David Stern was the Commissioner of the NBA for exactly 30 years. Throughout his tenure as Commissioner, he introduced seven new expansion teams, relocated six teams to new cities, and had four lockouts. Larry O'Brien preceded Stern and Adam Silver succeeded him. To pay homage to O'Brien, Stern renamed the championship trophy from the Walter A. Brown Trophy in his inaugural year, 1984. David Stern has gone through the good and the bad in the NBA; he created the salary cap, the hand-check rule, implemented a dress code, and had to deal with the whole Tim Donaghy situation.
Whether you like Stern or not, you can't argue his lasting impact on the game of basketball for better or worse. While Silver has been great in his new role, only time will tell how good of a commissioner he really is. The difficult times determine a person's true colors. Just look at how Roger Goodell has handled situations. He isn't very popular anymore, is he? Who knows if Silver will prove himself or fold when the going gets rough.
Thirty times David Stern announced the no.1 overall pick, and I'm here to rank them in order. Stern introduced many talented players into the NBA but who ranks as no.1? From year 1 to year 30, the talent has not diminished. Who would you pick as no.1? Who would you change on this list? Maybe we will be able to make a list of Adam Silver's first overall picks if he holds office for as long as David Stern did. For now, here we are ranking the first overall picks of the David Stern era.
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30 Anthony Bennett - 2013
It's a testament to how disappointing Anthony Bennett has been that he would find himself on the bottom of this list. Bennett was taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers. When Bennett was drafted, I couldn't see him fitting in with an NBA team and he hasn't. Bennett was the first of two straight Canadian first overall picks. The latter of those two is considerably higher on this list. Bennett could still possibly turn his career around but it's always hard to shake the "bust" label.
29 Kwame Brown - 2001
Kwame Brown is notorious for being one of the worst players in the league, despite what Michael Jordan thought at draft time. While he probably wasn't truly one of the worst players in the league, I can argue that he was one of the biggest busts. Brown played for seven teams and scored 6 ppg throughout his career. The Wizards were pretty far off the mark with this pick. They could have had Tony Parker, Joe Johnson or Pau Gasol.
28 Greg Oden - 2007
I think most of you know Greg Oden's story. Poised to be one of the most skilled centers in a while, taken ahead of Kevin Durant, Oden was good when he played, but rarely did. With many serious injuries Oden is considered to be one of the biggest busts of all time. I feel bad for the guy though, because it wasn't really his fault. Still, we're ranking the first overall picks here and there's no way Oden can't be near the bottom.
27 Michael Olowokandi - 1998
Olowokandi was a huge bust. The seven-footer had his best seasons with the Clippers but also played for the Timberwolves and Celtics. Olowokandi was drafted before some NBA greats. This was one of the better draft classes of the 90s, but the Clippers missed out on the party.
The Clippers could have had Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, or Paul Pierce. Olowokandi never even averaged 13 points per game.
26 Joe Smith - 1995
Joe Smith played for 16 seasons and with 13 different teams. Moving companies must have loved him. He had a solid first two seasons but after that, his career went downhill. I have no clue how he stayed in the league for so long when he wasn't producing, but sure enough team after team kept giving him a chance. It sure must be nice picking up that fat paycheck for all those years. Right Juwan Howard?!
25 Andrea Bargnani - 2006
Andrea Bargnani is a classic foreign bust. What's crazy is that teams still pick players with bust written all over them just like Bargnani. Porzingis looks like clone of Bargnani, but Porzingis was very successful in his rookie season. It just shows what a large role luck plays in the draft. Bargnani made the All-Rookie team in his first season but other than that he has no awards. This draft mistake set the Raptors back for years.
24 Kenyon Martin - 2000
Martin played four season for the team that drafted him, the New Jersey Nets. Martin is still playing but I doubt that he will ever actually contribute in a significant way to an NBA team again. In his prime he was a solid starter but never a star. Kenyon Martin was an All-Star in 2004, but I'm not sure how deserving he was because he only averaged 15 points and 7 rebounds. In fairness to the Nets, the 2000 draft class was an overall dud, so they couldn't have done much better.
23 Andrew Bogut - 2005
Andrew Bogut played for the Bucks, the team that drafted him, from 2005 to 2012. Since then he has played for the Warriors. He won a championship with them last year and he looks to add another championship to his resume. He has been on the All-Defensive second team once and the All-NBA 3rd team twice. Bogut has played okay, certainly not worthy of an overall no.1 pick, but he has won a championship and most players can't say that.
