Power Ranking the Careers of the Past 15 No. 1 NBA Draft Picks

Steven Slivka@@StevenSlivkaCorrespondent IIIJune 25, 2012

Power Ranking the Careers of the Past 15 No. 1 NBA Draft Picks

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    When a player gets taken No. 1 overall, he is expected to change the world with his game.

    The pressure that comes with being the top pick in the draft can make or break a player's career. If he does well, he's regarded as a success.

    If he fails, the world will never stop talking about him. They'll associate him with the worst of the worst that were ever chosen with the No. 1 pick.

    Here's a power ranking of the last 15 No. 1 overall picks.

15. Greg Oden (2007)

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    After a thrilling freshman season at Ohio State where he fell one game short of a national championship, Greg Oden was taken No. 1 overall by the Portland Trail Blazers.

    Oden's rookie campaign in Portland ended almost as quickly as it began when the seven-footer was forced to miss the entire 2007-08 season after undergoing knee surgery.

    Since being drafted five years ago, Oden only has 82 games under his belt. He hasn't played in over two seasons after undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee in 2010.

    It really is a sad story for a young guy with so much potential. His inability to stay healthy forced Portland to waive him in March.

14. Michael Olowokandi (1998)

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    Michael Olowokandi, the first-overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, is regarded as one of the biggest draft busts of all-time.

    The Nigerian-born center only averaged 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game during his 10 years in the NBA.

    In the 2002-03 season, his final with the Clippers, he started every game but barely eclipsed the 12 points per game mark. He retired after the 2006-07 season with the Boston Celtics.

    Unfortunately for the Clippers, they could have picked Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter or Paul Pierce in the same draft.

13. Kwame Brown (2001)

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    After averaging a career 6.8 points per game, there's no way Kwame Brown can't be regarded as a true bust.

    Brown disappointed immediately after he was drafted by the Washington Wizards in 2001. He only made three starts in his rookie season while averaging 4.8 points per game.

    He's been on five teams in the last six seasons and has now become a laughingstock in terms of No. 1 overall draft picks.

    Perhaps he should've attended college.

12. Andrew Bogut (2005)

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    For the most part, Andrew Bogut has had a consistent NBA career since being drafted No. 1 overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005.

    The Australian's finest season came in 2009-10 when he averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game. He made the postseason in 2006 during his rookie season, but hasn't tasted playoff action since.

    He was traded to the Golden State Warriors at the trade deadline after only playing in 12 games in 2012 because of a fractured left ankle.

    Bogut has been plagued with injuries throughout his career, including a dislocated elbow, a sprained wrist and a broken right hand.

11. Yao Ming (2002)

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    Yao Ming, the third-tallest player in NBA history, was selected No. 1 overall by the Houston Rockets in 2002.

    Throughout his career, the 7'6'' center from China averaged 19 points per game and was a key element to the Rockets' success during his four trips to the postseason.

    Ming and Shaquille O'Neal developed a rivalry when O'Neal was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, and the two big men put on quite a show every time they played each other.

    A string of injuries plagued Ming towards the end of his career, and he was forced to retire in 2011.

10. Kyrie Irving (2011)

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    Twenty-year-old Kyrie Irving only played 11 games in college for Duke, but the Cleveland Cavaliers were confident enough in his game to take him No. 1 overall in 2011.

    During his rookie season, Irving averaged 18.5 points per game and won Rookie of the Year. He was the lone bright spot on a Cavaliers team desperate to rebuild since losing LeBron James.

    Irving led all rookies in points per game, field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage.

    He is the future for Cleveland basketball and if his rookie year was any indication of what to expect from him down the road, then Cavaliers fans will be very impressed.

9. John Wall (2010)

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    John Wall is a product of John Calipari's "one-and-done" group. The Washington Wizards drafted him No. 1 overall in 2010.

    Since he's been in the league, Wall has averaged 16.3 points per game and has been the only exciting element of Washington basketball.

    He has been a drastic upgrade since their last No. 1 overall pick, Kwame Brown.

