Royce White

Daryl Morey calls Royce White arguably ‘the worst first-round pick ever’


The Houston Rockets selected Royce White with the No. 16 pick in the 2012 draft.

He spent a year with the Rockets while anxiety issues kept him from being with the team and was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, who cut him before this season began. At this point, it appears to be a huge longshot White will ever play in the NBA.

Since 1972, just five other players have been drafted that high without playing in the NBA:

  • Nerlens Noel (No. 6 in 2013 by 76ers)
  • Lucas Nogueira (No. 16 in 2013 by Hawks)
  • Fran Vasquez (No. 11 in 2005 by Magic)
  • Frederic Weis (No. 15 in 1999 by Knicks)
  • Len Bias (No. 2 in 1986 by Celtics)

Noel will obviously get on the court, perhaps as early as this season. Nogueira has plenty of time to come stateside.

That leaves White in rare, though not quite unprecedented, company as Rockets general manager Daryl Morey suggests.

Morey, via Ben DuBose of ClutchFans (hat tip: Matt Moore of Eye on Basketball):

“I take some sort of pride that you could argue that Royce White is the worst first-round pick ever. He’s the only one that never played a minute in the NBA that wasn’t just a foreign guy staying in Europe. It just shows we swing for the fence,” Morey quipped.

    White isn’t the worst first-round pick ever, and Morey doesn’t believe that.

    Analytically inclined people like Morey are process-oriented, not result-oriented. Morey has sound reasons for drafting White, whose basketball talent dictated he should have gone much higher in the draft. Concerns about his anxiety issues rightly pushed him down draft boards, but the reward outweighed the risk where Morey selected him.

    That logic matters more to Morey than whether White actually panned out as an NBA player. Calculated risks aren’t bad moves if the calculations were correct, regardless of how the hand unfolds.

    If Morey just means based on results, Bias, who died from cocaine overdose days after the draft, was a worse pick by that standard. After all, he was drafted 14 spots higher than White.

    But it seems a little cold to debate whether a player who died or a player who couldn’t overcome his anxiety issues was the worst first-round pick of all time, which leads to my final and most-significant point.

    Isn’t it a little insensitive for Morey to publicly chastise a person whose mental state has caused himself great distress? White didn’t work out in the NBA, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve compassion.

    It’s one thing to discuss how and why White didn’t make the NBA, but it’s another thing to single him out as “the worst first-round pick ever” when the standard used to select him doesn’t even put him at the bottom of the list. This just feels like unfairly piling on.

    Greg Oden on basketball career: ‘It’s over’

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    Greg Oden’s multiple injuries dictated the former No. 1 pick wouldn’t have the career forecasted for him.

    But he returned from three years off an NBA court to play for the Heat in 2014. He followed that breakthrough with a couple tryouts and a stint in China.

    Could he once again return to the league?

    Dana Hunsinger Benbow of IndyStar:

    Asked whether he’d play basketball again, he said, “I wish. It’s over.” Instead, he is back with the Buckeyes as a student coach, helping out the players and Matta any way he can.

    Oden, who was picked one spot before Kevin Durant, once declared: “I know I’m one of the biggest busts in NBA history and I know that it’ll only get worse as Kevin Durant continues doing big things.” That statement is blunt, reality and sad all wrapped into one.

    It’s a shame we never got to see Oden healthy for long. There was good reason for the Trail Blazers to pick him first, but injuries ruined what could’ve been an intriguing extend debate over him and Durant.

    Hopefully, Oden finds fulfillment in the next chapter of his life.

    Report: LeBron James didn’t want to play for Cavaliers before they drafted him

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    The Cavaliers landing the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NBA draft seemed like a fairytale.

    The consensus top choice and one of the most-hyped prospects of all-time was a local kid from nearby Akron, LeBron James.

    But this happy accident didn’t come through rainbows and butterflies. To get the top seed in the lottery, Cleveland had to get bad – really bad. The Cavs missed the playoffs five straight years, bottoming out at 17-65 in 2002-03.

    Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

    When James was a teenager, he started attending games at the arena, and he couldn’t believe how bad the Cavs were, how empty the arena often was, with its bright blue seats seeming like a neon sign of disinterest. During his senior year of high school, he went to several games, was given courtside seats and visited the locker room. His thought was pretty clear after he watched that 17-win team with the lowest attendance in the league: They were awful, and he didn’t want to be a part of it.

