Andrea Bargnani – 1st overall (2006)
2006. The year the NBA barred high school players from entering the NBA Draft. This means no Greg Oden or Kevin Durant in the draft pool. The Toronto Raptors win the draft lottery. Their Italian G.M. in a city with a large Italian population is enamored with an international prospect from his ancestral home of Italy.
There were hopes that Bargnani could overcome his noted lack of rebounding skill and become the type of stretch big that Dirk Nowitzki had become in the NBA. Andrea ‘Il Mago’ Bargnani was a 7-foot big who had a range that extended to the three-point arc. He profiled best as a power forward, but his selection meant either Chris Bos would be forced to play out of position.
Bargnani was a questionable choice at the time, and due to draft capital, will likely go down as the worst first-round pick of all-time by the Toronto Raptors. Other players had less impressive NBA careers, but no other was drafted first overall.
The 2006 draft was still a talented one, even with the high schoolers snatched from the draft pool. LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, and Rudy Gay were all in the mix to go first overall to the Toronto Raptors, but Bryan Colangelo was simply too enamored with the Italian big man. Bargnani was such a bust that he soured an entire fan base on European prospects until Jonas Valanciunas came to the Toronto Raptors and changed the fanbases collective minds.
Bargnani averaged 15.2 points and 4.8 points in his seven seasons with the Toronto Raptors. Remember Charlie V averaged 13 and 6.4 as a rookie. Bargnani topped out with 21.4 points, 5.2 rebounds on just under 45-percent shooting in 2010-11. He averaged 17.6 shots per game. ‘Primo Pasta’ as he became known towards the end of his NBA career was a low efficiency big who could hit the three with some regularity but could not defend or rebound.