Ranking the last 30 NBA #1 Draft Picks

Today is the 2018 NBA Draft! Before the rumors and speculation of this year’s No. 1 Draft Pick choice is either confirmed or proven wrong, we wanted to take a look at the past 30 NBA No. 1 Draft Picks, and rank them using the information we have available now. Be sure to share this article and let us know what you think, whether you agree or disagree!

30. Anthony Bennett (2013): 4.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG

Where is this guy anyway? A lot of people may be looking at this name like “Anthony who?!” and I can’t blame you. Anthony Bennet was the 1st overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft. After posting 16.1 PPG and 8.1 RPG in college, the Cleveland Cavaliers thought it was a good idea to draft this guy first. Since being drafted, Bennett has played only 151 games in the NBA, playing for a different team each of his 4 years in the league. Yeah, he was in the league for 4 years but only played 151 games. I think it is pretty clear why he has earned the 30th spot.

29. Kwame Brown (2001): 6.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG

“If you draft me, you’ll never regret it!”

You shouldn’t be surprised that Kwame Brown is ranked this low. If you’re surprised, you’re probably new to basketball. Brown was the first high school draft pick to be selected no. 1. He is widely considered one of the worst first round picks in NBA history. In 12 years of play, Kwame Brown started in less than half of the games played, averaged 6.6 points per game, and there were only 4 seasons where he played more than 60 games. With this pick, many people started to understand that Jordan, although the G.O.A.T. on the court, could not translate his on-court skills to the front office.

28. Greg Oden (2007): 8 PPG, 6.2 RPG

I’ll be remembered as the biggest bust in NBA history.

Greg Oden knew he would make a list similar to this. He said it himself (see the quote above)! Fortunately for him, we didn’t agree that he was the biggest bust. Congratulations, you are two spots away from being last on our list! Oden played just THREE years in the NBA, 105 games total, due to injuries. In that short time, he shot a little more than 55% from the field, and made it to the NBA finals, although he did not earn a ring. Making it to the finals is probably the key factor which separates Oden from the guys ranked below him in this list.

27. Michael Olowokandi (1998): 8.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG

The 1998 NBA Draft 1st Pick, Michael Olowokandi, was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers. Olowokandi, unfortunately referred to as the “Kandi Man”, was selected in the draft before players like Mike Bibby, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Jason “White Chocolate” Williams, and Dirk Nowitzki. In just nine seasons, Olowokandi played for 3 teams, averaging 8.3 points per game in just about 26.3 minutes per game. He refused to listen to advice from Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and his career suffered as a result. The “highlights” available on YouTube for the Kandi Man includes him getting dunked or scored on by multiple players (WARNING: the music in the video is about as terrible as Olowokandi’s play).

26. Markelle Fultz (2017): 7.1 PPG, 3.8 AST

He was just drafted, I know. But he played only 14 games! There was a lot of weird news about procedures needed to be done on his shoulder. A three point shooter suddenly couldn’t shoot 3s, or free throws, and couldn’t play in 68 games of the 82 game season. No one really knew what was going on. For a No. 1 draft pick, you have to admit this is very disappointing. Luckily for Fultz, it seems he still has a chance and has his whole career ahead of him. Take a look at the things he was able to do in his short career thus far.

25. Pervis Ellison (1989): 9.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG

Pervis Ellison, aka “Never Nervous Pervis”, was the 1st pick overall in the 1989 NBA Draft. He earned the nickname while in college by stepping up and leading Louisville to its second National Championship. Ellison played 11 seasons, and 474 games in the league. He also had three seasons early in his career where he averaged 10+ PPG, and also earned the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award.

24. Andrew Bogut (2005): 9.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG

Andrew Bogut is an NBA Champion! He played a nice role in the Golden State Warriors first championship. He is one of few in his draft class to earn any hardware. Although he has not lived up to the perceived level that a 1st round pick should, he has played more games (694) than most of the guys on this list ranked lower than him. We didn’t add a highlight reel for Bogut because, lets be honest, who really wants to watch that?

23. Andrea Bargnani (2006): 14.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG

Drafted just a year after Bogut, Andrea Bargnani seemed to be something special. A 7-foot bomber who could move better than most at his size, Bargnani was definitely a guy you couldn’t just leave open. He began his career by earning a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team. Throughout his 10 year NBA career, he shot greater than 40% from 3-point eight times, and shot greater than 45% on four of those occasions. Bargnani averaged double-digit points per game in all but his last season in the league. Although not the best pick in his draft, he was still a good pick-up for the Raptors.

