the University of Utah. The 32-year-old Bogut, the 2005 national player of the year, earned a spot as a Buck on the 2006 NBA All-Rookie First Team. A defensive specialist, the 7-foot, 260-pound Bogut was named to the All-NBA Third Team in 2010 and was consistently a formidable presence in the paint as an employee in Brew City. After seven primarily productive seasons as a Buck, Milwaukee traded Bogut to the Golden State Warriors in March 2012. The towering Aussie made the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2015 and, later that spring, helped the Warriors organization capture its first championship since 1975. Bogut, who also earned paychecks with the Dallas Mavericks, was waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers due to an injury this past March.