Ranking the #1 Overall Picks in the NBA Draft since 2000

17) Ben Simmons, LSU

Ben Simmons ranked #17? Am I insane? No, I’m not. Ben Simmons is yet to see the floor during an NBA game. With that said, he healed quick enough to play his rookie year, but he chose not to. That could show signs of possible attitude issues, so those possible issues and the fact he hasn’t been on the court yet ranks him last. 

16) Andrea Bargnani, Benetton Treviso

He started his career off hot, living up to the hype. He was boarding and shooting well, which went noticed his rookie year. 

However, after getting emergency surgery late in the season, he was never the same. His 2nd season he took a large drop off, specifically in his points and rebounds, yet a large increase in his fouls per game. Due to this, he has found himself ranked #16 on the list.

15) Kwame Brown, Glynn Academy

This is an interesting case. His first season he had a decent for a rookie year and his 2nd year saw improvement. He would build upon those two years and make his 3rd year even better. Looks promising right? 

Well after his 3rd year he took a drastic decline, declined a long-term contract, and just floated around the NBA. He would never return to his former state. That earns him the 15th spot on this list.

14) Anthony Bennett, UNLV

Bennett only at 14? Yes, I know, but hear me through. Anthony Bennett was not ready nor should he had been taken #1 overall. This was a screw up on the Cavs part, as he simply wasn’t a first overall player. He was doomed from the beginning and was given too high of expectations from the start.

13) Greg Oden, Ohio State

Greg Oden is considered by many as the biggest bust ever, but I don’t think he is because he was a talented player who was doomed by injuries. 

When he was on the court he showed promise, but due to injuries he never got to live those out. If it would have been an attitude issue it’d be different, but something out of his control hindered him, so it’s hard to completely hold that against him.

12) Kenyon Martin, Cincinnati

Kenyon Martin is interesting. He started his career off hot, making the All-Star team, 2 Finals, and all-rookie team within his first 3 years.

However, after a knee injury, everything went bad. The surprising part was, the injury wasn’t the problem. His attitude was the problem as he got himself suspended during the playoffs with the Denver Nuggets due to his attitude and actions. Due to that, we have him at #12.

11) Andrew Bogut, Utah

Andrew Bogut has always been a slept on player, HOWEVER, he hasn’t played like a #1 pick. He’s most known for his work on the 2015 and 2016 Warriors, but even then his work was sub-par. Although he isn’t known for having attitude issues, which keeps him at #11.

10) Yao Ming, Shanghai Sharks

Yao Ming at #10? WHAT?!? Yes, and I have good reasoning for this. The legacy of Yao Ming isn’t what he did ON the court, considering his best years he was on a team that was carried by Tracy McGrady. 

Instead, his legacy is how he connected China and the NBA, which was huge. This list, however, is ranking their level of play on the court, and as that goes he was average at best.

9) Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Andrew Wiggins is great, no doubt about it, but he’s played with Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach Lavine, so it’s hard to sit here and say he’s better than some of these guys who haven’t been blessed with such good teammates. 

This is no knock on Wiggins, though, as I do feel he will lead his team into the future along Karl-Anthony Towns.

8) Blake Griffin, Oklahoma

Blake Griffin is in the same boat as Andrew Wiggins here. He’s been blessed playing with DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul, but with that said has been able to show his individual greatness straight out of the gate with his powerful dunks. However, he has been able to add a mid-range and a 3-point game this past season, which helps elevate him.

7) Kyrie Irving, Duke

Kyrie, as #9 and #8, has been blessed with playing with one of the greatest basketball players of all time a majority of his career. 

Yet, he’s been able to prove himself with his insane, Allen Iverson like handles, his bold driving ability, and his clutch gene, which scores him at #7.

6) Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky

Karl-Anthony Towns is at #6 already? Yes, because throughout his career he has been able to do everything and more you would want as a center. 

He’s a walking double-double with rebounds and points, meaning he can grab the boards and translate them to points. At that, he can score everyone from the post to the 3-point line, which adds so much value to his game. 

The best part about his game? For a center, he has good handles and can bring the ball up the court and create his own shot when needed.

5) Anthony Davis, Kentucky

Anthony Davis below John Wall? Yes I know, it’s far-fetched to some, but I only put him at #5 because he hasn’t gotten his team anywhere. While he has more individual accomplishments than Wall, Wall has been able to carry his team deep into the playoffs multiple times.

4) John Wall, Kentucky

This explanation will pick off where the last one stopped. John Wall has been able to take over and literally carry his team, on offense and defense, when needed, which to me puts him over Anthony Davis. You want to draft a player that will get you places and as of now, Anthony Davis hasn’t done that.

3) Derrick Rose, Memphis

Rose at #3? It’s hard to ignore his MVP award and that’s exactly why he’s #3. When he was healthy, he was amazing. He was unguardable, but staying healthy was his problem. On top of the fact that he couldn’t stay healthy, he is yet to see the Finals, which greatly hurts him compared to the Top 2 picks on this list.

2) Dwight Howard, Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy

Dwight Howard at #2? Aside from his DPOTY awards, his ability to carry his team to the Finals as a CENTER, is mind boggling, especially considering he had to beat LeBron to get there. Dwight Howard is very much like Anthony Davis. 

He has the individual accomplishments to rank high, AND he was able to translate those accomplishments and awards to team success. Although his team got spanked in the Finals, he still got them there which, along with his awards, puts him at #2 on the list.

1) LeBron James, St. Vincent-St. Mary HS

Do I really need to explain this one? He has 4 MVP’s, 8 Finals appearances, 3 NBA Titles, 3 NBA Finals MVP, ROTY, 2 Gold Medals, 13 All-NBA teams, a scoring title, and 6 All-Defensive teams. No one on this list can touch his accomplishments, nor his ability to carry a team and play the 1-5 positions. This was the easiest selection on the entire list.

Photo by Robert Deutsch, USA Today