The NBA playoffs are in full swing, but with only four teams remaining, the rest of the league must content themselves with looking toward the future. In less than a month, the NBA Draft will take place, with the Orlando Magic set to choose first for the fourth time in the franchise's history.
This got us thinking: Is it common to have four number one picks? Or not really? What teams have landed at the top of the draft more often than the Magic? Are there any NBA teams that have never had the fortune of selecting the first overall draft pick?
Below we’ll break down how many times every NBA organization has landed the number one overall pick, answering all your questions about the draft along the way.
Denver Nuggets - 0 No. 1 Draft Picks
The Nuggets have never had the number one overall pick in the draft, but they picked up two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic with the 41st pick in 2014. They also selected potential All-Star Jamal Murray with the number seven pick in 2016. And going back toward the beginning of the century, Denver got Carmelo Anthony with the number three pick in 2003.
Indiana Pacers - 0 No. 1 Draft Picks
The Indiana Pacers have never had a number one draft pick, but they’ve routinely found gold towards the backend of the lottery. The Pacers selected seven-time All-Star Paul George with the number ten pick in 2010 and one-time All-Star Danny Granger with the number 17 pick in 2005. Indiana also chose Hall-of-Famer Reggie Miller with the eleventh pick in the 1987 Draft, which was one of the finest mid-first-round selections in NBA history.
Memphis Grizzlies - 0 No. 1 Draft Picks
The Memphis Grizzlies have never found themselves atop the draft lottery, which might be a stroke of luck. The Grizzlies landed the 2nd overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft and selected superstar Ja Morant after the Pelicans took the oft-injured Zion Williamson with the first overall pick. The Grizzlies also drafted the 2021-22 blocks leader Jaren Jackson Jr. with the fourth pick in the 2018 draft, not to mention Rudy Gay with the eighth pick back in 2006 and Pau Gasol with the third pick in 2001.
Miami Heat - 0 No. 1 Draft Picks
The Miami Heat have never landed a number one draft pick in their 33-year history. Still, they’ve certainly found lottery success selecting Glen Rice with the 4th overall pick in 1989 and Hall-of-Famer and three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade with the 5th overall pick in 2003. Miami more recently stole top-10 defender Bam Adebayo with the 14th overall pick in the 2017 draft.
Oklahoma City Thunder - 0 No. 1 Draft Picks
The OKC Thunder have never had the number one draft pick, but GM Sam Presti has proven a master at selecting talent, choosing Kevin Durant with the second overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Russell Westbrook with the fourth pick in 2008 in what was seen as an overreach, and James Harden with the third pick in 2009 in what was also seen as a massive mistake by most of the league. Presti will have the second pick in the upcoming draft, and OKC fans can rest assured he’ll make the best possible choice for their squad.
Utah Jazz - 0 No. 1 Draft Picks
The Utah Jazz have never selected first overall in the NBA Draft, but they are masters at finding Hall-of-Fame talent toward the middle of the first round, selecting John Stockton with the 16th pick in 1984 and Karl Malone with the 13th pick one year later in 1985. More recently, the Jazz found a clichéd gem at the back of the first round in Rudy Gobert, whom they took with the 27th pick in 2013, and they also landed Donovan Mitchell with the 13th pick in 2017.
Boston Celtics - 1 No. 1 Draft Pick
1950 - Chuck Share (Career Stats: 8.3 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.4 APG)
Despite having one of the NBA’s longest and most storied histories, the Celtics have somehow only selected one player with the number one pick, Chuck Share, during the league’s inaugural draft in 1950. Nevertheless, the Celtics have found gold throughout the lottery, selecting Larry Bird with the sixth pick in 1978, John Havlicek with the number seven pick in 1962, Kevin McHale with the third pick in 1980, and more recently, Jayson Tatum, whom they landed with the third pick in the 2017 draft after GM Danny Ainge famously traded back from the first overall pick.
Dallas Mavericks - 1 No. 1 Draft Pick
1981 - Mark Aguirre (Career Stats: 20.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG)
The Dallas Mavericks selected Mark Aguirre with the number one overall pick in the 1981 Draft, and although Aguirre has been mostly forgotten, he was an excellent player. During seven seasons in Dallas, Aguirre averaged 24.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 3.8 APG, topping out with 29.5 points per game during the 1983-84 season. Aguirre ended his career as a three-time All-Star and two-time champion with the Detroit Pistons.
