Looking back at every player since 1971 selected first overall in the NBA Draft. Players are evaluated on a "hit," "miss" or "too early to tell" basis.
1971: AUSTIN CARR, shooting guard, Cleveland Cavaliers
When you earn the nickname "Mr. Cavalier," yeah, you're pretty good. Carr only made one All-Star game during his career, but consistently averaged around 20 points per game during his nine-year tenure in Cleveland. He led the Cavs to the playoffs three straight seasons, in 1976, '77 and '78.
1972: LARUE MARTIN, center, Portland Trail Blazers
Martin was the original NBA Draft bust. After generating hype during his time at Loyola for clutch performances in college against UCLA, Martin moved up to the No. 1 spot in the draft. Coincidentally, the star of those UCLA teams, Bill Walton, was selected two years later by the Blazers - also first overall - spelling the end of a short-lived career for LaRue. He finished with career averages of just 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds.
1973: DOUG COLLINS, guard, Philadelphia 76ers
Before he made his mark in the NBA as a head coach, Collins was a solid player for a series of successful 76ers teams. After an injury-riddled rookie season, Collins emerged into a solid scorer, averaging 20.8 points per game his third year. His play helped engineer a turnaround, bringing the Sixers from the basement of the league to the NBA Finals. He'd go on to play in three All-Star games before an injury cut his career short at 29 years old.
1974: BILL WALTON, center, Portland Trail Blazers
Hall of Famer
Glossing over Walton's career numbers, you'd think Walton was a major bust. But when Walton was healthy and on the court, he was one of the great big men of all time. During the 1976-77 season, the only healthy one during his prime, he averaged 18.6 points, 14.4 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game. His Blazers also upset the 76ers that season to win the NBA Finals. Later in his career as a sixth man for the Celtics, Walton played a key role in another NBA title. Walton can go either way, but when you look at his on-court performance, you have to consider him a good pick.
1975: DAVID THOMPSON, small forward, Atlanta Hawks
North Carolina State
Hall of Famer
After a brief detour to the ABA, Thompson made his NBA debut during the 1976-77 season with the Denver Nuggets. He brought a high-flying game to the league, and quickly emerged as one of the NBA's best scorers. Thompson averaged over 24 points per game and shot 50 percent five of his first six seasons with Denver, before seeing his career dwindle largely due to substance abuse.
1976: JOHN LUCAS, point guard, Houston Rockets
After an outstanding college career
1977: KENT BENSON, center, Milwaukee Bucks
Two years after playing for the last team to go undefeated in NCAA men's Division I basketball, Benson was taken first overall by the Bucks. Benson entered the league as a banger in the paint, finishing with over 1,000 points and rebounds in college. However, just minutes into his first game, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar punched Benson, breaking his jaw. He'd never recover, averaging just 9.1 points and 5.7 boards over his career.
1978: MYCHAL THOMPSON, center, Portland Trail Blazers
With the Blazers looking to rekindle some of the magic they lost with the injury to Bill Walton, Thompson was taken first overall. He quickly moved into the starting lineup, and averaged around 15 points and 9 boards his first seven seasons. However, Thompson was dealt prior to the 1986 seasons, and saw his playing time decrease during the rest of his career. While he won a pair of championships as a reserve in Los Angeles and was an effective presence in the paint, he didn't live up to the hype of a No. 1 pick.
1979: EARVIN JOHNSON, point guard, Los Angeles Lakers
Hall of Famer
Known simply as "Magic," Johnson had one of the great careers in NBA history. Finishing with
1980: JOE BARRY CARROLL, center, Golden State Warriors
Standing 7-foot, J.B. came into the league with a lot of hype. He was terrific at Purdue, finishing with career averages of 17.7 points and 9.3 rebounds, leading the Boilermakers to the NIT Finals his junior year - back when there was prestige surrounding the NIT - and the NCAA Final Four his senior year. When he got to the NBA, he managed to put up productive numbers, but never endeared himself to fans. He'd finish with respectable averages of 17.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, but he bounced around the league, never winning an NBA championship, and only making one All-Star game.
