NBA Draft History: Ranking Each No. 1 Pick of the Last 10 Years

Brandon ReiterCorrespondent IIMay 14, 2012

NBA Draft History: Ranking Each No. 1 Pick of the Last 10 Years

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    The level of talent in the upcoming 2012 NBA draft is providing a lot of hype. Despite the vast amount of talent in the pool, there is little doubt that Anthony Davis will be the No. 1 pick. His talent stands alone and it would seem foolish to pass him up. 

    This is nothing out of the ordinary.

    Almost every year there is a player that seems to be the obvious first selection. Sometimes that player becomes a star, and sometimes that player becomes a general manager's worst nightmare.

    Over the past 10 years we have seen some great players selected first, and we have also seen a few regrettable decisions. It is impossible to tell how Davis, or any player for that matter, will pan out. Predicting an NBA player's career is one of the hardest thing to do and that's what makes the draft so special.

    This list will analyze each of the last 10 No. 1 draft picks and rank them based on two criteria. The first will look at the other players who could have been selected instead, if there were other players that panned out better, the player will have a lower rank and vice versa.

    The second basis for their ranking will simply assess how that player has performed overall since he has been drafted. Certain players may be talented players, but not No. 1 worthy.

10. Greg Oden (2007, Portland Trail Blazers)

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    Who They Passed Up: Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Marc Gasol


    What Has Happened Since 2007

    The Portland Trail Blazers passed up picking Kevin Durant for Greg Oden, a decision that will have a lasting impact on NBA history. Durant has been one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the game and he's only in his fifth year. He is the youngest player ever to obtain three scoring titles.

    From the point of his arrival, everything about his team has changed, and when I say everything, I mean everything. New Arena. New City. New Name. New Jerseys. New fan base.

    And with all the change came winning. Now the Oklahoma City Thunder are serious contenders for the NBA title, while Portland is in shambles. Oden has been injured for the majority of his career, providing no energy, no talent, no spark, nothing for the Blazers. 


    What to Make of the Pick

    Instead of picking what will be one of the 25 greatest players of all time, the Blazers wound up with an injury-prone useless big man. One of the worst No. 1 selections of all time.

9. Andrea Bargnani (2006, Toronto Raptors)

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    Who They Passed Up: LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Roy


    What Has Happened Since 2006

    Bargnani has put up solid numbers as a center for the Raptors. He is averaging about 15 points per game for his career, but he has been on a steady increase since his rookie year. Bargnani is a solid center to say the least and a great player, but what puts him towards the bottom of the list is that the Raptors passed up on some way bigger names.

    LaMarcus Aldridge is a much better big man and would have simply been the better pick. On top of that, Rajon Rondo has proven himself to be one of the better point guards in the league. However, there is no saying how each of them would have panned out in Toronto, but even with Bargnani, the Raptors have not been able to string together an impressive season.


    What to Make of the Pick

    He's a solid player, but could have done better.

8. Andrew Bogut (2005, Milwaukee Bucks)

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    Who They Passed Up: Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Andrew Bynum, Danny Granger


    What Has Happened Since 2005

    Bogut has been one of the better centers in the league. He has averaged a double-double three seasons so far. However, there were four players in the 2005 draft that have been far better players.

    Williams, Paul, Bynum and Granger are all players that, at the end of the day, are simply better than Bogut. Plus, Milwaukee already shipped Bogut off to the Golden State Warriors for Monta Ellis, a trade that says "we would rather have two guards that both want the ball, than one scoring guard and one big man." If anyone can explain Milwaukee's logic, I'm all ears.


    What to Make of the Pick

    He's a solid player, but could have done better.

7. Yao Ming (2002, Houston Rockets)

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    Who They Passed Up: Amar'e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Caron Butler


    What Has Happened Since 2002

    Yao was one of the greatest centers during his playing days. However, the one glaring factor of his career is that it's already over.