22. Joe Smith (1996): 10.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG

Another player who made the NBA All-Rookie First Team, Joe Smith was a decent player but wasn’t all too exciting. He peeked early in his career, having his highest PPG average (18.7) in his second year in the league. At 6’10, Joe Smith was able to play the small forward, power forward, and center positions. Smith is mostly known for being an NBA Journeyman, a name earned as a result of bouncing around from team to team. In 16 years of play, Smith played for 15 teams, spending the most time with the Milwaukee Bucks. His ability to last that long in the league should count for something, right?

21. Kenyon Martin (2000): 12.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG

We finally have an All-Star! Don’t laugh! Kenyon Martin was a beast, although his numbers may not show that. He appeared to be tough on and off the court. Martin was a part of the New Jersey Nets (now Brooklyn Nets) team that made two trips to the NBA Finals. Although they were swept by the LA Lakers, in his second year in the league, Martin led his team in scoring in the 2002 NBA Finals. The next year, he and his team made another trip to the finals where he increased his scoring and rebounding averages, nearly averaging a double double. Though this may sound impressive without the numbers, it is not up to par to what fans today expect from a No. 1 draft pick. Either way, he had a good career.

20. Derrick Coleman (1990): 16.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG

Another New Jersey Net has made it on the list! Derrick Coleman was a solid player throughout his career. He began his 15-year career by earning the NBA Rookie of the Year award and an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection. Coleman followed that up with an NBA All-Star appearance and two All-NBA Third Team selections. He also had five seasons where he averaged a double-double, with three seasons of average more than 20 points per game. Although Coleman did not earn a championship, he did earn a gold medal in the 1994 FIBA World Championship.

19. Danny Manning (1988): 14 PPG, 5.2 RPG

One of the reasons why Danny Manning may have been picked first in the 1988 NBA Draft is because he killed it at the University of Kansas. He led his college team to a championship in 1988, and is still the all-time leading scorer and rebounder for the University of Kansas. Manning’s skill caught the eye of the Los Angeles Clippers who made sure not to pass him up. However, Manning started his career off with injuries. He was able to rebound afterwards and earn two NBA All-Star selections, and an NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.

18. Larry Johnson (1991): 16.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG

How many of you remember “LJ” or Larry “Grandmama” Johnson? For the younger fans, you have to watch the old converse commercials.

At only 6’6, Grandmama played at the Power Forward position, mostly due to his strength which allow him to bump elbows with the big guys. After seeing him become an NCAA champion and earn the College Player of the Year award, the Charlotte Hornets (now known as the New Orleans Pelicans) selected Johnson as their No. 1 pick to join others like Kendall Gill, Mugsy Bogues, and Dell Curry (creator of Steph Curry). Throughout his career, Johnson earned the NBA Rookie of the Year award, an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection, an All-NBA Second Team selection, and two NBA All-Star selections. He averaged 16.2 points per game throughout his career, while collecting 7.5 rebounds per game.

17. Elton Brand (1999): 15.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG

Drafted by the Bulls in 1999, Elton Brand started his career off hot. During his rookie season, Brand led his team in scoring with an average of 20.1 points per game. This led the NBA to select Elton Brand as a co-NBA Rookie of the Year, an award he shared with Steve Francis. Brand averaged 18 or more points per game the first eight seasons of his career before age and injuries took a toll. Brand played a total of 17 seasons in the NBA and, in addition to the Rookie of the Year honors, earned an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection, two NBA All-Star selections, and an All-NBA Second Team selection.

16. Yao Ming (2002): 19 PPG, 9.2 RPG

When Yao came onto the scene, everyone paid close attention to see what he would do. Here was an international player who was expected to go No. 1 overall and, oh yeah, he was 7’6″! Yao played only eight seasons in the NBA, but averaged double digit points per game every season. After dominating the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) by earning the 2011 CBA MVP award, becoming a CBA Champion in 2002, and earning the 2002 CBA Finals MVP award, Yao began collecting NBA achievements. He was selected to the 2003 NBA All-Rookie First Team, two All-NBA Second Teams, three All-NBA Third Teams, and was selected as an NBA All-Star each year of his career. In the end, the Houston Rockets retired his jersey, making No. 11 untouchable.

15. Glenn Robinson (1994): 20.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG

Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson came into the league after leading the NCAA Division I in scoring and earning the National College Player of the Year in 1994. Big Dog also was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Athlete of the Year the same year. These skills translated well to the NBA as Robinson averaged double points per game every year of his 11-year career. From his first year in the league, where he averaged 21.9 points per game and earned an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection, Glenn Robinson averaged 20+ PPG in 8 seasons. Robinson also grabbed two NBA All-Star selections, and capped his career off with an NBA Championship.

14. Derrick Rose (2008): 18.9 PPG, 5.7 AST

Here is where many people may start to claim this list suffers from recency bias. I get it. I’ve already judged the list before you had an opportunity, but hear me out. Does anyone ranked lower than Derrick Rose on this list have an NBA MVP award?

