NBA Talk: Looking Back At The First Picks Of The NBA Draft In The Last Decade

Ah, the NBA Draft. With NBA stars losing their luster as they decide to retire, fresh new players come in to pursue a dream and become a star. It all starts in the NBA Draft. And all the hype goes around the player that is the first one taken in the Draft.

As the first pick, it’s truly an honor. But there is an absolutely horrible downside as well. Some who cannot live up to the potential many experts believed, you have made one of the lists nobody has ever wanted to be a part of. The list is called NBA Busts and many first-round have been there in the last decade.

But some do live up to potential and have that dream career everyone expected. Here’s my observation as of the first picks of the NBA Draft since 1998. As Blake Griffin has been captured by the Clippers in 2009, let’s take a look at the others from 1998-2008.

1998: Michael Olowokandi, Los Angeles Clippers

Let’s start with a player who Uncle Popov literally cracked me up as he made an hilarious diss at the end of this article. But we are not here to talk about a blog about someone’s Drunken Sports Rant.

Olowokandi never lived up to the success many people have believed. He averaged about eight points and about seven rebounds per game in his nine-year career, living up to one of the busts of many NBA lists.

Averaging eight points and seven rebounds is just absolutely horrible for a first overall pick. His best season in his NBA career was averaging about twelve points and nine rebounds per game in the 2002-03 season with the Clippers, although he did just play 36 games. He might as well just have a 36-game career.

1999: Elton Brand, Chicago Bulls

Elton Brand came into Chicago as a hot-shot player. It was all awards in his career in College Basketball, winning numerous awards and coming to the Chicago Bulls looking to make himself a star. In his rookie year, he averaged 20 points per game as he was named NBA Rookie of the Year with Steve Francis.

Brand was also a two-time NBA All-Star as well as winning two other awards in 2006 beginning with the All-NBA Second Team and going for the Sportsmanship Award. He was also with Team USA in the 2006 FIBA World Championship going for the Bronze Medal.

It’s for sure he lived up to his potential in his NBA as his lowest points per game was about 14 just last year with the 76ers. For most notably being a star in L.A., frustration began to emerge. Since 2007, he has been battling with injuries and it has been bringing down his status as the potential first overall pick superstar.

But don’t worry about it. As the injuries are starting to go away, I think a bright future is still headed his way as an NBA superstar.

2000: Kenyon Martin, New Jersey Nets

It’s hard to call Martin a bust or a superstar. He was always more in the middle but I believe he was an above-average NBA player overall, which is pretty good for a first overall draft pick. K-Mart usually has battled through injuries as he usually played 60-70 games in his NBA career, which does go along with 14 points and seven rebounds per game, which is pretty solid for him.

His best year was in the 2003-2004 season as he averaged about 17 points and about seven rebounds per game which is very good for someone at his position of power forward. He has been in scuffles throughout his NBA career (does the word thug and the name Mark Cuban ever ring a bell?).

I think Martin will always be an above-average caliber player. Although we might not see him in the Hall-of-Fame, he had his times and he was always a pretty darn good player. He was close to getting an NBA ring, probably coming into the 2009-10 season, he and his Nuggets may be battling towards the spot as the best basketball team in universe.

2001: Kwame Brown, Washington Wizards

This is probably where we reach the non-talent players of this list as we head into this kid named Kwame Brown. He is totally labeled as a bust and, as what New York Vinnie would call him, a PUD.

Brown has had career averages of seven points per game and about six rebounds. So I must say, these are just great stats for a first overall pick of the NBA Draft. You have to agree with me, no doubt. As you all know that sarcasm has been noted, here’s where we come to all seriousness.

His best season was the averages of about eleven points per game and seven rebounds. It doesn’t really matter what year those stats took place because every year has been just horrible. He might as well just come to some random team like the Warriors and go ahead and be a backup for Darko or go to the a Chinese Basketball League and play alongside with David Harrison.

It’s what he might be best at.

2002: Yao Ming, Houston Rockets

Ming was labeled as a superstar after his 2001-2002 season with the CBA after averaging 32 freaking points per game. Dude, that is just amazing right there, I just have to say. With him most likely missing the rest of the 2009-10 season, and battling through injuries for much of his career, it’s hard to label of where exactly he should be.

I should put him up at where K-Mart is, as being an above-average player. Although statistics are pretty nice and so his size, he does somehow act a bit of a Mr. Softie sometimes (that includes you too Pau Gasol) and seriously just never finishes a season.

For much of his career, he has had stats of about 20 points and ten rebounds for his career. It’s all good for Yao, but there is one problem with him, and it’s just those darn injuries that just bother me so much, and even with NBA fans.

2003: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Okay, so we all know where James is at right now. He is the icon of the NBA (sorry Kobe but I know you are up there too and you know that as well) and is, no doubt, a future Hall-of-Famer. Named MVP last year and just being amazing every game.

With averages of close to 30 points per game, how is it possible that he is even near above-average? He’s nothing less than legendary, I just have to say. We all know how this kid rolls and I think there is no further point of me explaining anything of him. His actions speaks louder than words so it’s best that I don’t need to write anything about him.

2004: Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

Okay, so we all know how this goofball rolls as well. He has lived up to his potential easily as well. First, his team almost had a shot of winning the NBA Finals, and they also destroyed the best team in the NBA (and that’s before the Finals) during the Eastern Conference Finals.

