The first pick is always the best player, right? Sometimes that’s not necessarily how it goes. Sometimes the first pick performs and has a great career, but sometimes it doesn’t go as expected. We take a look here at the first overall picks from the past decade, and how their careers are going.
2010 – John Wall, Kentucky (Drafted by Washington Wizards)
John Wall is in a bit of a rough patch right now, having an injury-plagued last couple of seasons. However, in the grand scheme of things he has had a great career. The 5-time all-star has averaged 19 points and 9.2 assists per game, all in 9 seasons with the Washington Wizards. Definitely not a bad pick here. Not only did it make sense at the time, but Wall has been a star and leader for the Wizards
2011 – Kyrie Irving, Duke (Drafted by Cleveland Cavaliers)
It was pretty clear Kyrie would be the first pick in 2011, and he has lived up to the expectations. He is a 6-time all-star as well as an NBA Champion, which he won in 2016. Along with being named All-NBA twice and scoring 22.4 points per game throughout his career, Kyrie has grown over his time in the NBA to one of the best point guards in the league. At only 27 years old, we could see a lot more of his prime.
2012 – Anthony Davis, Kentucky (Drafted by New Orleans Hornets)
Does it get more obvious than this pick? AD has always been a monster, and he took his dominance straight from college to the NBA. In his 8th season now, Davis is already an 8-time all-star and has been named to the All-NBA and All-Defensive teams 3 times each. He has established himself as the best big man, and a top player in the NBA. When the Pelicans were the Hornets they got this one right, and now the Lakers are loving A.D. on their team.
2013 – Anthony Bennett, UNLV (Drafted by Cleveland Cavaliers)
We all knew we’d get here at some point. Anthony Bennet is looked at as one of the biggest busts ever in the NBA. He played 4 seasons with 4 different teams, only averaging 12.6 minutes per game for his career. It was a shock when he was drafted, so maybe some predicted him under performing, but for a first overall pick, it’s hard to get worse than Bennett
2014 – Andrew Wiggins, Kansas (Drafted by Cleveland Cavaliers)
Wigs killed it at Kansas, and the Cavs traded him to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love right away. He’s been a slight disappointment and still hasn’t been an all-star now in his 6th season, but this year has been his most promising, so he could be still on the rise. Turning 25 next month, Wiggins doesn’t have much more time to make a push for stardom, we’ll see if he can turn into the elite player we expected.
2015 – Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky (Drafted by Minnesota Timberwolves)
I’ve been a big Karl Towns fan since his college dominance (which ended sadly for Big Blue Nation), but regardless of that, the Wolves picked him over Jahlil Okafor and it has clearly been the right choice. In his 5th season, he will most likely be named an all-star for the third time very shortly. Career averages of 22.6 points and 11.8 rebounds nightly are nothing to overlook, especially for a player that is only 24 years old. It will be cool to see if Towns can get even better, and maybe team up with some stars to contend for championships.
2016 – Ben Simmons, LSU (Drafted by Philadelphia 76ers)
Ben Simmons’ true rookie season was nonexistent due to a foot injury, he came back the year after and won Rookie of the Year for the 2017-2018 season. The phenom was an all-star for the first time last season, and his size and athleticism help him be great defensively and as a playmaker. If he develops a jumper, Simmons could be even more dangerous than he already is, which is scary for opposing teams to think about.
2017 – Markelle Fultz, Washington (Drafted by Philadelphia 76ers)
Another player’s development that was stunted. Injuries caused Fultz to have to modify his jump shot and brought his confidence down. He played 33 games total in his first two seasons in Philadelphia. After being traded to the Magic, Markelle is gradually getting more comfortable in the NBA, and he’s shown flashes that give hope that his career is not close to over.
2018 – Deandre Ayton, Arizona (Drafted by Phoenix Suns)
Ayton getting suspended for the first 25 games this season has hurt his development and has hurt the growth of the young Suns. Despite the stardom of fellow rookies Luka Doncic and Trae Young, Ayton quietly had a great rookie year. 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game isn’t star level, but it certainly isn’t bad. Being so young, it will be interesting to see if he grows into a dominant big man, or if he just stays at this level.
2019 – Zion Williamson, Duke (Drafted by New Orleans Pelicans)
We’ve only seen a few games of Zion, but he’s been impressive so far. Based on the small glimpse of the NBA and college stardom, a healthy Zion could be a superstar one day. If he’s able to stay on the court that will be huge for the Pelicans. We don’t want Zion to be another Greg Oden situation, so talented but hurt all the time. We’re all excited to see Zion lift off, and we could be witnessing the start of a great career.
- Kevin Barnett