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Worst NBA draft picks ever | Top 5

You can almost guarantee that there will be a host of talent that comes out of the 2020 draft but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find the right players and for every success story over the years, there is a bust as well. Here we look at the worst NBA draft picks of all time.


Worst NBA draft picks in history


5. Greg Oden 

The 2007 draft was supposed to produce a special talent in Greg Oden. He had torn things up both at high school and in college, where he was named Mr Basketball and won several individual honours. Oden was supposed to be a generational talent. He may well have been but now we’ll never know. The Portland Trail Blazers, who you’ll notice feature a few times as we progress, were the envy of the league when they used their number one pick for him. The NBA never saw his true talent though owing to injuries, with constant knee problems seeming to curse Oden. For eight seasons he tried but, through no fault of his own, it wasn’t happening. He headed off to China with just 105 NBA appearances to his name. A case of what could have been for the fifth entry on our list of the worst NBA draft picks.


4. Darko Milicic

When you’ve spent a decade in the NBA and have a Championship winners medal, it might feel insulting to rank as one of the worst draft picks in NBA history. Milicic was a bust though. The Yugoslavian international joined the Detroit Pistons as the number two pick – behind LeBron James – and won the NBA crown in his inaugural campaign. He was largely a spectator though as he averaged less than five minutes per game. Across his entire spell in the NBA, which saw him represent six different sides, he only posted 6.0 points per game, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.

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3. LaRue Martin

Martin doesn’t make the list purely so I can make a joke about the Portland Trail Blazers LaRuing the day they drafted him. Honest. No, Martin is here because he was woefully out of his depth in the NBA. The 6′ 11 center bossed things for his college – Loyola – racking up a record number of rebounds and over 1200 points. They were stats that saw him selected as the number one draft pick in 1972. He couldn’t get near those levels as a pro though. After four seasons and an average of a lowly 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds his pro career was over.


2. Len Bias

The circumstances around Bias’ name being on this list might be tragic but they do, unfortunately, warrant a mention amongst the worst NBA draft picks of all time. When the 1986 draft rolled around, Bias was riding a wave of hype. He was the star of Maryland having won back to back ACC Player of the Year awards along with being named Athlete of the Year. Things looked bright. He was taken as the number two overall pick by the Boston Celtics. Just two days later, the basketballing world was plunged into shock as Bias was found dead having overdosed on cocaine.


1. Sam Bowie

There might be a few who take issue with ranking Bowie top of the worst NBA draft picks of all time list. I understand it but I’m not budging. The reason? When Michael Jordan is on the table, you have to take Michael Jordan. Instead the Portland Trail Blazers opted to use their number two pick on Kentucky Wildcat center Bowie.  At the time, there was a logic in their pick but, whilst MJ went on to become one of best NBA draft picks ever, Bowie struggled to truly impose himself on the league. Injuries hardly helped but a career average of 10.9 points per game is hardly worth writing home about. Just look what they could have had.

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