1981: MARK AGUIRRE, forward, Dallas Mavericks
Aguirre had a long, consistent, solid career. He never averaged less than 18 points per game his first eight seasons, and even at the tail end of his career when he was relegated to the bench, he still averaged at least 17 points per 36 minutes of action. Aguirre was a role player on a pair of Pistons championships - 1989 and 1990 - and was named to three All-Star teams. He was never excellent, but did have four seasons where he averaged more than 25 points per game. In terms of being a pure scorer, he just makes the cut as a worthy No. 1 pick.
1982: JAMES WORTHY, forward, Los Angeles Lakers
Hall of Famer
Worthy's numbers are very similar to Aguirre's over his career. Like Aguirre, Worthy was primarily a scorer, finishing with 16,320 points. He never averaged over 6.4 rebounds per game, and only averaged over four assists per game once in his career. However, Worthy played for just one team his entire career- the Lakers - and by many accounts, was a great, selfless teammate. Moreover, Worthy's best seasons - 1985-1991 - coincided with the Lakers' three championships during his tenure - 1985, '87 and '88. Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and a Hall of Famer, Worthy was one of the greatest No. 1 picks of all time.
1983: RALPH SAMPSON, power forward, Houston Rockets
Standing 7'4”, Sampson entered the league with quite a bit of hype
1984: HAKEEM OLAJUWON, Center, Houston Rockets
Hall of Famer
The second half of the original monster frontcourt, Olajuwon lived up to his pre-draft hype over the span of an 18-year career. The Dream led the Rockets to back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995, made 12 All-Star games in 13 years, and was named the NBA MVP in 1993-94. He finished his career with 26,946 points and 13,748 rebounds, 11th and 9th all-time respectively.
1985: PATRICK EWING, center,
Hall of Famer
The man delivered to New York via the "frozen envelope," Patrick Ewing's arrival was supposed to bring the Knicks back to their glory of the early 1970s. Unfortunately for Ewing and the Knickerbockers, his time coincided with Michael Jordan's run with the Chicago Bulls. And in Jordan's two years off? Ewing was outshined by fellow No. 1 draft pick, Hakeem Olajuwon. Still, Ewing rarely had much of a supporting cast, and still managed to consistently bring the Knicks deep into the postseason. He finished his career with
1986: BRAD DAUGHERTY, center, Cleveland Cavaliers
He retired as the all-time leading scorer in Cavaliers history, his number (No. 43) was retired by the Cleveland organization, and upon his arrival, the Cavs' franchise was immediately transformed into a contender. However, Daugherty's career was short lived - he played just 549 career games over eight seasons - he rarely led Cleveland deep in the playoffs, and was named third team All-NBA just once. Averaging 19.0 points and 9.5 boards is solid, but as a franchise player, Daugherty fell short.
1987: DAVID ROBINSON, center, San Antonio Spurs
Hall of Famer
Robinson didn't make his NBA debut until the 1989-90 season, having served two years in the military after graduation. Despite the layoff, he didn't miss a beat. Robinson burst on to the scene, averaging 24.3 points and 12 rebounds per game his rookie season, cruising to Rookie of the Year honors. He'd continue to put together solid season after solid season, making 10 All-Star teams over a 12-year period, winning the MVP award in the 1994-95 season, and getting All-Defensive honors and All-NBA honors consistently. Once the Spurs paired Tim Duncan with him, the team became a power, winning the 1999 and 2003 titles.
1988: DANNY MANNING, power forward, Los Angeles Clippers
After racking up records, awards and a national title at Kansas, Manning became the prize of the 1988 NBA Draft. The historically unlucky Clippers won the draft lottery, handing the keys to the franchise over to the big man. Injuries limited Manning his first season, but in his 26 games, he showed flashes, averaging 16.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He'd remain mostly healthy for the rest of his Los Angeles tenure, before being dealt to the Hawks in the middle of a career year as part of a package for Dominique Wilkins. He'd head to Phoenix in the offseason, where he'd spend much of the rest of his career either injured, or coming off the bench as a solid sixth man. Manning finished with a career average of 14.0 points per game. Considering just how good he was supposed to be, though, and how little he did in the postseason, Manning was undoubtedly a bust.
1989: PERVIS ELLISON, forward, Sacramento Kings
"Never Nervous Pervis" never made a significant impact in the league. Ellison lasted just one injury-filled season in Sacramento before being traded to the Bullets. By 1994, the Bullets waived Ellison, and he'd never average more than seven points per game the rest of his career. He finished with just 4,494 career points, and played in just four playoff games.