    Between his "dougie" that he does during roster introductions and his commitment to win, Wall is a rising star in the NBA and will be relevant for many years to come.

8. Andrea Bargnani (2006)

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    Italian-born center Andrea Bargnani has put together a solid resume since being drafted No. 1 by the Toronto Raptors in 2006.

    After suffering a calf injury in April, the Raptors were forced to shutdown Bargnani for the season after only playing in 31 games.

    Before he went down, Bargnani led Toronto in points, rebounds and minutes per game.

    If Bargnani can stay healthy, he has the potential to become one of the more dominant big men in the league.

7. Elton Brand (1999)

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    Elton Brand, a Duke product of the 1990s, was taken No. 1 overall by the Chicago Bulls in 1999.

    Brand had two successful seasons in Chicago averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game before being traded to the Clippers for the rights to Tyson Chandler.

    For the last four seasons, Brand has been a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. His numbers have dipped since his glory days of Chicago and L.A., but he still helped the Sixers reach the playoffs for the second straight season.

    Brand is scheduled to make over $18 million next season for Philadelphia, making him one of the highest-paid players in the league.

    Though his numbers aren't as high as they used to be, Brand can still play great basketball.

6. Blake Griffin (2009)

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    The "Auburn mamba" has taken the NBA storm since he was drafted No. 1 by the Clippers three seasons ago.

    After undergoing knee surgery in 2009, Blake Griffin was forced to miss his entire rookie season, and people wondered if he was going to be the next Greg Oden.

    Since his return, the Clippers' big man has dominated the highlight reels on ESPN for his rim-rattling dunks and helped L.A. reach the postseason for the first time since 2006.

    Griffin was impressive in his first postseason, averaging 19 points and seven rebounds per game. Unfortunately, the Clippers were swept in the second round by the San Antonio Spurs.

5. Kenyon Martin (2000)

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    Although his numbers were down this season, Kenyon Martin has been relevant wherever he's played since he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Nets in 2000.

    Martin started in every game he played during his first three seasons in New Jersey, all without missing a single game.

    He's averaged 13 points per game in his career and has made the postseason in every year he's played with the exception of his rookie campaign.

    In 2002, the New Jersey Nets lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, where Martin averaged 19 points per game.

4. Derrick Rose (2008)

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    Since the Chicago Bulls drafted Derrick Rose No. 1 overall in 2008, they have not regretted their decision one bit.

    In his first three years in the league, Rose has averaged 21 points and nearly seven assists per game. He's also led the Bulls to the playoffs every year since he's been there.

    Rose, a Chicago-native, won the MVP in 2011 after leading the Bulls to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

    After an injury-plagued first half of the season, Rose helped Chicago earn the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference in 2012.

3. Dwight Howard (2004)

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    Dwight Howard has lived up to the hype of being the No. 1 overall pick since he was drafted by the Orlando Magic in 2004.

    Howard has averaged over 18 points and 13 rebounds a game during his NBA career while making himself one of the most dominant big men in the league.

    He also helped lead the Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Since Howard's been in the league, he's won Defensive Player of the Year three times and has made the NBA All-Defensive Team four years in a row.

2. LeBron James (2003)

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    What can be said about LeBron James that hasn't been said already? He's one of the greatest players in the league, has a ton of endorsements and finally won his first NBA championship.

    The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted James, their "hometown hero," with the No. 1 pick in 2003 and got seven solid seasons out of him before he took his talents to South Beach.

    James has won three MVP awards in his nine seasons in the NBA and has averaged nearly 28 points per game in the process.

    He's proven to be one of the greatest high school players to ever enter the NBA draft and finally has the ring he's been chasing after nearly a decade.

1. Tim Duncan (1997)

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    Tim Duncan, arguably the greatest Spur of all-time, was drafted No. 1 overall by San Antonio in 1997.

    Since taking over for David Robinson, Duncan has won Rookie of the Year, back-to-back MVP awards and four NBA championships.

    He's averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds per game over his illustrious career and is one of the most successful power forwards in NBA history.

    His four NBA championships are enough to trump LeBron James as the best No. 1 draft pick in the last 15 years.