22 Pervis Ellison - 1989
Pervis Ellison was an incredible collegiate player but disappointing in his NBA career. "Never Nervous Pervis" didn't live up to his nickname in the NBA. He was solid player for two years with the Bullets (the Kings traded him after an injury plagued rookie year) but couldn't find his magic with any other NBA team. He won "Most Improved" player in his second season with the Bullets when he improved his scoring to 10 points per game. But overall, maybe Pervis was nervous...
21 Danny Manning - 1988
Danny Manning didn't live up to his high expectations in the league. Coming out of Kansas, he was a megastar. He did make the All Star game twice in consecutive seasons in 1993 and 1994. He was a good NBA player, but I guarantee the Clippers were expecting way more with this first overall pick. One big name the Clippers missed out on was Mitch Redmond, who went Golden State at fifth overall.
20 Elton Brand - 1999
Elton Brand has been in the NBA for a long time. Drafted by the Bulls, Brand played only two seasons with the team. He averaged exactly 20.1 points per game in both his rookie season and his sophomore season. His first two seasons were almost identical. His seventh season was his best. Scoring 25 points per game and 10 rebounds he proved he was an elite NBA talent. Playing for the Clippers, Brand had the best stretch of his career. Brand has also played for the Sixers, Mavericks and Hawks.
19 Derrick Coleman - 1990
Coming out of Syracuse University, Derrick Coleman won Rookie of the Year in the 1990-91 season after getting drafted by the New Jersey Nets. Coleman and Kenny Anderson made the Nets a tough matchup. After two straight seasons averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds, Anderson and Coleman led the Nets to the playoffs. He was an All-Star in the 1994 season but never made the team again. It must sting for Nets fans that Gary Payton went second overall to Seattle.
18 Dwight Howard - 2004
"Superman" was the man that everyone expected when he was drafted by the Orlando Magic. Howard did it all for the Magic. Carrying them to the NBA Finals, he averaged 20 points and 14 rebounds. Howard also won three Defensive Player of the Year awards while he was with the Magic. Howard was 'the man' with the Magic, but since he left, he has been a shell of his former self. Howard needs his own team, he doesn't like to play second fiddle.
17 Brad Daugherty - 1986
Brad Daugherty was a very underrated center. Many people don't realize that in his prime he was scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 boards a night. He isn't regarded as a great NBA player due to his relatively short NBA career. He retired when he was only 28 years old. Oh, how great it would be to retire at age 28 and not have to worry about your financial future. Daugherty now works as a commentator for NASCAR, his other love.
16 John Wall - 2010
In John Wall's first few seasons in the league, he was good, but there were still a few questions about him left unanswered. Without much help on the Wizards, Wall seemed destined for failure. After fighting through the early stages of his career, he has become one of the league's best ball handlers and point guards. If the Wizards could add some more pieces around him they could be ready for a deep playoff run.
15 Larry Johnson - 1991
In Larry Johnson's first season he won the Rookie of the Year award. After getting drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, Johnson led them to their first playoff series win along with Muggsy Bogues, Dell Curry, and Alonzo Mourning. They beat the Celtics in a best-of-5 series, 3-1. Larry Johnson also played for the Knicks in his short, but very solid, NBA career. "Grandmama" is also pretty well known for his gold tooth.
14 Yao Ming - 2002
Yao Ming is a story of what could have been. He dominated when he was younger in the league but injuries constantly held him back. With his big 7-foot-6 frame the sky was the limit (no pun intended). In my opinion Ming never lived up to his full potential but still had a successful NBA career. He could possibly still be playing today. Imagine what James Harden and Yao Ming could have done together in Houston.
13 Kyrie Irving - 2011
Kyrie Irving has had an amazing start to his NBA career. In just his first five seasons he has made it to three All-Star games, and won an All-Star game MVP. In his first few seasons he was the leader of the Cavs but the past two seasons he has had to take a backseat to LeBron. After getting hurt in Game 1 of last year's Finals, he looks to win his first championship this time around. You wonder if he'll ever go back to being "the man" again.
12 Glenn Robinson - 1994
Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson made an immediate impact for the Milwaukee Bucks. Averaging 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in his first four seasons he looked to be a superstar. While he never quite got over the hump, he had a great NBA career regardless. Not every no.1 pick is going to be a Hall of Famer.
After playing for the Bucks he played for the Hawks, Sixers, and Spurs each for one season. After those stints he retired.
