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Top 10 NBA No. 1 Overall Picks of All Time

by Nebojša Vujinović

The NBA has a long history as the world’s premium basketball league. Each year, teams refill their rosters through the draft with new players. The worst team picks first, as the best player available comes with that spot. Some of the franchises changed their fortunes once they selected legendary players with No.1 draft selection.

Do you have any idea who is the best number one selection in the history of the National Basketball League? It’s not an easy choice to make. Some No.1 picks weren’t all that great. Not even the first selection guarantees you success. But, luckily for all basketball fans out there, some draft picks selected with the first pick managed to make history. We’re here to talk about them. Bellow, you have the ten most successful No.1 NBA picks of all time. You’ll notice we list them in no particular order.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

We shouldn’t look any further than Kareem when talking about NBA success. The arguably best center of all time played with Milwaukee Bucks who drafted him as the No.1 pick and Los Angeles Lakers. During his twenty years in the NBA, he won six championships, was voted as MVP on six occasions and played in 19 All-Star Games. His accolades are many more, and he’s regarded as one of the best players of all time.

Source: beinsports.com

Magic Johnson

Magic was lucky that he was drafted in Los Angeles by a team that also had the player above. But it didn’t stop him from selling his trade on the highest level, as he’s widely considered as the best point guard of all time. He also won five titles with the Lakers, managing to win three MVP awards. He also appeared in nine final games. Furthermore, he had success on the international scene as a member of the Dream Team in 1992.

Source: si.com

LeBron James

This is a name that will ring a bell to any sports fans of today, as James is still an active player. After being drafted by Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 he managed to change the fortunes of at least three franchises including Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers. A synonym for success, James is widely considered to be one of the greatest players of all-time often compared to Michael Jordan himself. He managed to win four NBA championships and four NBA MVPs. He also won titles with each franchise he ever played.

Source: insidesport.com

Tim Duncan

A legendary player in his own right, Duncan was a cornerstone for San Antonio Spurs for over a decade. The Big Fundamental was seen as the best player at his position of all time. With Spurs, Tim managed to win five NBA championships and two MVP awards. He spent the entirety of his nineteen-year career with the Spurs.

Source: usatoday.com

Shaquille O’Neal

O’Neal is seen as one of the most dominant centers that have ever greeted the court. Shaq played for six different franchises managing to win the title with two of them. The full amount of titles he owns now stands at four, with one being with Miami heat while the other one was a product of his time with Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Lakers. He also played for Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Phoenix Suns. He was a Rookie of the year in 1992-93 and league MVP in 2000.

Source: essentiallysports.com

Hakeem Olajuwon

The Dream was one of the best centers in the NBA during his tenure, despite playing in the era of the big’s. His career spanned from 1984 to 2002, and he played for Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors. His two NBA titles came back-to-back in 1994 and 1995 when he took advantage of Michael Jordan’s absence. He will be remembered as one of the best players of all time but also one of the rare ones who managed a quadruple double.


Oscar Robertson

Back in the day, the Big O was the name on everyone’s lips. He sold his trade to two franchises, Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks. Robertson played for fourteen seasons in which he managed to win one MVP award and one championship. Before Russel Westbrook, he was the only player who managed a triple-double through the season. He will be remembered as the Milwaukee Bucks legend together with Kareem.

Source: si.com

Allen Iverson

Iverson was a real gem back in the day, but one of the rare on this list who lacks team accolades. He was drafted as the No.1 selection back in 1996 and was one of the faces of the league in the next fourteen years. In 2001, which was his only finals appearance he managed to win the MVP award. Furthermore, he will be remembered as one of the best ball handlers the league has ever seen. Thanks to the spread of television, and the popularity of the NBA his influence went far ahead and above basketball only.

Source: wncer.com

David Robertson

Robertson was the man who managed to become the legend in both the NBA and college basketball. He played and served for the US Navy, which brought out the nickname The Admiral. Together with Tim Duncan, he created one of the best center pairing the NBA has ever seen. Robertson has two NBA titles to his name, one MVP award, and two Olympic golds.

Source: quora.com

Patrick Ewing

Just like Iverson, Ewing is lacking team accolades in the NBA, but on a personal level, he was exquisite. He was drafted by the New York Knicks, where he spent the majority of his career before playing for Seattle SuperSonics and Orlando Magic. Patrick was an eleven-time all-star. While he lost his final appearances with Knicks in 1994 and 1999, he managed to win gold medals with the US team in 1984 and 1992.

Source: nba.com