Charlotte Hornets - 1 No. 1 Draft Pick
1991 - Larry Johnson (Career Stats: 16.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG)
Larry Johnson was a solid power forward, making two All-Star teams with the Hornets and leading them to the playoffs twice. Still, solid isn’t what you’re looking for with the first overall pick in the draft. You’re looking for a superstar, and in that regard, Johnson fell short, transforming into more of a defensive enforcer during his career rather than a generational scoring threat.
Toronto Raptors - 1 No. 1 Draft Pick
2006 - Andrea Bargnani (Career Stats: 14.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.9 BPG)
The Toronto Raptors have only landed the number one pick in the draft once, and they wasted their chance at the top by selecting Andrea Bargnani, a player who never made an All-Star game or won a single playoff series in his career. We can’t be too harsh on the Raptors for squandering their number one pick. The 2006 NBA draft class was famously lousy, with Adam Morrison, Tyrus Thomas, Shelden Williams, Brandon Roy, Randy Foye, Patrick O’Bryant, and Mouhamed Sene all going in the top-10.
Phoenix Suns - 1 No. 1 Draft Pick
2018 - Deandre Ayton (Career Stats: 16.3 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.0 BPG)
The Phoenix Suns have come by only one top draft pick, Deandre Ayton, a player who helped them reach the Finals last season but wasn’t deemed good enough by the front office for a rookie max extension. Deandre Ayton is heading into the 2022 offseason as a restricted free agent who will almost certainly land a four-year max contract with another team which the Suns front office will almost certainly decide not to match. All of which makes the Suns’ single appearance at the top of the NBA Draft a disaster.
Atlanta Hawks - 2 No. 1 Draft Picks
1955 - Dick Ricketts (Career Stats: 9.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.1 APG)
1975 - David Thompson (Career Stats: 22.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.9 BPG)
The Atlanta Hawks chose Dick Ricketts as the number one pick in the 1955 Draft. While he never found success in the NBA, he might have the finest name in all professional sports. The Hawks chose David Thompson with the number one pick in the 1975 Draft and promptly traded him to the Supersonics for Bill Hanzlik and a 1982 first-round draft pick before he played a single game in Atlanta. Thompson went on to become a five-time All-Star, and a Hall-of-Famer, while the Hawks haven’t won a title in 63 years, the second-longest drought in the NBA. Ouch!
San Antonio Spurs - 2 No. 1 Draft Picks
1987 - David Robinson (Career Stats: 21.1 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.4 SPG, 3.0 BPG)
1997 - Tim Duncan (Career Stats: 19.0 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, 2.2 BPG)
Like the New Orleans Pelicans, the Spurs have landed the number one pick two times in their franchise’s history. And also, like the Pelicans, they selected two no-brainer big men with their selections. And that’s where the similarities end. David Robinson and Tim Duncan each spent their entire careers in San Antonio, winning a pile of championships while turning a small-market city in southern Texas into the center of the NBA universe for over a decade.
Brooklyn Nets - 2 No. 1 Draft Picks
1990 - Derrick Coleman (Career Stats: 16.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.3 BPG)
2000 - Kenyon Martin (Career Stats: 12.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.1 BPG)
The Brooklyn Nets have found themselves at the top of the lottery twice, and they chose two oddly similar players, Derrick Coleman and Kenyon Martin. Coleman and Martin were each power forwards, each made only one All-Star team throughout his careers, and each player stayed with the Nets for less than six years, never winning a title. Coleman and Martin can’t be described as busts. However, both players had all the talent in the world but never made good on their gifts.
Chicago Bulls - 2 No. 1 Draft Picks
1999 - Elton Brand (Career Stats: 15.9 RPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.7 BPG)
2008 - Derrick Rose (Career Stats: 18.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG)
The Chicago Bulls have only received two number one picks during their long history, Elton Brand and Derrick Rose. Neither player hung a banner in Chicago, but Bulls fans can’t complain. Chicago was handed Michael Jordan with the third pick in the 1984 draft after Portland passed on him with the second pick choosing to select Sam Bowie instead, which turned into the biggest gut punch in NBA history.
New Orleans Pelicans - 2 No. 1 Draft Picks
2012 - Anthony Davis (Career Stats: 23.8 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.4 SPG, 2.3 BPG)
2019 - Zion Williamson (Career Stats: 25.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.6 BPG)
The New Orleans Pelicans have landed the number one draft pick in 2012 and 2019, selecting Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson in two of the most no-brainer decisions in NBA history. AD dominated in New Orleans before he asked to be traded to the Lakers. Zion Williamson has also dominated while he’s managed to stay on the court. However, if New Orleans doesn’t improve upon their 2022 minor playoff success, he too could ask out.