11 Blake Griffin - 2009
When the Clippers drafted Blake Griffin in 2009, he didn't play for his entire first season. In his final pre-season game he broke his kneecap and had to sit for the whole season because of the surgery to repair his knee. He came back and won Rookie of the Year in his first full season, and has been a dominant force ever since. While the Clippers probably would take Stephen Curry in a re-draft of 2009, they didn't completely blow this pick by taking Griffin.
10 Derrick Rose - 2008
Derrick Rose has had an extremely wacky NBA career. He started off as what everyone would expect from the first overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. He was the youngest player ever to win a league MVP award. Soon after though, in a playoff game versus the Sixers, Rose tore his ACL and he hasn't been the same since. He looked to have such a promising start to his young career but it all came crashing down with catastrophic injuries.
9 Anthony Davis - 2012
There were many questions about "The Brow"'s offense as he came into the league. While at Kentucky, he displayed freakish athleticism with a natural feel for the defensive side of the ball. On offense, however, he was limited. Once he got drafted to the Hornets (now the Pelicans), he got in the gym and immediately got to work. He has now answered those questions about his offense and could become the best player in the NBA very soon, if he can stay healthy.
8 1993- Chris Webber
Chris Webber played for five teams in his career. After his time at Michigan with the Fab Five, everyone had high expectations. He fulfilled them, with many seasons where he averaged 20-plus points per game. He was very much worthy of a first overall pick.
Today Webber works as an NBA commentator. Unfortunately for the other members of the Fab Five, none were as successful as Webber.
7 Patrick Ewing - 1985
Patrick Ewing was drafted by the Knicks in 1985 and became a franchise centerpiece for years to come. He was a dominant big man in the league's golden era. The Hall of Fame big man is the New York Knicks leading scorer of all time and went to 11 All-Star games. He was also at the center of one of David Stern's most controversial moments, where he was accused of rigging the lottery so Ewing would go to the big market of New York. Ewing is currently the associate head coach for the Charlotte Hornets.
6 Allen Iverson - 1996
Allen Iverson, AKA "The Answer" has always been lightning in a bottle. Pound-for-pound, arguably the greatest EVER. Although he never delivered a championship to the city of Philadelphia, he brought an excitement rarely seen before. A.I. was the face of the franchise and while that may not have always been a good thing, he certainly put the city back on the map. Iverson also came along for perhaps the best draft year ever, 1996.
5 2003- LeBron James
LeBron still hasn't weakened his grip on the NBA. The league is still his, considering he has been to six straight NBA finals. LeBron's career is far from over and he still has time to climb the ranks of the "all time greats" even higher. By the end of his career, he could be no.1 on this list but only time will tell. "The King" looks to bring the city of Cleveland its first NBA championship with his recent series victory in the Eastern Conference Finals.
4 David Robinson - 1987
A little known fact about David Robinson is that he is one of the extremely few to record a quadruple double. In a game against the Pistons in the 1994 season Robinson posted 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and 10 blocks! Of course this was not Robinson's only good game, as he won two NBA championships and one MVP. "The Admiral" was admirable, he even won the NBA sportsmanship award in the 2001 season.
3 Shaquille O'Neal - 1992
It was tough not to have Shaq higher on the list but there is some great competition. Shaq should be by no means overlooked. By using brute force, "The Big Aristotle" put fear into defenders eyes. The Orlando Magic sure hit the mark with this no.1 pick. Shaq has become stuff of legend, and winning four NBA titles truly proves his worth. Maybe you'll understand why he's only third when we get to our top two.
2 Tim Duncan - 1997
"The Big Fundamental" has been dominating the league for decades. In fact he is the only player of all time to be a starter on a championship winning team in three different decades, and he has five championships total. If that doesn't show how dominant he is, then I don't know what will. Duncan just keeps on defying father time. He's perhaps the exception to the rule that NBA superstars typically have to have big personalities. Duncan just does his job and everyone loves him for it.
1 Hakeem Olajuwon - 1984
David Stern's first ever NBA draft started with a bang. What a player to be your first for David Stern. Throughout his career he averaged 21 points per game, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks. "The Dream" was everything you could ever ask for in a center. With the Rockets he won two championships in back to back seasons. In those two seasons, he scored 27 points per game. Olajuwon won the MVP award in 1994 and he won the finals MVP in both of his championships. While he may not have as many championships as Duncan, he was truly the total package.
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