Getting the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA Draft has to be one of the better feelings for NBA fans of struggling NBA franchises. Teams often have to choose a path: compete for a championship or try to rebuild the roster with young players, mainly through the draft. The days of going through mediocrity seem to be over, as teams are either focusing on tanking for top draft selections or going all-in for championships. A franchise in the lottery is always looking for a chance to grab one of the top-3 picks in an NBA Draft because that gives them the best chance to select one of the best players out of college.
It is amazing how many great players have blossomed in the NBA after getting drafted with the No. 3 overall pick. Being the No. 3 overall pick does not come with the pressure of being the No. 1 overall pick or even the No. 2 pick, but there is extreme hope when a player gets drafted that high. We have collected the best players in the game today that was selected No. 3 overall in their respective draft classes. This will get an indication of which players were taken that high and met or exceeded expectations.
10. Al Horford
2021-22 Season Statistics: 10.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.3 BPG
Al Horford has been an ultimate professional for most of his career, a reason why he is a fan favorite for the franchises he has been a part of. A stretch big man with above-average defensive basketball IQ, Horford has made a total of 5 All-Star Teams and the 2011 All-Defensive Team over his career. This season, he was critical for a Boston Celtics side that made it to the NBA Finals and made it to Game 6.
Al is 36 years old, and his skills will start to wane as the weeks and months go by. But that does not mean he will be a pushover by any means because he will be considered invaluable by the young Boston Celtics team. As long as Horford can average 10 PPG and 7 RPG while playing solid defense, he will earn his spot in the starting lineup with the Boston Celtics. He has also been a success story as a No. 3 overall draft pick.
9. RJ Barrett
2021-22 Season Statistics: 20.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.2 BPG
RJ Barrett is getting better and better every year and could be in the mix for his first All-Star appearance next year. The talented scorer and rebounder is an untouchable asset for the New York Knicks because his potential as a 6’6” two-way player is truly impressive. The Knicks are desperate for superstar power, but they won’t give up Barrett.
Expect RJ to have a big season next year, possibly averaging a career-high in PPG and RPG. The man will only be 23 years old at the end of next season, so he has plenty of time to reach the All-Star level expected of him. The Knicks will need Barrett to reach another level as an offensive player because they have to make the playoffs again after missing out last year.
8. Evan Mobley
2021-22 Season Statistics: 15.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.7 BPG
Evan Mobley was in the mix for the Rookie of the Year award, and based on his impressive two-way play for the young Cleveland Cavaliers, he had a strong argument for winning it. The big man has already arrived as a starting center and potential All-Star because he does multiple things on the floor at a high level. He can space the floor, score inside, and block shots. Averaging 1.7 BPG as a rookie is certainly impressive.
Next year, Mobley will be even better as he could average close to 20 PPG and 10 RPG. At age 21, Mobley has plenty of time to become the player we expect him to become, and his career is off to a fantastic start so far. His next step will be to follow Deandre Ayton’s steps and start becoming a star player who can help a team reach the NBA Finals. Mobley has more talent than Ayton, and Cleveland could be one of the most exciting teams next year.
7. LaMelo Ball
2021-22 Season Statistics: 20.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 7.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.4 BPG
LaMelo is a natural baller, no pun intended. The way he can glide around the court with ease and set up teammates with beautiful passes comes second nature to the first-time All-Star. Ball is a unique point guard because, at 6’7”, he has the height to complement his supreme athleticism. This past year, he averaged 20.1 PPG and 7.6 APG while making his first All-Star Team.
LaMelo already has a Rookie of the Year accolade and an All-Star appearance by his second season, so he could build on that next year. As long as LaMelo can finally make the playoffs for the first time with the Charlotte Hornets, his ascension will continue to boost upwards. The Hornets have an exciting roster, although the controversy behind Miles Bridges is not a good look. Expect LaMelo to have a big season even if his best teammate is not on the roster anymore.
6. Bradley Beal
2021-22 Season Statistics: 23.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 6.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Bradley Beal is one of the best scorers in the NBA right now, and his re-signing with the Washington Wizards has raised eyebrows across the league. The shooting guard is simply too good to be dwelling at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, especially after having two seasons averaging at least 30 PPG. Beal is a flat-out scorer, and he will continue to be as he approaches 30 years old.
His career has been impressive so far because he has 3 All-Star Teams, 1 All-NBA selection, and an All-Rookie Team selection on his resume. Clearly, Beal won’t have enough time to build a Hall of Fame resume unless he starts winning multiple championships. It is up to the shooting guard what he wants his legacy to be, but there is no doubt he is one of the top offensive players in the NBA who will make a major comeback after playing only 40 games this year.