Minnesota Timberwolves - 2 No. 1 Draft Picks
2015 - Karl-Anthony Towns (Career Stats: 23.2 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 3.1 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.4 BPG)
2020 - Anthony Edwards (Career Stats: 20.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG)
The Minnesota Timberwolves ran a clinic of draft stupidity under GM David Kahn, selecting O. J. Mayo with the third pick in the 2008 Draft over Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love, then selecting Jonny Flynn with the sixth pick in the 2009 Draft over Stephen Curry and DeMar DeRozan, and then selecting Wesley Johnson with the fourth pick in the 2010 Draft over DeMarcus Cousins, Gordon Hayward, and Paul George. However, in recent times the Timberwolves have made the most of their two number one picks, choosing Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, two players who could become a championship-caliber duo as soon as next season.
Los Angeles Lakers - 3 No. 1 Draft Picks
1958 - Elgin Baylor (Career Stats: 27.4 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 4.3 APG)
1979 - Magic Johnson (Career Stats: 19.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 11.2 APG, 1.9 SPG. 0.4 BPG)
1982 - James Worthy (Career Stats: 17.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.7 BPG)
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most successful drafting teams in NBA history. The Purple and Gold selected Elgin Baylor with their first-ever number one pick, and he overpowered the league on his way toward a Hall-of-Fame career. The Lakers took Magic Johnson in 1979 as the number one pick, and he conquered the NBA, winning five titles throughout the 80s before being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Finally, Los Angeles selected James Worthy with the number one pick in 1982. He joined forces with Magic and claimed three rings on his way to also becoming a Hall-of-Famer.
Golden State Warriors - 3 No. 1 Draft Picks
1965 - Fred Hetzel (Career Stats: 11.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.1 APG)
1980 - Joe Barry Carroll (Career Stats: 17.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.6 BPG)
1995 - Joe Smith (Career Stats: 10.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG)
The Warriors have received three number one picks in their long history, and they were all essentially busts. Fred Hetzel suited up for only six seasons and averaged 11.2 points per game. Joe Barry Carroll played four solid seasons in Golden State, and then after his contract negotiations went south, he sat out a year and played in Italy. Joe Barry Carroll came back the following year and played in Golden State for two more seasons, ultimately leading the Warriors to one playoff berth during his six campaigns there. Joe Smith had a lengthy 16-year career that saw him play for 12 different teams while never making the All-Star team.
Los Angeles Clippers - 3 No. 1 Draft Picks
1988 - Danny Manning (Career Stats: 14.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.9 BPG)
1998 - Michael Olowokandi (Career Stats: 8.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.5 SPG, 1.4 BPG)
2009 - Blake Griffin (Career Stats: 19.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 4.1 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG)
The Clippers sandwiched two solid number one picks in Danny Manning and Blake Griffin with one of the most disappointing first selections in NBA history, Michael Olowokandi. Danny Manning was the consensus number one pick in 1988 as an uber-athletic power forward out of Kansas. While Danny Manning didn’t go on to take over the league and make it his own, he still had an excellent career. Similarly, Blake Griffin was the consensus number one pick as a high-flying power forward from Oklahoma who became a six-time All-Star. Michael Olowokandi, on the other hand, wasn’t the unanimous leader of the 1998 Draft. The Clippers overreached on him instead of choosing safer bets, Mike Bibby, Antawn Jamison, and Vince Carter.
Detroit Pistons - 3 No. 1 Draft Picks
1967 - Jimmy Walker (Career Stats: 16.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 3.5 APG)
1970 - Bob Lanier (Career Stats: 20.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 3.1 APG)
2021 - Cade Cunningham (Career Stats: 17.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.7 BPG)
The Detroit Pistons used their first-ever number one pick to select Jimmy Walker. Walker played nine seasons, made the All-Star team twice, and made the playoffs twice, making him as close to a bust as possible without actually busting. The Pistons drafted 6-11 Bob Lanier with the number one pick three years later. He played 14 years in the league while mostly dominating and was later inducted into the Hall-of-Fame. More recently, the Pistons designated Cade Cunningham as their number one pick in 2021, and he has superstar potential.
