Ranking the Last 15 First Overall NBA Draft Picks

There are some years where the NBA Draft goes almost completely ignored because there are no prospects out there that are touted as “The next possible Michael Jordan”. We’ve seen plenty of these types of drafts over the past 15 years, but we’ve also had some deep ones. Who could forget how much hype there was surrounding the 2003 NBA Draft that featured LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in the top five?

The first overall pick in an NBA Draft is supposed to be the guy that turns the franchise around and gets them into title contention within a couple of years. Sometimes it works, and sometimes your franchise just gets set back another few years thanks to a bust. There’s a reason why the Cavaliers became a contender almost overnight more than a decade ago while the Wizards floundered for years and are still looking to get into the NBA Finals.

Last year, there was a lot of hype surrounding Andrew Wiggins, although the hype around him was a little more divided than in 2003. After being drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers first overall, the Canadian was traded to Minnesota as part of the Kevin Love deal. Wiggins won the Rookie of the Year in 2014-15 and appears to be set to be the face of the Timberwolves franchise for many years. Obviously we have no idea yet how Karl-Anthony Towns will fare as a top pick, so he'll be excluded on this list for now.

So out of the last 15 NBA Drafts, who has been the best top overall pick? You can probably guess who it is by now, but where do the other 14 stack up in comparison? Here are the last 15 top overall picks in the NBA Draft, ranked from worst to best.

15 Kwame Brown (2001)


14 Anthony Bennett (2013)

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

13 Greg Oden (2007)

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

12 Andrea Bargnani (2006)

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

11 Andrew Bogut (2005)

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

10 Kenyon Martin (2000)

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

9 Yao Ming (2002)


8 Andrew Wiggins (2014)

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

7 John Wall (2010)

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

6 Kyrie Irving (2011)

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

5 Derrick Rose (2008)

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

4 Dwight Howard (2004)

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

3 Anthony Davis (2012)

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2 Blake Griffin (2009)

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

1 LeBron James (2003)

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

And of course, you had to have known that LeBron James would be the best top overall pick in the last 15 years, and easily one of the best of all time. James has had an absolute monster career that has somehow surpassed the hype that was set for him while he was still in high school. What has James done in his career? Oh, just two titles, four MVP trophies, 11 All-Star Games and All-NBA teams and two gold medals, nothing major. Of course, you have to talk stats, and he has averaged an incredible 27.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game over a 12 year career.

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Ranking the Last 15 First Overall NBA Draft Picks