Ranking the 30 Worst No. 1 Draft Picks of All Time
Anthony Bennett and Other Draft Busts
Throughout the early stages of the 2013-14 season, there have been a number of interesting and profound storylines, and one that is actually quite sad revolves around the play of Anthony Bennett.
It was less than a year ago that the Cleveland Cavaliers made Bennett the first pick in the NBA Draft, and while there were few who reasonably expected him to become a superstar immediately, few could have seen him being this bad. The forward has played in 29 games, averaging only 10.7 minutes per game, 2.5 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game and has a dreadful 27.2 shooting percentage.
Not only does he have bad numbers though, but the tale of the tape is absolutely dreadful, as Bennett has not shown the athleticism, attitude or smarts that come with playing at the NBA level. In fact, he has been so bad that some people are calling for a stint in the NBA Development League, which would be an embarrassment to say the least. And while it may seem difficult to call Bennett a bust after less than one season, it seems easy to say he is only a year or two away from having that label when looking at just how bad he has been in year one.
But, of course, Bennett is not the first No. 1 pick to be a disappointment at the top level, and he is certainly not the last. Taking this into account, I have formulated a list of the 30 worst No. 1 draft picks of all time, regardless of the sport.
When formulating this list, I have taken into account a multitude of factors, including expectations going into each athlete's respective league, the level of talent around them and most importantly, their actual on-field performance. Enjoy!
30. Shawn Abner
When the New York Mets drafted Shawn Abner with the number one pick in the 1984 MLB Draft they expected him to join their outfield in quick succesion. Unfortunately this did not happen, as Abner's skill set did not translate very well to pro baseball, and he did not make it to the majors until September of 1987, as a member of the San Diego Padres. Abner would only last parts of five more seasons, going down as a huge bust.
29. Greg Joly
Greg Joly was the first pick in the history of the Washington Capitals franchise when he was selected number one overall in the 1974 NHL Draft, and he likely regrets this fact every day. In his rookie season Joly compiled a horrendous -68 plus/minus in only 44 games played, and never really lived up to his potential after that.
28. Kent Benson
Kent Benson was the number one pick in the 1977 NBA Draft, going to the Milwaukee Bucks. Shortly into his first pro game Benson received a broken jaw via a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar punch to the face, and apparently never recovered. Benson averaged 9.1 points per game, but never made an All-Star game, and left Milwaukee wishing they picked someone else.
27. Walt Patulski
Walt Patulski was drafted by the Buffalo Bills number one in the 1972 NFL Draft with the label of a physical behemoth that would be terrorizing quarterbacks for years. Unfortunately the defensive end's 6'6", 250 lbs. frame did not turn into dominance, as he suffered from injuries and was out of the NFL by 1977.
26. Al Chambers
Al Chambers was selected number one overall in the 1979 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners, but never lived up to the hype that came with the pick. After making it to the majors in 1983 he only appeared in 57 career games, and found a label as a huge bust.
25. Bryan Bullington
In 2002, the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted pitcher Bryan Bullington out of Ball State University with the expectation that he would work through the minors quickly and become a major league star. Unfortunately, it took Bullington three years to get to Pittsburgh, and after recording a 1-9 record with a 5.62 ERA over parts of five seasons, it is reasonable to wonder if he ever deserved to get to the majors.
24. Ricky Bell
When Ricky Bell came out of college in 1977, there were many people who felt that he would automatically become a star running back, but this simply did not happen. Over a six-year career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers, the running back only averaged more than four yards per rush once, and failed to live up to the expectations of the record rookie contract he signed in 1977.
23. Steve Shak
Steve Shak was drafted by the New York MetroStars in the 2000 MLS SuperDraft, and was expected to become a stalwart in the heart of midfield for the club. Unfortunately, Shak was simply not talented enough to garner a starting spot even for the lowly MetroStars, and in 2001 was sent to the Colorado Rapids, and was out of MLS by 2003.
22. David Carr
David Carr was the first overall pick of the expansion Houston Texans during the 2002 NFL Draft, but probably wishes he wouldn't have been. In five seasons with Houston, Carr never threw more than 16 touchdowns, and generally looked lost on the football field. After 2007 the quarterback left the Texans, but never again became a consistent starter and goes down as a major disappointment.
21. Nikolas Besagno
Nikolas Besagno was the first overall pick in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft, but was anything but super during his time in MLS. After being drafted it was clear that Besagno was not ready to man the midfield in the top American league, and Real Salt Lake confirmed this by only playing him eight times from 2005-08. When the 2008 MLS season ended Besagno was shown the door, leaving behind a rather forgetful legacy.
20. Gord Kluzak
Gord Kluzak was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1982 NHL Draft, and was expected to lead the Boston Bruins into a new age of success. Unfortunately for Kluzak, injuries ravaged his career and he only ended up playing a majority of the Bruins' games three different times. By the end of the 1990-91 NHL season, he was out of hockey, having only played 13 games the previous three years.
18. Bill McGill
Bill McGill was drafted by the Chicago Zephyrs (now the Washington Wizards) at no. 1 overall in the 1962 NBA Draft as a physical specimen of his time, and was expected to dominate his peers. Unfortunately, McGill simply could not get the job done at even an adequate level in the NBA, and he was out of the league after only three seasons.
17. Danny Goodwin
Danny Goodwin was such a great baseball prospect that he was the no. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft not once, but twice. Goodwin did not enter professional baseball until after the 1975 MLB Draft when the California Angels took him first overall and realized that potential is not everything. In parts of seven seasons in MLB, he compiled a statistical line of .236/.301/.373 with 13 home runs and 81 RBIs, which was disappointing to say the least.
