The number one overall pick in the NBA Draft is often used to help jumpstart a franchise’s rebuild. But who were the best players to emerge from that coveted draft spot?
For any moribund NBA franchise, the number one overall pick in the NBA Draft is arguably the most coveted asset available to pull themselves out of the league’s cellar. Bad teams will do anything to get it: build laughable NBA rosters, trade away players and other draft picks, rest healthy players, etc. Some teams will even create a lengthy, multi-year process for a chance to nab the top spot in the NBA draft.
Bad teams do anything to land the number one pick for a simple reason: it could instantly change the trajectory of a franchise for the next decade or so. It can turn a perpetual doormat of a franchise into a consistent championship contender.
Of course, it can also set a franchise back even further if a team’s decision-makers use the enviable draft pick on a complete dud.
Especially today, the NBA Draft is far from an exact science. In essence, these clubs are putting the future of their respective franchises in the hands of young men who are still developing and will have to adjust to playing a vastly different version of a game they have spent their whole lives playing. This is also the case for players taken first overall — ostensibly making them the best player in their class — as they have to take on the burden of uplifting an entire franchise into prominence.
So, which players were the best number one overall picks in NBA history? Which were the worst? Well, this list hopes to suss that out.