It's the dream of every young basketball player to be drafted as the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft. It's the honor of a lifetime, with all of the attention (and pricey contracts) that go along with being declared the biggest talent in the draft.
While being chosen first is definitely a matter of pride, it sometimes turns out to be a double-edged sword. The burden of expectations proves too much for the mentally fragile who then fail spectacularly in fulfilling the promise that had forced an NBA franchise to spend their prized draft pick on him.
Down below are nine such cases:
9. Andrea Bargnani (2006)
The fact that Andrea Bargnani is the starting power forward for arguably the NBA's most hapless and hopeless franchise – the New York Knicks – is all you need to know about his career. When drafted by the Toronto Raptors, it was expected that he would emulate Dirk Nowitzki because of their similar size, deep range and ball handling ability.
No alarm bells rang when the 7-foot Italian pulled just 3.9 rebounds in his rookie season because Dirk too had struggled but then learned his way in the NBA. However, for Bargnani, that adjustment never came.
After nine seasons, he has career rebounding average of 4.8 and is a total liability on the defense. What's worse is that the Raptors were stupid enough to give him a $50 million contract to him in 2009. The 2006 draft was basically a landmine as many of its top 10 picks failed miserably, so you can't blame the Raptors too much, but still they could've chosen LaMarcus Aldridge, who went second.
8. Kent Benson (1977)
Kent Benson is the guy who got punched in the face just two minutes in his NBA debut by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Having been drafted first, he was supposed to be known for his game. But unfortunately, his claim to fame is being the guy who got clocked by a legend. Some say Kareem didn't just break Benson's jaw with that punch. He broke his game too.
7. Bill McGill (1962)
McGill was a standout player in his college career with a double-double average. The Chicago Zephyrs used their pick on him, but he tanked miserably in the big leagues and played in three very underwhelming seasons before retiring. FYI, Celtics legend John Havlicek went seventh in that draft.
6. Michael Olowokandi (1998)
The Los Angeles Clippers chose Michael Olowokandi when they could've had Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter or Paul Pierce. The Nigerian big man had all the tools for success in the NBA, but it never panned out for him. Shot blocking aside, Olowokandi offered little else, which is why he couldn't even last an entire decade in the NBA. With career averages of 8.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.39 blocks, it's clear he wasn't No. 1 material.
5. Anthony Bennett (2013)
Such have been Anthony Bennett's struggles in his first two seasons that many would want him seen much higher on this list. But the only thing working in his favor is that that he has his entire career in front of him and can still rebuild his broken career. However, chances of that happening are slim to none as Bennett's average after his first two seasons is 4.7 points and 3.4 rebounds.
4. Pervis Ellison (1989)
Having been drafted first and ahead of talents like Glen Rice, Mookie Blaylock, Tim Hardaway, and Vlade Divac, the Sacramento Kings center Pervis Ellison was expected to be the face of his franchise. But the Kings were forced to do some serious face saving when Ellison didn't perform. Injuries never allowed the 6'9 center to flourish and he was out of Sacramento after just one season. He faired a little better with his second team, the Washington Bullets, but one expects a lot more from the guy picked at numero uno.
3. Greg Oden (2007)
Unlike others on this list, Greg Oden would've made it in the NBA had it not been for his seriously dodgy knees. With his size and skills, he was supposed to be the next Kevin Garnett or even better. Steve Kerr even subbed him a once-in-a-decade kind of player. Instead, the unlucky Portland Trail Blazers got a giant who started just 60 games in a five-year association. By picking Oden, the Trail Blazers blundered and overlooked Kevin Durant, who has since established himself as one of the best players in the game.
2. LaRue Martin (1972)
Talking about the Trail Blazers' blunders, here is another embarrassing one and his name is LaRue Martin. Even the worst of draft busts have lasted nine or 10 years in the league, but Martin was out of the NBA after just four. And that explains how bad he was. With career averages of 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds, it's easy to see where it went wrong for Mr. LaRue. Rumor has it that the Portland-based team is still La-Ruing the fact that they wasted their pick on him.
1. Kwame Brown (2001)
When the game's undisputed best player picks you at No. 1, you are supposed to be at least half decent. But Brown and decent can never be used in the same sentence, such was his torrid career in the NBA. Despite all the size, basic skills, athleticism and support, Brown failed to do anything of note in his career that spanned 13 seasons and seven different teams.