New York Knicks - 4 No. 1 Draft Picks
1963 - Art Heyman (Career Stats: 13.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.8 APG)
1964 - Jim Barnes (Career Stats: 8.8 PPG, 6.5 RP, 0.8 APG)
1966 - Cazzie Russell (Career Stats: 15.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.2 APG)
1985 - Patrick Ewing (Career Stats: 21.0 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 2.4 BPG)
The New York Knicks landed the number one pick in three out of four years during the mid-60s and proceeded to select a trio of massive duds, Art Heyman, Jim Barnes, and Cazzie Russell. Heyman played in New York for only two seasons before being shipped off to Cincinnati, where he played in 11 games. He was then traded to Philly, where he played six games before heading to Europe for a year. Heyman eventually joined the ABA for three years before retiring.
Jim Barnes played in New York for one and a half years and was traded to Baltimore. He then did stints with the Lakers, Bulls, Celtics, and the Bullets before retiring after seven seasons in the league. Cazzie Russell found moderate success with the Knicks, at least managing to stay in New York for five seasons averaging 13.3 PPG.
19 years after the Knicks drafted Cazzie Russell with the number one pick, they selected eventual Hall-of-Famer Patrick Ewing. Ewing never won a title in New York, but he made it to the Finals once in 1994, eventually losing to the Rockets in seven games.
Portland Trail Blazers - 4 No. 1 Draft Picks
1972 - LaRue Martin (Career Stats: 5.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0.5 BPG)
1974 - Bill Walton (Career Stats: 13.3 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 2.2 BPG)
1978 - Mychal Thompson (Career Stats: 13.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.1 BPG)
2007 - Greg Oden (Career Stats: 8.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG)
The Portland Trail Blazers’ four number one draft picks were a mixed bag. They selected LaRue Martin with the first pick in 1972, and he suited up for only four seasons before retiring. In 1974 Portland landed Big Red Bill Walton, and after only two seasons in the league, he led them to the title behind one of the most effective all-around big man arsenals in NBA history. Unfortunately, Walton suffered from recurring foot and ankle problems, which caused him to miss three full seasons in Portland.
The Trail Blazers selected Mychal Thompson with the number one pick in the 1978 Draft, and although he never made a single All-Star team, he gave them 16.7 PPG and 8.9 RPG before Portland traded him to the Spurs in 1986. The Lakers, infatuated with Thompson’s skillset, sent the Spurs two first-round picks along with Frank Brickowski and Petur Gudmundsson in a 1987 trade. Thompson finished his career with the Lakers winning two titles.
Finally, the Trail Blazers selected Greg Oden with the number one overall pick in the 2007 Draft over Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Mike Conley, and Joakim Noah in one of the biggest “What if?” moments in Trail Blazers history. What if Portland had selected Kevin Durant with the number one pick teaming him with Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Nicolas Batum? Could they have won a title? We’ll never know, but that would have been one of the most talented teams in the league.
Orlando Magic - 4 No. 1 Draft Picks
1992 - Shaquille O’Neal (Career Stats: 23.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.3 BPG)
1993 - Chris Webber (Career Stats: 20.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.4 BPG)
2004 - Dwight Howard (Career Stats: 15.7 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.8 BPG)
2022 - Undecided
The Orlando Magic selected Shaq with their first-ever number one pick in 1992, which was a turkey shoot choice. Then the following season, they traded number one pick Chris Webber to the Warriors for number three pick Anfernee Hardaway and additional draft compensation in a mega draft-day swap that would turn out to be a costly long-term decision. The Magic made it to the Finals once with Shaq and Penny, ultimately getting swept by the Rockets, before Hardaway suffered a massive left knee injury that sidetracked his career and the Magic’s trajectory. At the same time, Webber proceeded to destroy the league. Shaq and Webber would have been a highly unconventional pairing, but the Magic should have bucked convention and stuck with a “Twin Towers” frontcourt before the Spurs.
12 years after the Magic selected Shaq with the first pick, they chose another physically dominant center, Dwight Howard. He also made one Finals appearance in southern Florida without hanging a banner.
Sacramento Kings - 5 No. 1 Draft Picks
1956 - Si Green (Career Stats: 9.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.3 APG)
1957 - Hot Rod Hundley (Career Stats: 8.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 3.4 APG)
1959 - Bob Boozer (Career Stats: 14.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.4 APG)
1960 - Oscar Robertson (Career Stats: 25.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 9.5 APG)
1989 - Pervis Ellison (Career Stats: 9.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.6 BPG)
The Sacramento Kings are the oldest franchise in the NBA. They joined the NBA in 1945 as the Rochester Royals. They found it challenging to turn a profit in small-market Rochester and eventually relocated to Cincinnati and became known as the Royals. In 1972, the team moved again to Kansas City, Missouri, and was renamed the Kings. The Kings failed to find success in their third market in a row and left for Sacramento in 1985, where they’ve remained since.