    Can we be surprised someone who grew up in Akron, Ohio, as a Bulls, Yankees and Cowboys fan didn’t want to join the Cavs? LeBron was a frontrunner.

    What he didn’t realize at the time: He’d gain the power to singlehandedly transform a franchise, and he’d develop an emotional attachment to the Cavaliers.

    Cleveland wasn’t going to remain unwatchable with him. He turned the Cavs into a credible championship contender. Then, after leaving for the Heat, he returned. He even delivered delivered its long-awaited title last season.

    The tears of joy he cried afterward show just how much that area, including its NBA team, means to him.

    That he was initially sour on the Cavaliers adds an interesting twist to the story. It doesn’t detract from it.

    Kevin Durant shoots extra while echoing his critics: ‘They called me a coward!’ (video)

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    The Warriors’ Kevin Durant era started out with a thud – a 29-point home loss to the Spurs.

    He responded by shooting extra jumpers after practice while repeating his critics.

    Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN:

    When asked after his session about shouting criticisms, Durant explained, “That’s what I say to myself when I’m working. I hear it all the time. You hear the noise. You hear what they say about you. Everybody hears it. So it’s a little extra motivation when you hear it.”

    Of the scene, Durant said, “Nobody in this arena right now, and that’s when you get better. Nobody sees you when you’re doing this stuff right here, but luckily y’all was in here watching.”

    Depending on your perspective, Durant is:

    • Maniacally driven to succeed
    • Feeling the pressure in Golden State
    • Showboating in front of a camera

    I’ll take a little of all three.

    Not one 2016 top-10 draft pick started his team’s first game. How does that compare historically?

    NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23:  Commissioner Adam Silver poses for a photo with the top prospects before the start of the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 23, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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    Ben Simmons is hurt. Brandon Ingram is being brought along slowly. Jaylen Brown is on a good team trying to win now. Dragan Bender is blocked by Marquese Chriss. Kris Dunn is stuck behind Ricky Rubio (for now). Buddy Hield lost a preseason battle to E'Twaun Moore. Jamal Murray is ready for only a minor role. Marquese Chriss is blocked by Jared Dudley. Jakob Poeltl got drafted by a good team with an established starting center. Thon Maker is far too raw.

    The top 10 of 2016 NBA draft class isn’t off to a fast start.

    In fact, no top-10 pick started his team’s first game after being drafted for just the second time on record. The only other time it happened since 1983, as far back as records go, was 2013.

    The only 2016 draft picks to start so far are No. 11 pick Domantas Sabonis (for the Thunder) and No. 27 pick Pascal Siakam (for the Raptors).

    No. 11 pick Michael Carter-Williams was the only 2013 draft pick to start his team’s first game in 2013. So, at least the class of 2016 has a leg up on that class, which was led by No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett.

    Here’s each first-round pick since 1983 to start his team’s first game since being drafted. Top-10 picks are in blue, and all other first-rounders are in orange.


