There are 15 players currently in the league who were the number one pick in their draft, with Shaquille O’Neal being oldest of the bunch (selected in 1992) and Blake Griffin the newest member of the no.1 club. Griffin, like Yao Ming and Greg Oden, isn’t going to play anymore this season. In fact, he hasn’t played a single NBA game yet. Clipper curse again? Whatever the answer is, we give you the top 12 no.1 draft picks currently playing in the NBA, judged by their current worth and not for career achievements.
Number 12 – Joe Smith, Atlanta Hawks
The number one pick of the 1995 draft was taken ahead of guys like Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse, and even if Smith isn’t exactly a draft bust, he certainly hasn’t lived up to expectations in his 15-year NBA career. Smith is a Hawk now, the 11th (!!) team he has played for, playing under 10 minutes a night (lowest of his career) and producing his lowest numbers ever – 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
Number 11 – Kwame Brown, Detroit Pistons
Kwame Brown is one of the biggest draft failures ever, and the worst player to be picked number one in the last 10 years without a doubt. In his 10th season in the league, Brown is playing for the Pistons, his 4th team in his NBA career, playing 14.1 minutes a night, adding 3.7 points and rebounds. His best season, if you can call it best, was in 2003-2004 while he was with the Wizards, scoring 10.9 points and grabbing 7.4 rebounds per game. Guys he was picked ahead of (just to name a few?) – Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Tony Parker.
Number 10 – Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
Finally, someone who lived up to his spot. He isn’t an All-Star by his playing level anymore (although he still got chosen by the fans to start for the East this month), but will be heading into the hall of fame when he retires (I believe) for the first 10 years of his career. Right now, Iverson is back where his NBA career started, Philly, starting, like he wanted, with 14.7 points and 4.3 assists, lowest numbers of his career.
Number 9 – Shaquille O’Neal, Cleveland Cavaliers
Almost 18 years since the Orlando Magic won the “Shaquille O’Neal” lottery, Shaq is still with us, attempting to help LeBron win his first NBA title and get a fifth championship ring for himself. In his 18th NBA season, Shaq is playing 23.2 minutes per game (lowest in his career), producing 11.6 points and 6.8 rebounds, lowest numbers of his career.
Number 8 – Elton Brand, Philadelphia 76ers
The last few seasons in Elton Brand’s career have seen him slip from being one of the few players in the league to have career averages of 20+ points and 10+ rebounds per game. Injuries and playing on crappy team, aka depression do that to you. In his 11th season, Brand’s shortage of playoff appearances (only 1, with the Clippers, 2006) cast a major shadow over a quite successful career individually. Numbers this year – 14.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
Number 7 – Kenyon Martin, Denver Nuggets
Martin was the first pick of the 2000 draft, one of the worst ever, with only three players (K-Mart, Michael Redd, Jamaal Magloire) becoming future All-Stars. Martin never really became a superstar in the league, making the All-Star game once, but is still a solid PF for the Nuggets, bringing 11.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and a whole lot of leadership, enthusiasm and defense.
Number 6 – Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors
Although Brandon Roy and even Rajon Rondo would have been , in retrospect, more suitable for a number one pick, but Bargnani has certainly improved in the last two seasons and who knows, if he keeps it up might even become an All-Star in a couple of years. His numbers – 17.2 points, 6.3 rebounds per game, both career highs.
Number 5 – Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee Bucks
Like Bargnani, Bogut needed some time to pass from him entering the NBA, letting the pressure of being a number one pick (with players like Deron Williams and Chris Paul picked after him) be forgotten and start really improving as a player. This season, personally and for the Bucks in general has been pretty good, with Bogut averaging 15.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, with maybe even a return to the playoffs possible this year, first time since 2006.
Number 4 – Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
After a slow start (injured ankle) this season for the 2008-2009 rookie of the year, Rose has really picked his game up in December and January, averaging 21.8 points in the last couple of months, bringing his season average to 19.7, adding 5.9 assists per game, leading the Bulls to (at least for now) the 7th spot in the East with a 23-22 record, once again looking like one of the best point guard in the league, and getting a spot on the East All-Star bench.
Number 3 – Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
At 34, after almost 1100 NBA games (including playoffs), Duncan is still a constant 20-10 threat, averaging 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game on his aching and aging legs. The Spurs don’t look so great this season with TP out and Ginobili showing his age as well, but it’s great watching Duncan playing his basic but smart basketball which very few players in the league play. He’s not as quick on D, not as strong as before, but he’s still one of the best big men in the league whether he’s a 4 or a 5 and he’ll be starting for the West in the All-Star, his 12th appearance and 11th start.
Number 2 – Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
It seems Howard and the Magic have taken a step back this season, not dominating their division as expected and not looking (right now) like title contenders. Howard’s offensive numbers are down, scoring 17.7 points per game after 20+ last season but January has been better and it looks he’s getting out of his funk. A bit disappointing or not, he’s the best center in the league and will be starting in the All-Star game for the East.
Number 1 – LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Here’s a number one pick (2003 draft, with ‘Melo and D-Wade) that’s not disappointing anyone and is in the prime of his career, although there’s a chance, with him being only 25, he hasn’t shown us everything yet. After a slow start, the Cavs look like the team to beat in the East, maybe in the league, and LeBron cemented his MVP status with his performances in the face-off’s with Kobe and Wade. Numbers – 29.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 1 block per game and shooting over 50% from the field. Did i say MVP?