The NBA has been fortunate to have a plethora of highly talented athletes that play the game of basketball. The talent that many of these players have coming in is outstanding, to say the least. Many of these players are usually high draft picks, some of them even going first overall in their respective draft classes. Today, we look at 5 of the best number one overall draft picks through the last 20 years.
#1: LeBron James
This should not come as much of a question, as LeBron is one of the generation’s greatest talents and is the epitome of consistency. LeBron has consistently put up 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists a game for his 16-year career. He has even been selected for the all-star game 16 straight times and won the all-star game MVP 3 times. Every team that LeBron has been on has ultimately had a winning season and even an NBA finals appearance.
Most of the time, he was a one-man wrecking crew on his voyage for an NBA championship. The man has been to a record 8 straight finals. Even though he has only won 3 of them, that number is still impressive nonetheless. He won finals in 2012, 2013, and his most infamous finals in 2016 when he came back from a 3-1 deficit.
When LBJ made the move to LA, many critics thought he would be washed. Since his move from Akron to the City of Angels, his stats and play have been nothing short of amazing. In the 2019-20 season, James is leading the league in assists for the first time in his career while leading the Lakers to a possible 1 seed. While LeBron James may not have the be the best player to some, his production has been everything we expected and then some
2: Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard has had more of an underrated career with the Orlando magic than people give him credit for. When he went #1 overall in the 2004 draft, many people were questioning his commitment to the game. Once he entered the league, Howard seemed to silence the critics. During his 8 years with the Magic, he averaged 18.4 points, 13 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks.
Not only are these numbers, but how he got these numbers to tell the full picture. Howard was able to land in the all-star game 8 times but here is where things get interesting. D12 ended up winning the defensive player of the year 3 times consecutively. He is the only player in history to win the award consecutively and has the second most awards, behind defensive juggernauts Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace, whom each won the award 4 times in their respective careers.
Howard even took the Magic to the 2009 NBA finals, after beating a dominant 2008-09 Cleveland Cavaliers team led by LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately, the Magic ran into one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA in Kobe Bryant. Bryant and the Lakers took care of Orlando in 5 games.
Dwight was able to get the Magic to their 2nd only finals appearance while their first time was led by the diesel, Shaquille O’Neal. Nonetheless, D12 has had an amazing career with Orlando and continues to be a top player from his decade.
3: Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose was praised in high school and college for his explosiveness and savviness as a point guard. When D-Rose went to college for the Memphis Tigers for a one and done season. Rose led his team to an unbelievable 33-4 record and a 16-0 record in their conference. Rose led his team to the National Championship game against the Kansas Jayhawks. Unfortunately, the Tigers lost to the Jayhawks by a score of 75-68 in overtime.
Despite not winning the championship, Rose entered the draft in 2008, where he was selected #1 overall by Chicago. When Rose got to the Windy City, his potential continued to shine. He ended up winning the 2008-09 Rookie of the Year as well as making the all-rookie 1st team.
After this season D-Rose would make the all-star game and averaged 20.8 points, 6 assists, and 3.8 rebounds during the sophomore campaign. The 2010-11 season is where the fun happens. Rose averaged an insane 25 points while leading the Bulls to a 62-20 record in a stacked Eastern Conference.
Rose took home the MVP award and he is still the youngest player in history to win the award at only 22 years of age. He led the Bulls to an Eastern Conference Finals appearance but faced off against an all-time dynasty in Miami with the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. The Bulls got eliminated 4-1 and was the only time they went to the ECF. Even though D-Rose only made it this far in the playoffs, his performances during his prime should not be questioned.