1990: DERRICK COLEMAN, forward,
Entering the league with character issues as a rookie, D.C. quickly quieted the critics, averaging a double-double his rookie season and winning the Rookie of the Year Award. Coleman continued to put up solid numbers the next several years, but injuries began to plague him, and his weight became an issue. By the time he was 31, he was on his third team, and hadn't played more than 59 games in a season in five years. He stuck around until 2004-05, and retired never fully building on his solid early years.
1991: LARRY JOHNSON, forward, Charlotte Hornets
After a collegiate career that included a national title, Johnson burst on to the scene in Charlotte, garnering Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 19.2 points and 11 rebounds. He built on the big numbers the following year, averaging a career high 22.1 points per game. An injury during the 1993-94 season would alter Johnson's career for the worse, though, pulling him away from where he dominated - the paint. He reinvented himself as an all around power forward in his final two years in Charlotte and over a five-year run in New York, but never reached the potential he showed his rookie and sophomore seasons.
1992: SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, center, Orlando Magic
Shaq's dominance at the center position in the modern NBA arguably dwarfs what Bill Russell was able to do in a smaller, guard-happy version of the league years earlier. Facing the likes of Alonzo Mourning, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and other big men, O'Neal dominated each season. Over his long career, he twice led the league in points per game, had the league's best shooting percentage 10 times, and averaged more than 10 rebounds in 14 seasons - including 13 consecutive. O'Neal already had four titles entering the 2010-11 season - three with the Lakers and one with Miami - and made a substantial impact with each of his first four teams - Orlando, L.A., Miami and Phoenix.
1993: CHRIS WEBBER, power forward, Orlando Magic
After a hectic final season in college that included the infamous "timeout," Webber was taken first overall by the Magic, and quickly dealt to Golden State. He cruised to the Rookie of the Year, but not without more drama. A sign of things to come, Webber exercised an escape clause in his contract, forcing a deal to the Washington Bullets. Webber continued to put up big numbers, but couldn't get Washington to the postseason, and was then dealt to Sacramento. The cycle would continue with the Kings: good numbers, limited playoff success, and eventually a trade. Did he fully live up to the hype? No. Did he deliver a championship? No. But did he put together a long, solid career as a dominant power forward? Absolutely.
1994: GLENN ROBINSON, forward, Milwaukee Bucks
Big Dog put up ridiculous numbers in college, including averages his junior year of 30.3 points and 11.2 rebounds. So when the Bucks took him first overall in the 1994 Draft, Milwaukee thought it found the franchise savior. Not quite. While Robinson consistently averaged 20 points per game, his peripherals - rebounds, assists, three-point percentage, and defense - all lacked. He'd play in only 39 playoff games over his 11-year career, and his championship - in 2005 with San Antonio - saw him average 3.8 points per game in the postseason.
1995: JOE SMITH, power forward, Golden State Warriors
A one-and-doner, Smith was taken before future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett by Golden State in the draft. Why is that notable? Well, Smith went on to have anything but a Hall of Fame career. Still active, Smith played with the Nets and Lakers during the 2010-11 season, his 11th and 12th stops. Over his career, he never averaged more than 8.5 boards or 18.7 points per game, and to date, has averages of 10.9 points and 6.4 rebounds over his career. Smith has never made an All-Star game, has played in just 60 postseason games, and was undoubtedly a draft bust.
1996: ALLEN IVERSON, point guard, Philadelphia 76ers
Iverson was never adored by fans or the media thanks to his attitude. But fans of basketball would tell you 100 times out of 100; on the court, AI personified the sport. Way undersized for a point guard, and constantly battered and bruised, Iverson just kept playing, and playing, and playing. And whenever Iverson was on the court, he put up big numbers. Four times, Iverson averaged over 30 points per game. Four times, he led the league in scoring. Three times, he led the league in steals. And seven times, he led the league in minutes per game. Why did he play so much? His supporting cast usually stunk. And despite that, AI still came thisclose to delivering the Sixers a title.