Derrick Rose started his career averaging 16.8 PPG, shooting 47.5% from the field, and dishing out 6.3 assist per game. Those stats were enough for Rose to nab the 2009 NBA Rookie of the Year award, becoming the third Chicago Bull to do so after Michael Jordan and Elton Brand. Immediately after his rookie campaign, Rose earned three straight NBA All-Star selections, with an MVP campaign and All-NBA First Team selection right in the middle. In nine years, Rose has managed to average double digit points per game 8 times, only seeing a dip into single digits this past year. Unfortunately, Rose has dealt with many injuries which have caused him to be known for being off the court rather than on.  Rose has only had three seasons where he has played more than 75+ regular season games. But he is still an active player in the league.

13. Andrew Wiggins (2014): 19.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG

We must admit, Andrew Wiggins does not have a complete resume. Actually, it is nowhere close to being complete. But the guy is still young, currently only 23 years of age. In his short time in the league, he has averaged 19.7 points per game throughout his years while playing alongside other hungry players who were either young players or those approaching their prime such Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, or Ricky Rubio (and recently, Jimmy Butler). Playing alongside these players have undoubtedly taken opportunities away from Wiggins as they look to make names for themselves by showing off their own offensive skills.

Wiggins still has plenty of opportunities in front of him and could either rise or fall in No. 1 draft pick rankings. But for now, his young age, ample opportunity, good numbers and lack of significant injuries (knocking on wood) forces him to avoid the lower ranks of this list.

12. Blake Griffin (2009): 21.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG

In Blake Griffin’s rookie season, well the one where he actually played, he was chosen as the NBA Rookie of the Year, won the Slam Dunk Contest, and was selected as an NBA All-Star. In eight seasons, Griffin has earned a total of five All-Star selections. Early on, it was widely known that if Blake Griffin was near the basket, and had enough room to gather his feet, he was going to dunk and grant someone a starring role in a new poster. Blake Griffin has averaged 18 or more points each year of his career, and has only missed the playoffs his rookie year and last year when he was traded from the LA Clippers to the Detroit Pistons.

11. Chris Webber (1993): 20.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG

We are starting to get to some of my favorites, although, I’m not of fan of his NBA analysis during televised games. Webber is known primarily for his years playing for the Sacramento Kings, and secondarily as the guy who called “timeout” in 1993 NCAA Championship when his team had known. Chris Webber rebounded after his gaffe, earning an NBA Rookie of the Year award, an All-NBA First Team selection, three All-NBA Second Team selections, an All-NBA Third Team selection, and five NBA All-Star selections.

10. John Wall (2010): 18.9 PPG, 9.2 AST

After just one year at the University of Kentucky, John Wall was selected as the No. 1 draft pick by the Washington Wizards. Since his rookie season, Wall has averaged at least  7.0 assist and 16.0 points per game every season. In 2014, he won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, beating out Paul George and, the defendant Slam Dunk Champion, Terrence Ross, among others. Throughout his career, Wall has been selected to the 2011 NBA All-Rookie First Team, the 2015 NBA All-Defensive Second Team, the 2017 All-NBA Third Team, and five NBA All-Star teams from 2014 to 2018.

9. Dwight Howard (2004): 17.4 PPG, 12.7RPG

Another Slam Dunk champion is in the mix! Dwight Howard was selected No. 1 overall in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic right out of high school. Howard has built quite the resume since entering the league. Away from his Slam Dunk championship (2008), Dwight Howard was selected to the 2005 NBA All-Rookie First Team, he’s received eight All-NBA Team selections (2007 – 2014), been selected to the All-Star team eight times, has earned three NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards with five NBA All-Defensive Team selections, has led the league in rebounds five times and in blocks two twice.

8. Ben Simmons (2016): 15.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 8.2 AST

He has only played one year in the league, but what a year! Ben Simmons has shown much promise and, with playing in the Eastern Conference and alongside Joel Embiid, expect to see improvements and a decent collection of awards. Simmons was placed this high on the list mostly because of his potential, which he backed up with his play. This season, he shot 54.5% from the field, and averaged more than 8 rebounds and assist per game. Simmons carried this momentum into the playoffs, averaging 16.3 PPG, 9.4 RPG, and 7.7 AST while shooting 48.8% from the field. There should be no surprise if we witness a season or two where Simmons averages a triple-double.

7. Karl-Anthony Towns (2015): 21.6 PPG, 11.7 RPG

Karl-Anthony Towns was selected first overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Although Towns has only played in three NBA, he has 21.6 PPG and 11.7 RPG while shooting over 54%. He has played in every regular season game in his first three seasons, and has not only set a high personal career high in points, but also a Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record when he went for 56 points and 15 rebounds against the Atlanta Hawks. So far, Towns has collected an NBA Rookie of the Year award, an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection, an All-NBA Third Team selection, and an NBA All-Star selection.