16. Courtney Brown
Courtney Brown was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 2000 NFL Draft, and was expected to tear apart opposing quarterbacks from the defensive end for years to come. Unfortunately, this simply did not happen as Brown struggled through injuries and was simply not good enough to compete at the NFL level for parts of seven seasons with the Browns and Denver Broncos.
15. David Clyde
After being drafted first overall in the 1973 MLB Draft, David Clyde was sent directly to the majors by the Texas Rangers. A 5.01 ERA in 1973 showed that he was not ready for the big time, but it also proved to doom the rest of his career. Clyde would go on to be the victim of arm injuries, and left MLB in 1979 with a career 18-33 record and 4.63 ERA.
14. Brian Lawton
In 1983, the Minnesota North Stars made Brian Lawton the first American to ever be drafted first overall out of high school, and one could easily guess they would regret the decision. While talented, Lawton simply could not get the puck into the back of the net with consistency, and his career high of 44 points in 1986-87 displayed the fact the left winger was not deserving of a no. 1 overall pick, especially when Pat LaFontaine and Steve Yzerman went third and fourth overall.
13. Michel Olowokandi
After dominating in college with Pacific University, Michael Olowokandi was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers in 1998. The center was simply not skilled enough around the basket to become a consistent player at the NBA level, and a number of injuries turned him from a promising prospect to a washed-up draft bust rather quickly.
12. Matt Anderson
Matt Anderson was a questionable no. 1 pick from the start as he was the only relief pitcher to be the top pick in MLB Draft history. Clearly, the Detroit Tigers were not thinking rationally back in 1997, and after seven lackluster seasons in MLB, it became clear that Anderson was an awful pick.
11. Tim Couch
After being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 1999 NFL Draft, there is no doubting that some people say Tim Couch was destined to be a bust. In five seasons with the Browns, the quarterback threw 64 touchdowns and 67 interceptions, proving that efficiency throwing the ball in college does not always translate to the pros.
10. Patrik Stefan
The Atlanta Thrashers drafted Patrik Stefan as the no. 1 pick in the 1999 NHL Draft with the franchise's first-ever draft pick, and he subsequently became the face of the franchise. Clearly, Stefan was not ready for this role, as he ultimately only recorded 188 points in 455 games. He did not progress as expected, or really at all. By the age of 26, Stefan was out of professional hockey and onto the list of huge draft busts.
9. Steve Emtman
Steve Emtman was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1992 NFL Draft as a defensive end who would light up quarterbacks for years to come. Unfortunately, Emtman seemingly injured every part of his body over a six-year career. By 1997, Emtman was retired from football with only eight career sacks and was labelled as a huge bust.
8. Matt Bush
When the San Diego Padres drafted Matt Bush no. 1 in the 2004 MLB Draft the main question was whether he would become a star pitcher or shortstop. The Padres made Bush a shortstop, but he simply could not hit the ball even against Single-A pitchers. After the 2007 season, he became a pitcher, but again struggled. By 2012, he was in prison for a drinking driving incident in which the former star prospect ran over a 72-year-old man.
7. Ki-Jana Carter
Ki-Jana Carter was a star running back for the Penn State Nittany Lions from 1992-1994, and was so talented that he became the first player Joe Paterno encouraged to leave college early. Carter did just that, and became the first pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1995. Once Carter reached the NFL, his physical tools did not translate to success as a string of injuries took him out of the league by 2004 with only 1,144 career rushing yards.
6. Greg Oden
Greg Oden is not a huge bust because of a lack of physical tools, but because his actual body can not withstand playing basketball. Since being drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007, Oden has played in a total of 82 games, or the equivalent of one full season. While Oden is attempting to comeback in 2013-14 with the Miami Heat, he will need to actually get on the court before dropping the bust label.
5. JaMarcus Russell
It seems like every draft pick the Oakland Raiders make nowadays is a bust, but none has been quite as bad as JaMarcus Russell. Throughout a three-year stay in the NFL, the no. 1 pick in 2007 went from a physical specimen to an overweight and clumsy quarterback who threw 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions in 31 games. After his third season, Russell was released, and has not touched an NFL roster since.
4. LaRue Martin
After an outstanding college basketball career, LaRue Martin joined the Portland Trail Blazers as the no. 1 pick in the 1972 NBA Draft, a decision they would regret strongly. Martin never showed the ability to start at the NBA level, and retired from basketball altogether after four years. It can easily be said that Portland would have rather drafted Bob McAdoo and Julius Erving with that no. 1 pick.
3. Brien Taylor
In 1991, Brien Taylor was drafted by the New York Yankees as the franchise's savior and future no. 1 starter. After two impressive minor league seasons, Taylor was the no. 1 prospect in baseball until a bar fight in December of 1993 that resulted in a torn labrum and dislocated left shoulder. Taylor was never the same after the injury and retired from baseball two years later, having never making it past double-A.
2. Alexandre Daigle
Originally drafted as the savior of the Ottawa Senators in 1993, Alexandre Daigle was anything but that. From day one, Daigle was more interested in off-ice issues than actually playing hockey, and even took two years off from hockey at the age of 25, by which time he was actually three years removed from playing in Ottawa. Suffice to say, the Senators would rather have drafted Chris Pronger, Paul Kariya or Saku Koivu with the no. 1 pick.
1. Kwame Brown
Kwame Brown takes the cake as the worst no. 1 draft pick of all time, taken first in the 2001 NBA Draft, he has been dreadful on the court. Originally drafted by the Washington Wizards, it quickly became clear that Brown lacked maturity and willingness to work. After three lackluster years in Washington, Brown was shown the door and has bounced around the NBA ever since. It is hard to justify the pick of the big man when Tyson Chandler and Pau Gasol went no. 2 and 3 in 2001.