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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is Greg Oden Worst #1 NBA Pick Ever?

If you haven't heard, Portland Trailblazer center Greg Oden will miss the remainder of this season after having micro fracture surgery on his left knee. Oden missed all of his rookie season due to injury and parts of two other seasons also due to injuries. In all , Oden has played a total of 82 games out of a possible 328. Do the math and he has played in only 25% of his team's games since being drafted #1 overall back in 2007 (if you recall, that's the same year the Sonics got Kevin Durant at #2. Ouch.) When he has played, Oden has averaged 11.1 ppg, 8.5 boards and 2.29 blocks.

Drafting first overall can be somewhat of a crap shoot. Sometimes you hit the jackpot (Magic, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, AI, LeBron to name a few) and other times you end up with squat. Putting it lightly, Oden has been a bit of a disappointment so far in his NBA career. So this all leads to question; is Oden the biggest NBA number one "Bust" in history? Let's take a look at a few other #1 picks who did not pan out as expected...

Pervis Ellison, 1989, Sacramento Kings (career averages 9.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.6 bpg)
"Never Nervous Pervis" was a 6'9 forward/center who started all four years of his college career at Louisville but never quite lived up to his #1 billing. Ellison spent most of his rookie season on the shelf with an injury and ex-teammate Danny Ainge even nicknamed him "Out Of Service Pervis". Ellison did have one solid season in Washington where he averaged 20 & 11 but injuries kept him off the court more than on it. 1989 was a weak draft overall, but Sacramento could have went with Glen Rice or Tim Hardaway.

Michael Olowokandi, 1998, Los Angeles Clippers (career: 8.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.4 bpg)
True Clippers fans remember the day Olowokandi's name was called first and booing immensely. Olowokandi had NBA size at 7'0 270, but little else in terms of basketball skill. After a big senior year at Pacific (first mistake) the Clippers passed on the opportunity to draft Mike Bibby (who filled a glaring need), Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki & Paul Pierce to select the Nigerian big man with stone hands. True sign of Olowokandi's in-effectiveness; his career shooting percentage was .435. Ouch.

Kwame Brown, 2001, Washington Wizards (career: 6.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, nothig else worth mentioning)

Kwame Brown can at least rest his hat on being the first high school senior to ever be drafted first overall. He was also the first ever draft choice of Michael Jordan as a GM. Too bad that didn't pan out the was MJ expected. Brown killed everyone in workouts prior to the 2001 NBA draft and Jordan jumped at the opportunity to select the 6'11 kid, passing on the likes of one Pau Gasol. Things went downhill for Brown once Jordan decided to come out of retirement and play for the Wizards. Jordan even went as far to call Kwame a "flaming ____" in practice once which would probably crush any man's confidence. Even's Jordan's old coach Phil Jackson called Brown a "pussycat" in the media. Talk about pouring salt in a wound. Kwame Brown is only 28 and still in the NBA (he can now be seen riding the pine for Charlotte) but he'll never be able to shake the "bust" label.

As you can see, there are a few players who were actually worst number one picks than Oden (I have to say that so far Kwame takes the cake). Every team can't land a stud like John Wall or Blake Griffin with that first pick. It takes a combination of great scouting, thorough evaluation and a lot of luck to draft a sure thing or a player that can change the course of a franchise (or in the Clippers case, sell some tickets and jerseys).

So don't worry to much Greg; Sam Bowie and Pervis know how you feel. You still have a chance to save your career and make good on that #1 status. Too bad it might not be in Portland.


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