Howard is just an amazing player. He is fun to watch on and off the court (seriously). As being an All-Star and a guy who recently won the nickname of Superman about a couple of years ago, he is just another guy who deserved to be the first overall pick of the NBA Draft.

And again, no more explaining about this kid, we all know he rolls.

2005: Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee Bucks

It’s hard to tell where Bogut stands in his career. I’d rather just label him as an average player because he’s still got a long way to go in his career. He has averaged about twelve points and about nine rebounds in his career, which is pretty good for a young player that is still developing (at least he ain’t Adam Morrison).

Bogut still has a lot to prove so I’m just going to let him go at this. Not a bust, not a superstar, just an average dude.

2006: Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors

Bargnani is a kid who right now is an above-average player in which I will be a superstar soon. He’s an amazing player to watch with his stupendous abilities for his position. He can shoot and rebound, but it’s not like every NBA center. His shooting is just too good.

His best season was just last year as he had averages of 15 points and five rebounds per game. He’s been doing very well so far and in his short career, and has a very long way to go. Watch out for this kid, he’s looking good.

2007: Greg Oden, Portland Trail Blazers

Oden was expected to be a star in the 2007-08 season, but failed to do absolutely anything as he was injured for the whole season. Now coming into the 2008-09 season and trying to make a name for himself, he really couldn’t do that much by averaging about nine points and seven rebounds per game. It was okay actually as it was pretty much his first year in the NBA.

It is hard to determine where he is at but I’ll give him the nod as average. He’s a player with a future and let’s hope he doesn’t ruin it or else it’s just going to stink real badly. I just hope he doesn’t have a Michael Olowokandi or Kwame Brown future. As for right now, average his destiny.

2008: Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

Derrick Rose was already a star in high school! He didn’t need to go to College but he had to anyways and proved he was already a NBA-caliber player. Just last year in his first ever year in Professional Basketball, he showed the world that he was the boss.

He had averaged about 17 points per game which also earned him Rookie of the Year. And also, this first-year player beat out the veteran in Kirk Hinrich, which is just truly amazing, I must say, but people were expecting it. He also led Chi-Town to the NBA Playoffs but eventually, his Bulls lost to the hot-shot Celtics, 4-3. It was an amazing series, you got to admit it.

I’ll have to label as a superstar for right now because everyone knows he’s going to have a great future in the NBA. We’ll see how it goes.

What’s Next?

Blake Griffin recently got drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers as the first overall pick. Hhm, well look back eleven years ago when the Clippers held the number one pick and got Olowokandi. Anything is ringing a bell in your head?

I don’t what’s at hand for Griffin but I think he might have success. It’s a new team, building around with Marcus Camby, Eric Gordon, Baron Davis, and Griffin himself. It’s going to be all good LA and we’ll see how it goes for B-Griff and company.

Conclusion

Let’s take a look at this chart and break it down of all of the players I have mentioned:

Year Player Drafted

Player

Team Drafted By

Labeled As…

1998

Michael Olowokandi

Los Angeles Clippers

Bust

1999

Elton Brand

Chicago Bulls

Superstar

2000

Kenyon Martin

New Jersey Nets

Above-Average Player

2001

Kwame Brown

Washington Wizards

Bust

2002

Yao Ming

Houston Rockets

Above-Average Player

2003

LeBron James

Cleveland Cavaliers

Superstar

2004

Dwight Howard

Orlando Magic

Superstar

2005

Andrew Bogut

Milwaukee Bucks

Average Player

2006

Andrea Bargnani

Toronto Raptors

Above-Average Player

2007

Greg Oden

Portland TrailBlazers

Average Player

2008

Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls

Superstar

Two players have been named busts, two players have been named average, three players were named above-average and four players have been named superstars. These are the players from the last decade and I have analyzed as much data as I could get.

I’d like to thank Basketball-Reference.com for the statistics and Wikipedia for labeling a chart of first-round picks. The chart above was made by myself.

As I have observed, ten percent of the players were busts and averages, about 15 percent of the players were above averages and 25 percent of the players were named superstars. Where will Blake Griffin stand? We’ll find out in 2010.

Time will come to determine if these players calibers may have changed as well. Griffin has a good chance of being a superstar as most of the players on this list were. Time will tell, as I have said, of where Griffin stands.

I’ll just have to wait, and of course, so will YOU.

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3 Responses to “NBA Talk: Looking Back At The First Picks Of The NBA Draft In The Last Decade”

  1. [...] NBA Talk: Looking Back At The First Picks Of The NBA Draft In The … By Josh Dhani Ah, the NBA Draft. With NBA stars losing their luster as they decide to retire, fresh new players come in to pursue a dream and become a star. It all starts in the NBA Draft. And all the hype goes around the player that is the first one … Le Basketbawl – http://www.lebasketbawl.com/ [...]

  2. [...] Le Basketbawl Bargnani is a kid who right now is an above-average player in which I will be a superstar soon. He’s an amazing player to watch with his stupendous abilities for his position. He can shoot and rebound, but it’s not like every NBA center. His shooting is just too good. [...]

  3. [...] NBA Talk: Looking Back At The First Picks Of The NBA Draft In The Last Decade » Le Basketbawl Bargnani is a kid who right now is an above-average player in which I will be a superstar soon. He’s an amazing player to watch with his stupendous abilities for his position. He can shoot and rebound, but it’s not like every NBA center. His shooting is just too good. [...]

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