6. Anthony Davis (2012): 23.4 PPG, 10.3 RPG

We are getting to some special and proven talent at this point. At the young age of 25, Anthony Davis (AD) has already earned an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection, has led the league in blocks three times, been voted to three NBA All-Defensive teams and three All-NBA First Teams, and is a five time NBA All-Star. After posting 13.5 PPG his rookie year, AD has steadily increased his average since, finishing the 2018 season with a 28.1 PPG average.

Davis has already earned an All-Star MVP award, and seems to be entering his prime. With a few more pieces needed to give him the supporting cast he needs to take things to the next level, I believe Anthony will soon prove to that he belongs in the Top 5 of the modern No. 1 draft pick rankings.

5. Kyrie Irving (2011): 22.0 PPG, 5.5 AST

This guys is a baller, plain and simple! If only there was an official stat for clutch shots made, I am sure he would have high marks. Numbers don’t tell the whole story for Kyrie Irving. You just have to watch him play. In seven years of play, Kyrie has been named the NBA Rookie of the Year, selected to the NBA All-Rookie First Team, earned the 2014 FIBA World Cup MVP and the title of USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year, earned the 2013 Three-Point Shootout Contest, is a five time NBA All-Star,  and an NBA Champion. Currently, without riding shotgun to LeBron, Kyrie will have the chance to increase his individual numbers and test his leadership capabilities.

4. Allen Iverson (1996): 26.7 PPG, 6.2 AST

These were the good old days! While looking at his numbers, many people forget that Allen Iverson was just 6 ft. tall. He earned the 1997 NBA Rookie of the Year award, while scoring multiple 40+ points games his first season. In addition to that, Iverson was a four time NBA scoring champion, led the league in steals three times, was a 2-time NBA All-Star MVP, 7-time All-NBA Team, 11-time All-Star, and was the 2001 NBA MVP, among many other accolades. You should get the picture by now, I’m sure.

3. LeBron James (2003): 27.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 7.2 AST

This is the legend level of the rankings! Everyone from this point on has dominated for multiple years on an high level. Exhibit A: LeBron James!

“The King” has dominated sports headlines for the majority of his career. Lebron has done things that is hard to imagine could possibly be done again. Who would have imagined that a guy who came straight out of high school would go be able to EIGHT STRAIGHT finals and bring championships to two different organizations. He has already created many great moments that will last throughout NBA history. On defense, he will be remembered for the chase down block (including THE chase down block on Andre Iguodala in the 2016 Finals). On offense, he will be remembered for his ability to dominate most every aspect of the game from his passing, ability to handle the ball at his size, and force his way to the basket at will. James will also be known for posterizing various NBA players (i.e. Jason Terry). In his 15 year career, Lebron has earned 3 Championships, 4 MVP awards, 14 All-Star selections, 3 All Star MVP awards, 14 All-NBA Team selections, 6 All-Defensive Team selections, the 2004 Rookie of the Year award, and an NBA scoring title.

In 15 years, LeBron has never averaged less than 20.0 PPG, and only averaged less than 25.0 PPG in his rookie season. Honestly, its tough to sum-up LeBron’s greatness in a few paragraphs. Hopefully, the video below will do a better job.

2. Tim Duncan (1997): 19.0 PPG, 10.8 RPG

Throughout his career, Tim Duncan earned a nickname that fit him perfectly. “The Big Fundamental” was reliable, fundamentally sound, yet boring to watch at times. But, if boring means you’ll earn five NBA titles, I am sure a lot of NBA players, past or present, would sign up to be boring.

Duncan played 19 years in the league, earned three Finals MVPs, two regular season MVPs, 15 All-Star selections with one All-Star MVP, 15 All-NBA selections, 15 NBA All-Defensive selections, which all started with the 1998 NBA Rookie of the Year award. Boring, right?

1. Shaquille O’Neal (1992): 23.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG

The Diesel! The Big Aristotle! Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most dominant players to ever play the game of basketball. Shaq was a dangerous combination of tall, heavy, and mobile. Currently, he is the only player on this list to win the NBA MVP, All-Star MVP, and Finals MVP all in the same year (and is only 1 of 3 players to do so). O’Neal shot nearly 60% from the field throughout his career. Though not an award, Shaquille O’Neal is able to say that he lead his team over Michael Jordan’s in a playoff series during MJ’s prime.

Shaq had 14 seasons where he averaged more than 20.0 points per game. He also averaged a double digit PPG figure every year but his last year in the league. As a 7’0 center, O’Neal led the league in scoring twice. He also earned the 1993 NBA Rookie of the Year award, 4 NBA titles, 3 Finals MVPs, 15 All-Star selections, 14 All-NBA Team selections, and 3 NBA All-Defensive Team selections, among other accomplishments.

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