    However, there is no doubt that Yao was a great choice. He was an All-Star eight times, he averaged a double-double twice, he averaged 25 points per game in one season and was an iconic symbol for the Chinese.

    But due to leg problems his career was very short lived. Had he gone on for another seven or eight years, this would have been an exceptional pick, but the fact that Stoudemire is still playing—and playing well—puts a huge damper on this pick.


    What to Make of the Pick

    He was a great choice, but his career was too short.

6. John Wall (2010, Washington Wizards)

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    Who They Passed Up: Evan Turner, Derrick Favors


    What Has Happened Since 2010

    There is no doubt that John Wall was the clear-cut choice for the Wizards in the 2010 draft. He was and is still more talented than any player on that list. However, he has absolutely no supporting talent, and a point guard cannot win by himself.

    He has the swagger and the confidence of a No. 1 pick, but he needs help. Wall has the potential to move up the list, but it hasn't been long enough to truly see what he can do. I place him ahead of Yao because he has the talent, but he does not have anyone else to help him.


    What to Make of the Pick

    He was the right choice, but give him some help!

5. Kyrie Irving (2011, Cleveland Cavaliers)

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    Who They Passed Up: Derrick Williams, Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker


    What Has Happened Since 2011

    I know, it's only been a year, but Kyrie Irving was by far the best choice of the 2011 draft. He was a clear-cut Rookie of the Year candidate as his stats were comparable to LeBron James' rookie year.

    He also took a miserable Cleveland team and made them drastically better. With another solid draft, Cleveland can definitely make the playoffs.


    What to Make of the Pick

    He was the best possible pick.

4. Blake Griffin (2009, Los Angeles Clippers)

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    Who They Passed Up: James Harden, Tyreke, Evans, Ricky Rubio


    What Has Happened Since 2009

    After Blake Griffin sat out the entire 2009-10 season due to injury, there was the feeling that this would be one of those regretful picks. That was not the case at all.

    Griffin has exploded into an NBA superstar. He is one of the best dunkers the league has seen since Vince Carter. He has lifted the Clippers out of the rubble, and now that he has been paired with Chris Paul, there are officially two teams in L.A.


    What to Make of the Pick

    He was the best possible pick.

3. Dwight Howard (2004, Orlando Magic)

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    Who They Passed Up: Andre Iguodala, Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Luol Deng


    What Has Happened Since 2004

    Dwight Howard quickly evolved into the best center in the game. He is in a physical class of his own, as he creates a tough matchup for anyone placed on him. However, he has maturity issues and a lack of a desire to win.

    He has created too much drama in Orlando, yet he committed himself to play at least another season there. He was, no doubt, the right choice for the Magic, but it's hard to picture him winning a championship in Orlando.


    What to Make of the Pick

    He was the best possible pick.

2. Derrick Rose (2008, Chicago Bulls)

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    Who They Passed On: Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love


    What Has Happened Since 2008

    Rose is one of two players on this list to be named league MVP. He can be considered the best point guard in the game right now. His talent landed him one of the biggest endorsement deals since Michael Jordan.

    However, injuries took a toll on him this year, and his torn ACL will pose for some concerns for the remainder of his career. If he is able to overcome this injury, he will go down as one of the best players of this era.


    What to Make of the Pick

    He was the best possible pick.

1. LeBron James (2003, Cleveland Cavaliers)

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    Who They Passed On: Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh


    What Has Happened Since 2003

    A lot. In what was the most talented draft class since 1984, the Cavaliers still managed to make the right choice with LeBron James.

    James just claimed his third MVP award and has proven that he is the best player in the league. Everybody knows about the controversial move he made pairing up with Wade, but that takes nothing away from the amount of talent he has.

    The moment LeBron wins a ring, more people will be able to grasp just how good he actually is. LeBron is in his own category, and if he can win multiple championships, who knows where he will be ranked all-time.


    What to Make of the Pick

    He is the best No. 1 pick in NBA draft history.