    Year Pick Player
    2016 11 Domantas Sabonis
    2016 27 Pascal Siakam
    2015 1 Karl-Anthony Towns
    2015 2 D'Angelo Russell
    2015 3 Jahlil Okafor
    2015 4 Kristaps Porzingis
    2015 7 Emmanuel Mudiay
    2014 1 Andrew Wiggins
    2014 2 Jabari Parker
    2014 10 Elfrid Payton
    2013 11 Michael Carter-Williams
    2012 1 Anthony Davis
    2012 2 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
    2012 3 Bradley Beal
    2012 4 Dion Waiters
    2012 6 Damian Lillard
    2012 7 Harrison Barnes
    2012 10 Austin Rivers
    2011 1 Kyrie Irving
    2010 1 John Wall
    2010 5 DeMarcus Cousins
    2009 4 Tyreke Evans
    2009 6 Jonny Flynn
    2009 7 Stephen Curry
    2009 9 DeMar DeRozan
    2009 10 Brandon Jennings
    2008 1 Derrick Rose
    2008 2 Michael Beasley
    2008 3 O.J. Mayo
    2007 2 Kevin Durant
    2007 3 Al Horford
    2007 6 Yi Jianlian
    2007 27 Arron Afflalo
    2006 5 Shelden Williams
    2006 6 Brandon Roy
    2006 10 Mouhamed Sene
    2005 1 Andrew Bogut
    2005 4 Chris Paul
    2005 16 Joey Graham
    2005 25 Johan Petro
    2004 1 Dwight Howard
    2004 2 Emeka Okafor
    2004 3 Ben Gordon
    2004 5 Devin Harris
    2004 9 Andre Iguodala
    2003 1 LeBron James
    2003 3 Carmelo Anthony
    2003 5 Dwyane Wade
    2003 10 Jarvis Hayes
    2002 2 Jay Williams
    2002 4 Drew Gooden
    2002 10 Caron Butler
    2001 6 Shane Battier
    2001 27 Jamaal Tinsley
    2000 1 Kenyon Martin
    2000 3 Darius Miles
    2000 17 Desmond Mason
    1999 1 Elton Brand
    1999 2 Steve Francis
    1999 4 Lamar Odom
    1999 6 Wally Szczerbiak
    1999 9 Shawn Marion
    1999 18 James Posey
    1999 26 Vonteego Cummings
    1998 2 Mike Bibby
    1998 3 Raef LaFrentz
    1998 5 Vince Carter
    1998 7 Jason Williams
    1998 9 Dirk Nowitzki
    1998 10 Paul Pierce
    1998 14 Michael Dickerson
    1997 1 Tim Duncan
    1997 4 Antonio Daniels
    1997 5 Tony Battie
    1997 6 Ron Mercer
    1997 13 Derek Anderson
    1997 23 Bobby Jackson
    1996 1 Allen Iverson
    1996 3 Shareef Abdur-Rahim
    1996 4 Stephon Marbury
    1996 5 Ray Allen
    1996 6 Antoine Walker
    1996 11 Todd Fuller
    1995 1 Joe Smith
    1995 2 Antonio McDyess
    1995 3 Jerry Stackhouse
    1995 4 Rasheed Wallace
    1995 7 Damon Stoudamire
    1995 22 George Zidek
    1994 2 Jason Kidd
    1994 3 Grant Hill
    1994 6 Sharone Wright
    1994 10 Eddie Jones
    1994 18 Eric Mobley
    1993 2 Shawn Bradley
    1993 3 Anfernee Hardaway
    1993 4 Jamal Mashburn
    1993 6 Calbert Cheaney
    1993 7 Bobby Hurley
    1993 18 Luther Wright
    1992 1 Shaquille O’Neal
    1992 3 Christian Laettner
    1992 5 LaPhonso Ellis
    1992 6 Tom Gugliotta
    1992 9 Clarence Weatherspoon
    1992 11 Robert Horry
    1992 24 Latrell Sprewell
    1991 1 Larry Johnson
    1991 4 Dikembe Mutombo
    1991 5 Steve Smith
    1991 9 Stacey Augmon
    1991 11 Terrell Brandon
    1991 24 Rick Fox
    1990 2 Gary Payton
    1990 7 Lionel Simmons
    1990 8 Bo Kimble
    1990 10 Rumeal Robinson
    1989 3 Sean Elliott
    1989 5 J.R. Reid
    1989 14 Tim Hardaway
    1989 19 Kenny Payne
    1989 21 Blue Edwards
    1988 3 Charles Smith
    1988 5 Mitch Richmond
    1988 6 Hersey Hawkins
    1988 9 Rony Seikaly
    1988 10 Willie Anderson
    1988 14 Dan Majerle
    1988 20 Kevin Edwards
    1988 21 Mark Bryant
    1987 2 Armen Gilliam
    1987 3 Dennis Hopson
    1987 6 Kenny Smith
    1987 12 Muggsy Bogues
    1987 13 Joe Wolf
    1986 1 Brad Daugherty
    1986 3 Chris Washburn
    1986 5 Kenny Walker
    1986 8 Ron Harper
    1986 11 John Salley
    1986 12 John Williams
    1986 13 Pearl Washington
    1986 21 Anthony Jones
    1985 1 Patrick Ewing
    1984 1 Hakeem Olajuwon
    1984 3 Michael Jordan
    1984 4 Sam Perkins
    1984 6 Melvin Turpin
    1984 18 Vern Fleming
    1983 1 Ralph Sampson
    1983 2 Steve Stipanovich
    1983 13 Ennis Whatley
    1983 20 Roy Hinson

    To some degree, this year’s state of affairs is understandable. Simmons was a lock to start before he got injured. Two playoffs teams – Celtics (who took Jaylen Brown No. 3) and Raptors (who took Jacob Poeltl No. 9) – drafted in the top 10 due to trades.

    But the effect is clear. This draft class seems underwhelming.

    It’s why the Rookie of the Year race feels so wide open and a 2014 draft pick, Joel Embiid, is the frontrunner.