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. Brook Lopez confident he’ll be better than ever

      Aug 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

      That’s a higher bar than most realize

    2. USA cruises past Finland in World Cup opener, 114-55

      Aug 30, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

      Anthony Davis, Teemu Rannikko Anthony Davis, Teemu Rannikko

      Klay Thompson scored 18 points and Anthony Davis had 17 points on the night. Finland had great fans, though.

    3. Nik Stauskas makes 15 consecutive 3-pointers in 47 seconds (video)

      Aug 30, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

      2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Getty Images

      Kings rookie rookie honing his 3-point Shootout skills

    4. John Calipari on Anthony Davis: “In five years, he could be the best player in the NBA”

      Aug 30, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT


      Will Davis be better than LeBron and Durant in five years? I’ll say this — he’ll be on that level.

    5. 76ers second rounder Jordan McRae signs in Australia

      Aug 30, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

      Jordan McRae Jordan McRae

      Former Tennessee guard, drafted No. 58, will help Philadelphia tank from afar

    6. Goran Dragic’s brother, Zoran, getting interest from Pacers

      Aug 30, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT


      Other NBA teams also watching Slovenia closely in World Cup to assess Zoran

    7. World Cup Preview: USA vs. Finland, what to expect

      Aug 30, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

      Finland isn’t as good as the teams the USA was destroying in tune ups.

    8. Reports: Spurs making run at Ray Allen, who remains undecided if he will play anywhere

      Aug 30, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

      2014 NBA Finals - Practice Day And Media Availability Getty Images

      He can decide this summer, or he can wait and join a team mid-season. There is no rush.

    9. James Harden on Kobe Bryant return: “He’s 20-year-old Kobe”

      Aug 30, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

      Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers

      “We talk and he’s ready. He’s 20-year-old Kobe. It’s going to be a crazy environment.” — James Harden on Kobe Bryant

    10. Record 45 current NBA players to compete in FIBA World Cup

      Aug 29, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT

      Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol (R) watch as th Getty Images

      Tournament features a record 75 players who have played in the NBA at some point, and we have the complete list.

    11. Chris Paul discusses his signature shoe, hoops with media at launch of his Jordan Brand CP3 VIII (VIDEO)

      Aug 29, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

      101_Chris Paul Unveils Jordan CP3.VIII

      Chris Paul is way more into sneakers than you are, and articulated it well at the launch of his latest signature shoe in New York earlier this week.

    12. Report: Spurs interested in Mexico’s Gustavo Ayon

      Aug 29, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

      ayon bucks Getty Images

      Ayon has played for four teams in three NBA seasons, and currently only has offers to play overseas next year.

    13. Iman Shumpert scares people (video)

      Aug 29, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

      Iman Shumpert, Trevor Ariza Iman Shumpert, Trevor Ariza

      Knicks wing acts as security guard in prank

    14. 67RIEFNS No. 1: Tom Thibodeau managing his bigs

      Aug 29, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT

      Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

      Bulls have Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic

    15. Jerry Colangelo: Team USA ‘by far’ better than 2010 squad that won gold

      Aug 29, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT

      Team USA Showcase Getty Images

      Colangelo touts Anthony Davis, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, Rudy Gay

    16. Clippers will stretch Miroslav Raduljica, too

      Aug 29, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

      Miroslav Raduljica, Omri Casspi, Donatas Motiejunas Miroslav Raduljica, Omri Casspi, Donatas Motiejunas

      By also stretching Carlos Delfino, Clippers can sign four veterans to minimum contracts

    17. Derrick Rose knows injury questions will keep coming. And coming. And coming.

      Aug 29, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

      Derrick Rose, Anderson Varejao, Raulzinho Neto Derrick Rose, Anderson Varejao, Raulzinho Neto

      The truth is limited games in an unusual setting don’t provide real answers to how Rose is feeling or will do down the line. What you think this says about Rose really says more about what you think of Rose’s future than anything else.

    Featured video

    Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
    Top 10 NBA Player Searches
    1. K. Love (3320)
    2. D. Rose (3178)
    3. K. Bryant (2652)
    4. L. James (2603)
    5. R. Allen (2196)
    1. K. Irving (2135)
    2. C. Delfino (2086)
    3. T. Mozgov (1967)
    4. D. Waiters (1939)
    5. A. Davis (1871)