5. Jaylen Brown
2021-22 Season Statistics: 23.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Jaylen Brown seems to be getting better by the year, even if he struggled in the NBA Finals alongside Jayson Tatum in 2022. Brown averaged 23.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 3.5 APG for the Celtics last year and took his numbers to 23.1 PPG and 6.9 RPG in the playoffs. Brown is learning the ropes to being a bonafide All-Star and championship player, and he will soon get there because he is only 25 years old.
Jaylen has made an All-Star Team and also made All-Rookie in 2017. The talented scorer is blessed with exceptional athleticism, and he has the base to actually become a superstar. The Boston Celtics have made Jaylen untouchable, which means the franchise will have one of the best duos in the league going forward. Jaylen is a very good player and has a chance to become a great player one day.
4. James Harden
2021-22 Season Statistics: 21.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 10.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG
James Harden is no longer a top-5 player in the NBA, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t an All-Star anymore. The Beard is still capable of posting 20 PPG and 10 APG in his sleep, and his form has dipped over the years because of a nagging hamstring injury. Reports are coming out that Harden is working extremely hard to get back to his best, and that could spell trouble for the rest of the Eastern Conference.
Unfortunately, Harden still isn’t a top-3 player in the NBA right now among players taken No. 3 overall in the draft. His career has been the best so far when looking at the totality of his career because he is a former MVP award winner with 3 scoring titles to his name. With 10 All-Star Team selections and 7 All-NBA selections, Harden is easily a first-ballot Hall of Famer. It remains to be seen if Harden can at least return to superstar form because his partnership with Joel Embiid would be extremely devastating next year if that were to happen.
3. Jayson Tatum
2021-22 Season Statistics: 26.9 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Jayson Tatum suffered through the 2022 NBA Finals, and many feel that he was exposed as a superstar player and franchise cornerstone. That might be true, but it is also true that Tatum is still learning the ropes of superstardom and how to handle the pressure of performing on the biggest stage. Competing against a veteran Golden State Warriors team will only serve to improve him on both ends of the floor, and one day, he might become an NBA champion and MVP award winner. As an all-around talent, Tatum is a top-3 player right now that was taken No. 3 overall.
Expect the Boston Celtics’ star to post his career-high in PPG next year because his understanding of defenses and also his hunger to silence the critics will be at an all-time high. Expect the soon-to-be 25-year-old to continue his ascension to being a superstar next year, especially when he finally has a proper point guard coming in the form of Malcolm Brogdon. Tatum has been a success so far in his career, making 3 All-Star Teams and 2 All-NBA Teams.
2. Joel Embiid
2021-22 Season Statistics: 30.6 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.5 BPG
Superstar center Joel Embiid just missed out on the MVP award to Nikola Jokic, but that should not take away from his greatness as a player. As long as Embiid can stay healthy, he will always be arguably the best big man in the game because of his incredible two-way impact. Next year, he will have help in the form of an improving Tyrese Maxey and motivated James Harden. That will only boost Embiid’s numbers because he won’t have to force his offense at all.
Nonetheless, finishing top-2 in the MVP race will only boost Embiid’s credibility to one day win the MVP award, and his time could come next year. Luckily, he could be in for bias because there are a ton of media members and fans who believe that Joel deserved the MVP award in 2022. Over his career so far, Joel has made 5 All-Star Teams, 4 All-NBA Teams, and 3 All-Defensive Teams while capturing the 2022 scoring title. Hopefully, Joel can make a push for the NBA Finals because he is talented enough to be the best player on a championship team.
1. Luka Doncic
2021-22 Season Statistics: 28.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 8.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Luka Doncic is easily one of the best players in the world and is a top-10 star in the game right now. He carried the Dallas Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals last year with the help of scorers such as Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie. The Mavericks are going all-in right now because of Luka’s triple-double ability, and his leadership skills have only improved year after year. At age 23, Doncic is already ahead of his time as a superstar player.
Doncic is fresh off a season averaging close to a triple-double and is arguably the best No. 3 draft pick in the NBA right now. The Slovenian, known as “Baby Bird”, will likely put up his usual triple-double numbers and carry the Mavericks to top-3 seeding in the West next year and push for the NBA Finals. Thanks to the team’s acquisition of Christian Wood, the Mavericks have given Luka the help he needs to carry the team to a better record than last year. Doncic has more experience under his belt, and he will start staking his claim to legitimately win the MVP award.