Misery Loves Company: Other Injuries To No. 1 Overall Picks

By Dave McMenamin
Updated: September 14, 2007

SECAUCUS, N.J. — News broke on Thursday that Portland’s No. 1 pick, Greg Oden, will likely miss the entire 2007-08 season while recovering from arthroscopy and a microfracture surgery.

This certainly takes some of the wind out of Trail Blazers fans’ sails, but it’s no reason to hit the panic button. Portland isn’t the first franchise to have its top selection miss a chunk of his rookie season due to injury.

Since the Draft Lottery era began in 1985, six out of the 22 top picks have gone on to miss a significant amount of games (14 games or more) because of various health reasons in their inaugural campaigns. Oden makes it seven for 23.

Since misery loves company, here’s a quick run down of those six injured rooks:

Patrick Ewing, New York, 1985-86: Ewing missed the final 32 games of his rookie season due to a knee injury.

Danny Manning, L.A. Clippers, 1988-89: Manning tore his ACL in his right knee in early January of his rookie season and did not return.

Pervis Ellison, Sacramento, 1989-90: Started the season on the injury list after getting bone spurs removed from his right foot and ankle before returning for the final 34 games.

Kenyon Martin, New Jersey, 2000-01: Missed the final 12 games of the season after breaking the same leg he did in college.

Kwame Brown, Washington, 2001-02: Played in only 57 games mixing injuries with DNP-CD’s.

Andrea Bargnani – Toronto, 2006-07 – In the freak injury of freak injuries, appendicitis sidelined Il Mago from the middle of March until the middle of April last year.

While G.O.’s six to 12 month long recuperation period will probably cause him to miss more games than any No. 1 pick since Manning, keep hope for a full recovery strong. In fact, more than 15 NBA players have bounced back from the knee affliction and contributed in the league again.

The main point is that Portland fans need to keep perspective. For every great turn around that a No. 1 pick provides immediately (the Spurs’ win total went +36 in Tim Duncan’s rookie season and +35 in David Robinson’s rookie year) there are other great players who take longer to have their impact felt (Allen Iverson and Elton Brand both only added four wins to the Sixers’ and Bulls’ records in their first seasons, respectively).

The injury will give Oden a year to get accustomed to his surroundings in Portland, get to know the team and coaching staff and work to not only fix his knee but bulk up his body in general.

While it might put a damper on 2007-08 for him, you have to think he’ll be one of the favorites for Rookie of the Year in 2008-09 if he doesn’t play a game next year.