The Sacramento Kings have often seemed cursed throughout their long history, perpetually moving and perpetually picking complete flops at the top of the NBA Draft, like Si Green, Hot Rod Hundley (awesome name, though!), Bob Boozer, and Pervis Ellison. And even when they landed the number one pick in the 1960 draft and selected Oscar Robertson, one of the most straightforward choices in NBA history, they failed to surround their All-Star with enough talent to win in the postseason and were forced to watch him hang a banner during his first year with the Bucks after they traded him for peanuts.
The Kings have suffered through the longest title drought in the history of the league, going 71 years without reaching the mountaintop. And to add insult to injury, the Kings are currently suffering through the longest playoff drought in the NBA, a 16-season slog fest. So, yeah, drafting well makes a huge difference.
Houston Rockets - 5 No. 1 Draft Picks
1968 - Elvin Hayes (Career Stats: 21.0 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 1.8 APG)
1976 - John Lucas (Career Stats: 10.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.1 BPG)
1983 - Ralph Sampson (Career Stats: 15.4 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.6 BPG)
1984 - Hakeem Olajuwon (Career Stats: 21.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 3.1 BPG)
2002 - Yao Ming (Career Stats: 19.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.9 BPG)
The Houston Rockets are easily the premier franchise in the NBA at choosing talent with the first overall selection in the draft. They chose four Hall-of-Fame centers, Elvin Hayes, Ralph Sampson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Yao Ming, with the number one overall pick. And while John Lucas never lived up to his potential, he was far from a massive failure, putting in 14 productive NBA seasons.
Milwaukee Bucks - 5 No. 1 Draft Picks
1952 - Mark Workman (Career Stats: 4.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 0.6 APG)
1969 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Career Stats: 24.6 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.6 APG)
1977 - Kent Benson (Career Stats: 9.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.9 BPG)
1994 - Glenn Robinson (Career Stats: 20.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.6 BPG)
2005 - Andrew Bogut (Career Stats: 9.6 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.5 BPG)
The Bucks have had 5 number one selections throughout their over-70-year history: three were busts, one was a so-so pick, and one was an all-time great choice.
The Bucks' 1952 number one pick, Mark Workman, played two seasons before falling out of the NBA, making him one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history. The Bucks selected Kent Benson with the 1977 number one pick, and he played two-and-a-half seasons in Milwaukee, averaging 10.2 PPG before the Bucks traded him to the Pistons, another bust. Milwaukee chose massive Aussie center Andrew Bogut first in 2005. While he competed for 14 years in the league, picking up a title in 2015 with the Warriors, he was never named an All-Star and never averaged over 15 PPG for an entire season, making him a number one pick bust as well.
Glenn Robinson graduated as an unstoppable force at Purdue, and most experts saw him as a surefire superstar. He never made full use of his massive talent, topping as a better-than-average big man throughout his 11 years in the league.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the Bucks' number one pick in 1969, and he went on to win six MVP Awards along with 19 All-Star selections and six championships as the best center ever to play the game.
Philadelphia 76ers - 5 No. 1 Draft Picks
1953 - Ernie Beck (Career Stats: 6.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.8 APG)
1973 - Doug Collins (Career Stats: 17.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.3 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.3 BPG)
1996 - Allen Iverson (Career Stats: 26.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 6.2 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG)
2016 - Ben Simmons (Career Stats: 15.9 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 7.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG)
2017 - Markelle Fultz (Career Stats: 10.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG)
The Philadelphia 76ers selected Ernie Beck with the first overall pick in the 1953 Draft. Beck went on to average less than seven points per contest through eight incredibly underwhelming seasons.
The 76ers' next number one pick came 20 years later, in 1973, when they picked Doug Collins first overall. Collins flashed Hall-of-Fame potential as he led the 76ers to the Finals during his fourth year in the league, eventually losing to the Blazers in six games. Unfortunately, a series of gruesome knee injuries cut his career short, and he wound up playing through only the age of 29.
