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.