Friday, July 8, 2011

Ranking the No. 1 Overall NBA Draft Picks During The Lottery Era

Yao Ming is retiring, which makes me want to revisit my list of top No. 1 draft picks during the lottery era (1985-present). So here we go.

26-Michael Olowokandi, Clippers (1998): To me, he's the worst top pick in the history of the draft. No one heard of him until just before the draft and no one has heard from him since.

25-Pervis Ellison, Kings (1989): He was Olowokandi a decade earlier. Though the '89 draft wasn't very special, there were a lot of players with much better careers than "Never Nervous".

24-Kwame Brown, Wizards (2001): The main reason why there is an age limit now. Michael Jordan and the Wizards way overreached with Brown. Especially when Tyson Chandler and Pau Gasol ... the big men on the last three NBA champions ... were taken directly behind him.

23-Andrea Bargnani, Raptors (2006): He's been in the league long enough to reach some potential. Seriously, most people forget he is in the League and most forget he was a No. 1 draft pick.

22-Greg Oden, Blazers (2007): Injuries have damaged his career and everyone's opinion of him. He's done okay when he can play (about 25% of the time). It doesn't help when Kevin Durant was selected right behind you and watching him lead the Thunder to the Western Conference Finals.

21-Andrew Bogut, Bucks (2005): Has potential but no one sees him play. A few years ago, it looked as if he was set to launch but he's still stuck in neutral. Great rebounder but lacking as a scorer. Again, when guys like Deron Williams and Chris Paul are selected No. 3 and No. 4 then it hurts you.

20-Joe Smith, Warriors (1995): He never was a star, but stuck around the league as a role player. The four guys picked behind him? McDyess, Stackhouse, Sheed and KG. I have a soft spot for him since we were born on the exact same day.

19-John Wall (2010): He has all the talent, but he's only got one year in the L.

18-Danny Manning, Clippers (1988): Injuries derailed his career, but man could he ball when he was right.

17-Kenyon Martin, Nets (2000): K-Mart was a force before his knees gave out on him. Is this sort of sounding familiar?

16-Elton Brand, Bulls (1999): The Bulls' other top pick has had his moments but hasn't been able to be a winner yet. He's having a very non-descript career.

15-Larry Johnson, Hornets (1991): His career only lasted a decade but he was a big part of the Hornets surge and a Knicks Finals team. Extra points for Grandmama.

14-Blake Griffin (2009): Again, just one year into the league but he has put his stamp on it. A fierce dunker and an instant YouTube favorite, The Blake Show has given us quite a taste on what's to come.

13-Glen Robinson, Bucks (1994): People forget that he averaged 20 ppg for his career.

12-Derrick Coleman, Nets (1990): That's Coleman for ya. He'd be up a bit farther if he actually cared to be. Still, he may be the O.G. of the perimeter power forwards.

11-Brad Daugherty, Cavaliers (1986): Another short career due to back problems. Still, he led the Cavs during their pre-LeBron hey-day.

10-Chris Webber, Warriors (1993): We are reaching the borderline Hall of Fame players now. C-Webb was a monster but I cooled on him with his lack-of-clutchness.

9-Derrick Rose (2008): Just a few years in and already the NBA's MVP. He has become the prototype of what NBA teams are looking for in a point guard.

8-Dwight Howard, Magic (2004): He has a lot to learn offensively, but he is extremely young and seems to be on the right path. A defensive enforcer, maybe a change of scenery will benefit him?

7-Yao Ming, Rockets (2002): Injuries killed his career but his importance has been on the globalization of the game. Yao's short career was well worth it as it got that lucrative Chinese market for the NBA. Seriously, that's one of the biggest factors why he's up here.

6-Patrick Ewing, Knicks (1985): The first definite Hall of Famer. The O.G. of lottery picks.

5-David Robinson, Spurs (1987): He dominated the league like few players have. A great role model and an outstanding career.

4-Allen Iverson, Sixers (1996): He may be pound for pound the best scorer in league history. Sure, the end of the road seems a bit slimey, but there has been no player like him in NBA history. Rose may turn into him in some ways.

3-LeBron James, Cavaliers (2003): His ceiling places him above some of the others. Yeah, we all hate what he did to the Cavs last summer, but LBJ is still one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen.

2-Tim Duncan, Spurs (1997): Four rings, two MVPs. Respect from everyone in the league.

1-Shaquille O'Neal, Magic (1992): He may be the best player selected in the lottery era regardless of which pick. To me, he's an easy No 1 of the top picks. One of the true giants in the game in every sense.

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