Being selected with the number one overall pick in the NBA means that there will always be a lot of pressure on you to perform right away. There have been plenty of number one overall picks that have gone into the NBA and that have made an impact in their very first season, and they are also some that struggle not only in their first season, but in all of their seasons combined. Some guys can handle the pressure of being the face of a franchise at a very young age, others tend to struggle and have a tough time making the transition from high school (which no longer is an option anymore) to the NBA. Others tend to struggle transitioning from the collegiate level to the professional level due to the game being played at a different pace. Some have struggled to stay healthy, or to be healthy enough to strive and show their true potential.
Over the past 15 seasons, there have been 15 number one overall picks that have come from different nationalities. They all come from different backgrounds, but the one thing that they have in common is at one point in their career they were looked at to become the face of their franchise who has been in need of a new face. Some have strived at the professional level and have already put together a great career, others have struggled with being the face/haven’t been healthy to be able to put together a successful career at the professional level. With that being said here is a ranking of the previous 15 number one overall picks from the past 15 years.
15 Ben Simmons (2016)
The most recent number one overall pick was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers and has yet to be able to play in an NBA game, which puts him as the lowest ranked number one pick on the list. Once he does play that illustrious first game he will be considered a better pick than a couple of these guys on the list. Simmons is from Australia and is a former number one overall recruit (2015). The 20-year-old has plenty of time to be able to have a successful NBA career, but he has to stay healthy first. He has the talent that can make him one of the better first round picks in the previous fifteen years. Look for Simmons once healthy to be a big time help to the Philadelphia 76ers.
14 Anthony Bennett (2013)
One of the more recent busts in Anthony Bennett who was drafted number one overall in 2013 by the Cleveland Cavaliers who got their second straight number one overall pick. Bennett has played four seasons in the NBA and has started a total of four games throughout the 151 that he has played in. Bennett has played for four teams in his four seasons in the NBA and has been labeled as the one of the biggest busts in NBA history as he has not found a home in the NBA yet. With his career stats in four seasons of 4.4 PPG, and 3.1 RPG, while adding his 39.2 percent shooting from the field it is safely to say that Bennett is on his way out of the NBA.
13 Greg Oden (2007)
Greg Oden was picked first overall in 2007 by the Portland Trail Blazers, which to the day instantly regret that pick because the guy that they passed on was none other than Kevin Durant. Oden missed the entire 2007-08 season as he underwent knee surgery in September of 2007 and played his first official season in 2008-09. In his first official season, he missed some games due to injuries, but managed to play in 61 of them and started in 39 of them. He averaged 8.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and shot 56.4 percent from the field. The following season he played and started in all 21 games in which he appeared, but got injured in the first quarter in a game and had to be taken off the court on a stretcher. Oden’s professional career lasted only 105 games due to his injuries and averaged 8.0 PPG, and 6.2 RPG in his short NBA career.
12 Andrea Bargnani (2006)
The Italian Sensation that Toronto took number one overall was a complete shock at the time of the NBA Draft. Especially since they had Chris Bosh at the time and Bargnani only started in two games his entire rookie season. Bargnani’s numbers his rookie year weren’t terrible, but with being they weren’t number one overall pick type numbers. He averaged 11.6 PPG, and 3.9 RPG while also receiving first team all-rookie honors. After that he would struggle even though his numbers don’t show his true struggles.
Once Chris Bosh left for Miami in 2010 there were thoughts that he could turn around and in the 2010-11 season in 66 games played he averaged a career high 21.4 PPG. After that season, Bargnani never played more than 46 games in a season as he was always injured. With all the bad luck that he had, he still managed to play 10 seasons in the league and averaged 14.3 PPG, and 4.6 RPG.
11 Andrew Bogut (2005)
Bogut started out with tremendous upside from being drafted first overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005, as he only missed twenty games in his first three years in the NBA. Then he suffered from a back injury in the 2008-09 season that he has not fully recovered from still to this day. Bogut is a former third team all-NBA selection (2010) has struggled to put a solid season together since 2010. His inconsistency when coming to health makes him a tough player to have on your roster as he has been on three teams in the previous two seasons (Golden State, Dallas, and Cleveland). In Bogut’s Milwaukee career he averaged 12.7 PPG, and 8.9 RPG. His career numbers up to this year are 10.0 PPG, and 8.9 RPG in his twelve year NBA career so far.
10 Yao Ming (2002)
Yao Ming was drafted first overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2002 NBA draft. The eight-time all-star could have gone down as one of the greatest big men to ever play the game, but injuries killed all hopes of that. If you looked closely he was a big sensation in the league. Ming played in all 82 games his first two years in the league, and 80 in his third year in the league. After that he struggled staying healthy enough to help Houston make a solid run in the playoffs. Ming finished nine-year career with appearing in 486 games, while averaging 19.0 PPG and 9.2 RPG. He has his number retired by the Houston Rockets and was put into the Naismith Basketball of Hall of Fame in 2016.
9 Andrew Wiggins (2014)
Wiggins was the former number one overall recruit in 2013, and was drafted number one overall the previous year by the Cleveland Cavaliers. In July,2014 he was part of the deal that helped Cleveland acquire Kevin Love, and he has not looked back since. Wiggins has played three seasons so far in the NBA and has only missed one game in three years, which is very remarkable. He was one of the most talked about number one overall draft picks in a very long time and he has not disappointed so far. The former rookie of the year (2015) has increased his points per game every single season, and has vastly improved his game as a whole. With Minnesota on the rise Wiggins could become one of the better players in the league and could make some all-star appearances along the way.
