List of first overall NBA draft picks
The National Basketball Association’s first overall pick is that the participant who’s chosen first among all qualified draftees by a team during the yearly National Basketball Association (NBA) draft. The pick is given to the team that wins the NBA draft lottery; in most cases, that group had a losing record in the season. The team with the first pick brings significant media attention, as does the participant who is selected with that pick.
Eleven first selections have won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award: Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (record six-time winner), Bill Walton, Magic Johnson (three-time winner), Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan (two-time winner), LeBron James (four-time winner), and Derrick Rose (youngest winner).
Since the advent of the draft lottery in 1985, seven number one picks have won an NBA title. They’re Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, Glenn Robinson, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Andrew Bogut, and Kyrie Irving.
China’s Yao Ming (2002) and Italy’s Andrea Bargnani (2006) would be the only two players with no competitive experience in the United States to be drafted first overall. Eleven other international players with U.S. college experience have been drafted first overall–Mychal Thompson (Bahamas) in 1978, Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria) in 1984, Patrick Ewing (Jamaica) in 1985, Tim Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands) in 1997, Michael Olowokandi (Nigeria) in 1998, Andrew Bogut (Australia) at 2005, Kyrie Irving (Australia) at 2011, Anthony Bennett (Canada) at 2013, Andrew Wiggins (Canada) in 2014, Ben Simmons (Australia) in 2016, and Deandre Ayton (Bahamas) at 2018. Duncan is an American citizen, but is regarded as an”international” participant by the NBA since he was not born in one of the fifty states or the District of Columbia. Ewing had double Jamaican-American citizenship when he had been drafted and Irving and Simmons had dual citizenship when they had been drafted.
Note that the drafts between 1947 and 1949 were held by the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The Basketball Association of America became the National Basketball Association after absorbing teams. Official NBA books contain the BAA Drafts within the NBA’s draft history.
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