1997: TIM DUNCAN, power forward, San Antonio Spurs
Four titles, 13 consecutive seasons averaging a double-double, 15 years in the league all with the team that drafted him, and the nickname "The Big Fundamental." Yeah, the Spurs made the right choice with Duncan. Never flashy or outspoken, throughout his career Duncan has simply shown up and delivered. Even as his career dwindles, Duncan hasn't demanded big minutes from coach Gregg Popovich, instead embracing a smaller role on an evolving Spurs franchise. Without Duncan, Robinson may never get a title, and San Antonio might still be one of the worst franchises in the West.
1998: MICHAEL OLOWOKANDI, center, Los Angeles Clippers
Whatever happened to the Kandi Man? Labeled a bust out of the gate after a disappointing rookie season, Olowokandi was never able to live up to his breakout junior year season at Pacific. His best season, in 2002-03, coincided with his impending free agency. And after inking a contract with the Timberwolves? Olowokandi returned to mediocre numbers. By 2005-06, at just 30 years old, Minnesota dumped him in a deal with the Celtics. After the next season, he retired.
1999: ELTON BRAND, center, Chicago Bulls
The knee-jerk reaction is to call the Duke product a bust. After all, in 13 pro seasons, Brand has seen the playoffs just thrice. Coming from a No. 1 pick, that is a major disappointment. As far as numbers go, though, Brand enjoyed an extended prime. From the time he was 20 until the time he was 27, Elton consistently hovered around 20 points and 10 rebounds a night. Still, injuries hampered him, with Brand playing in less than 70 games four of his first 10 seasons.
2000: KENYON MARTIN, power forward,
A force in the paint in college, Martin was expected to come into New Jersey and give the team a hard-nosed bad boy at power forward. While they got a bad boy, he was unfortunately pretty soft. Over his 12-year career, K-Mart has played in more than 70 games just three times, has never averaged more than 17 points, and finished a year averaging 10 boards a night just once. And while he's played on a boatload of playoff teams - three postseason trips with the Nets, six with the Nuggets and one with the Clippers - he never won a title, and only made the Finals twice - each time with the Nets, and each time the team was obliterated, first in four games by the Lakers, and then in six games by the Spurs.
2001: KWAME BROWN, power forward, Washington Wizards
Glynn Academy (high school)
The first-ever high schooler taken No. 1 overall, Brown (unintentionally) did more for the "Stay in school" campaign than he did on the court. His rookie season was a big bust, with Brown averaging just 14.4 minutes in 57 games. He played more regularly the next five seasons, but he was still largely a reserve, and if anything, the minutes were forced in an effort to develop what was a young, raw talent. Brown has continued to bounce around the league in recent years, and still hasn't topped his pedestrian 2003-04 career highs of 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
2002: YAO MING, center, Houston Rockets
Yao's career can be looked at in one of two ways; what could have been, or what's been. What could have been? Yao could have become the next unstoppable center, a force on a perennial playoff team that averaged 25 points and 15 rebounds per game. What's been? Injuries plagued Yao, but when he was on the court, he was an all-star. Moreover, what he's done off the court in expanding the NBA's brand to China, is immeasurable. So while Yao never reached his full potential, the Rockets would probably go back and take Yao first overall if given the chance.
2003: LEBRON JAMES, forward, Cleveland Cavaliers
Saint Vincent-Saint Mary (high school)
Built like an NFL tight end, with the athleticism of an Olympian, the power of a center, and the moves of a point guard, James has evolved into one of the great players of all time. In seven seasons in Cleveland, James averaged close to 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists a night, taking spare parts around him to the brink of an NBA title. While his run in Cleveland had an unceremonious end - the Celtics series, the Decision, and the aftermath - he's re-emerged in Miami, joining forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form one of the great trios in history.
2004: DWIGHT HOWARD, center, Orlando Magic
Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (high school)
The Magic struck gold on a center in the draft for the second time with the selection of Howard. The league's best paint player, Howard is among the league leaders in blocks and rebounds on a yearly basis. All the while, his presence alone neutralizes opposing centers. Add an evolving offensive game, which saw Howard average a career high 22.9 points in the 2010-11 season, and Howard seems primed to, eventually, enter the discussion of best center of all-time.
2005: ANDREW BOGUT, center, Milwaukee Bucks
A big, beefy build, Bogut entered the league with the make-up to be a shutdown defender and stud space-eater in the middle. And while he's been effective on both counts, he hasn't necessarily excelled, mostly due to the injury bug. Bogut seemed to take a step forward during the 2009-10 season when, armed with rookie point guard Brandon Jennings, he averaged 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds. But the following season, both Bogut and the Bucks took a major step back, missing the playoffs altogether. More alarming, though? The Bucks’ playoff appearance the previous year was accomplished largely with Bogut on the pine, again with an injury.
