Skip to content

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

Jan 27, 2014, 5:26 PM EDT

Royce White

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.

    Latest Posts
    1. Report: Joe Johnson “pumped” that Deron Williams bought out by Nets

      Jul 31, 2015, 12:52 PM EDT

      joe johnson nets sleeved alternates

      Johnson makes $24.9 million, but this is the last year of his contract.

    2. Report: Knicks to sign Thanasis Antetokounmpo

      Jul 31, 2015, 12:47 PM EDT

      20141220 Westchester Knicks at Maine Red Claws Getty Images

      New York drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo’s brother last year

    3. Report: 76ers second-rounder J.P. Tokoto won’t sign with Philadelphia

      Jul 31, 2015, 10:23 AM EDT

      Houston Rockets v Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

      No. 58 pick will reportedly head overseas or to D-League

    4. Knicks waive Ricky Ledo

      Jul 31, 2015, 9:21 AM EDT

      Ricky Ledo AP

      Guard didn’t show much in short stint in New York

    5. NBA lands in Africa trying to put down roots, which is all about youth programs, infrastructure

      Jul 31, 2015, 8:35 AM EDT

      cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptu5nzjmmwjlotdhnzrhn2iwytixngrhnwi2yzqwyjzk AP

      “One thing to come out of this will be more camps, more clinics, more games, more youth competition, and from that you get into infrastructure, and building more courts.” —Masai Ujiri, Raptors GM and native Nigerian

    6. Mark Cuban says trading for Rajon Rondo was tough call, “came down to a coin flip”

      Jul 31, 2015, 7:59 AM EDT

      Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

      “And the coin flip was as much about, is there going to be anything else that we could do? Because we knew we had to do something.” —Mark Cuban on trading for Rajon Rondo.

    7. Pau Gasol on Fred Hoiberg: “I think we’ll play with a better flow offensively”

      Jul 30, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT

      Pau Gasol Pau Gasol

      Hoiberg has a much stronger offensive reputation than Tom Thibodeau.

    8. Blazers waive Brendan Haywood after acquiring him from Cavs

      Jul 30, 2015, 10:43 PM EDT

      Brendan Haywood, Michael Beasley Brendan Haywood, Michael Beasley

      Portland received Mike Miller and two second-round picks in addition to Haywood.

    9. Report: Kings expected to hire Nancy Lieberman as assistant coach

      Jul 30, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

      Austin Toros v Texas Legends Austin Toros v Texas Legends

      Lieberman would be the second female assistant coach, after Becky Hammon

    10. Report: Hawks’ Mike Scott arrested for felony drug possession

      Jul 30, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

      Mike Scott Mike Scott

      Scott was charged with possession of marijuana and MDMA.

    11. Josh Smith clarifies “harder on me” comments in Players Tribune essay

      Jul 30, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

      Los Angeles Clippers Introduce Free Agent Signings Los Angeles Clippers Introduce Free Agent Signings

      Smith says he was talking more about family stability than money in his controversial comments.

    12. Tony Parker says for Spurs this is “last crack at it to try to win it all”

      Jul 30, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT

      Tony Parker, Tim Duncan Tony Parker, Tim Duncan

      In what will be the last year for Duncan and Manu Ginobili, not to mention David West’s long career, there will be plenty of desperation and energy in San Antonio.

    13. Flip Saunders: Kevin Garnett will start for Timberwolves

      Jul 30, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

      Kevin Garnett AP

      Will Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Pekovic or Gorgui Dieng start beside him?

    14. Flip Saunders still maintains he planned to keep Kevin Love until Andrew Wiggins offer

      Jul 30, 2015, 1:48 PM EDT

      2013 NBA Draft Lottery Getty Images

      Timberwolves apparently weren’t just going to trade Love for whatever they could get

    Top 10 NBA Player Searches
    1. K. Bryant (2696)
    2. B. Haywood (2260)
    3. I. Thomas (2138)
    4. A. Randolph (1859)
    5. L. James (1844)