3 Best Performing NBA #1 Draft Picks of the Last 10 Seasons

The NBA Draft season culminated recently with Zion Williamson as the 2019 first overall pick. The New Orleans Pelicans selected Williamson.

Hopes and expectations. These are the words that describe the selection process. And whoever can prove that he is worthy of the spot gets drafted.

It’s time we look back some of the best NBA #1 overall draft picks in the last ten years. Note: not all NBA draft picks performed what was expected of them. But these three people delivered!

1) Kyrie Irving

NBA Draft: 2011

Picked by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Irving was one of the best players of the 2010-11 basketball season. He played with the Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball. Irving averaged 17.4 points in the first eight games, but an injury puts his performance to a halt.

It did not stop the NCAA to include Irving in the roster of the Freshman of the Year. He was the strongest contender then. On his last game with the Duke, Irving scored 28 points.

He forwent the last three seasons of his eligibility and went ahead with the NBA draft.

In 2012, he was chosen as part of the Rising Stars Challenge where he scored 34 points. His three-point shooting expertise showed with 8-of-8 baskets. Irving was given Most Valuable Player (MVP) honours.

Irving became the 2011-12 Rookie of the Year. He appeared on his first NBA finals in 2014-15 and first NBA championship in the next year. He played one more season with the Cavaliers before signing up with the Boston Celtics. 

In 2019, he became a free agent and signed with Brooklyn Nets.

2) Anthony Davis

NBA Draft: 2012

Davis was selected by New Orleans Hornets and stayed with the team for the next seven seasons until he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

His #1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft was a basketball forecast of 2011. Davis was also predicted to be a college basketball Grand Slam awardee, winning National Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Freshman of the Year.

Davis led the Kentucky Wildcats’ eighth NCAA championship.

On the same year, he became a part of the Team USA and competed at the 2012 Olympics. He was the first American player who played at the Olympics without prior NBA experience.

Davis was declared for the draft and the rest of the champion team’s starting five. He signed a three-year contract with the Hornets valued at $16 million. 

He appeared at the First All-Star in 2013-14 and had his first playoff the following season. In 2016-17, he recorded 50 points in a season opener game. He holds the second-highest scoring next to Michael Jordan who scored a whopping 54 points in 1989.

3) Ben Simmons

NBA Draft: 2016

The Philadelphia 76ers chose Simmons, and he stayed with the team until now. 

He played for the Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers. Simmons was named first-team All-American as well as the National Freshman of the Year. LSU Tigers did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Simmons moved forward by entering the NBA Draft. And he became the third Australian who became #1 overall pick. (Irving was one of these three players).

Simmons was the first player to become #1 pick without prior NCAA Tournament experience.

He wasn’t able to play on his first year with the 76ers because of an injury. In 2018-19, however, he proved the media analysts (and those who doubt his shooting capabilities by becoming the Rookie of the Year. He was also included in the NBA All-Rookie First Team.

In 2019, Simmons was named to the NBA All-Star.

 

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Player Feature: LeBron James

Full Name: LeBron Raymone James Sr. 

Birthdate: December 30, 1984

Birthplace: Akron, Ohio 

Current team: Los Angeles Lakers

Position: Small forward/Power forward

Years active: 2003 – present

Key facts and statistics

  • Has a versatile playing style, a slasher and finisher
  • One of the greatest basketball players of all time
  • Most All-NBA First Team appearances record holder
  • 2x Olympic gold wins of the US national basketball team
  • 2003 Rookie of the Year
  • Youngest player to score 30,000 career points

LeBron James has one of the stellar and controversial professional careers – that stretch to 16 seasons – in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA). James started his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers wherein he was the first overall draft pick of 2003. Cavaliers was his hometown. He was only 18 years old then.

He has proven time and again that he can shoot from different angles and different positions. But his orientations remain in the perimeter. He was the leading scorer at Cleveland, onwards becoming the youngest NBA player to score 30,000 career points. 

He moved to Miami Heat then back to Cleveland Cavaliers. When he was with the Heat, he focused on improving his scoring efficiency through effective shot selection. His shots are usually a three-point or a long two-point basket. He also has a playmaking ability not observable in other players. 

In 2018, he signed up with Los Angeles Lakers. Prior to his groin injury in the 2018-19 season, James scored 51 points, season-high, in one of the games against Miami Heat. Because of the injury, he missed the opportunity for a career-high 17 consecutive games and the playoffs. James played the playoffs since 2005 before this season.

James was hyped as an NBA prospect, immediately making an impact on his debut season. He was the 2003 Rookie of the Year. He came a long way, now touted as one of the greatest players in NBA history, along with Jordan.

James started as an offensive player but eventually became a defensive player, and then both. He was one of those shooters who can transition between offence and defence smoothly.

He also started as a small forward and power forward. James can also play the three other basketball positions at no extra effort on his part. His athleticism and versatility on the court are two of his legacies. James was also a slasher and finisher.

James’ career highlights include NBA championships, Finals MVP, MVP, All-Star, ALl-Star MVP, All-Defensive First Team, All-Defensive Second Team, First Team, Second Team, and Third Team. He holds the record for the most All-NBA First Team appearances (12).

He was a scoring leader, and his average is 27.2 points. His other averages per game are 7.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.8 blocks per game.

 James was also a part of the national basketball team that won two gold medals during the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Sports Illustrated, ESPN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, Slam Magazine, and The Ringer (Bill Simmons’ website) consistently rank James as one of the best NBA players along with the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.

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