2006: ANDREA BARGNANI, power forward, Toronto Raptors
The scoring numbers are nice. Bargnani has averaged better than 15 points per 36 minutes every season of his career, including more than 20 points per 36 minutes the last two years. But for a 7-footer, the rebounding rate is unacceptable. Bargnani has never averaged more than 6.2 rebounds per game, and has a career averaged of less than one offensive rebound per game. His shooting has taken a hit, too; the Italian born big man shot just 29.6 percent from beyond the arc in 2011-12.
2007: GREG ODEN, center, Portland Trail Blazers
In the 2007 Draft, the Blazers had two options: Take a potential franchise big man from Ohio State, or take a skinny scorer from Texas that had the strength of a sixth grader. They went with the big man. And they seriously regret it. While that slight forward (Kevin Durant) has gone on to greatness in Oklahoma City, Oden was unable to stay healthy. He showed flashes on the court, but Oden's unifornm as an NBA player usually included a suit and tie.
2008: DERRICK ROSE, point guard, Chicago Bulls
In Rose's first three years in Chicago, the flashy point guard consistently improved. Able to score and pass, Rose propelled the Bulls to the top of the conference, culminating in an MVP award at just 22 years old. Rose struggled to stay on the court during the 2011-12 season, though, and a scary knee injury in the playoffs threatens to take away his explosiveness. Now, Bulls fans will wait and hope their franchise guard can bounce back.
2009: BLAKE GRIFFIN, power forward, Los Angeles Clippers
After a knee injury kept him off the court his first season, Griffin burst on to the scene in 2010-11, using his power game to cruise to both a Slam Dunk Contest title and Rookie of the Year honors. He was a double-double threat each game his first year, shot over 50 percent from the field, and even showed flashes - though inconsistent - of a mid-range game. From this point, Griffin's career could take one of two turns: He could continue to develop his game, and become an athletic power forward with a superior game in the paint and some sort of repertoire with his back to the basket, or he could become complacent, and go the route of Shawn Kemp, settling for highlight reel dunks and spectacular finishing power, but little else.
Impact: Too early to tell
2010: JOHN WALL, point guard, Washington Wizards
Wall's rookie season was overshadowed by The Blake Show. Still, he had a solid year, getting thrust into the starting point guard role on a Wizards team that has had limited success and major talent (and character) issues the past several seasons. There are parts of his game that need serious work - namely his shooting touch and decision making when taking shots. Plus, there's the question of whether Wall is best suited as a point guard, or playing off the ball. If Wall can find a niche, though, he could turn out to be a consistent All-Star.
Impact: Too early to tell
2011: KYRIE IRVING, point guard, Cleveland Cavaliers
Just 20 years old at the end of his rookie season, Kyrie Irving already looks like a can't-miss NBA point guard. Irving came close to a 50/40/90 season, shooting 46.9 percent from the floot, 39.9 percent from three and 87.2 percent from the free throw line with the Cavs. His numbers as a rookie were very similar to Stephen Curry's numbers as a rookie . . . Curry, though, was two years older than Irving his first season in the league.
Impact: Too early to tell
2012: ANTHONY DAVIS, center, New Orleans Hornets
The 2012 draft was full of question marks . . . outside of the No. 1 overall pick. Davis projects to be a longtime defensive force in the NBA, a monster in the paint who is a terror for slashing guards and cutting forwards. He led the NBA in blocks in 2014-15 and was fourth in scoring.
2013: ANTHONY BENNETT, small forward, Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers made a surprise pick at the top of the board, going with Bennett over Victor Oladipo, Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams. Bennett had a tough rookie season, averaging 4.2 points on a .356 field goal percentage as well as 3.0 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game.
Impact: Too early to tell
2014: ANDREW WIGGINS, Small Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers
Wiggins was traded to Minnesota for Kevin Love before the season started. He started all 82 games, averaged 16. 9 points and was named the Rookie of the Year.
2015: KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS, Center, Minnesota Timberwolves
Towns played in every game for the Timberwolves and averaged 18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game en route to unanimous Rookie of the Year honors.