The 9 Worst Number One NBA Draft Picks of All Time

worst nba draft picks all time

Yesterday we discussed in our daily list the greatest steals in NBA draft history. Those are stories of success through some combination of great planning and luck. But there’s a flip side to those stories, and they involve teams squandering their position in the catbird seat due to some combination of bad planning or luck. Sometimes it’s injury, sometimes the players is a head case, and sometimes the #1 pick of the NBA draft just can’t make that final evolution to live up to the hype surrounding their draft position.

But it happens about as often as it doesn’t. Many times, the #1 pick in the NBA draft is a no brainer and works out just fine, as was the case with LeBron James, David Robinson, and likely Andrew Wiggins. But it seems whenever there’s a debate between equally-regarded players (Hakeem, Sam Bowie, and Michael Jordan, Emeka Okafor and Dwight Howard, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant), it seems that the team drafting first regularly manages to get it wrong.

Of course, hindsight has a way of magnifying these mistakes, so it’s possible that this is all in our head. But that’s no fun. Let’s say that teams do screw up their awesomely situated #1 draft pick a disproportionate amount of the time. Who has done it the worst?