With guys like Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, and Andrew Wiggins headlining recent NBA drafts as the No. 1 overall pick, it’s easy to forget about some of the other early selections that haven’t had as much luck at the next level.
Take Anthony Bennett, for example. The No. 1 pick from the 2013 draft is still struggling in the midst of his third NBA season, and on Sunday, he took the initiative to ask Toronto Raptors’ management to send him to the D-League for one game to get more reps, per the Toronto Sun.
But while Bennett is the most recent No. 1 selection to struggle in the big leagues, he’s far from the only one. Since the 1995 NBA Draft, here are the top five No. 1 picks that didn’t turn out as planned.
1. Kwame Brown – currently retired – No. 1 pick in 2001 draft (chosen ahead of Pau Gasol, Tyson Chandler, Jason Richardson, and Zach Randolph)
As the first high school player to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick, Brown simply never managed to find his fit during his time in the league, hopping around to seven different teams throughout his 12 seasons. Brown has come and gone, while Gasol (No. 3 pick) and Randolph (No. 19 pick) are still two of the most effective big men in the league,
NBA statistics – Points: 6.6, rebounds: 5.5, assists: 0.9, blocks: 0.6, player efficiency rating: 11.59
2. Greg Oden – Jiangsu Dragons – 2007 draft (chosen ahead of Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Mike Conley, and Joakim Noah)
As the most sought after player heading into the 2007 draft after a dominant freshman year at Ohio State, Oden looked like a lock for success. Now, a handful of injuries and nearly a decade later, the former NBA hopeful is making a name for himself overseas in the Chinese Basketball Association, while Durant (No. 2 pick) remains one of the NBA’s most dominant players.
NBA statistics – Points: 8.0, rebounds: 6.2, assists: 0.5, blocks: 1.2, player efficiency rating: 17.89
3. Michael Olowokandi – currently retired – 1998 draft (chosen ahead of Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, and Paul Pierce)
Comparing him to the players that he was drafted ahead of in 1998, Olowokandi didn’t even come close to living up to expectations. He was an average defender that struggled to generate much offense, only averaging double digit points in two seasons while never shooting above 45%.
NBA statistics – Points: 8.3, rebounds: 6.8, assists: 0.7, blocks: 1.4, player efficiency rating: 9.94
4. Anthony Bennett – Toronto Raptors – 2013 draft (chosen ahead of Victor Oladipo, Nerlens Noel, C.J. McCollum, and Giannis Antetokounmpo)
After being chosen first in one of the weakest overall drafts in recent history, the aforementioned Bennett still has time to steer his career in the right direction at only 22-years-old.
NBA statistics – Points: 4.5, rebounds: 3.3, assists: 0.5, field goal percentage: 38.8%, player efficiency rating: 8.80
5. Andrea Bargnani – Brooklyn Nets – 2006 draft (chosen ahead of LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Rajon Rondo, and Kyle Lowry)
To call Bargnani a bust is a bit of a stretch, but as a 7-foot European with a versatile skill set that came into the league with cliched Dirk Nowitzki comparisons coming in bunches, he certainly hasn’t lived up to expectations. As an underperforming player on the disappointing Brooklyn Nets this season, you can’t help but wonder what could have been.
NBA statistics – Points: 14.7, rebounds: 4.7, assists: 1.2, blocks: 0.9, player efficiency rating: 14.41