Being the 1st overall pick may put a lot of pressure in the shoulders of the players that get that honor, as they’re supposed to immediately turn a franchise around and lead them to Championship contention.
1st overall picks are often considered to be busts, mostly because all of the hype that surrounds them and all that is expected out of them, as just a handful of players are actually able to live up to the expectations.
Over the course of history, just 9 players have been Drafted 1st overall and then won the NBA Championship with the very same team that took them, as most of them just leave for a contending side as soon as they have the chance. Today, we’ll let you know about those guys.
9. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 1971 NBA Champion
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was drafted with the 1st overall pick of the 1969 NBA Draft, then known as Lew Alcindor, a standout big man out of UCLA that would go on to become the league’s all-time leading scorer and one of the best to ever lace them up.
When the Milwaukee Bucks first got KAJ, he immediately turned the franchise around and led them to contention, eventually winning the NBA Championship in 1971, but would force a move out of the team to join the Lakers several years after he completely outgrew the team and the town.
8. Bill Walton: 1977 NBA Champion
Bill Walton, AKA The Big Red Head was taken with the 1st overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1974, staying with the team for 4 years and leading them to the 1977 NBA Title before also winning it with the Boston Celtics in 1986.
Walton was one of the most dominant big men in the league during his prime and he took the hardwood for assault right out of the gate coming out of UCLA, and would eventually win 1 MVP and 1 Finals MVP
7. Magic Johnson: 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988 NBA Champion
Magic Johnson is considered to be the greatest point guard in basketball history, coming out of Michigan State University as the 1st overall pick of the 1979 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Johnson would kick-start the Showtime era in Los Angeles while leading the team to 5 NBA Championships, also winning 3 Finals MVPs, 3 MVPs and leading the league in dimes 4 times and 2 times in steals.
6. James Worthy: 1985, 1987, 1988 NBA Champion
James Worthy was drafted with the 1st overall pick of the 1982 NBA Draft out of UNC and was considered to be the best small forward in the world during his prime, being a major factor in the Lakers 1985, 1987 and 1988 Championships.
Worthy would spend his entire 13-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, even winning the Finals MVP in 1988 thanks to his 36 points per game. On a side note, he never averaged under 10 points per game throughout his career.
5. Hakeem Olajuwon: 1995, 1996 NBA Champion
Just so you get an idea of how incredibly good Hakeem Olajuwon was: you never hear any Rockets fan complain about the fact that they took him with the 1st overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft when they could’ve gotten Michael Jordan.
Olajuwon made the most of MJ’s retirement and led the Houston Rockets to back-to-back titles in 1995 and 1996, and is considered to be the most offensively skilled and defensively dominant big man of his era.
4. David Robinson: 1999, 2003 NBA Champion
Admiral David Robinson was Drafted with the 1st overall pick of the 1987 NBA Draft and would instantly make the San Antonio Spurs Championship competitors, although he would have to wait until 1999 to finally win a ring.
Robinson was extremely dominant in both ends of the hardwood and took the Spurs to the 1999 and 2003 Championships, also winning 1 MVP, 1 Defensive Player of the Year award and the Rookie of the Year.
3. Tim Duncan: 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014 NBA Champion
Following an extremely disappointing season (and the last time the San Antonio Spurs missed the playoffs), Tim Duncan was Drafted 1st overall in the 1997 NBA Draft and would instantly change the way the position was played at the time.
Being disciplined, skilled and incredibly smart, Duncan took the league for assault and is considered by some to be the best power forward in the history of the game. Under his leadership, the Spurs won all of the 5 Championships in franchise history.
2. LeBron James: 2016 NBA Champion
LeBron James was Drafted with the 1st overall pick in one of the most stacked Draft classes (2003) and is one of the few players that’s been able to live up to the hype and expectations that surrounded him out of the gate.
James almost single-handedly took the Cavs to the Finals but was destroyed by the Spurs, and after constantly failing, he was forced to leave and join the Heat to win a couple of rings. He would eventually come back and dethrone the Warriors in 2016, just to leave them again after a couple of seasons.
1. Kyrie Irving: 2016 NBA Champion
Kyrie Irving was taken with the 1st overall pick in 2011 amid a lot of doubts regarding his health, but it didn’t take long for Uncle Drew to make his presence feel in the Hardwood as one of the deadliest and clutchest scorers in the league.
He was crucial in the Cavaliers’ 2016 title run, even sinking a game-winning shot in game 7 over Steph Curry to complete a comeback after being down 3-1 in the series. Eventually, he would get tired of being LeBron’s number 2 and would force a move out of the team.