8 Karl-Anthony Towns (2015)
The Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Karl-Anthony Towns number one overall in 2015, and have found their new franchise player that has been dominant in his two years in the league. The Timberwolves haven’t had a dominant frontcourt player like this since they had Kevin Garnett throughout his time in Minnesota. In two seasons Towns has never missed a game and is averaging 21.7 PPG while adding 11.4 RPG while adding a Rookie of the Year Award to his list of accomplishments so far. With the small sample size, it is tough to put Towns so low on a list, especially when at the end of his career he could be one of the top big men to ever play the game.
With Minnesota on the rise we should expect to see a lot more of Karl-Anthony Towns, and hopefully we will see him not only in the all-star game, but hopefully we will see him hoist a Larry O’Brien Trophy before his career is over.
7 Derrick Rose (2008)
Derrick Rose who is from Chicago was drafted by his hometown team the Chicago Bulls in the 2008 NBA Draft. Rose was a beast through his first three years as he made the all-star team twice, and locked up an MVP Award in 2011. Rose then in the 2011-12 season he only played in 39 games during the regular season due to injuries, and in the playoffs when he returned he tore his ACL in his left knee and was out until the 2013-14 season. In that season, he only lasted 10 games until he tore his meniscus in his right knee that kept him out for the majority of the year. Since then Derrick Rose has not been the same and you can see him trying to continue to play, but his luck has been one of a kind. In his eight year career, so far he is averaging 19.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 6.0 APG, which are not terrible numbers, but you wish that he could stay healthy long enough so that we can see the old Derrick Rose again.
6 Blake Griffin (2009)
Blake Griffin was drafted in 2009 by the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Clippers couldn’t have been any more excited. Except for the fact that he injured his knee cap in their final preseason game, which made him miss the 2009-10 season. Blake bounced back the next season to win rookie of the year and was named an all-star. Over the past four seasons Griffin, seems to always have some sort of injury that causes him to miss some sort of time. Blake is a five-time all-star, and is a three time second team all-NBA selection as well. In his seventh year in the league his career numbers are along the lines of 21.5 PPG, and 9.4 RPG. He still has plenty of years left in him, but he has to be able to stay on the court so that he can be an efficient NBA player for many more years.
5 Dwight Howard (2004)
Dwight was drafted right out of high school by the Orlando Magic in the 2004 NBA Draft. He was only 19 years old when he made his NBA debut and has put up some fantastic numbers in his 13-year career. Howard is an eight-time all-star, a five time first team all-NBA selection, three-time Defensive Player of the Year, and a four time NBA All-Defensive First Team to go along with many other accolades so far in his career. Dwight has been to the NBA Finals once and has been with four different teams in his career. He has never averaged less than 10.0 RPG in his whole career which is a very impressive stat to say that he has accomplished. Throughout his 13-year career he has played in 954 games while averaging 17.5 PPG, and 12.7 RPG, and he looks to be a for sure hall of famer when he decides to call it quits.
4 John Wall (2010)
The Washington Wizards selected John Wall with the number one overall pick in 2010. He has been the sparkplug for their team and has had his share of injuries to start his career, but over the previous four seasons he has been a workhorse for the Wizards. Wall is a four-time all-star and has seemingly improved over his whole career. His number’s through the first seven seasons he is averaging 18.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 9.2 APG. And he's not done yet.
He has plenty of time to be able to build up his legacy so that he can have a solid career. Looking at it as a whole I can see John Wall going down as one of the best point guards of the new generation.
3 Kyrie Irving (2011)
The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving to be the new face of their franchise, because he was drafted after LeBron took his talents to South Beach. Kyrie Irving already has an NBA Championship under his belt, to go along with his four all-star appearances; a Rookie of the Year Award, and an All-Star Game MVP award. He has been one of the better players in the Cavaliers franchise, in his first six seasons he is averaging 21.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 5.5 APG.
Kyrie has been a top 20 player since entering the league, and is considerably one of the best point guards in the 2010s. Kyrie definitely has the potential to become one of the all-time greats, and don’t think he will be done with just one championship.
2 Anthony Davis (2012)
The New Orleans Pelicans selected Anthony Davis first overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. He has had his fair share of injuries, but he is definitely a top five player in the league today. His numbers and accolades speak for themselves so far, as he has accumulated to be a four-time all-star, an All-Star Game MVP award, an all-NBA selection, and many more. Davis in his five years in the NBA is averaging 22.4 RPG, and adds 10.2 RPG. In my estimation, Anthony Davis will be the best player on the planet in the next three seasons, due to the fact that he is entering the prime of his career, and that he can carry a team not only to the playoffs, but to some playoff wins as well.
1 LeBron James (2003)
The hands down best player on the planet today, has been the best number one overall pick over the previous 15 seasons. He was drafted out of high school in 2003 by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron has been in the league for 14 seasons, and has had so many accomplishments that it could take up the whole page there is so many. Let’s start off with that he is a 13-time all-star, a Rookie of the Year, three-time NBA Champion, three-time NBA Finals MVP, four-time League MVP, and many more. Plus, LeBron has been to six straight NBA Finals which has never happened in NBA history. He is changing the way the game is played and his numbers speak volume of that. His career numbers in 14 seasons are 27.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 7.0 APG, those right there are first ballot hall of fame numbers.