During the 1996 Draft, most experts thought Marcus Camby or Antoine Walker were the top two prospects, but the 76ers bucked conventional 1990s wisdom, which essentially said (picture a man with a mustache, 20-pounds overweight with beads of sweat building on his forehead talking) “Always go with size at the top of the draft. Always go with size." Philadelphia selected Allen Iverson, who stood 6-0, with the number one pick and never regretted it. Iverson led the NBA in scoring four times as a 76er, and he played with two hearts every time he stepped on the floor.
Nearly 20 years after the 76ers picked Iverson first overall, they “processed” their way to the number one pick in 2016 and 2017, selecting Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, respectively. Ben Simmons played four seasons in Philly, never making it past the Second Round before he went on strike and missed the entire 2021-22 season. Markelle Fultz entered the draft as a player nearly every expert saw as a surefire All-Star with a superstar ceiling. The 76ers drafted him number one overall. He began his rookie season with a completely altered jump shot that looked like something an 8-year-old who’d never played organized basketball invented on his driveway hoop. Fultz lasted two years in Philly before the 76ers traded him to Orlando for pennies on the dollar.
Washington Wizards - 6 No. 1 Draft Picks
1951 - Gene Melchiorre (Never Played in the NBA)
1954 - Frank Selvy (Career Stats: 10.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.8 APG)
1961 - Walt Bellamy (Career Stats: 20.1 PPG, 13.7 RPG, 2.4 APG)
1962 - Bill McGill (Career Stats: 10.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.1 APG)
2001 - Kwame Brown (Career Stats: 6.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.6 BPG)
2010 - John Wall (Career Stats: 19.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 9.1 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG)
The Wizards embarked on a long and winding journey before they eventually landed in Washington. They began as the Bullets making Baltimore their home from 1951 to 1961. Then in 1962, they moved to Chicago and were known as the Packers. In 1963, they changed their name to the Chicago Zephyrs. In 1964, the team moved back to Baltimore and switched their name back to the Bullets. In 1974, they relocated to Washington and adopted the name the Capital Bullets. In 1975, they changed their name to the Washington Bullets, and finally, in 1998, they became the Washington Wizards.
Throughout the Bullets or Packers or Zephyrs or Wizards history, they’ve had six number one selections. And they mostly wilted hilariously with their picks atop the draft, starting with Gene Melchiorre, a 5-8 guard who was barred from the NBA for life before ever playing a single game after he admitted to point-shaving while at college. In 1954, the Bullets selected Frank Selvy with the number one pick and traded him to the Milwaukee Hawks after only a handful of games. The Bullets got things right in 1961, choosing future Hall-of-Famer Walt Bellamy with the number one overall pick, and then flopped again at the top of the draft one year later, choosing Bill McGill in 1962. Roughly 40 years later, the Wizards selected Kwame Brown in 2001 over Tyson Chandler and Pau Gasol, and then John Wall in 2010 over Gordon Hayward and Paul George.
Cleveland Cavaliers - 6 No. 1 Draft Picks
1971 - Austin Carr (Career Stats: 15.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.1 BPG)
1986 - Brad Daugherty (Career Stats: 19.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 3.7 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.7 BPG)
2003 - LeBron James (Career Stats: 27.1 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG)
2011 - Kyrie Irving (Career Stats: 23.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 5.7 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.6 BPG)
2013 - Anthony Bennett (Career Stats: 4.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.2 BPG)
2014 - Andrew Wiggins (Career Stats: 19.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.7 BPG)
The Cleveland Cavaliers are tied for the most number one draft picks in NBA history, and outside of Anthony Bennett, one of the worst selections ever, they’ve done well.
The Cavs selected Austin Carr with the number one draft pick in 1971. While he isn’t well known today, Carr was a solid shooting guard who was good for 30 points on any given night during his prime. The Cavs chose Brad Daugherty with the first pick in 1986, and similar to Carr, he isn’t well known nowadays but was an excellent center from the mid-80s through the early 90s before a back injury cut him down early. The Cavs selected all-time great LeBron James in 2003 and then chose seven-time All-Star Kyrie Irving in 2013 before landing the 2014 number one draft pick (Andrew Wiggins), ultimately trading him to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love.
The NBA Draft Is Hit Or Miss
After sifting through all 71 years of the NBA Draft, it’s clear the number one pick is a crapshoot. Sometimes you draft an all-time legend like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Magic Johnson. Sometimes you draft an all-time bust like Gene Melchiorre or Anthony Bennett.
Still, some teams like the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers have proven adept at finding talent at the top of the draft. At the same time, other organizations like the Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards have struggled to land a superstar with their number one picks.